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Thrive Spring/Summer 2021

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Spring/Summer 2021

EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE

THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS IN CANADA

COMMUNICATING IN OUR CULTURE

CULTURE

WHO IS INFLUENCING WHOM?


Spring/Summer 2021

ARE THESE

POST-CHRISTIAN OR

PRE-CHRISTIAN DAYS?

by Steve Jones Revision to Religious Freedom Watch, Winter 2020

Is the term “post-Christian” passé? I’m reading that some pundits use the term “pre-Christian” to describe our time in

the early stages of the 21st century. I’ll let the bloggers decide.

If you Google its Ngram Viewer, you’ll discover how many times a particular word is used in literature between 1500

and 2019. The words “post-Christian” only picks up usage after 1960 — 60 years ago. And so, it seems most believed that

Western culture remained largely Christian until the mid-20th century, despite what Voltaire and Nietzsche wrote.

I’m not saying Canada was ever a Christian nation, nor am I saying Christianity has been wiped clean from the cultural

fabric of our nation. I am saying that much has changed in the past two generations related to Christianity’s acceptance

in our country. I think we all agree.

Largely, Canada remains Christian in “form”, but not in “content”. Around 70% of Canadians still identify themselves as

Christian, but what does that actually mean?

THE FIRST WORD

Those past beliefs, values, and behaviours so essential to Christian identity are now viewed by some as problematic,

even evil, within our current societal norms. What used to be viewed as the bedrock positives that made Canada good

(namely, Judeo-Christian values) is now seen by many as the root of everything wrong in our past and present as a country.

These beliefs need to be uprooted from Canadian culture to move toward a more positive future. Media, academia,

and our judiciary these days point to charter-values, not Christian values. Don’t get me wrong: the Charter is good, but

the drift toward post-Christian values is transforming our nation.

Orthodox Christian beliefs are getting a badrap these days. I think historians will say legalizing gay marriage was a watershed

legal and cultural moment in Canada. Our laws finally caught up with our relativistic culture. Canadian culture

had long been ahead of legal precedence. That is no longer the case.


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 3

The result is that you can believe anything you want in Canada, but you cannot

necessarily act on it. That is often a good thing. One person believes it is good to

love your neighbour while another would love to eat their neighbour. In these

cases, I’m grateful Canadian law stops people from acting!

However, in practical terms this is how it will work: a person of faith will apply

to get a birth certificate for their newborn. They will strike off the application’s

description, asking for the names of “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”. Instead, the young

mother will write in “Father” and “Mother”. Her application will be sent back

saying the form is incomplete. Do you still want a birth certificate for your child?

You fill in the application the way the government demands or you don’t receive

their service. What about public funding? You check off this “attestation box” for

the money. The government demands a specific view to receive the right to public

funding. These are all seemingly little things, however, collectively they change a

culture.

What is the church’s response?

Some say we withdraw from society as in the days of the medieval monks. The

book The Benedict Option throws this idea into the ring for the Church’s consideration.

Others talk of getting more aggressive and trying to engage, forcing

“Christian values” back on the table of public debate and acceptance or ensuring

that orthodox Christians get educated and become the next doctors, lawyers,

judges, MPs, and media elites. But there is a temptation here to confuse what is

Christian and what is Canadian. Can Christian witness really be established in

societal mechanisms without compromising the Gospel? Gospel alignment with

temporal forms always spoils the Good News message.

The Church’s response is prayer, presence, and proclamation. Local churches must

get intentional about their prayer ministry. History tells us over and over again of

the societal shifts that occurred because of the faithful praying of God’s people.

Local churches must act as their community chaplain in their town or city, involved

in the ministry of presence in the lives of people. Living like missionaries

in their community, they reach out rather than wait for people to come to them.

And also, local churches must faithfully proclaim the Good News, aiming to be a

public voice among the chorus of other voices seeking to be heard in our pluralistic

society.

In the absence of a clear societal direction,

the moral vacuum needs to be filled. Nature

abhors a vacuum; something always fills

it. And so, in the cultural vacuum, we find

ourselves other priests. That vacuum is

being filled by our judicial, academic,

and legislative branches. Canada’s new

“secular cathedral” may be our Supreme

Court. The Supreme Court tells us what

is right and wrong. Our schools enforce

this teaching and our legislatures protect

the new doctrine. The result will become

a “bureaucratically enforced diversity”,

policed through policy, and won’t be kind

to outsiders with outdated beliefs. This approach

is akin to the python’s attack, not

a rattlesnake. We need not fear the fangs

of police action; it’s much more subtle.

Orthodox Christian beliefs and values are

slowly being squeezed out to the margins

of civil society, while new Canadian values

are being adopted.

Prayer, presence, proclamation… three foci that need to be considered by any

local church that remains committed to engage (not withdraw from), love, and

bless their community and beyond. In this edition of Thrive: “Who is Influencing

Whom?”, we address the societal shifts going on in Canada as well as ways that local

churches might respond.

Steven Jones is President of The

Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist

Churches in Canada. Follow Steve on

Twitter @FellowshipSteve.


4 / thrive Spring/Summer 2021

THE FELLOWSHIP’S THEME VERSE FOR 2021 IS:

“I APPEAL TO YOU, BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,

THAT ALL OF YOU AGREE WITH ONE ANOTHER

IN WHAT YOU SAY AND THAT THERE BE NO

DIVISIONS AMONG YOU, BUT THAT YOU BE

PERFECTLY UNITED IN MIND AND THOUGHT.”

I CORINTHIANS 1:10 (NIV)

10 THE GOD-SIZED TASK

You can connect with us on FACEBOOK:

www.facebook.com/FellowshipNatl,

on INSTAGRAM: @FellowshipNatl,

and on TWITTER: @FellowshipNatl.

Come and join the conversation.

2 THE FIRST WORD

ARE THESE POST-CHRISTIAN OR PRE-CHRISTIAN

DAYS? / Steve Jones

5 DO I NEED AN ESTATE PLAN? / Gord Baptist

6 LOVE EXTENDED

EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE / Dan Shurr

PARTNERING FOR JUSTICE / Denise Wicks

8 OUT THERE

THE SHIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING / Benjamin Porter

THE GOD-SIZED TASK ; FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL

SUMMER APPEAL

12 GROUND WORK

CHURCH PLANTING IN POST-CHRISTIAN

QUEBEC / Steve Cloutier

CHAPLAINCY IN QUEBEC: STORIES OF

GROWTH / Donald Rodier

TRAINING FOR CHAPLAINS

CHRISTIANS IN GOVERNMENT / Charlie Lyons

A TRANSFORMATION EXCEEDING ALL

EXPECTATIONS / Richard Flemming

16 TRUTH TALK

THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS IN CANADA /

Sheldon Wood

HOW CAN THE CHURCH RESPOND? / Jack Taylor

22 UP TO SPEED

A DECADE FROM TODAY... / Valerie Heaton

22 THE LAST WORD

COMMUNICATING IN OUR CULTURE / Stan Fowler

truth talk

MISSION STATEMENT: Thrive is the official magazine of The Fellowship of

Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. It is published to enhance the life and ministry

of church leaders and members in Fellowship congregations by providing articles,

resources and news that reflect evangelical values, a common mission as well as a shared

sense of identity and vision. Thrive is published three times a year and is available in

English and French.

© The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada

MINISTRY CENTRE: P.O. Box 457, Guelph ON N1H 6K9

T: 519-821-4830 F: 519-821-9829 EMAIL: president@fellowship.ca

thrive-magazine.ca

SENIOR EDITOR: Steven Jones MANAGING EDITOR: Valerie Heaton COPY EDITOR: Jesskah McCartney LAYOUT & DESIGN: Ampersand

EMAIL: thrive@fellowship.ca POSTAGE: Return undeliverable Canadian address to Circulation Department, P.O. Box 457, Guelph ON N1H 6K9


foundation

DO I NEED AN

ESTATE PLAN?

Whether you are preparing to get a will done or you

already have one, it is important to consider some of

the consequences of the distribution of your estate, such as:

• What fees/taxes will have to be paid?

• What is the dollar amount of the actual net worth of

my estate?

• What portion and dollar amounts do my beneficiaries

receive?

• How do I reduce probate, estate costs, and taxes?

• What amount do I desire to give through my estate?

• What are the results in tax reduction that enhances the

amounts going to my beneficiaries?

Questions like these underscore the importance of completing

an estate plan, either before you arrange a will or

while reviewing your current will. Estate plans enable you

to see what will happen as a result of your bequest directions.

The Fellowship can help with this! Through our

partnership with ADVISORS with Purpose, you can obtain

a comprehensive written plan that articulates your estate

directions and allows you to see the results of your generosity

to your family and others, at no cost or obligation

to you. For more information about our free estate plan

service, please contact Gord Baptist,

who will pair you with an advisor to

complete your plan.

— Gord Baptist is Fellowship

Advancement Director and can be

reached at 519.821.4830, ext. 244,

fax: 519.821.9829, or

gbaptist@fellowship.ca.

by Gord Baptist

FOUNDATION


love extended

Spring/Summer 2021

EXPLOITATION

AND ABUSE

>

Interview with Casandra Diamond, founder and

director of BridgeNorth, a registered charitable

organization with the goal of seeing an end to

sexual exploitation in Canada.

by Dan Shurr

LOVE EXTENDED: FAIR

In 2017 BridgeNorth began a partnership

with FAIR. What has this partnership

meant to you?

The prayer support of FAIR is a

cornerstone of our work and gives

life to all that we do, allowing us to

carry out direct service work for our

program participants. Each year,

CASANDRA DIAMOND

FAIR and many Fellowship churches

reach out to support us financially, as well. This allows us

to share the Gospel, not just a meal or a bed, making our interactions

with those we serve meaningful and life-giving.

We’ve all had to adjust our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What adjustments has BridgeNorth had to make?

BridgeNorth had to find innovative ways to connect, support,

and serve. We were deemed essential workers, forcing

many to isolate from their families. Quarantine regulations

worked against those needing shelter, increasing homelessness.

Pandemic policies caused the release of traffickers

from jail, affecting those we serve. We faced financial

uncertainties, yet God intervened in ways we could never

have imagined. For example, I gave a TEDx Toronto talk

that released during the pandemic, generating funds and

donations from across the world.

Can you share with us some of the current ministry highlights

that have occurred at BridgeNorth? (stories, encouragements)

There are many to share! Ontario’s Ministry of Children,

Community, and Social Services (MCCSS) has selected

BridgeNorth to receive $2.5 million over five years,

beginning in 2020/21, which will be used to offer survivor-led

peer mentoring and day programs for children

and youth, providing holistic, strengths-based, traumainformed

supports from early intervention through to

stabilization, transition, and reintegration. Recently Pastor

Tim Cressman of Bluewater Baptist Church (Sarnia, ON)

reached out to help create congregational awareness about

BridgeNorth and to support us financially through a special

Christmas event, which exceeded its goal $10,000 with a

faith offering gift of $30,000.

My advocacy work within York Regional District School

Board has been recognized by the Ministry of Education

and is being adopted across the Province of Ontario. I have

also been appointed co-chair of the Ministry of Education’s

Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group, which ensures

that BridgeNorth’s good work will reach students in

Ontario from Kindergarten to Grade 12, safeguarding thousands

of children most at risk, while providing training to

over 200,000 teachers.

BridgeNorth has experienced growth in many areas, including

the addition of two new team members: Alison

Williams, who serves as Board Chair, and Janice Moro, who

serves as Managing Director. Both women have years of

experience and will bless our ministry greatly. Through

government funding, we now have the ability to expand

our work. Please pray alongside us as we endeavor to reach

even more survivors in the months and years to come.

WE FACED FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTIES,

YET GOD INTERVENED IN WAYS

WE COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED.


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thrive / 7

PARTNERING

FOR JUSTICE by Denise Wicks

There are many reasons that FAIR develops

partnerships with other organizations.

The main purpose of the ongoing

partnership with International Justice

Mission (IJM), announced in 2015, has

been to expand the ability of Fellowship

churches to engage in bringing justice to

the oppressed. This is being accomplished

through education and conference opportunities,

as well as two appeals focused on kids caught in online

sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the Philippines.

The first appeal, Rebuilding Innocence, was launched January

2017 and was focused on aftercare for OSEC survivors. FAIR received

over $270,000 for this project, which helped launch a foster

care program for children rescued from OSEC. This means

that survivors can heal from the physical, mental, emotional,

and spiritual injuries caused by their experiences in a loving

home with specially trained foster parents instead of living in

a facility setting. Funds raised through Rebuilding Innocence also

contributed to the renovation and expansion of an aftercare

facility where survivors live for the first few weeks after they

have been rescued. It’s an essential place for survivors to begin

their healing journey, meet with social workers, medical professionals,

and police and lawyers who will begin prosecution.

The second appeal, Rescue Me, was launched January 2020 with

a focus on providing the funds necessary to rescue children

from OSEC in the Philippines. Despite the global interruption

of the COVID-19 pandemic, FAIR received $67,000 towards this

need. IJM and local authorities continued their rescue operations,

and as of November 2020, 59 victims had been rescued,

nine suspects had been arrested, 16 perpetrators were convicted,

and 41 survivors restored.

We’re so thankful to be able to witness the Lord rescuing and

restoring children in the Philippines through this partnership.

Although some days it may seem like a small number of people

are being impacted, each rescue causes ripple effects. It sends a

message to perpetrators that what they are doing is unacceptable

and will be met with justice. With every child rescued

through FAIR’s partnership with IJM, there is a step taken to

restore the innocence that God intended.

— Denise Wicks is FAIR’s Projects and Promotion

Coordinator.

CHILD SPONSORSHIP

We are now halfway through the second year of The Fellowship Child Sponsorship Program, and FAIR is thankful to

report that there are currently 253 sponsors committing to 332 sponsorships. Since the beginning of the fiscal year

(September 2020), FAIR has received $60,000 through the sponsorship program for the four ministry locations in

Honduras, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka. You can learn more about The Fellowship Child Sponsorship Program or become

a sponsor by visiting fellowship.ca/childsponsorship.


Spring/Summer 2021

THE SHIFT THAT

OUT THERE: FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF D

1. PRACTICE EXTRAORDINARY PRAYER

2. FORMULATE A GOD-SIZED

VISION 3. ESTABLISH MINISTRY TEAM

4. ENTER COMMUNITY 5. FIND PEOPLE OF PEACE


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thrive / 9

KEEPS ON GIVING

by Benjamin Porter

It is truly amazing to work alongside

so many who have and will give up

everything to follow Jesus. These brothers

and sisters have such a deep concern

and passion for those who do not know

Christ. Such commitment and focus must

be paired with a God-sized vision — a

strategy to fulfill the calling to share the

Gospel with the lost and make disciples

who in turn make disciples everywhere!

In Colombia, Diego Cardona has implemented disciple-making

principles in the 100+ groups that have been started, with over

500 participants (of whom 25% are non-believers).

Kathryn Fleming returned to Japan in fall 2020 and almost as

soon as she got off the plane, God gave her opportunities to

begin a number of Discovery Bible Studies using the disciplemaking

principles. Even now, the groups are growing every day.

God is blessing and moving through this model!

Brenda Flemming has been implementing disciple-making

principles through “triads”. There are over 20 of these triads

at Calvary Baptist Church in Guelph, ON where non-believers

are being invited in. She is also connecting through Zoom with

women in Asia, where these groups are growing — Christian

women are inviting their non-believer friends. As a result, there

are 10 new non-believers who have joined these triads recently!

KCMY * , in Hamilton, ON is implementing disciple-making

principles alongside their church with international students.

It’s amazing to see how God is working in this ministry! Please

join us in praying for KCMY’s ministry, which enables the

Gospel to be sent throughout the world through international

students coming to know Jesus.

Ricardo and Ingrid Castro in Spain, Mark Buhler in Vancouver,

and Ron Fairbanks in Toronto are all seeing Discovery Bible

Study groups begin and multiply. Despite everything that is

going on in the world, I am in awe of how God is not slowing

down in the expansion of His Kingdom.

Please contact me through fellowship.ca/contact if you would

like to find ways for you, your family, or your church to learn

more about how to partner with our missionaries and how you

can implement such a God-sized vision to saturate your community

with the Gospel.

Join us as we pray for our missionaries to reach the unreached

and finish the task so that our Father in Heaven may be praised!

— Ben Porter is Fellowship International’s Candidate

Coordinator.

*Names have not been used for security reasons.

MM: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES

6. BEGIN

DISCOVERY

GROUPS

7. MAKE

DISCIPLES

IN GROUPS

10. COACH LEADERS

8. RECOGNIZE AND

TRAIN LEADERS

9. HELP GROUPS IDENTIFY AS CHURCHES


10 / thrive Spring/Summer 2021

THE

GOD-SIZED

TASK

Have you ever had a God-sized task? These aren’t the everyday

“dream” items that you might scribble down on your life’s bucket

list, or the steps we need to accomplish in order to achieve our goals in

life. No, these tasks stretch us outside the boundaries of what we could

ever hope to accomplish and quickly reveal that they are humanly impossible

apart from God’s intervention and blessing.

The greatest need of mankind in our world today is to intimately and

personally know our Creator and to grow more like Him each day. In

1900, approximately a third of the world’s population self-identified as

Christian. Today, in spite of the influence and impact of past missionary

efforts, this percentage has not changed even though the world’s population

has quadrupled! In fact, over 40% of those on this planet have

never heard the Good News, and more than two billion people don’t

know anyone who knows Jesus.


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 11

The statistics sound bleak, and the work daunting. Yet God continues

to raise up an army of missionaries and national workers

who passionately love Him and are seeking to make Him

known. In the case of nationals who work alongside Fellowship

International missionaries, they are well-positioned to reach

the unreached in their culture. They are culturally, linguistically,

and geographically close to large groups of people who are

spiritually separated from Christ, having little or no exposure

to the Gospel.

In Indonesia, Fellowship International missionaries Edwin

and Helmi Karwur are discipling eight individuals, all recent

graduates of the seminary that Edwin leads. At great personal

cost, they are preparing to relocate to another of the Indonesian

islands with a largely unreached population.

Fellowship International missionaries Bechara and Roula

Karkafi are seeing God at work as they train national believers

in Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. They are reaching out to

their communities through extremely difficult circumstances

brought on by political and financial crises, which are further

complicated by the global pandemic.

Long-serving Fellowship International missionary and passionate

disciple-maker Richard Flemming tells us about one such

national missionary couple: “A year ago Jerry and his wife, Esther,

arrived in a country in Western Africa that is 99.9% Muslim with

the task of reaching three unreached people groups. For the past eight

months, during a weekly Zoom call, Jerry has been learning about

disciple-making movements (DMM) and this has given them a Godsized

task: to see 1,500 churches started over the next 20 years. These

are house churches that would be established as God’s Spirit moves

throughout these communities. In addition, Jerry is now sharing the

DMM approach with other African workers who will then train

others.”

These are just three examples of how God is accomplishing

God-sized tasks in cross-cultural locations where Fellowship

International personnel serve.

The Goal

Through the God-Sized Task appeal, we are seeking to raise

$60,000 to further the God-sized task of impacting the nations

for Christ through strategic discipleship. Funds will be used to

provide training, ongoing coaching, and support to these committed

national disciple-makers. In addition, making technology

available in these locations will provide ongoing training

and equipment to national workers. Funds may also be used

as seed money to help establish a culturally appropriate small

business, providing national workers with an open door to connect

with the community and care for their family’s needs.

Training others is a good thing, but when those we train also

train others, who in turn will train others — this is how the

work will be accomplished. Will you consider how God would

have you partner with Fellowship International personnel as

they train, equip, and encourage national believers? This Godsized

task is impossible apart from the strength, power, and

blessing that only our God can provide.

For more information on ways to support this initiative,

visit fellowship.ca/GodsizedTask.

TRAINING OTHERS

IS A GOOD THING,

BUT WHEN THOSE WE

TRAIN ALSO TRAIN

OTHERS, WHO IN TURN

WILL TRAIN OTHERS —

THIS IS HOW THE WORK

WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED.


ground work

Spring/Summer 2021

CHURCH

PLANTING IN

POST-CHRISTIAN

QUEBEC

by Steve Cloutier

GROUND WORK: FRANCOPHONE MINISTRY

Quebec is often referred to as

“North America’s greatest

mission field.” The hope for every

mission field is for local leaders to increasingly

set the tone of ministry, as

they often understand the local culture

better than foreign missionaries.

How is planting a church in Quebec

so different from planting a church

anywhere else in Canada? What is of great importance

elsewhere becomes of vital importance here: the margin for

error is very low. There are many things that still have to be

figured out, but here are some of the key ingredients that

are essential for planting a church in “la belle province”.

Planting a church in Quebec requires first of all establishing

yourself as a presence for good where you seek to minister.

Distrust of religious figures and institutions makes it

highly unlikely that you will be received with open arms.

As a result, testimony is crucial, and it must demonstrate

the real-life difference that the Gospel makes. People must

see and feel, and come to trust that you truly care about

them and the good of all people. This extends to showing

how the Gospel tangibly increases justice and well-being

across society and the natural world.

It is essential to clearly define for non-Christians what the Gospel

is, alongside with what it is not. This relates as much to the

message as it does to the mediums through which we present

it. Many people maintain distorted associations with

traditional religious forms. Theological acuteness must go

hand-in-hand with contextual awareness and sensitivity.

You cannot apply the usual markers of a successful church

plant the way you do elsewhere. For most church planters

in Quebec, the focus is on building relationships and earning

trust. While presenting a clear Gospel message, it is also

important to allow people to be known and cared for as

they are considering faith in Jesus. The Christian community

needs to offer a sense of belonging to those who are still

figuring out where they stand spiritually.

Church plants must be hospitable to all demographics.

Historically, our churches have been mostly white. But

Quebec, even francophone Quebec, is in no way a monoethnic

society. In places with a much higher percentage of

Christians among ethnic minorities, intentionally seeking

to make these groups feel at home in the body of Christ is

a must.

There is currently a stirring among younger Quebecois leaders

to develop ministries and initiatives that are homegrown.

The liminal nature of the church in Quebec has in many

respects hindered its own self-understanding and crippled its

initiative to take responsibility for its own spiritual flourishing.

Let’s pray that our present and future church planters

can play a key role in reversing this trend.

— Steve Cloutier is Church Planting Director of Mission

Quebec for the AEBEQ Region.

YOU CANNOT APPLY THE USUAL MARKERS OF A SUCCESSFUL CHURCH PLANT

THE WAY YOU DO ELSEWHERE. FOR MOST CHURCH PLANTERS IN QUEBEC, THE

FOCUS IS ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS AND EARNING TRUST.


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 13

CHAPLAINCY IN QUEBEC:

STORIES OF GROWTH

by Donald Rodier

Despite the challenges of the past year, our Fellowship chaplains in

Quebec have continued to serve the Lord with zeal and creativity.

Here are a couple of examples to encourage you today:

François A. Vermette, a Fellowship chaplain serving in the

community, and pastor who oversees two churches (Matane and

Rivière-du-Loup, QC):

“On Thursday evenings I teach and shepherd a group of disciples through

Zoom. It’s going wonderfully well. Recently during one of my sermons, a

person from La Salle gave his life to Jesus during our call. Another member,

Aline, is on her way to baptism. Lives are changing, without ever having

set foot in a church!”

François Provencher, a Fellowship chaplain serving in funeral

homes and pastor of the Church of the Flambeau, Granby, QC:

“This summer, I made myself available for 30 funeral ceremonies in two

months, all of which had been postponed during the first wave of COVID-19.

Throughout 2020, I was able to preside over 60 funeral services, where I

shared the Gospel 80% of the time— reaching about 960 people. The (staff at

the) funeral home considers me a member of the team, and even offered me an

office space. In fact, when a death occurs in difficult circumstances, the team

calls on me first. Thank you, Lord, for this open door to bless the people at such

a difficult time!”

TRAINING FOR CHAPLAINS

SEMBEQ, the AEBEQ Region’s seminary in Montreal, is currently developing a chaplaincy training program that will be

accredited, which will allow us to properly train new chaplains in Quebec. After one of the courses, one student said

she needed to rethink her somewhat overly aggressive approach to non-believers and learn a more loving way of doing

things. Another pointed to the paramount importance of such training for Quebec chaplains.

Our next course will be about the Gospel and the religions of the world. The world is changing and we are facing an

increasing volume of new cultures and religions. This course will help us better understand these beliefs and communicate

with the people who adhere to them, all in the light of the Gospel.


Spring/Summer 2021

CHRISTIANS IN

GOVERNMENT

by Charlie Lyons

GROUND WORK: CHAPLAINCY MINISTRY

“OUR CULTURE WILL CHANGE IF ONLY

WE COULD LEGISLATE MORALITY.”

Evidently, many Canadian followers

of Jesus operate based on this illfated

hope. This way of thinking (sort

of) worked for our spiritual forbears in a

theocracy, but a robust New Testament

theology of societal culture teaches that

a renewed culture begins with renewed

hearts. Of course, fulsomely influencing

culture within a democracy requires the

majority of Canadians’ hearts to be renewed — and that’s not

likely to happen anytime soon.

Many of us have had recent discussions about “separation of

Church and State,” but for the Christian elected officials in our

nation with whom I serve, this doesn’t mean the separation

of faith and State. I have the privilege of witnessing men and

women faithfully influence our culture towards God’s purposes,

much like Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. In their modern-day

“courts of Babylon,” they endeavour to look, live, and legislate

through the lens of humble, hopeful, and wise faith.

Followers of Jesus may never be the majority of anything in our

Canadian culture. However, we can and must uphold in prayer

our brothers and sisters who quietly and faithfully go about

influencing Canada’s culture for Christ within our nation’s legislative

chambers.

— Rev. Charlie Lyons is a Fellowship partner chaplain serving

with Leading Influence at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, ON.


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 15

A TRANSFORMATION

EXCEEDING

ALL EXPECTATIONS

by Richard Flemming

>

AN INTERVIEW WITH FELLOWSHIP

CHAPLAINS JAZMINE LAWRENCE AND

DANIELLE PRESSEAULT, WHO SERVE AT

GREENBELT BAPTIST CHURCH IN OTTAWA, ON.

English language practice has

proven an incredible way to

influence the culture of Greenbelt

Baptist Church’s local community

in the east end of Ottawa with the

love of Jesus. Danielle Presseault, a

Fellowship chaplain at Greenbelt,

partnered in 2017 with one volunteer

DANIELLE PRESSEAULT and a library near the church to offer

English conversation practice for

neighbouring residents who were new to Canada. By 2020,

a core group of volunteers were serving dozens. The focus

was on loving, not proselytizing, and volunteers and participants

became trusted friends.

JAZMINE LAWRENCE

COVID was pivotal: should the

group pause during lockdown, or

switch gears and set up camp online?

Jazmine Lawrence had just become

a Fellowship chaplain through

Greenbelt, and she and Danielle were

planning a weekly Bible study for

added English practice. They posed

an invitation to the group: come and explore what the Bible

is about. The friendships nurtured over three years bore

immediate fruit as mostly non-Christians expressed eager

interest. This was no time to pause! In fact, the isolation

and fear of COVID made it all the more essential to not just

provide connection, but to satisfy this eagerness to explore

the Bible. Time to set up camp online!

The study follows Dr. Bob Ekblad’s Guerrilla Bible Studies.

Ekblad highlights Jesus’ love and power to rescue and heal,

and guides facilitators in boldly inviting participants to

welcome Jesus to do just that. As 2021 unrolls, bold invitations

added to genuine trust and love are bearing fruit: once

identifying as non-Christian, participants now speak of

Jesus as the Son of God who saves them — they pray and

take communion together, and one is about to be baptized!

Indeed, the genuine love and trust within the conversation

group was only a foretaste of the same they now offer Jesus

with deeper satisfaction and wonder. What a joy!


truth talk

Spring/Summer 2021

THE FUTURE

OF RELIGIOUS

FREEDOMS

IN CANADA

by Sheldon Wood

TRUTH TALK: : THEOLOGY AND TRENDS

Most Canadians are religious and

believe in moral obligations to

God or to some other higher power.

Government should not favour one

religious belief system over another

or, if the Canadian Charter of Rights

and Freedoms is to hold sway, interfere

with religious beliefs. The first

responsibility of government, simply

put, is societal order and safety of its citizens. Its function

is to protect our rights, including the right to worship, so

long as there is no harm caused to others and public order

is not threatened. To do this properly requires adherence

to an undergirding civic virtue with limited self-interest.

But what happens when the citizens or government, or

both, are no longer concerned about virtue, or when those

who govern and those being governed become centred on

personal ideologies and desires regardless of the moral cost

to society as a whole? What happens when government

seeks its own idea of “justice” without considering virtue,

or seeks a course of social justice without considering if it is

virtuous to do so?

“The problem is not with the quest for social

justice. The problem is what happens when

that quest is undertaken from a framework that

is not compatible with the Bible. Today many

Christians accept conclusions that are generated

from ‘madness machines’ that are wired

with very different presuppositions about reality

than those we find in Scripture.”

— Dr. Thaddeus Williams, assistant professor at Talbot

School of Theology.

Demands for social justice are often based on secular worldviews

about right and wrong, about fairness, about human

needs and — with an acceptance of “Critical Theory” —

about power dynamics where all people are seen as being

oppressed, or an oppressor, or both. However, the only

worldview framework in human history solid enough to

ground human dignity and true justice has been as taught

by Jesus Christ. Justice is a matter of honouring God and

honouring the image of God inherent in every person, and

is grounded in God’s love for humanity, our love of God,

and the love of our “neighbour”: “religious” principles that

have served well in societies. Religious principles that need

to be strengthened, not weakened.

As the recent Student Summer Jobs Grant concerns demonstrated,

and the badly worded Bill C-6, wherein “conversion

therapy” is broadly defined so that clergy may want

to contact a lawyer before providing Biblical counselling

to church members, has now shown faith beliefs are being

discouraged by government.

Bill C-7, which expands the right to assisted death in such


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 17

JUSTICE IS A MATTER OF HONOURING

GOD AND HONOURING THE IMAGE OF

GOD INHERENT IN EVERY PERSON,

AND IS GROUNDED IN GOD’S LOVE FOR

HUMANITY, OUR LOVE OF GOD, AND

THE LOVE OF OUR “NEIGHBOUR”...

a manner that the United Nations has cautioned, among other

concerns expressed, would “be contrary to Canada’s international

obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the core right of

equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities”,

will also undermine religious principles upon which true justice

is founded.

Has “virtue” in government been replaced with “moral narcissism”?

A narcissism of “moral” self-deception wherein what

you say you believe is that which makes you “good”, acting in

substitution for true “virtue” and replacing the actual results

derived from a person’s beliefs; results themselves now being

irrelevant.

It is of concern to realize that if you do not have people in

government who are modeling truly virtuous characteristics

in the legislation they bring forward, it will be taken as a

green light by people in their everyday lives to do the same

thing. Legislation that intentionally or unintentionally

undermines historic religious freedoms could increasingly

be mirrored in society. Fortunately, this will only make

the Church stronger, as history has shown to be the case

whenever government seeks to make it weaker.

— Sheldon Wood, a member of WestPark church

in London, is an Ontario lawyer with over thirty

years’ experience focused on faith-based charity

and not-for-profit law as well as Vice Chair of the

Fellowship’s National Council.

FAMILY FAITH

FORMATION

by Michael Thiessen

In the same way that the Evangelical Fellowship of

Canada brought forward studies like Hemorrhaging

Faith and Renegotiating Faith, they are now initiating

a research project in concert with MBC to help

churches and ministry organizations address the

spiritual needs of Canadian families.

The two earlier studies confirmed anecdotal suspicions

that there is a major exodus of young adults leaving the

church. As teens deal with issues like a lack of parenting,

emerging adulthood, and information overload, the new

study hopes to provide critical and contemporary insights

about church ministry efforts and trends. This information

will help Christian parents and guardians as they disciple

their children.

Over the past year or more now, the Family Faith Formation

project team has been meeting with key ministry leaders

from across Canada to discuss research parameters and the

project’s literature review. The Fellowship is pleased to be a

financial and consultation partner in this broadly-based collaborative

research effort.


Spring/Summer 2021

HOW CAN

THE CHURCH


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 19

RESPOND?by Jack

Taylor

In 2006, James Canton, in his book

The Extreme Future, suggested that

speed, complexity, risk, change, and

surprise would define the times up

until now. In the past 15 years these

trends intensified; we don’t need a

5G network to tell us that. Christian

singles, seniors, and families — attempting

to hold onto traditional

values, practices, rights and freedoms — are getting blown

over in the tumble of cultural challenges and opportunities

through a tsunami of technology, globalization, and

diversity.

The question of who is influencing whom endures as

churches fill the digital waves with Christ-promoting messaging

and governments propose legislation undermining

the faith and convictions of the faithful. A third of church

facilities (9,000) are designated for closure or demolition

as crumbling buildings and shrinking congregations proliferate

the landscape. Surviving congregations are partnering

up, renovating and repurposing for social justice,

housing, and community programs, welcoming ethnic

diversity, and rebranding themselves on the air waves.

Loss of structures can mean loss of beauty, memory, community,

programs, landmarks, and history along with

worship spaces. Does loss of visible presence mean loss of

influence, or has it always been about the believers living

as salt and light through faith?

The culture wars seem lost with issues like intersectionality,

conversion therapy, MAiD, secularism, cancel culture,

political extremism, consumerism, and technology anchored

in place. Perhaps our prosperity, individual security,

and comfort have influenced us more than incoming

cultures, changing social mores or even government legislation.

Where are the voices of influence coming from seasoned

Christian leaders? Have they all been compromised

into silence, leaving us defenseless?

Christians engage contemporary culture by segmenting

into one of four categories: those who participate without

reservation, those who critique and redeem, those who

select segments to engage in, and those who separate from

anything originating through an ungodly source (see Bill

Strom, More Than Talk). A new generation of believers is

producing resources available on all social media platforms

to help with the dysfunctions and struggles.

Sociologist Reginal Bibby noted in a UBC 2017 report

titled “Resilient Gods” that although the early 1960s witnessed

a “flourishing religious forest” in Canada, “it’s as

if a fire of secularization has devastated much of [the forest]”.

Over the last 50 years we’ve seen church attendance

drop from 66% to 25% or less. The younger generation is

evaporating in many spaces, and the pandemic will test

the commitments of other faithful men and women. More

than 25% of Canadians now claim no religious affiliation.

Still, the church was birthed, and is sustained, by Jesus. He

has promised to build it and to not allow the gates of hell

to prevail against it. The mission of disciple-making continues.

New selfless leaders will emerge to envision new

strategies in the spiritual war, calling a new generation

into the conflict. The internet will become a front door for

spiritual entrepreneurs, the Gospel message will transform

hearts, and the Spirit will gift transformed followers

to build and rebuild the body. We may become intimate

and informal in small gatherings and/or we may enlarge

and establish ourselves in modernized facilities, but we

will face the holy restlessness within and look for brothers

and sisters to influence us toward godliness in the middle

of the chaos around us. The influential DNA of the early

church is still in our souls.

— Jack Taylor is a Fellowship author and Lead Pastor of

Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in Vancouver, BC.


Spring/Summer 2021

A DECADE

FROM TODAY...

by Valerie Heaton

An Interview with our five Regional Directors — David Horita, Fellowship Pacific; Mark Breitkreuz,

Fellowship Prairies; Rick Buck, FebCentral; Louis Bourque, AEBEQ; and Doug Campbell,

Fellowship Atlantic — about how local churches must adapt as our society further shifts from any

religious memory or appreciation.

UP TO SPEED: REGIONAL UPDATES

What major societal shifts have you seen in the past that you believe

our local churches must address in the next decade? What

seems to be the biggest issue?

Rick: I believe the individualism of our culture was deep

and significant even before COVID-19, but now people

are going to be even more isolated. I

think we will need to rediscover and

revitalize the importance of community

and fellowship. The secularization

of our culture is pushing

faith and religion more and more to a

private experience rather than a public

one. You can hold a view as long

>

RICK BUCK

as you hold it to yourself — your

“truth” may not be my “truth”. This,

however, is contrary to the whole mission of the church,

which is to proclaim the Gospel and lead others to a saving

knowledge of Jesus Christ. The truth of the Gospel is not

merely true for me, but is true for everyone, everywhere. It

is absolute, not subjective, which is challenging to communicate

in our cultural setting. If we are going to live out

our faith, we will need to expect that there will be opposition,

and even persecution. We will need a more measured,

wise, and winsome witness to our world that will require

building bridges before we can share our faith.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says: “But in your hearts revere Christ as

Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who

asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this

with gentleness and respect” In a world that is more and more

opposed to the Gospel, it is the totality of who we are —

our attitude, our actions and our words — that make the

difference.

Doug: The millennial generation is

less interested in organizations and

meetings. They are more concerned

about relationships, so the church

must decentralize discipleship and

shepherding down to the group level.

Gender identity and similar issues

are going to test our resolve to the

DOUG CAMPBELL

truth of Scripture. This has the potential

to be very divisive for church alliances and Christian

>


thrive-magazine.ca

thrive / 21

friendships.

How might our churches adapt to better reach spiritually lost people

in a society that has no religious memory and is often hostile to the

beliefs and values of faith groups?

Mark: Get to know non-Christians and

love them. Become friends, do nice things

for them, help them out — show them

Jesus through them seeing Him in you.

Then when they’re ready, or when you

sense the Lord leading you to inject Him

into conversation, you’ll have earned the

MARK BREITKREUZ right to speak and that will be a natural

conversation instead of an argumentative

one. It is going to be increasingly important for us to earn the

right to speak with the non-Christian world.

>

>

Louis: If in the past the stories of the

Bible and its teachings were known in

the community, it is totally different today.

We must not take a religious background

for granted when we approach

our neighbours. Instead, we need to adopt

more philosophical and people-centred

approaches, knowing that they resonate

with their values.

Every church or organization has its own identity, culture, and values.

What cultural values and mission models must our local churches

adopt over the next decade so we might

remain on mission?

David: Know the difference between

religious culture and Christian culture.

I am doubtful that we need a new model

as much as we need a commitment to

the actual walk of discipleship that Jesus

taught. I fear we are a long way from that.

DAVID HORITA Mark: Our churches need to be seen and

recognized in our communities as ones

that offer help and hope to the communities they’re in. Be involved,

volunteering and giving money to organizations within

your community. Be salt and light through organizations already

established and making a difference to better the lives of

those within your city/town.

>

LOUIS BOURQUE

Rick: COVID-19 has shown us what an amazing gift technology

is to the church, and has also shown us its limits. Technology

and media are a wonderful entry point for connecting with our

communities and with the unsaved world. People will often

visit a website, read a social media post, or listen to a message

online before they ever physically visit a local church. But this

is only a starting point for sharing the Gospel and discipleship;

fully developed disciples can only be made in community. So,

technology and social media are a great tool to begin to minister

to the unsaved, which can lead to the opportunity for deeper

relationship and growth.

Louis: We live in a society marked by individualism. An individual’s

value system is linked to their person: their tastes,

aspirations, desires, and attractions. What a person lives and

feels becomes their norm — their reference, their standard.

Therefore, if believers want to reach their neighbours they must

consider this value system. We must be sensitive to the worldview

of the people we seek to reach. Our current society is also

preoccupied by major social issues, such as the protection of

the French language, social injustice, racism, ecology, and the

suffering of the native people. Although these causes are for the

common good, we must be aware that they involve individuals

like us.

What do you envision our Fellowship of churches should look like in

2031?

David: My feeling is that the historic changes and events of the

past two years in North America are a tipping point, and a call

for us to re-imagine what it looks like to be an effective family

of churches that helps one another to fulfill the mission Christ

has given us. We have a lot of room to think innovatively, to

think about the heart of the Gospel, and to think about how we

how we apply our beliefs and values into current culture. I am

hopeful that we can do so.

Rick: I envision our National Fellowship serving our Regions,

which in turn serve our local churches, enabling them to thrive

and multiply. We are going to need a deeper level of interdependence

in order to fulfil the mission. We can be stronger together.

To plant many new churches, to develop an army of Gospel

leaders, and to nurture united and healthy churches we need

to work together as a movement in order to have the resources,

leaders, and systems in place to see the Gospel thrive.

GET TO KNOW NON-CHRISTIANS AND LOVE

THEM. BECOME FRIENDS, DO NICE THINGS FOR

THEM, HELP THEM OUT — SHOW THEM JESUS

THROUGH THEM SEEING HIM IN YOU.


Spring/Summer 2021

COMMUNICATING

IN OUR CULTURE

by Stan Fowler

THE LAST WORD

Our post-Christian

Canadian culture is

very much like the pre-

Christian Roman culture

of the first century, and

that makes parts of the

New Testament come alive

in fresh ways. When I

think about my attempts

to communicate our faith to the wider world,

I try to keep in mind at least two apostolic instructions.

Peter told his readers to be prepared

to explain the reason for their hope in Christ to

unbelievers, but he told them to do it with courtesy

and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). Paul asked the

Colossians for prayer that he might know the

right way to express the Gospel, which would

involve speaking with “wisdom to outsiders”

and speaking with grace, “seasoned with salt” (a

fascinating metaphor). What might that mean

for us?

It means at least that we need to identify our audience

and speak wisely in a way that they can

understand. When I speak or write for the wider

community, I am not teaching the church, and I

can’t forget that. I need to think carefully about

my purpose as I communicate: Am I trying to

explain Christian views to a general audience in

a way that makes them plausible? Or am I trying

to defend a Christian view and persuade the

audience? Or am I trying to provide a critique of

an anti-Christian argument? Each purpose has

value, but I need to be sure of what I am trying

to accomplish.

It means that I must resist the temptation to

demonize critics of our faith and instead treat

them with the dignity that God’s image-bearers

deserve. I need to remember that God treated us

who were His enemies with kindness and grace

(Titus 3:1-6).

We can influence the wider culture in diverse

ways: letters to the editor, newspaper columns,

speaking at city council or school board meetings,

public dialogues or debates, interviews

with journalists, and more. Most of us will not

have a chance to be well-known public figures,

but all of us can resolve to bear witness to Christ

in a way that is truthful, engaging, and winsome.

— Stan Fowler is a professor emeritus at

Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge,

ON, and an elder at Grandview Baptist Church

in Kitchener, ON.


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