Where We’ve Been and What’s Ahead

By Shannon Youell

As we look back on the fullness of the work we’ve been involved in this past year, Cailey, Joell and I are keenly aware that as we’ve paused to pray and discern in the 77 Days of Prayer initiative, the daily 10:02 prayer for workers of the harvest, and our several articles and resources on prayer and on neighbourhood prayer walking, God continues to be at work all around us. The challenge in all that He is doing, is for us to continue the discipline of praying and listening to where God invites us to focus and join Him in this season.

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Listening may mean a change of direction or rethinking some of the pillars we’ve been relying on, as God calls us to rely on Him more and more in our changing cultural landscape and increasing population of those who identify as having no religious affiliation whatsoever. Many who identify this way, when surveyed by researchers, report they have deep and meaningful relationships; find purpose and meaning in their life; are generally happy and fulfilled.What does this mean to us, the Church, as we attempt to engage them? How do our own ideas of “what they need” have to change? These are deeper questions to explore in prayer and discernment. God is re-igniting the desire of the Church for those who don’t know Jesus the King, so He’s preparing us as workers for the harvest, but perhaps we need to retool some of our methods as we harvest a different kind of crop.

We are excited and encouraged by where we are seeing God preparing you and me and all our congregations–His workers–for harvest. We have had more folk talk to us about missional innovations, engaging neighbourhoods, replants, new churches and revitalizing existing churches to join God on mission in 2017 than the previous three years! So we’ve been praying and waiting. Praying for God’s kingdom, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Praying for planters, pastors, lay leaders and all the local missionaries in our pews who are discerning the call of God to reimagine evangelism, church and mission. Praying for God’s wisdom and provision as our CBWC tribe partners with these works.

Will you pray? Will you pray and listen to where God is at work? There are several new churches preparing and discerning beginning something new, whether a new location, new plant or renewed vision of local missionaries. Some are brand new initiatives; others are folk who have been meeting together and desire to join our CBWC family; others are new immigrant churches as God brings believers from other nations to establish refuges of faith for new Canadians. Each of these cannot do the work on their own, nor are they meant to. As they pray and discern, we also pray and discern for provision, for trust, for God’s Kingdom to be revealed through each one.

We see in Acts and in Paul’s writings that the churches collected money to send to those churches who were struggling and those who were planting: churches supporting churches as they stepped out in the mission of sharing Jesus with the world God so loves. In John 17, Jesus prays that all of us would have that same love for the world as Jesus has for us and that God has for Jesus. Think about that! We are to love with the same generosity and sacrifice of God, who loves so much so He sent His one and only Son that none may perish and all could find the salvation of God’s Kingdom through the love of God revealed in Jesus.

As this year closes and so does our collective season of making space to pray, listen and discern, the next year opens full of the possibilities of how, then, we shall respond. How then shall the good and faithful folk in our approximately 168 churches respond to the call of the Spirit as we engage our world for Christ? One of my practices as each year closes is to take time to pray and ask God two things: Have I been faithful? And have I been obedient? Faithful means I have given, I have blessed, I have served–it’s something based on my metric of that generosity. But I always then ask the second question as I also need to be obedient to God’s metric in my faithfulness.

A HUGE THANK YOU to the faithful and obedient Joell Haugan, who has worked alongside Cailey and I for the past few years as director in the Heartland Region.  Joell brought with him an understanding and love for church planting, particularly in the rural context, and a huge heart of grace and generosity.  He has often hopped in his car and travelled from Swift Current where he pastors, to the towns and cities dotting the Heartland Region to encourage churches in engaging in and partnering in new and existing plants.  He has joined us in hosting CP initiatives at retreats, Assembly and Banff Pastors Conferences, Celebration Dinners and ministerials.

At church planting we have been praying and discerning the best way to cover this vast territory and Joell has gifted us with his insight based on his experience. Though Joell will no longer be the official director of Heartland Region, he will still share his gifts and insight in what is reshaped in the future.  Please drop Joell a big thank you or buy him a Timmy’s if you see him.  He has been and continues to be a huge blessing to our CBWC family!

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Joell roadtripping last year.

We have the wonderful privilege of joining God where He is working and expanding His Kingdom around us. May our prayer and our response in 2018 be “Your Kingdom come and Your will be done” in us and through us as we are faithful and obedient to God’s missional calling to our CBWC family.

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Overcoming White Sheet Barriers

By Shannon Youell

A few weeks ago I wrote about the non-negotiable of prayer and listening, specifically in regards to opening up avenues to share Jesus with others who live, work and play where we do.

One of my favorite accounts in Acts is the story of Peter and Cornelius. There are many important teachings in this account, but the emphasis I’d like to share today is in regards to prayer and listening.

The sequence of events in this story has always amazed me:

  1. Peter is praying.
  2. God SPEAKS/shows him things
  3. God sends him out.
  4. Peter goes because he was praying.
  5. He prays and he hears where it is he is to go.
  6. Cornelius was praying.
  7. God SPEAKS/shows him things.
  8. He sends for one who can open up the gospel because Cornelius was praying and God showed him where to go.
  9. And God, whose presence was already at work ahead of them, falls on them, and all commit themselves to be disciples of Jesus in His kingdom.

GOD SPEAKING happened because there was praying and there was listening.

GOD’S KINGDOM happened among humanity because the one who listened, who was called to be sent, went….even when it was not where he expected (house of Gentiles).

After years of prayer-walking and listening in my neighbourhood, one of the first challenges I had when God began to show me His strategy for engaging my neighbourhood, was who to invite to the “meet-the-neighbours” party. Across from us there is a house that hosted drive-by guests all night long. A police presence there was not unexpected. The people who lived there were rude, crude and vocally abusive to neighbours who tried to ask them to curtail their noise levels. I dubbed it the “crack house” and had no intention of inviting them to my party…errr God’s party.

But because I kept praying and God kept working on me, I did. I invited them. They didn’t come, much to both my relief and my disappointment. But the invitation was an act of obedience and God was continuing my journey of discipleship through it.

Peter experienced something similar here. He was praying and listening when God showed him a large sheet filled with unclean things to eat and tells him to go, kill and eat. Peter was appalled and exclaimed, “never!” Peter had a White Sheet Barrier and God was breaking it down.

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Peter’s vision painted by Domenico Fetti.

That house across the street was a White Sheet Barrier for me. Would I, could I–claiming that I loved God and neighbour, the world God so loves–decide whom I would invite to my home? After all, it is my home, my sanctuary, my refuge from the world. Or is it?

When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 10, He informed them He was sending them out like lambs among the wolves. For me, and for Peter, our White Sheet Barriers would have been acts of disobedience to join God at what he is up to. We tend to decide how we will share God’s invitation to restoration of relationships with Himself and with others. We tend to limit God’s ability to work in even the least and the worse of these. We tend to want to play it safe and comfortable, arguing that surely God would never ask certain things of us.

I still invite the folk across the street. Every time. And I wait in expectation that one day, because I persisted and because God is God, they just might show up and I will see that God was at work all along. It hasn’t happened yet, but what has happened is that they have become a little more respectful. It could be the multiple police visits from complaints, or it could be, might be, God at work in my neighbourhood as I pray, listen and attempt to live as sent.

Potential Impact Report

By Shannon Youell

Do we approach God and His calling on our lives with fisted hands, holding tightly to things we have already determined or with open hands, willing to allow God to inform and shape our futures? Do we allow God to fill our empty cups and then are we able to drink the cup he has given us?

This was the opening focus to more than twenty young adults from Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan, gathered at Gull Lake Camp April 27-30 to challenge the next generation to focus on spiritual direction, an openness to ministry potential, and general calling and leadership in their life. Facilitated by CBWC ministry leaders and pastors, the Potential Impact conference metaphor quickly formed around the charging rhinoceros, who can see only twenty feet in front of itself yet knows that to see the next twenty feet requires stepping into the unseen-ness of the future.

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Using a three-fold framework of Spiritual Direction, Deeper Personal Understanding, and Openness and Exposure to Ministry Potential, we went on a journey of self-discovery of Who Am I, Where Do I Fit, How am I Unique, What am I to do and Where have I been/where am I going. Facilitated by Chris Maclure, Tammy Klassen, Dennis Stone, Mark Archibald, Steve Roadhouse, Debi Burt and myself, these topics were engaged through sessional teachings and activities, faith stories, small group coaching, worship, prayer, reflection and–of course–by rambunctious times of basketball, floor hockey, arrow tag, ping pong tournaments, campfires, star-gazing, sharing meals, to name just a few of the things we did together.

The call to join God where He is at work no matter where life leads was dominant in both the presentations and in the small group coaching. In these peer sessions, participants could wrestle with the presented material and “engage in the topics of identity and call” with speakers and coaches who “were awesome, encouraging, helpful and practical.”

The conference organizers are keenly aware that engaging and empowering young people for ministry potential is crucial to continue in the work of the kingdom of God generationally. This is, after all, a component of making disciples who make disciples. Developing and raising/releasing leaders into whatever their sphere of influence as “ministers of reconciliation” will be, is our responsibility as the generations before them. And it will be their responsibility to the generations who come after them.

Orienteering and the Year Ahead

In the sporcompass-mapt of orienteering, participants race using a compass and a map to find points in the landscape. It can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a competitive sport.

Compass use works best when looking ahead to focus on where you’re going, while also looking back regularly to remind yourself where you’ve come from and to help keep yourself on track.

Looking back over 2012, we’re excited and grateful to see God at work in our Church Plants. He’s strengthening and growing them deeper in their relationship with Him and in the communities they’re called to across Western Canada. We’re seeing people coming to faith and coming back to faith, people being baptized, and people being discipled and raised up as leaders.

Everywhere we look we see that God is moving, the West is changing and the world is coming.

Looking ahead we’re awed by the opportunities before us. There are prospective planting opportunities in Neepawa and Winnipeg, Manitoba; Kindersley, Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Calgary, Edmonton, Hughendon, Red Deer, and Wainwright, Alberta; and Quesnel, Vancouver, Victoria, and Williams Lake, British Columbia. The task ahead is as thrilling as it is daunting.

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Mikyuki and Yoichi Taniguchi

As we orienteer our way around Western Canada we are very thankful for the courage and sacrifices being made daily by those leading in our new and developing churches.

We continue to pray for Reymus and Angie Cagampan in Winnipeg; Patrick and Vicki Hazelwood in Lethbridge; Roger and Dorcas Maurice, Yoichi and Miyuki Taniguchi, and Cliff and Jen Gonzales in Calgary; Janet and Gerry McBeth, Albert Kao and Christina Wu, and Peter and Jennifer Chong in Burnaby; Jodi Spargur and Hizon and Grace Cua in Vancouver; and Norm and Alice Sowden in Mill Bay.

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Tom with Alice and Norm Sowden

Our successful Church Plant orienteering is made possible through the ongoing prayers and generous financial support of the entire Canadian Baptists of Western Canada church family. In particular we would like to thank Westview Baptist Church, Leduc Community Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church Sechelt and First Baptist Church Lethbridge for going above and beyond to help make extra contributions to the cause in 2012Thank you!

Special thanks also to Jan Paasuke and the CBWC Board, Jeremy Bell and the Executive Staff, and Joell Haugan and the Church Planting Advisory Team for your continued oversight and encouragement. To Cailey Morgan, my co-labourer in ministry: thank you for going the extra mile in our communications, networking and research—and for being a difference maker in the Kingdom.

Orienteering is a full of risks. The challenges are many and the task sometimes seems impossible. Church Planting involves courage, character and conviction. Looking forward to 2013 we’re emboldened by the words of the apostle Paul to the Philippians:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (3:12-14).

Pastor Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting