A Word From Steve Jones
January 14th, 2019
Last year our Fellowship celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in a number of ways. We:
Students receiving French Bibles in Haiti
I want to thank the many donors and churches that generously gave to our “Sowing the Seed” project. I had the joy of handing out Bibles to Haitian teens and children earlier this year. It was a thrill.
Missionaries to D.R. Congo, Apollo and Lois Midigo have been able to use “Sowing the Seed” funds to give Bibles to pastors in the Goma region. Thank you. Recently, I heard another story of how our “Sowing the Seed” appeal blessed a group of Pygmy evangelists in D.R. Congo. I thought it would encourage you.
Fellowship International missionaries, Richard and Brenda Flemming, are serving the church in D.R. Congo helping them to catalyze mission mobilization and establish a disciple-making movement. This has begun among a group of new Pygmy believers. They are treated very poorly and marginalized in their own nation, but are finding hope in Christ.
I asked Richard to share what is happening:
“In August of 2016, I flew into the city of Inongo, D.R. Congo for a week of training with some 25 Pygmy ‘evangelists’. These ‘evangelists’ were functioning as pastors, though they possessed little theological training and none had Bibles. I thought that the names of the churches they represented were odd (Church 21, Church 34, Church 65, etc.), until I discovered that the figures indicated the number of kilometers they were from the city!
“I was there to help them understand how to share the Gospel in such a way as to minimize, if not eliminate altogether, the threat that syncretism poses for listeners. In their context, syncretism would refer to the mixing or uniting of the Gospel with traditional animistic beliefs, a widespread problem in that part of the world.
“I was invited to give this training by Jacques and Rose Maylala, a Congolese pastoral couple serving with the Baptist Church in Kinshasa who for years had been helping these Pygmies. They immediately understood the value of the training and committed themselves to translate the studies into Lingala (my materials were in French).
Rose Maylala with some of the Bibles and songbooks
“This past August, Jacques and Rose returned to Inongo and spent a week with these same Pygmy ‘evangelists’ teaching them how to communicate (in Lingala) the beginning Bible studies of the, ‘Creation to Christ’ series (a part of the Firm Foundations series made available through Ethnos [formerly New Tribes Mission]), underscoring the principles combatting syncretism. There are 26 lessons in this version of the series, so lots left to translate, but Jacques and Rose are so happy to see these Pygmies receive the grounding in Scriptures they so need and want.
“However, the Pygmy ‘evangelists’ received more than just the training. Thanks to last year’s Fellowship project, ‘Sowing the Seed,’ Jacque and Rose received funds that enabled them to purchase Bibles for these Pygmy ‘evangelists’ as well as songbooks for their churches. Now, thanks to those who participated in this project, Pygmies in the Congo are receiving sound teaching from God’s Word. This is the partnership of missions at work, to God’s glory!”
Jacques Maylala teaching the first lesson in the ‘Creation to Christ’ series of Bible lessons
Bibles and songbooks
Keep praying for Richard and Brenda Flemming and Apollo and Lois who are serving the Lord as Fellowship International missionaries in D.R. Congo. Our current FAIR appeal, “Labour’s Refuge”, is seeking to raise $120,000 to build a maternal birthing clinic in a rural region in D.R. Congo. This project is a story that reaches back to the 1930s and some of our Fellowship Churches. I encourage you to CLICK HERE to find out more, watch a brief video and donate generously. What a great Christmas gift!
Richard and Brenda Flemming
Apollo and Lois Midigo
Have a blessed week,
Quebec remains one of the toughest mission fields in North America. With only 0.8% of the seven million francophone Canadians self-identifying as evangelical Christians, it remains one of the most spiritually-needy people groups in all of the Americas.
Our churches (80) in our AÉBÉQ Region are plowing into stony, often hostile, ground.
I recently heard exciting news of a time of spiritual renewal in our most northern church in north-central Quebec. Chibougamau is not necessarily on the edge of civilization, but is definitely next door.
Our church in Chibougamau was a thriving group of believers in the 1970-80s, but, has struggled in recent years with only a very small faithful group seeking to keep the torch lit in this spiritually-dark region.
I recently heard from Pastor Jean-Phillipe Lapierre who pastors in Alma, about 300 kms south of Chibougamau, that a major spiritual break through occurred this past summer.
I’ll let Jean-Phillipe tell you about it:
Last July 21st the church at Chibougamau had the joy of “celebrating” five baptisms, in collaboration with the Pentecostal church which had two more baptisms, for a total of seven baptisms. Two of the persons are brothers in their 40s, who were part of the Sunday School when they were children. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness in drawing souls to yourself after 30 years of sowing. Our brother Christian Laroche and his wife Sylvie Cauchon (Chibougamau) have (had) the joy of seeing their two sons (Patrick and André), and one of their son’s children take some big steps in their faith in Jesus and take part in the life of the church.
Among these new conversions, there was a drug pusher, who was well known in Chibougamau. Another is the owner of a bar (Patrick) along with his wife. They have now put a “For Sale” sign on the bar and they want the building to be sold for some other type of business. Patrick is someone well-known in town and he has already shown that God has gifted him as an evangelist. Among the conversions that God has given him, his meat supplier confessed Jesus Christ last summer.
Recently Patrick gave his testimony at an evangelical church on the First Nations (Indian) reserve, and before some crowds (around 400 persons). He publicly asked for forgiveness for all of the pain that his bar has caused on the First Nations reserve. He exhorted the people not to go to those kinds of establishments any more. The testimony of Patrick was received with open arms in the First Nations community as an evidence of the power of God, real and true. Patrick offered a message of humility and peace, which was welcomed and used power by God. The conversions among the First Nations (people) are multiplying.
- Pray with urgency, dear brothers and sisters! Our church at Chibougamau is being visited on Sundays by the visitors that these new believers are inviting.
- Pray that God will continue to breathe upon the hearts of these new believers so that they will develop a thirst for the Word.
- Pray that the conversions will continue to multiply.
- Pray for the brothers and sisters who have the task of welcoming and accompanying these new (believers) in their early steps in the Christian life.
- Pray that that the bar will now be used for a new purpose to the glory of God. Pray for the two deacons responsible for the church (Danny St Croix and Christian Laroche).
- Pray that God will send a pastor/worker into the harvest at Chibougamau.
I invite you to share this news with many others.
In Brotherly love,
Please start praying for our believers in Chibougamau as they continue to reach out to friends and family in their community. And please continue praying for our churches in Quebec as they seek to advance God’s Kingdom in an often difficult mission field.
Some encouraging news is that five Fellowship churches, elsewhere in Canada, have partnered with five French church plants in Quebec this year. Please prayerfully consider your church’s need to discover how you can strategically help more church plants in our largest mission field in Canada. Click on the link here to read how your church can begin a 7x7=1 partnership. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any interest or questions.
Have a blessed week,
Recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Canada on Wednesday, October 17. A task force was appointed in June 2016 to advise the current federal government on the framework for a new law governing marijuana use. Bill C-45 was created and passed with senate endorsement coming June 20, 2018.
Pot will hit the streets via licensed stores in a mix of private, licensed, and government-run facilities. Consumers have started to note new stores popping up for weeks. Large and small grow-ops have been created through private and public funding and the stock market is promising massive returns to those investors who buy pot-stocks.
You need to be 19 to purchase weed (18 in Quebec and Alberta), but “edibles” will not likely hit the market until 2019. Warnings will be placed on packaging especially for pregnant mothers, and where you can smoke or consume pot will be regulated. How to police that will be interesting to watch. Bill C-45 was tabled and is an attempt to give new powers to police including harsh penalties for driving under the influence. I’ve see MAAD advertisements seeking to get the word out on driving under the influence. Police are still waiting for approval from Ottawa for devices that can be used to administer road side screening.
How Should Christian Canadians Respond?
What are Christians to think and do about Bill C-45 and the legalized recreational use of marijuana on the streets, parks, and public places of our cities and towns?
There is a lot of peer-reviewed studies on the use and effects of pot on human beings. There is a mix of reviews on the risks associated with this drug. Many Canadians are already legally using marijuana for medical purposes. Encouraged by their doctors to ingest the drug for relief from a variety of chronic conditions including nausea associated with chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, HIV-AIDS, and neuropathic pain. I do not believe we should have an issue when this drug is administered by an approved medical practitioner. Your opinion may differ. Health Canada states the number of patients registered to use medical marijuana has increased from 477 in 2002 to 37,359 in 2013. After October 2017 the numbers will likely increase exponentially.
In a Faith Today article (December 2016), Allison Barron interviewed and quoted two individuals who are responding to the news of legalized pot in two different ways. I quote from Allison’s article:
“Priscilla Hollands is a 39-year-old Canadian Christian, and a patient who uses marijuana medically. She says it has improved her quality of life after being diagnosed with arthritis.
“‘It has helped tremendously with my pain management due to severe rheumatoid arthritis,’ she says. ‘As long as I have cannabis, I do not need any narcotic pain killers.’
“Hollands believes, ‘We need to have an honest discussion within the Christian community and [with] our children about its benefits to those who are suffering. Sick Canadians need safe access to this life-giving plant.’
“She points to the financial difficulty of acquiring medical marijuana, and hopes for the laws to change so Canadians can grow their own.
“‘I am forever grateful to God for His marvelous creation,’ she said. ‘The day I discovered that cannabis had so many therapeutic benefits to my chronic condition was an answer to prayers.’
“André Schutten is director of law and policy at the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada and he is not as enthusiastic as Hollands about the upcoming laws. He is concerned about the negative effects marijuana can have on users.
“‘There are strong links between regular marijuana use and psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia,’ he says. ‘THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) has proven [to have] negative effects on the nerve cells in the brain where memory is formed.’
“Schutten is worried that legalizing marijuana sends the message, particularly to youth, that the drug is fine to use. ‘The law is a teacher, and legalization sends the wrong message.’
“Schutten says while marijuana may have use medically, that is not what is driving the legalization. ‘I know of some good Christians who use it as a pain reliever or as treatment for certain ailments on prescription. However, the vast majority of people arguing for legislation are not looking to legalization for a medicinal reason, but rather a libertine, recreational reason.’”
One fact seems to be underscored in study after study. Marijuana does affect brain development especially in users under 25. It can cause addictive behavior. On October 17, 2018, tens of thousands of teenagers and young adults can legally purchase pot and be profoundly affected by an addictive drug. Thanks to the Federal government’s premise that it is impossible to police this pervasive drug, so let’s tax it and make money on another societal behavior that harms young people.
In 2019 be forewarned of news stories of the rise in pot-related car accident deaths, toddlers taken to hospital after accidentally ingesting edible pot products like brownies and gummy bears, and the designated pot-smoking area on Parliament Hill for MPs and PMO staff. “O Canada, glorious and free!”
Have a blessed week,
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… Steve Jobs died seven years ago on October 5, 2011. Whether you like him or not, the man had a seismic impact on how we communicate with one another. I recently came across several of his best known quotes and found them interesting. I thought you’d like to read them:
“You can’t just ask customers what they want, and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
— Interview with Inc. magazine, 1989
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
— Interview with the Smithsonian Institute, 1995
“Design is not just what it looks like; design is how it works.”
— NY Times article about the iPod, 2003
“My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts.”
— 60 Minutes interview, 2008
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me” [At his death his net worth was $10.2 billion].
— Wall Street Journal interview, 1993
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
-- Stanford Commencement Address, 2005
Have a blessed week,
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… Today, in Ottawa, a Canadian National Religious Freedom event, hosted by David Anderson is occurring. Government, media, and denominational leaders are gathering to continue the conversation related to the growing concern that religious, conscience, and assembly rights are being infringed upon in Canada. Please pray for this assembly and our political leaders who are seeking to seriously address this issue in Parliament.
2018 has been a tough year for people of faith. Several battles were lost:
The list could continue. People of faith should not only be concerned, we should get ACTIVE. Sitting on our hands is no longer an option.
The Fellowship’s Religious Freedom Communication Campaign (2018-2019)
Our National Council wants our churches and leaders to know more about the realities occurring in our country related to religious freedom and the infringement of Christians’ Charter Rights (religious, conscience, and assembly rights).
A Communication Campaign has been created and will occur between October 2018 and June 2019 to better inform our churches. Your National Council is convinced our pastors, leaders, and churches are not adequately informed on all that is happening on this front.
Over the next several months we will seek to inform you with current and timely information on the subject matter. Our prayerful hope is that our churches will do something with this information. Pray and get ACTIVE.
As a Fellowship, we sent $10,000 to the legal defense fund of the CCCCs (June 2018), however further funding may be needed if a court challenge occurs. Stay tuned for more.
We live in interesting days when there is the possibility of regular demands to conform to state-approved beliefs and/or values… “to get “x” you must affirm that you believe what the state believes”. Interesting days ahead.
Have a blessed week,