God is Always at His Work

By: Shannon Youell, Director of Church Planting 

Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

No one has been unaffected by the events of the past eleven months.  No one.  Individuals, families, businesses, governments, weddings, funerals and places of worship.  All have experienced the effects that a pandemic can have in our world.  

Our churches have shifted and responded from no gathered meetings, to partial gathered meetings and back to no gathered meetings.  Through all of this we have been prayerfully asking God to reveal himself at work around us so we are encouraged to continue being missionally and faithfully present in our neighbourhoods and in encouraging and discipling our churches. 

 We are all hearing stories of churches both adapting to the challenges and struggling with the challenges and changes.  And some of those stories are surprises – we can’t always assume which churches will be struggling and which will find new ways to thrive and flourish.  Some of those stories are within our current new churches/plants.  Here are some of their stories. 

Greenhills Christian Fellowship-Winnipeg-East 

GCFWE is our newest plant launched from GCFW.  This faithful and passionate group of Filipino church planters began training and discipling their core group in 2019.  When Covid hit they were just ready to officially launch and had begun to gain some traction in their target area.   

If you have the pleasure of hanging out with Filipino people, you will know how they evangelize – they eat together, have parties, bbq’s in the park and with the Code Red restrictions in Winnipeg it became very challenging to build neighbourhood relationships and do evangelism.  

Yet, this past summer they celebrated baptism of new believers and as Pastor Arnold Mercado notes, in terms of people studying the Bible and learning the deeper truths of God, they’ve had more opportunities and people are growing in their faith.  He reports that the best way to describe their planting community right now is in how God is building them, noting that ten months ago they hardly knew one another and now are growing together deeper in their relationships with Christ and with one another.  They feel better prepared to saturate their neighbourhood with the Gospel once restrictions are eased. 

This past fall they had their official launch from their sending church.  Where God is at work and his people join him, even a pandemic cannot stop the work of the Spirit among the people! 

Hope Church of Calgary 

Pastor Mouner and this community of Arabic speaking believers are finding the challenges of Covid, well, challenging.  Like all of us, they are deeply missing the opportunities to gather and be together.  One thing I’ve learned about people from the Middle East countries is how excellent they are in hospitality.  We may consider ourselves a nation of warm friendlies, but compared to our Middle Eastern friends we are really not that great in the area of hospitality!   

Everything they do is around food and tea and visiting.  Take those out of the equation and our brothers and sisters at Hope are discouraged and not adapting well to the online meeting applications.  But even in the midst of these challenges, God is still at work.   

Pastor Mouner faithfully delivers to each congregant’s home the elements of bread and cup for shared online Communion.   An important element of Communion for them is the actual shared loaf of bread.  It gives him an opportunity to have a safe-distance, non-virtual conversation with his congregants.  

A new preacher among the congregation is being raised up.  A blessing for the Pastor and congregation.  Mouner has also begun an online connection with other Syrian ministers around the world and the testimonies from other places are exciting and encouraging.  There are many testimonies of an amazing revival among Iranians and Kurdish peoples.   

Even in the challenges and struggles, Mouner and Hope Church see God at work amid the chaos of Covid. 

Makarios Evangelical Church  

Pastor Jessica of MEC is an innovator.  Like the rest of us, she has had to pivot and adapt multiple times in the past eleven months.  This new plant, launched in 2018 has been very intentional in both the spiritual formation of the community of believers who gather at MEC and in their mission field of international students who are housed and schooled right across the street from their church building location.   

Using social media, apps, zoom and other creative vehicles they are staying connected on a daily basis with one another and the students.  This is vital for the students, already isolated from home, culture and family and now isolated from activities and relationships they were beginning to build in this foreign land.  Meeting with the students via online can be challenging as they are already ‘online’ for all their classes, yet Makarios has found places that resonate with the students.  One of the practices the church has been doing all along is to cook dinner together with the students and then eat, fellowship and talk about life, school, family and faith.  Most of these students would be eating alone and this has been a very popular event for them. 

Now restricted to their dorms, they eat alone, so the church is now ‘eating’ with them via zoom.  Now that’s looking at your context, at the needs of your neighbourhood and finding a way to engage in spite of Covid! 

Emmanuel Iranian Church 

With Pastor Arash and Pastor Ali leading this growing, thriving community of Iranian people, discipleship is a key focus.  A large percentage of the congregation are new converts to Christ and with hundreds of baptisms since they launched in 2018, there is a LOT of discipleship happening every day (and night!). 

We’ve been celebrating the stories of new believers and baptisms since then.  One might wonder how this can continue during a time of gathering restrictions, yet Pastor Ali reports that lives are being transformed on a weekly basis.   

Many of us are experiencing congregants weary of zoom meetings (if they liked them at all) and disengaging with an online version of community.  Certainly, EIC has struggled with that as well, yet Pastor Arash said that lately more people are getting used to this new way of meeting and it’s now become ‘real’ to people.  In a recent evening prayer time, people reported, for the first time, experiencing the presence of the Spirit virtually connecting the participants spiritually and emotionally together!  There are even people coming to Christ on their zoom meetings, so new people are engaging with the community, sense the presence of the one true God and raise their hands to commit to Christ.   

EIC is currently praying and discerning another plant in the Surrey area of the lower mainland.  Many new immigrants settle there and their desire is to serve in that community in a multi-cultural context with both Farsi and English speaking services to serve and train 2nd and 3rd generation young people.   

Pray for and Celebrate Together  

These are incredible testimonies and a reminder that God is certainly at work amongst his churches despite any restrictions placed upon public gatherings.   We can choose to riff on all the barriers to ministry we are trying to navigate through, or we can allow our thinking and creativity to forge us into finding new rhythms and ways of being the people of God, called to be both salt to one another and light to those struggling in dark places.  Yes there are challenges and some of us are really struggling to find our way.  Let our stories of God-at-work among us shed some light into our own darkness and grant us encouragement to persevere through our trials. 

Pray for each other.  Pray for these new churches and for the churches in your area.  Pray for light to breakthrough in the least expected of places.  God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and though it may seem like it some days, he has not done either but rather is stirring us up to join him in his work of bringing his kingdom come here on earth as it is (already) in heaven.    

Proclaiming the Gospel

This article is reposted from CBWC’s enewsletter Making Connections. Subscribe here.

Pastor Jodi Spargur and her congregation God’s House of Many Faces, a CBWC Church Plant in Vancouver, have been faithfully loving and serving their neighbours for several years. They recently welcomed a team from an inner-city church in California to help them practice healing prayer and proclaim the Gospel in their community. This was made all the more significant because the visiting church members had all come out of addiction or gang involvement or other cycles of violence themselves.

During this week of evangelism, God’s House of Many Faces saw five people come to faith in Christ. One of Jodi’s team members shares this story of having a friend turn to Jesus:

It was amazing for me to see a friend whom I’ve longed to see open up to Jesus for the last 2 years do just that! She agreed to receive prayer from our visiting friends and myself.

She was so surprised as we prayed and she felt warmth spread through her body as the Spirit took away the chronic pain she has struggled with for years. This led her to ask for further prayer for emotional pain she has carried for a very long time.   Feeling like now was as good a time as any I asked, “would you like to pray to receive Jesus into your life?”

She replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” I was so surprised that I asked three times to make sure she knew what it meant and really wanted to!

But God wasn’t even done then. I found out later that her husband and son were praying with another member of our team and they too were re-committing their lives to Jesus and were praying that the power of addiction would be broken in their family and that healing could come. What a day!

God’s House hosted a baptism service at the ocean on February 15 where new believers could proclaim their trust in Jesus.

Pray with us for continued transformation in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Pray that we will be able to celebrate more and more with God’s House of Many Faces as their friends and neighbours hear the Gospel and respond.


There are many ways you can take part in the exciting work of church plants across Western Canada. To find out how to offer your time, talent or treasure, contact Church Planting Coordinator Shannon Youell at syouell@cbwc.ca. To subscribe to Church Planting email updates, contact Cailey Morgan at cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

Keep Connected

Because of Canada’s wide geography, we don’t often get to connect in person with our CBWC family.

However, there are other ways to build these great relationships, including some simple things we can do right on this blog!

1. Can we pray for you? God’s Kingdom is advancing, and one way we can join in is through prayer. Please send us your prayer requests that we will post on our prayer page so friends across Western Canada can be praying with you. And don’t forget praise points too!

2. Send us your photos and videos. We’d love to share what’s been happening in your ministry and community. Visuals like photos and videos are a great way for you to bring us into your context so we can celebrate God’s work. Email Cailey (cmorgan@cbwc.ca) the files, or ask her about where to upload them on Dropbox.

3. Join the conversation on the blog by making comments on our articles and resources, or by offering your own articles, rants, or resources to publish. We want to hear from you!

Introducing Pastor Isaac Youm!

Isaiah, Rebekah and Isaac Youm.

From front to back: Isaiah, Rebekah and Isaac Youm.

Isaac and his family felt called by God to leave their work at a church in Los Angeles and move to Vancouver to plant a Korean church.

Still in the very beginning stages of church planting, Isaac has partnered with the CBWC and Burnaby North Baptist Church to explore where God might be leading. Isaac hopes to begin prayer gatherings this fall, and to build a leadership team over the coming year.

Please pray with us for the Youm family to hear God’s voice clearly and see His favour in the coming months and years.

Pray also for Pastor Jim Walton and his team at Burnaby North Baptist as they seek to support Isaac in this exciting venture.

 

Introducing Shannon Youell

Good news: we welcome the CBWC’s new Church Planting Coordinator to our team.

photo (2)

Rev. Shannon Youell of Victoria, BC, has accepted the position of overall Church Planting Coordinator and as the BC-Yukon Regional Church Planting Director.

This appointment will build on the strong church planting momentum created by Tom Lavigne, who served as the CBWC’s Director of Church Planting for four years. Going forward, the CBWC has decided to take a regional approach rather than centralizing the work of church planting in one location. 

Shannon will work with the Alberta and Heartland church planters to support existing church plants, cast church planting vision, and catalyse new church plants in each region, in addition to starting church plants in BC and the Yukon. Ordained in 2012, she has worked as an itinerant speaker and worship leader for 10 years. She has a passion that intentional practices grow deeper in worship and in our knowledge and intimacy with God.

“I am very passionate about believers who are the church, being the tangible presence of Jesus in the places and spaces where we live, work, play and pray.  This is God’s call on us: to join him in his mission as his witnesses to reveal the good news of the kingdom of God,” Shannon says.  “I am passionate in moving us from our places of worship where we gather a time or two a week, to being scattered about our neighbourhoods, towns and cities and blessing those places and making a difference in some way that reveals the God of love, hope, joy, peace, mercy and healing who so loves the world that He desires none should perish!”

Pray with us for Shannon in her new role–and don’t be afraid to send her an email (syouell@cbwc.ca) and introduce yourself!

Cailey

Pray with Us: The Well

Patrick and Vicki Hazelwood of The Well community in Lethbridge, Alberta have a good problem on their hands: too many kids in Sunday School!

Pray with us as they discern the best way to teach the kids using the resources they have, and pray for more leaders.

Here’s a shot of the group singing at the Blue Sky Seniors Lodge in Lethbridge on December 15th.  The kids enjoyed doing a number of solos and afterward gave Christmas crafts they made in Sunday school to the seniors.

the-well-seniors lodge

Thanksgiving as Refugees Arrive in Winnipeg

This article originally from CBWC’s monthly newsletter Making Connections.

By Peggi Talbot, Broadway-First Baptist, Winnipeg

On October 15–right after Thanksgiving–at the James Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg, a tired mother and three young men in t-shirts and jeans came down the escalator. Awaiting the travellers was Jean Hatungimana, surrounded by a group from Broadway-First Baptist. He smiled at the sight of his mother and brothers.

After 30 hours spent on four planes coming from a refugee camp in Malawi, Pascasie and her three sons Rama, JP, and Raimond landed in Winnipeg to begin a new life. They were greeted with a traditional African supper at the church by the African community of Broadway-First, and then taken to friends of Jean’s for some much-needed sleep. The church officially welcomed the family on October 20 with a celebration cake. Pascasie and her sons are now settling into their house near the church and close to many services for new immigrants.

Many volunteers from Broadway-First spent the last week getting the family’s accommodations ready, donating furniture and items to equip a house. Clothesline, the used clothing ministry of the church, provided coats and clothing for the family.

“It has been an exciting time for our congregation. It has been exciting and stretching to partner in this sponsorship. It is exciting to be able to play a role in reuniting this family and helping them take their first steps in Canada. And it is stretching to take on the faith, relational and financial challenges that comes with it,” says Joe Welty, Senior Pastor at Broadway-First. “It still amazes me to see our congregation being given the opportunity to respond to some of the big global issues in a tangible way.”

Broadway-First Baptist has been known to help many immigrant communities and families over the years, including families from Laos, Philippines and Africa. Jean, originally from Burundi, came to the church almost 10 years ago through World University Services of Canada (WUSC) from a refugee camp in Malawi. In 2005, Broadway-First helped him sponsor two of his brothers, Rajabu and Pascal. They arrived in 2007 and now live in Edmonton.

Through the years, the church has celebrated with Jean as he became a Canadian citizen, a member of the church and a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with his BA. Now, the church is helping Jean with his mother and 3 more brothers for the next year as they adapt to Canada and a new way of life. We look forward to a very exciting year.

In recent years the church has had an African community worshiping with the congregation and also in their own service.  Pastor Joe Welty is working with the African community to support them in their ministry.

Let’s pray for Pascasie, Rama, JP, and Raimond as they adapt to our country, learn the language and make new friends. Pray also for the congregation at Broadway-First as they support this family over the next year.

For more information on refugee sponsorship, contact Rod Olson, the CBWC’s Coordinator for Refugees and Displaced Peoples at rolson@cbwc.ca.

Pray with Us: Crossover

Join us in prayer for Crossover Japanese Church in Calgary. Here is an update from Miyuki Taniguchi:

We need our youth leaders or teachers on Sundays.  As you know, our young people’s first language is English. We sing together at first, then separate into three groups: adults, youth and children. The young people’s leader needs to speak English. Right now, we do not have any youth leader who can lead their youth worship on Sunday.  Please pray that God will give them a good leader and teacher.
Also right now, we have a few non-Christian young men who often come to our church on Sundays. They are planning to go back to Japan in a couple of months. We really hope they will accept Jesus before they go back to Japan. Please pray with us.

Pray with Us: A New Year Ahead

A Prayer for the New Year

Author Unknown.

What shall I ask for the coming year
What shall my watchword be
What should thou do for me, dear Lord
What can I do for thee?

Lord, I would ask for a holy year
Spent in thy perfect will
Help me to walk in thy very steps
Help me to please thee still.

Lord, I would ask for a trustful year
Give me thy faith divine
Taking my full inheritance
Making thy fulness mine!

Lord, I would ask for a year of love
O let me love thee best
Give me the love that faileth not
Beneath the hardest test.

Lord, I would ask for a year of prayer
Teach me to walk with thee
Breathe in my heart the Spirit’s prayer
Pray thou thy prayer in me!

Lord, I would ask for the dying world
Stretch forth thy mighty hand
Thy truth proclaim, thy power display
This year in every land.

Lord, I would ask for a year of joy
Thy peace, thy joy divine
Springing undimmed through all the days
Be thy days of shade or shine.

Lord, I ask for a year of hope
Looking for thee to come
And hastening on that year of years
That brings us home to you.