Given the length of time from my last report until now, I would like to provide one highlight (or low point) from each of the last few months. There have been times for rejoicing and seasons for sorrow, and I would like to share them with you in a six-month synopsis, beginning in June.
This was a month of heightened tension, born from the “church’s” past in Canada. Thousands of bodies of children were discovered buried in large unmarked graves at residential schools across the country. These schools were institutions where children were sent for education after being forcibly taken from their Native American families. The majority of these schools, and the majority of the schools where the graves were discovered, were run by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, most people do not make the clear and important distinctions that we would between Catholicism and Protestantism, and in their minds, all churches were deemed accountable. There were dozens of church buildings burned throughout the country, though thankfully most of them were no longer being used. It made us concerned for our building under construction, but even worse was the effect it had on evangelism.
The doors for many people in the city of Fredericton were closed before we could even open our mouths. This has since rescinded, thankfully, and the tensions have de-escalated back to what they were prior to the discovery of the graves. However, to give you a sense of how bad they were, let me recount what happened to one of our members.
He had been going on Saturday nights to a skate park to share the gospel with some of the young people gathered there. He had been doing so for a number of months until this incident led him to shake the dust off of his feet. He was sharing, like normal, and answering questions that people had until one homeless lady came over and began screeching that she had a homosexual niece and it wasn’t right for him to not accept that. He mentioned to her that he hadn’t even mentioned homosexuality, but had been speaking about the gospel. A Native American lady, newly outraged, told him that this ‘gospel’ had destroyed her culture. Then a man who had been sitting in his car got out, walked over, and began threatening the brother. The growing commotion quickly attracted the attention of those in the skate park, most of whom had heard the message already, and soon the man was surrounded by a crowd of 30 screaming teenagers and 20 to 30 young adults. They tore up what tracts they had received and together this mob chased him out of the park.
Please pray for this brother. He is a singularly unique individual; unimposing and by every appearance unremarkable, yet, he is utterly fearless for the Kingdom of God. I believe the Lord has plans for ministry for the young man.
July was a month marked by an increase in interest in the building project. It had been sitting stagnant for a while, as we had begun to grow weary of a project that had been already underway for 18 months. However, that was soon to change. After a few sizeable donations, the church seemed to rally around this task, and many have since been coming to help build, clean, and do whatever needed doing. We have been working since this time at a minimum, as a church, two nights a week, and it has only increased from there as the Lord moved more and more people to get involved.
In recent months, the need has become dire. We are currently unable to rent anywhere in the city because of the mandates being enforced and imposed across this country. But our need has had the effect of stirring God’s people to even greater giving, labor, appreciation, and conviction. Giving of material needs has increased, so much so that as of this writing, there are no more pressing financial needs, and we will be able to complete the project to occupancy, debt-free. Praise the Lord!
People have been coming faithfully to work, not only two evenings a week, but every Saturday, and even during the week, when they have time off. It has increased our appreciation for the body of Christ, as another church, has opened their doors to us so that we have a place to meet in the afternoons. This has strengthened our convictions about a building. Some were doubtful that resources would be well spent on a project like this, but now that every avenue for a place is closed, it has brought us all to one mind on the matter. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose!
August was a month of more personal challenges. We began homeschooling our children, one of the few viable options in a nation like Canada. As any homeschooling parent knows, the demands are many, so I will not labor to describe them all, as I am sure many of you are intimately familiar with the accompanying struggles. All I ask is that you would pray for my wife, Amy, who bears the brunt of it, and for my oldest son especially, that he would no longer give up at the first sight of difficulty. Pray that the Lord would change his heart through our instruction, training, and example. Please pray for the salvation of my three boys. No one will come to Christ apart from Grace.
September was the month we found ourselves homeless as a church, but I have already related that and how the Lord stirred up another church to quickly welcome us in. As I am limiting myself to one point per month, let me tell you of the growth we have experienced this fall, which was especially noticeable in September. Shortly after we relocated, the Lord blessed us with an increase, and no fewer than 6 new, young families have joined the church. Large families, at that. And not just families, but couples and individuals as well. On Sundays, there are easily 100 people in attendance. As you can imagine, this is a great encouragement. A work that started only 6 years ago with 12 people has now grown to be over 100. A few are new converts, but most of the growth is from people moving to the area or those already settled but seeking a bible-believing church. The Lord Loves his Lambs and wants them cared for, and above all, it is a most humbling thing to see that he would entrust the care of his children to Christ Community Church. I bear a special and unique burden for them. The increase has strained my time and added even more work to an already busy schedule from the building. But God is always faithful, and he has provided more than enough time and resources to meet the need. There is always enough time, by his Strength, to do what he would have us accomplish in a day.
October was a month where it seemed the Lord looked down and helped us directly with the building project. Most notably was the provision of a concrete pipe. It wouldn’t seem much of a blessing, a concrete pipe. Yes, a concrete pipe. You see, in order to occupy the building, we had to have proper drainage. The area was prone to flooding so when we began to prepare the land, we prepared by hauling in hundreds of loads of fill. This created the concern of water running into the basements of our neighbors and/or overwhelming the storm drains. The only solution was to build a huge collection pond, pipe it to a catch basin, and then pipe it across the road from there. The moment you cross the city’s road, things became incredibly tedious and very expensive. We would need an approved curb cutting company to come and cut and replace the curb. -1600 dollars. We would need to hire an engineer, preferably two, for the entity of the project, at 85 dollars an hour each. We would have to pay for numerous inspections from the city and rent compacting equipment. In addition, because it was late in the year and the ground was beginning to freeze, we would have to spend thousands of dollars on a cold patch for the road, only to tear it up and hire a paving company in the spring. None of us was comfortable cutting up the city’s roads.
I took it before the Lord one evening in my nightly prayers, asking that he would help us. The next day I get a picture from the site. Only 8 feet from where we were originally supposed to cross the road, the machine operator had decided to poke around in the ground to see if there was a better spot, and when he did, low and behold, he discovered a concrete pipe across the road, into the storm drain, at the exact depth we needed it to be down to the very inch. It would appear a simple thing, but it is not.
God had heard my prayers and long ago prepared an answer to them. I was not only encouraged that there was a pipe, but was greatly encouraged to pray more, and more often, and more earnestly, and more abundantly, lest I strike my arrows on the ground too few times. Be encouraged, that our God is able to answer prayers! In my life, I can think of more answered than not. I don’t say this to boast, certainly not! It seems, at least as a Pastor who deals with people, that many are unsure that God will actually answer, and I only say this to encourage you to believe Him. Ask anything, and you will receive it, especially if you ask according to His will revealed in Scripture. But you have a warrant to ask for anything! He hears and delights in the prayers of his people, and he pours out his blessing with both hands. He helps when we ask Him. He provides even mundane things like pipes. He really does. Please, reader, don’t doubt Him, not for a second, but take everything to Him in prayer, not ritually, but like you would bring a need to a loving and kind and wise and powerful Father, because that is exactly who he is. Amen.
Just this week, God has again provided. We needed chairs, and nobody had any, and if they did, they were 30,000 dollars for 200. A nearby bible school, quite independent from us, decided to sell their cafeteria chairs, all 200 of them. We were able to purchase them for five dollars each. 1000 dollars for 200 chairs. The Lord continues to provide by answering his people’s prayers.
I wish I did not have to write about this month. The church is strong and continuing to grow, the building is coming along, and Lord Willing I will be able to show you our first gathering there in my next report, but my heart is tremendously burdened for my friends and my family in the country, and in the church especially.
The leadership of our country is requiring that everyone who wishes to travel or holds a public job, or is in a heavily regulated industry, be vaccinated against COVID-19. Thousands of people just in this city of Fredericton are losing their jobs. Many others, Godly men, high ranking officials, are resigning from their positions. Those who do not take the vaccine cannot visit their family members in nursing homes. They cannot attend funerals or weddings. Many of the political concerns I do my best effort to avoid; both so I can focus on the Kingdom, and not become consumed by their constant threat, but when I see the people I love and care for suffering, being mocked, maligned, left unemployed, and done to the cheers of hateful, unloving crowds, I cannot help but be indignant. Please pray for those who are losing their jobs. Please pray for those, who, for conscience’s sake, have made sacrifices, and pray for the nation of Canada.
Let us be thankful that our citizenship is in heaven and that every knee will bow to Lord Jesus. Let us be thankful that His rule and reign will never end. Let us rejoice that on the Eternal Throne, there is a Good and Righteous King who is stronger than David, wiser than Solomon, who was, and is, and will be our King Forever.