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“How could we say ‘no?’” Gateway CRC responds to need for homeless shelter

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(Pictured Above: Larry, one of the shelter’s guests who has also started to regularly attend Gateway, sitting in the church gym.)

This month, guest blogger Monica deRegt will be writing a 3-part story on the Extreme Weather Shelter opened up by Gateway Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia. 
Our theme for December has been “Helping Without Harming” and we hope this story inspires churches to trust God and follow Him into their communities, despite the risks and the unknowns, in order to be a light in this world.


When Gateway CRC (Abbotsford, BC) designed their new building over a decade ago, they knew they wanted it to be a facility that could be used by the broader community. They planned for a large auditorium with a suitable stage for concerts, a spacious banquet hall for rentals, and they kept the original gymnasium and classrooms that were part of the old school building, to be used by groups within and outside of the church. What they didn’t envision was receiving an urgent request on a cold December day in 2016 for additional space to accommodate homeless men and women living in their neighbourhood.

When Jesse Wegenast, director of 5 and 2 Ministries, a local organization that ministers to homeless people, approached Gateway, he was hesitant at first because he had been turned down by every other church he had asked up to that point. But, desperate to find space for 30 beds for people who needed to get out of the cold as soon as possible, and knowing Gateway was a large facility, he decided to take his chances.

Within a week, Gateway’s gym was transformed into an Extreme Weather Shelter that remained open for over 70 nights during a long, cold winter. 5 and 2 Ministries operated the shelter and provided the staff, along with support from the City of Abbotsford. Gateway provided the space, warm meals every night for the guests, along with custodial services and other needs as they arose. In 2017, Gateway took over and managed the shelter on their own, with guidance from the Extreme Weather Shelter Action Committee of Abbotsford, and funding from BC Housing.

So how did it all come together? It wasn’t without its challenges, some of which are still being ironed out as the church heads into the third winter hosting the shelter, shared Gateway’s Executive Pastor Marcel deRegt. Because this ministry arose out of an urgent need, none of the typical ministry planning and preparation took place.

“But how could we say ‘no?’” deRegt asks. “We are the church, this is what we are called to do as believers.”

“But how could we say ‘no?’ We are the church; this is what we are called to do as believers.” 
Pastor deRegt

So, they said yes and decided to figure it out as they went. The learning curve was steep as most Gateway members had very little experience with homeless people prior to opening the shelter. There was some fear and misgivings, a lot of eye-opening moments, as well as a few frustrations. But mostly there was a genuine desire to help even if everyone didn’t know exactly what to say or do. Many responded in the only way they knew how – with food. Empty crockpots stacked up beside the church mailboxes each morning were a testament to the dozens of meals that members would drop off each night. Some members volunteered to sit with the homeless people in the evenings. A group of people came together early on Christmas morning to share a pancake breakfast and Christmas gifts with the shelter guests.

When Gateway took over the management of the shelter in 2017, more planning and paperwork needed to happen. DeRegt and the rest of the staff and council worked closely with the local Salvation Army and BC Housing to sort out funding and other details such as bylaw changes, as well as hiring a coordinator to oversee the program and manage the volunteers.

Lasting relationships have been formed with some of the guests, and hearts and lives have been transformed within both the congregation and the shelter. 

Last year, the shelter provided a dry bed and a warm meal for over 450 individuals. But more than that, lasting relationships have been formed with some of the guests, and hearts and lives have been transformed within both the congregation and the shelter.  


Monica Kronemeyer deRegt is a freelance writer and Academic Counselor at Abbotsford Christian School. She lives in Chilliwack, BC, with her husband and three children.

Somethin’ to Shout About – Our Diaconal Ministry Developers

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(Pictured AboveHarvey Buit (r) with Bill Groot-Nibbelink, listening and learning at the annual DMD Retreat in January of 2018)

 

One of the greatest assets of Diaconal Ministries Canada over the last 17 years has been its network of Diaconal Ministry Developers, or DMDs for short. DMDs are men and women of all ages who are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons understand their role and work out their calling in their church and in their community. In a nutshell, DMDs are encouragers and coaches, and throughout the year, they aim to connect with every diaconate in every Christian Reformed Church across Canada and are available to assist churches in any way they can.

Harvey Buit became a DMD in Classis Alberta North in 2014 and had the opportunity to work with churches in Central Alberta for the past 4 years. During his time as a DMD, Harvey’s impact was meaningful and widespread. Jessie Edgington, a Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference consultant, told us how appreciative he was of Harvey’s faithful service and how he enjoyed their work together. “Harvey has been a valuable servant to the work of the office of the Deacon within Classis Alberta North. He has faithfully worked to connect the diaconates of the central parts of Alberta, to bring words of encouragement and teaching and he has shown the importance of connection to a larger body by his faithful example… His humble, faithful service has been appreciated and will be missed.” 

Harvey has faithfully worked to connect the diaconates of the central parts of Alberta, to bring words of encouragement and teaching and he has shown the importance of connection to a larger body by his faithful example.

As Harvey is now ready to ‘hang up his hat’ and transition into full retirement, we asked him to share about his experience and here is what he wrote:

Could this job be for me? That’s what I thought when I read the announcement in our church bulletin. Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) was looking for a Diaconal Ministry Developer in Central Alberta – right in the area where I live. I was at a point in my life where I had retired from my full-time job but was not able to fully retire so the part-time work seemed like it could be a good fit. But the last time I was a deacon, Diaconal Ministries Canada did not even exist yet, at least not in Alberta, so how could I be qualified? I thought. So I asked God and my wife about it and then kind of let the idea go.
It wasn’t until a while later a member of our church came to me and said I should apply as he thought I would be the right person for this kind of work. God definitely answers prayer though people sometimes!
The four years of being a Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) has been meaningful work for me. I discovered what DMC is all about and how it works hard to equip deacons and I also met many wonderful, dedicated people along the way. Meeting with the nine (9) individual diaconates in my area to encourage them and share DMC’s information and resources was something I enjoyed. While organizing and putting on workshops didn’t always come easy to me, I learned a lot over the years. Our yearly DMD Retreat/gathering was a highlight and it always encouraged me to keep going.
I am excited to enter “full-time” retirement to be able to begin the next chapter in my and my wife’s life. We hope we will be able to do some traveling and also volunteering. I will miss all the wonderful people I’ve met and the various DMC events and gatherings, but am grateful to God for this opportunity and that He used someone in my life to nudge to me to say “Yes!”.

Harvey working with a World Renew DRS Team.

We can’t say enough about how grateful we are to Harvey for his years of dedicated work and his willingness to learn and grow in his role as a DMD. We know many churches were blessed by his work. Tyler Guppy, a deacon from Woodynook CRC in Lacombe, Alberta, shared this with us: “It was abundantly clear that Harvey not only wanted to empower and educate Deacons, but he also sought to make an authentic personal connection in his coaching role with Deacons. His focused work as a Diaconal Ministry Developer has had a strong, positive impact on many throughout our denomination.” 

Ted Vander Meulen, a deacon at Wolf Creek Community Church, agreed. “I’ve had contact with Harvey for the past two years since I became a deacon at Wolf Creek Community Church. I appreciated his dedication to the job, his willingness to meet with and offer guidance to the diaconates and his unassuming and thoughtful demeanor.” Chris and Anna van Haastert, deacons at Rimbey CRC, echoed this, sharing how thankful they were for all of the time and commitment Harvey invested in his role as their DMD.

Harvey’s focused work as a Diaconal Ministry Developer has had a strong, positive impact on many throughout our denomination.

So there you have it! Because of the time, energy, and care our DMDs put into each church they serve, they truly are DMC’s greatest asset. They play an essential role in propelling the mission of DMC to inspire, empower and equip every deacon in every church as they animate their congregations to join in God’s transforming work. Harvey will be greatly missed and we wish him God’s richest blessings in his retirement!


So… What About YOU? 

Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) is looking to fill vacant positions in western and eastern Canada and we are hoping you will heed the call! These part-time positions come with compensation and full training. Is this something YOU’D be interested in? Perhaps like Harvey you’ve heard about this role and you’ve put off finding out more.

If you are feeling the pull of the Lord’s leading, please contact the DMC office at dmc@crcna.org or 1-800-730-3490 for more information and to connect with one of our Regional Ministry Developers. We’d love to share what this exciting role is all about!


Will You Help Us Do More?

Our DMDs are a vital part of how DMC is able to fulfil its mission and mandate! And as you read above, their impact is powerful and has lasting effects on churches and individuals. Our DMDs do their best to see diaconates (and churches) thrive in the areas of community engagement, stewardship, and mercy and justice.

Because our DMDs do such important and valuable work, we honour that by providing compensation and full training to them. In order for us to continue to do that well and also to grow our team of DMDs, we need people like you to partner with us today. You can make a one-time donation OR become a monthly donor to help us continue our mission to inspire, empower and equip deacons through our DMD Network – so that every single community across Canada sees and experiences the transforming love Jesus Christ our Lord!

Many People Float on the Periphery

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Following our theme of “Loneliness” this month, Anita Hogeveen shared this blog post with us, which was originally published on December 18, 2017, on her blog.

Anita is one of our fabulous Diaconal Ministry Developers from Eastern Canada and she writes with grace and compassion and authenticity.


The church community did not let her be her. She let them be them but they did not let her be her. Her family was not accepted for being them. Her family was supposed to be something else. And it felt like they couldn’t make the grade. She couldn’t accept the nuanced put down any longer. The lines of non-acceptance are subtle, as to be almost, but not quite invisible. She could not shake this feeling. Lonely in a crowd. Lonely in a place that was supposed to show love and acceptance. Floating on the periphery. Many people float on the periphery.

I missed her in church so much a tear came to my eye and I felt a bit of nausea. It wasn’t the message that brought on the missing. I wanted her in that empty seat beside me so I could lean over a bit and ask her what she thought of whatever was being preached. I wanted to share a chuckle, a common understanding of what was going on. The chair remained empty. My tear dried up. The service went on. The missing stayed.

I am having coffee with a friend. She spoke about faith. Her faith is strong. She spoke about church community. How difficult it is to be welcomed in, for her. Two churches in the last eight years. Felt pushed towards and left at the perimeter. Maybe it’s me she ponders. Maybe I don’t follow the party line well enough. It’s not fun on the periphery. Maybe church is not for me.

I had lunch with friends. Friends from a long ago past life. It was fun to catch up. Two of us spend time talking outside the restaurant, in the cold…for a long time. As we catch up, our conversation turns towards the hurt church folks put onto the family. A broken family. Single parent. Kids. There was help but also judgement. Tuck your head in and take it. Hurt on hurt. A young child knowing judgement. Set apart. Lonely. Didn’t know why, not then, not totally then. But knew that something wasn’t right about their family.

I have felt all of these emotions for different reasons in each church I have been a member of, but not when I was very young. Maybe all members float on the periphery.

Many people often float around the perimeter of the “in” circle. There are circles within circles within circles. Cliques form. It happens. Like people with like ideas with like families with like…

Gather together.

Outsiders have a hard time permeating through the walls. Conversation and jokes revolve around times spent with each other. Ingroups. Outgroups. In churches. In all kinds of communities. Inclusion. Exclusion. All kinds of social systems struggle with ingroups and outgroups. There are those who are members of the inner circle, middle circle and the periphery. We invite others in but we don’t really mean for them to join us just the way they are. Nope. We want those we invite in to be just like us. Without knowing it or being purposeful we think of people other than ourselves, as ‘not quite making the grade’. The outside dirt is what we see first. We see the inside dirt later. We all have inside dirt and outside dirt. We attach labels. I do it. Then we try to pray the dirt away. The inside dirt and the outside dirt. Fix ‘em. The dirt is anything that doesn’t match what we consider acceptable behaviour.

Church spaces, places, should be different. I want church to be a different community.

Are they? Accepting-hospitable spaces? A place to belong?

We invite others in but we don’t really mean for them to join us just the way they are. Nope. We want those we invite in to be just like us… Church spaces, places, should be different. I want church to be a different community.

I think about the tattoo on my arm: mee leven. The hand writing is mine. My parents spoke about mee leven. It’s Dutch, meaning “with living”. I remember my mom telling me that we live together in community. When I look at my arm it is a powerful reminder of my life’s purpose. It is a reminder of what my parents wished to instill in me. They did not aspire to have power over others nor for others to have power over them. They prayed for life to be lived, side by side. Together. Not separate. Not alone. Not an us and not them situation.

If I meet someone I’ve met before or someone brand spanking new, it is my choice to “get curious”. Get to know them. I may not get them. It doesn’t matter if I get them or not. I do get that kindness, acceptance and belonging far outweighs whether I get someone. Kindness, acceptance and a place to belong don’t form cliques. Don’t push people to the periphery. I don’t want to live in clique space. In clique space I might have to cover up “my weird” and paper over all my dirty little habits so I can belong. I need to be my authentic self. I choose to work at offering acceptance to everyone no matter what stuff they bring with them. It is for everyone…belonging. If you don’t understand something about another don’t make it your practice, your ritual, to judge first and ask questions later. Get curious and find out what’s going on. What is at the heart of what the other is expressing or going through. Judgement in word, deed or body language is a habit, a ritual. It is practiced. It is unconscious. Something done for many years without thought. Unrolling the habit or ritual is accomplished by putting another habit or ritual in it’s place.

Life is hard. Life in community is less hard. Include don’t exclude. I try to remember other people are a reflection of me. I am a person. All people are persons. Just like me. Walk life alongside others.
I do not want to spend time in reflection of my own prejudices.

Life is hard. Life in community is less hard. Include don’t exclude. I try to remember other people are a reflection of me. I am a person. All people are persons.

I reflect on what I do when I meet people. I try for respect, kindness, acceptance, and ‘you are worth it’ kind of attitude. When I become aware of those pieces that I haven’t sorted out yet in my lousy attitude, it is my job to work on them. Put on new habits and rituals.

Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas has been a time of great joy and great sorrow for me over the years. I hold in tension joy and sorrow at this time of the year. If I am honest, I hold in tension joy and sorrow most of the year. I am the tightrope walker. Striving for balance. Learning to stand above and beside the joy and sorrow that life is all about. Holding joy and sorrow on my inside and on my outside. For me, Christmas is Jesus and the blueprint he laid out for me. He respected, loved, accepted and gave all people a place to belong. Christmas for me is also about presents (given and received) and relationships. There is complete joy in the knowledge that Jesus arrived in human form, human – like me. There is joy in knowing that extravagant gifts were given and received in strange places to celebrate His birth. There is joy in knowing that each breath He drew showed me how to love without condition. To love without expecting others to be some unknown “something”, a particular pattern, that they cannot be or don’t have a blueprint for. This unconditional love is freeing for me. It means I can care for all people no matter their past, present or future. I just have to be me. I am not good at being someone else. I expect this is the same for everyone. I have tried to be someone else. When I am someone else, I cannot hold the tension, I keep falling off the tightrope. It’s best to be me.

I like the Jesus blueprint. I am reflecting on how he did life, mee leven, doing life together.

Photo Credit: Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

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I stumbled upon this quote the other day while I was doing some research on loneliness.

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” ~Albert Einstein

While at first this may seem utterly impossible, and perhaps even absurd, I wondered how many people would agree with this statement. This quote came rushing back to me the other night when I went to go see the new movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a friend. For those who don’t know, this movie is a bio pic about the band Queen, which was around in the 70’s and 80’s. I was super pumped to go and had to promise her I wouldn’t belt out the tunes during the movie. (Don’t laugh! That was super hard for me!!)

This was quite the film! Even if you aren’t a superfan, I think you would enjoy it. Queen’s rise to fame was fairly quick and was mostly due to their unique sound and desire to take risks and mix musical genres into masterpieces. Their music has stood the test of time and Freddie Mercury will forever be remembered as an engaging and brilliant performer. While many of us left the theatre with our fists pumping in the air and with an even deeper appreciation for this band, I couldn’t shake the other pervading thought this film left me with: how lonely Freddie Mercury was. The band, and especially Mercury himself, had captivated the world and they pretty much had it all: fame! fortune! fans! Millions of people loved them and would have given their left arm to meet them. Mercury was the life of the party and was always surrounded by people, and yet, the makers of the film showed us how utterly and dreadfully lonely he was despite his success.

Loneliness can be experienced by anyone; male or female, young or old, famous or forgotten, rich or poor. 

I know this shouldn’t shock or startle me as much as it did. We’ve heard plenty over the last few years about other famous people who struggle, or have struggled, with loneliness. (People like Madonna and Robin Williams, just to name a few.) I guess for me, seeing that quote from Einstein and seeing this movie all within 2 weeks of each other was just a thought-provoking reminder that loneliness can be experienced by anyone; male or female, young or old, famous or forgotten, rich or poor.

So this month let’s unpack loneliness a bit. Let’s talk about our own experiences with it. Let’s talk about those in our churches who struggle with it and look to you, as deacons, for help and comfort. Let’s talk about people in our communities who may be experiencing loneliness and share how we can minister to them. Let’s try to look at some of the root causes of loneliness. Let’s discuss its connection to mental health. Let’s find out what the ‘cures’ could be.

Perhaps talking about it is the first step in helping others.

Written By: Erin Knight, Communications Coordinator for DMC


Do you have a story about loneliness you’d like to share? Email Erin today and she’d love to chat. Your story could help someone who is suffering themselves OR who is trying to help someone they know.


Partner with us! Diaconal Ministries Canada works hard to provide leadership, training and resources to deacons across Canada. Help us serve you better by donating today!

 

 

Why Praying With Others Works

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In September, we spent some time learning about prayer and devotions as part of your “regular” Agenda at a Deacons’ Meeting. In our post “A Diaconate that Prays Together, Stays Together,” we laid out why prayer is a vital part of the ministry deacons do and how praying together can actually make a diaconate more effective. While it seems counterproductive to spend time praying instead of ‘working’, we discovered together that prayer IS work, and even better: PRAYER WORKS! Prayer helps us know God’s Will more clearly AND it increases our love – for God and for our world. (If you need a refresher or reminder of this point, take a look at our blog post from Sept. 13 before reading further!)

In our follow-up post, we talked about Praying with Expectation, aka faith. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, click here.

Prayer helps us know God’s Will more clearly and it increases our love – for God and for our world.

For our final post in this month’s theme, I want to look a little more closely at the importance of praying WITH OTHERS. Our hope at Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) is that deacons will not only be a working group in our churches but will be a community of believers who love and care for one another, for the church AND for their community.

Corporate Prayer is Helpful

There’s a wonderful story in the Gospels which talks about a few friends coming together to help bring their friend to Jesus for healing. These friends were so convinced that Jesus could help their buddy out, they were going to get some face time with Rabbi if it was the last thing they did! Because of their sheer determination and faith, Jesus healed this paralyzed man – both physically AND spiritually! (See Luke 5:17-26 for the whole story.) There is something so beautiful about people coming before God in faith with a common purpose. While we are not able to physically bring our hurting friends before Christ to receive His healing touch, we can do so through PRAYER! And we know He will help them. “Prayer may be countercultural, invisible, and difficult. It’s also truly helpful.” (Megan Hill, Helped by Prayer)

Megan Hill, author of Praying Together, says it this way: “In prayer together, we join in the praises and laments and supplications of our neighbors, carrying their burdens and blessings to the throne, lending them a hand to lay them before the Lord.”

“Prayer may be countercultural, invisible, and difficult. It’s also truly helpful.”

Hill also points out, “It’s not only people who have had similar experiences who can love one another by prayer. Those who sit in comfortable pews in suburban American can pray for persecuted Christians on the other side of the world. And those who are in chains can pray for those who are free to proclaim Christ. The healthy can weep with the sick, and the sick can rejoice with the healthy. The lonely can rejoice with the married, and the married can weep with the widows. This is love.”

In his article “The Benefits of Praying Together”, Jonathan Graf reminds us that “churches that do not pray together still minister in whatever ways they can, given their resources, abilities, and sacrifices. But churches that pray together begin to see the miraculous power of God at work in their midst. It goes beyond what they can and should do into what God wants to do through them.” [emphasis mine]

“And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Corinthians 1:11 

Corporate Prayer Grows our Faith 

Jonathan Graf also reminds us that “faith grows as we pray together. Here’s how it works: Maybe I personally am going through a tough time. In the midst of it, I try to pray with trust and faith, but it is difficult because I only see the issue. If I go and pray with others, however, what happens? As I listen to others pray with more faith than I have, my faith grows.” He goes on to say that the more you pray together with others, the more your faith will increase as well as the amount of miracles in your church and ministry. Which in turn will increase your faith, which will likely result in more prayer!

Think back to the friends who lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof. What faith they had initially! But imagine how their faith increased when Jesus did what they hoped for and knew he was able to do! What a celebration to experience that together as a group!

Corporate Prayer Brings Unity and Understanding 

What Megan Hill says above leads us to our next point. In Matthew 18:19-20 we read, “Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” While we may come to the table with different hopes, dreams, opinions, and ideas, what binds us together is that we approach Jesus together as His followers, under His lordship and in His strength, and we pray in His name alone. If Jesus is our focus when we pray, we are coming together in agreement and Jesus promises He will be there. The more we do this, the more we begin to let go of our own personal desires and dreams and start to open ourselves up to what God wants. Praying with others will always pull you away from personal preferences into what’s best for the entire body.

If this happens, faith AND ministry can truly grow!

Praying with others will always pull you away from personal preferences into what’s best for the entire body. 

Pray Without Ceasing 

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:13-16

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage diaconates to begin incorporating prayer into their monthly meetings. As we said above, diaconates will find a greater level of effectiveness when their purposes are centered more on God than on themselves and their tasks. Jessie Schut acknowledges this in her book, “Beyond the Agenda”: “We recognize that your group has an agenda to follow and tasks to accomplish. We propose that these tasks will be done more joyfully, with a greater sense of purpose, and with more satisfying results if your working group is a community of caring people who support each other. And in the process, your group will move beyond the agenda to become a model of Christ’s body here on earth.” (pg. 7)

DMC has a couple of great resources to help you incorporate prayer and scripture into your monthly meetings, even for those who feel uncomfortable or uneasy about praying in groups. Check out our Devotions in Your Diaconate handout and our Growing as a Community of Deacons brochure.

“If we are no longer centered by Jesus in prayer, it becomes harder and harder to experience Him in the people we work with. … If you want to do it long term and remain faithful in it, I think it is very important that you ‘spoil’ yourself—spend some good time with Jesus and Him alone. This is the way to prevent burn-out and to remain joyful even when you see so much suffering and pain.” Henri Nouwen

Written by: Erin Knight, Communications Coordinator


Love our resources? Want to see more? DMC is an organization that was created by deacons, for deacons and we work hard to provide timely and relevant resources so deacons can be at their best. While we are primarily funded through Diaconal Ministry Shares that churches across Canada contribute, this income alone does not cover our entire budget or allow us to expand our ministry and increase our impact.

Will you help us so we can continue to provide training and resources to deacons? 

Donate today! Every gift helps and will impact diaconates and churches across Canada as we work together to transform communities with Christ’s love!

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – October 17, 2018

Posted by | Doing Justice, Uncategorized | No Comments
|Photo Credit: CPJ Facebook page, Sept. 2014, ChewOnThis! event photo

 

One day before the annual International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Citizens for Public Justice released its Poverty Trends 2018, an annual report on poverty in Canada. In this report, we read that an astounding 5.8 million people in Canada (or 16.8%) live in poverty(!!)

According to the article posted yesterday on CPJ’s website, “Data on poverty rates in Canada are an essential part of understanding the complex reality of poverty. However, in addition to economic measures, poverty also involves social, political, and cultural marginalization, with impacts on self-worth, spiritual vitality, and the well-being of communities. Individuals that face multiple barriers have an increased vulnerability to poverty.” (You can download the full report and/or read the full article here.)

Several faith leaders, from within and outside of the CRCNA, along with volunteers in communities across Canada, took to the streets today to participate in the 6th annual “Chew On This!” campaign to call attention to Canada’s disproportionate and persistent rates of poverty and food insecurity. You can read the full story here.

Ahead of today’s events, leaders from the CRCNA in Canada came together to sign their own Public Statement on The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, including Ron Vanden Brink, director of Diaconal Ministries Canada. Take a moment to read the CRCNA in Canada’s Public Statement and take time to reflect on ways your church and its members can respond. “While the church is unable to provide relief to the hungry masses of the world, it can certainly advocate for systemic reforms that would significantly improve the lot of millions in poverty.” (For My Neighbor’s Good, Synod 1979)

You can also stay up-to-date and find wonderful resources on the CPJ website and/or follow them on Facebook!

Prayer/Good Meetings: Praying with Expectation

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Psalm 5:3: “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” 

In September, we spent some time learning about prayer and devotions as part of your “regular” Agenda at a Deacons’ Meeting. In our post “A Diaconate that Prays Together, Stays Together,” we laid out why prayer is a vital part of the ministry deacons do and how praying together can actually make a diaconate more effective. While it seems counterproductive to spend time praying instead of ‘working’, we discovered together that prayer IS work, and even better: prayer WORKS! 

As I sit at my desk and look outside at a dreary, rainy fall day, I am also reminded of something else deacons (and perhaps all Christians) struggle with: HOW to pray. We’re not referring to the words we choose or the items we pray about, but about with what POSTURE we pray. In that verse above from Psalm 53, it would appear that the author knew exactly what attitude we should have when we pray—one of eager expectation. When we come before God in prayer, we are to believe God will hear our prayers and, once offered, that all we need to do afterwards is wait patiently for Him to act.

Well! That sounds pretty easy, right? We pray and God will act. Period. And yet, why do so many of us struggle with this? When we pray, “Thy will be done”, are we giving God an ‘out’? Are we giving OURSELVES an out!? ‘Well, God, this is what we want and what we think needs to happen in this or that situation, but hey, you know best so we’ll let you take care of it, hopefully sooner than later.’ Does that sound familiar, if we’re being honest?

In the ever-popular verse Jeremiah chapter 29:11, we read that God remembers us and He has very good things planned for us to enjoy. But if we keep reading, we see in verses 12 and 13 something that is perhaps even MORE important, and hopeful: if we take the initiative to call upon Him, pray, and seek His presence with all of our heart, He will listen and be found. There in these verses we are reminded of what our part is: to trust and expect Him to act.

As I sit here and ponder what it means to pray with expectation, I am reminded of a story I read a few years back that’s been shared in various places. (I happened to read it in a Back to God Ministries Daytimer!) It goes like this:

There was a small farming community that had been experiencing a terrible drought. The crops were dying in the fields and everyone was very worried because this was how they made their living. The pastor of the local church called a special prayer service for all the people of the town. He asked them to gather in front of the church and spend some time praying in faith that God would send some rain. Many people arrived and the pastor was encouraged by that. As the pastor was getting ready to begin the meeting, he noticed a young girl standing quietly in the front. Her face was beaming with excitement and then he saw beside her, open and ready for use, was a large, colourful umbrella. 

As he stared at the umbrella, he felt a bit of shame, but was then filled with hope and encouragement. This little girl’s childlike innocence warmed his heart as he realized how much faith she possessed. Everyone had come to pray for rain, but only the little girl believed enough to bring an umbrella. 

“Prayer is asking for rain. Faith is bringing an umbrella.”

Help Us Overcome our Unbelief!

How often are we like the crowd, who pray earnestly for God to act, but don’t fully believe He will or in the way we desire? If you are like this little girl, then God bless you! What would it look like if our diaconate – our churches! – were filled with “little girls” with colourful umbrellas?! That when we pray, we would believe that nothing is too difficult for God and that all things are possible with Him!

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

In Mark 9, we read a story about a man who asked Jesus to heal his son who was demon possessed. The man asks Jesus to take pity on them and heal his son, “if you can.” (Mark 9:22b) Whoa. Who talks to Jesus like that??!! If you can… !!!! Jesus (of course) replied, “If I can? Anything is possible to him who believes.” (vs. 23) Verse 24 says, “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark‬ ‭9:24‬ ‭NIV)

Can you identify with that man? If we look at the entire story, we see that this man had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples and they were not able to heal him. So can you blame a guy for being a bit skeptical? Perhaps he didn’t think it was “God’s Will” to heal his son. Or perhaps he was just being realistic, not wanting to get his hopes up. The fact that he brought his son to the disciples shows us that he initially believed they could do something about it, but upon their failure, his trust was waning. He no longer came with ‘eager expectation.’ What redeems this father’s unbelief is his honesty and his humble request to Jesus: “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (vs. 24). He DID believe Jesus could heal his son and he desperately WANTED Jesus to heal his son. All he needed was eager expectation; that Jesus would hear him, and act. Perhaps there are times your faith, my faith, needs to be stronger. And this, too, is something we can ask God for help with, with great expectation that He WILL answer our prayer.

Don’t Delay – Just PRAY!

Something else the ‘umbrella’ exposes is our lack of trust and/or doubt, or dare we say, arrogance and self-reliance? Why do we wait until the “drought” has begun killing our “crops” – our very livelihood – and our hopes along with it, and then pray for God’s help? We take our problems, we do everything we can to fix them and then, when things look overwhelming and beyond our abilities, we call on God to help us.

While this story has been used over and over again in various articles, sermons, and memes, it is a good reminder to grab our umbrella – our faith, hope & trust – when we pray. We are asked to pray with expectation, rather than suspicion or doubt. To pray in faith rather than in desperation and despair. If we are in a right relationship with God and we have the Holy Spirit living in us – guiding us, leading us, convicting us – then we will know God better and trust in Him to provide what we need, when we need it. Psalm 34:15 reminds us: “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.” And in James 5:16 we read: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” These verses tell us that God hears the prayers of those who put their trust in Him and who have a right relationship with Him and God will use your prayers to accomplish His good work. And not because of how we pray or how often, but because of His great mercy and love! (Daniel 9:18)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

So next time you pray for rain, don’t forget to grab your umbrella!


HOW ABOUT YOU?

How is your personal prayer life? Do you come before God with an umbrella in your hand when you pray?

What about your diaconate? Could you pray with more eager expectation? Have you done so in the past and seen God move in a big way? Share your story with us!

What about your church? Have you prayed for “rain” and yet, left your “umbrellas” at home? How could your diaconate, and church leadership, equip and empower your members to pray with eager expectation? Again, perhaps you have a story to share where you DID do this and God heard your prayer and acted in His great mercy and love. Let us know! We’d love to encourage other diaconates and churches 🙂

Meet our New Board Member for BC Northwest!

Posted by | Creation Care, Doing Justice, News & Events, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Cindy describes herself as “a sold out Jesus-lover, loved by God and called to bring attention to both the wonders and beauty of what God has created and the horrendous brokenness that we have caused to it – to bring healing to hurting people and hope to a broken world.”

Diaconal Ministries Canada is pleased to introduce you to our newest board member for Classis British Columbia NorthWest, Mrs. Cindy Verbeek!

Cindy was born and raised in Calgary and lived in Alberta until moving to Houston, BC, her husband’s “hometown” over 15 years ago. Together they are raising 3 beautiful souls, with the first heading to college this Fall.

Growing up, Cindy says she had a keen awareness of social justice fairly early on. She remembers arguing with her parents about how “those Russians” (the bad guys in that day and age) were just like most people and were just trying to live out their lives and get their kids to school, make ends meet, etc. Cindy entered university and became involved in environmental issues and then became a Christian and she began to realize that God cared deeply about these things as well. Cindy says she has spent most of her life trying to challenge herself and those around her to live more simply, and to use time, talents, trees and treasures with respect and in ways that benefit everyone, not just ourselves.

Cindy currently works part-time for A Rocha Canada as the Houston Project Coordinator. Her job involves raising coho fry in our hatchery, educating school children about God’s wonderful creation and collaborating with others doing research and habitat restoration in the Upper Bulkley River watershed. Cindy has a passion for sharing the wonders of God’s creation with anyone who will listen and for trying to help Christians understand how caring for that creation is integral to their walk as followers of the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of the universe.

It was a few years ago that, Rachel, our Regional Ministry Developer for Western Canada, came to meet Cindy and later ask her to be a part of our Board of Directors. Rachel had gone to Bulkley Valley in Northern BC to visit the churches there with the local DMD, Bart Plugboer. Bart knew of Cindy and the wonderful work she was involved in so they arranged a day for Bart and Rachel to visit with her to check out the salmon run and beaver dams in the area, go to the lake, etc. Rachel was also able to meet up with Cindy at the A Rocha farm in Surrey to see the farm and what they do, meet the staff and learn about different environmental concerns. After these 2 visits, Rachel knew that Cindy’s passion for justice and creation care, along with her ideas for ministry and church engagement, would make her a huge asset to our Board of Directors.


Cindy believes that caring for God’s creation is integral to our walk as followers of the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of the universe.


While Cindy knew very little about DMC and our work with deacons, she says she appreciated what she read in the introductory documents and felt like it was a good fit. Cindy had worked on the Creation Stewardship Task Force for Synod which focused on climate change, she had spent time in Africa, and she is also someone who has experienced depression and anxiety – “all seemingly random things,” Cindy remarks, “that give me a heart for those who are hurting, a desire to be a voice for those who cannot speak (including the creatures and places God created) and an agent for change in our denomination.” Cindy feels quite passionately that Creation Care and Social Justice are just as important for the church to take part in as evangelism and bible studies. As she puts it, “I am a sold out Jesus-lover, loved by God and called to bring attention to both the wonders and beauty of what God has created and the horrendous brokenness that we have caused to it – to bring healing to hurting people and hope to a broken world.”

In her time on the DMC Board of Directors, Cindy hopes to “be a voice for creation and the most vulnerable and help Deacons and Board Members alike not just write and speak words of support for these topics, but to … explore how God wants them to respond in practical ways [and] be good stewards of their ‘time, talents, treasures and trees’.”

Welcome Aboard, Cindy!!!

STOP! Collaborate and Listen…

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Waaaaay back in June, we talked about Deacons at Classis & Synod. Then in July, we continued that conversation and included Community Engagement. At first glance, you may have wondered (or still wonder!) what these 2 things have in common. Well – both require Teamwork, a.k.a. COLLABORATION.

In our post dated June 11, “What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!”, we shared some learnings from the book of Nehemiah. In chapter 3, we read about the people of Jerusalem rebuilding the damaged wall around the city. In this story, we see a beautiful picture of how the residents there worked together. They put aside their positions, their genders and even their loyalties, in order to accomplish this great feat. Priests and rulers worked alongside perfume-makers and goldsmiths. People came from other cities and regions to lend a hand. Men worked alongside women. Some repaired two sections while others simply repaired the section opposite their own homes.

As we continued sharing stories and articles on our e-Quip Diaconal Blog, we kept seeing that word and theme pop up! So, what is collaboration? For the purpose of this article, it means working with another or others on a joint project, OR something created by working with another or others. To put it more plainly: Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

While some will still poo-poo the notion of teamwork, saying it stifles ingenuity, it limits the individual’s right to pursue their own hopes and dreams, and/or it slows down progress, (I kid you not! Check out this rant, er article!), we TOTALLY DISAGREE! For those of us who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we see it differently. Because at the end of the day, IT’S NOT ABOUT US, and it’s certainly not about our own individual needs and wants.

Ephesians 4:16 sums this up perfectly:

“[Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Just read that one more time before moving on. Teamwork is Christ’s work and when each person does their part, there is growth and health and above all, LOVE.

“[Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

Why Teamwork WORKS!

Out of this story from Nehemiah, we drew 4 important lessons regarding teamwork and collaboration:
1. Teamwork means no one’s work was more important depending on how much they did;
2. Teamwork means we are each lending our own gifts and abilities to work toward one common goal;
3. Our positions or titles and even our gender must be put aside for the greater good AND the grander vision of what God would have us do;
4. While we often pray for prosperity and peace, hard times or calamity can be an opportunity to bring us together and make us stronger.

Steven J. Cole sums this up by saying, “To accomplish God’s purpose, we need a common vision, dedicated leaders, and willing workers who do their part.” That’s what teamwork is all about and that’s why it’s an important part in how we live out our faith and ministry to one another.

So let’s take a closer look at the 4 points listed above and find out what real teamwork and collaboration looks like and why it works:

Teamwork means no one’s work was more important depending on how much they did.

1 Corinthians 12 sums this up perfectly.

1 Now, dear brothers and sisters,[a]regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this…4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other…. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. …
18 Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body .21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

We read about this recently in the story about First CRC’s new ministry, called Opportunity to Bless (or OTB). The Brandon, Manitoba, church began this ministry after hearing about it from another local church and how it had propelled their congregation to become more outward-focussed. It’s a simple ministry with considerable potential and meaningful impact. And the best part? Everyone can participate! From donating needed items, to praying for the local organizations, to connecting more personally to the community organization they are helping (by volunteering or using their services), each person can help out in big and small ways no matter their age, gender, occupation or location!

Teamwork means we are each lending our own gifts and abilities to work toward one common goal.

When deacons gather together in Classis Chatham to talk about the future of their Diaconal Conference and how deacons can fulfill their mandate regionally, this is the Body of Christ working together. While each church can offer its own unique gifts and abilities, the deacons of this Classis are committed to loving God and loving their neighbours in tangible ways and they believe they can be better TOGETHER!

Collaboration is two or more people working together towards shared goals.

This point was also reiterated in our interview with deacon Ada Kloet, from Oakville, ON. Ada shared that her “church began to reach out by holding community dinners and a community cooking group, running a year-round food pantry, holding bible studies, being a part of a Justice Film Festival, and more. The church has discovered that collaboration in ministry helps them offer more wholistic assistance to the people they are serving. Their church really owns the ministries listed above and most are done in collaboration with other agencies in their city or region. Networking with local agencies who can assist their church not only helps the church (so they aren’t trying to do it all), but also the individual person or family receiving assistance: if someone else can do it better, let them!”

This opens up the conversation about Spiritual Gifts and passions. Within your own diaconate, each person around that table has been gifted with strengths and passions and a willingness to serve in a particular area. Take the time to discover those gifts! Harness those passions! And don’t forget to mobilize your congregation to join in! If every Deacon around your table cared only for creation and stewardship of our world, who would help inspire and animate your congregation to visit the shut-ins or work with Refugees? Ada noted the importance of encouraging one another’s passions, no matter where that may lead someone to serve. In her own church’s diaconate, one deacon there had a passion for stewardship and was led to serve in a different ministry. Try to celebrate this, instead of begrudging it!

Our positions or titles and even our gender must be put aside for the greater good AND the grander vision of what God would have us do

This point is bang on when we talk about why Deacons are needed at Classis and Synod. In God’s Kingdom, we are reminded over and over again that no talent or skill or person is greater than another. Remember 1 Corinthians 12: 5-6 above? “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”

Seating Deacons at Classis and Synod meetings helps to strengthen God’s Church, the body of Christ. The whole church is fully represented when all the offices (deacon, elder, pastor) are represented at these larger denominational gatherings. For more info on this, check out our brand new handout/resource: Top Reasons Why Deacons are Needed at Classis & Synod.

Remember, we are the BODY of Christ, working and functioning as ONE with our own special work to do (Eph. 4:16). We can’t all be an eye, or a leg, or a neck. It just wouldn’t work. And it would look SUPER silly!

While we often pray for prosperity and peace, hard times or calamity can be an opportunity to bring us together and make us stronger.

This couldn’t be seen any clearer than in the story of Meadowlands CRC in Ancaster, ON. The church and its surrounding community had been experiencing vandalism. The church brought together concerned neighbours, city politicians and police so that they could share ideas and join forces to make their community safer. They all knew the church couldn’t do it alone. Neither could the neighbours do it alone. Not even the Politicians or the Police could do it alone! It was going to take teamwork! COLLABORATION!

What started as a ‘problem’ has now become a reason for collaboration that will grow beyond solving the vandalism issue. In this story we read, “Moving forward, the church hopes to create a “community hub” for the Meadowlands neighbourhood that will gather to identify and talk about the needs for residents and to be a unified voice for safety. What an incredible story of seeking and discovering where God was at work, and then joining Him!” And the best, most interesting part? The church had been praying for a way to have ‘more in common’ with their neighbourhood and THIS was how God answered that prayer. WOW! What a wonderful reminder to keep our eyes on Jesus when the storms come our way and not pray or wish them away too quickly before He can do something great!

Collaboration at DMC

Here at DMC, we believe in Collaboration too! (Hey, we don’t just ‘talk the talk’ over here ya know!) Here are some ways we collaborate with other agencies and ministries to better serve deacons across Canada:

1. We have begun a joint, monthly e-newsletter with some diaconal friends in the US. This is being done so we can provide even more helpful resources and tools to better equip deacons and churches. A big thanks to Mr. Andy Ryskamp for his work on this;
2. While we are doing away with the annual Ancaster Day of Encouragement (DOE), we are helping various Classis and churches run regional DOE’s so they can focus on local issues and initiatives better. These events are a wonderful way for ministry leaders to encourage one another and network, reminding everyone that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
We are also working on a new venture in partnership with World Renew and Resonate Global Mission to offer larger, more specialized workshops/events across Canada for those involved in diaconate work. Stay tuned for more details!
3. We have been working diligently with Christian Stewardship Services over the past year to find and share helpful stewardship resources so that deacons can help their members serve God with the 4 T’s; Time, Trees, Talents & Treasures.
4. Each year we bring together our Operation Manna Partners for a Ministry Networking Day (MND) so they can learn, share stories and ideas, and network with one another. For many of our partners, this is a highlight for them: it not only reminds our OM partners that they, too, are not alone in the work they do, but it encourages them to be with others who have experienced some of the same joys and challenges! A new online community is also being set-up by our Regional Ministry Developers as we speak, so our OM Partners can ‘continue’ their conversations long after the MND has ended.

How About You?

Where do you see collaboration in your church and/or diaconate? In your city/neighbourhood? In your Classis? What have been the advantages? What have been the challenges? When is collaboration NOT the best way to do ministry?

Need More Help?

If your diaconate (or church) would like to begin collaborating with other local churches or agencies but you aren’t sure where to start, contact one of our Regional Ministry Developers (Tammy, Eastern Canada; Rachel, Western Canada) or your local Diaconal Ministry Developer.

Finding Joy in Diaconal Work; A Deacon’s Story

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

[Pictured above: In June, Clearview CRC joined other Oakville churches for the 10th Annual Oakville Community Food Drive to help restock the shelves at the Oakville Food banks and The Compass. Clearview’s members reached over 1,600 houses in their neighbourhood to help advertise the food drive, thanks to more than 120 volunteers!]

Back in June, Diaconal Ministries Canada posed the question, “Why are Deacons needed at Classis & Synod”. We were pleased to hear what other deacons and ministry leaders had to say and one particular email came from Ada Kloet. She and her husband are members at Clearview CRC in Oakville, Ontario. Not only that, but Ada and her husband, George, are both deacons – the first husband-wife deacon ‘team’ in their congregation. Erin Knight had the pleasure of talking to Ada about her experience growing up in the CRC and also about serving as a deacon.

For many of us growing up in the CRC, it felt at times that we were simply a part of our ‘parent’s church’. Our fathers and mothers were busy serving their time on Council, helping out with Sunday School or children’s ministries, being part of the choir perhaps, or fill-in-the-blank. Our parents diligently and faithfully served God and their church with their time AND resources. While most work was done inside the church walls, some ‘outreach’ was also being done, like sponsoring a refugee family or collecting food for the local food bank. And while all of this work was good and helpful and kingdom-building, many of the younger members would sit in the pew and think, ‘is there more to this Christianity thing?’

Enter Ada Kloet. She, too, grew up in a Christian Reformed church with her father being a “career elder”, as Ada puts it. This meant he would be “on for 3 years and off for 1”, and repeat! While Ada respected her parents and their beliefs and the value they put on church, she and her husband, having children of their own, began wondering if there was ‘something more’. This wondering led them to leave their church for a time to learn and discern. After some years away at another local church outside of the CRC denomination, George and Ada were both led back to their CRC congregation with a new mindset and a fresh sense of contentment. They had discovered a new way of ‘doing church’ – a new way of living out their faith day-to-day – and they were excited to come back and find that their former church was also changing. And even more so, that this Christian Reformed congregation was not alone.

Ada and her husband had discovered a new way of ‘doing church’ – a new way of living out their faith day-to-day – and they were excited to come back and find that Clearview Church had also changed.

Ada remembers her father saying often, ‘It’s time to hand the keys over to the next generation. I may not always agree with how things are done or how the next generation decides on the issues but we must move forward.’ And Ada agrees. “Something is happening in the CRC overall,” she shared. While she isn’t entirely sure where it came from, she sees the denomination echoing the need for change in order to move forward; a desire to step out in faith, coupled with a desire for unity.

When Clearview CRC realized the need for change and the need to be more intentional in reaching out into their community, they knew they needed help. So they brought on a staff member to help get their church on track. Over the years the job evolved into a “Community Engagement Specialist” position. The purpose of this position was to help the church grow in their love for God and for people in their community. The church is located in Oakville, Ontario, which has the reputation of being a city with primarily “rich” people, but, just like any other town in any other province, there are many who struggle day-to-day. So their church began to reach out by holding community dinners and a community cooking group, running a year-round food pantry, holding bible studies, being a part of a Justice Film Festival, and more.

The church has discovered that collaboration in ministry helps them offer more wholistic assistance to the people they are serving. Their church really owns the ministries listed above and most are done in collaboration with other agencies in their city or region. Networking with local agencies who can assist their church not only helps the church (so they aren’t trying to do it all), but also the individual person or family receiving assistance: if someone else can do it better, let them!

This was also seen in a personal way for Ada. Being a retired nurse, she has a heart for helping people deal with loss. Griefshare was a program that Ada became a Facilitator for and she was trying to get it off the ground at Clearview. Unfortunately, she was having trouble finding people within the church with the same passion and desire to help her. She began looking outside her church walls, which was “perhaps what God wanted in the first place!” she says. Ada reached out to another local church and discovered they had nine (9) people on their team. Ada now works with this church to provide this important and impactful ministry to those going through loss.

Collaboration has also found its way into their Church’s Council. A couple years ago, Ada and her husband, George, agreed to let both of their names stand for the office of Deacon. While this wasn’t typically the ‘norm’, when the casting of lots was done and both of them got it in, it seemed to them that God could be affirming this kind of ‘teamwork’. Being a Husband-Wife team has been a wonderful way of doing diaconal ministry: Ada says they are able to share the burdens and challenges of their roles with each other and offer one another advice and encouragement. More recently, other husbands and wives at their church have become elders and deacons through the casting of lots, which has been further confirmation from God that He was approving this type of ‘collaboration’ in diaconal work!

In her role as deacon, Ada was chosen to attend the Toronto Classis meetings and also Synod this year. She has found attending these meetings to be enlightening and encouraging. She went in with an open mind and was willing to listen and learn. When asked about deacons being seated at these larger denominational gatherings, Ada said she has come to realize that Deacons are called to serve the church just like the elders and pastors are and they oversee so many important ministries: community engagement/outreach, worship, stewardship/benevolence, justice, etc. According to Ada, if the Council is charged with leading the local church and deacons are also part of that Council, why wouldn’t deacons be seated at Classis and Synod?! This point is echoed in the “Top Reasons Deacons Are Needed at Classis & Synod” sheet DMC recently put out: it is about the full representation of the church. When deacons are missing from major assemblies, the full voice of the church is not heard, nor is the full ministry of the church under discussion (from Diakonia Remixed).

For Deacons who are still hesitant and unsure of being part of these large gatherings, Ada encourages them to be okay with being the ‘newbie’: “everyone is at that place at one time or another and will experience the same learning curve,” she says. Being a part of Classis and Synod will help deacons experience a better connection to other CR churches and to the denomination as a whole, which has been Ada’s experience.

Ada believes being a part of Classis and Synod will help deacons experience a better connection to other CR churches and to the denomination as a whole.

Moving forward, Ada continues to be excited about how God can use her to do His good work. Her ‘advice’ to other deacons would be to first carry each other’s burdens, pray, and worship together – and THEN work together. She would also tell deacons to encourage each other’s passions, no matter where that may lead someone to serve. In their own diaconate, one deacon had a passion for stewardship and was led to serve in a different ministry and they have learned to celebrate that!

As Ada shared with us in her initial email, “My father would be glad today to see enthusiasm about people’s faith and he would be glad to see the church moving forward in 2018 in unity and hope for a bright future.”

Thank you Ada for sharing your story – about your personal walk with God and about your experience serving as a deacon! To God be the Glory!

Story by | Erin Knight, Communications Coordinator at Diaconal Ministries Canada


What’s YOUR Story?

What have you learned by serving as a deacon? What has been a highlight? What has been the most challenging? Share your story with Erin, our Communications Coordinator.