A Word From Steve Jones
December 4th, 2017
I wanted to give you an update on our recent FNC 2017 (Fellowship National Conference) held in Toronto from November 13-15, 2017. We had a very important VOTE on our Membership – Baptism issue… Keep reading to learn more.
November 5-19 — #TheGreatestBook
It was good to hear from some of you and your local churches who participated in our Fellowship Bible Engagement project, #TheGreatestBook. In an age where Bible illiteracy is so prevalent it’s our hope that this brief reminder underscores the need for the Fellowship family to be in God’s Word regularly. Study after study shows that regular Bible reading and study significantly impacts a believer’s spiritual maturity.
Comments received from #TheGreatestBook participants include:
“We attend at First Baptist Church in Timmins. My family and I have been reading the 14 day Greatest Book devotional for our family bible time each night. Thank you for taking the time to share this resource with Fellowship churches. The reminder to focus on God’s word is both essential and rewarding. Thank you!”
- Nathan Kring
“Steve, thanks for presenting the greatest book initiative, and for the provision of the excellent resource materials. Our people are using the 14 day devotional, and hearing a three week sermon series on why and how to read the Bible. A most excellent challenge which should slow down and maybe even help reverse the troubling downward trend of neglect of this most excellent Word.”
- Roy Sommerville, Pastor, Queensway Baptist (Etobicoke)
If you and your church missed getting involved in our Bible Engagement Project from November 5-19, why not consider doing it sometime in 2018? All the resources and tools for the two-week project are available at www.thegreatestbook.ca where you’ll find #TheGreatestBook 14-day devotional, sample sermons, and age-appropriate Bible studies for children, teens, and adults. All resources are written by leaders within our Fellowship family.
November 13-15 — FNC2017
Our National office has plans to send our churches a full report of FNC2017 in early 2018. In brief, our National Conference in Toronto was very well attended with 166 churches and 379 delegates and other attendees registered. The theme, 500 and Beyond, sought to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Our speaker, Dr. John Neufeld of Back to the Bible Canada, did an outstanding job pointing us to the scriptures that instrumentally reformed the church in the 16th century, with a special call to preachers and teachers to preach the text boldly.
We spent time in praise and prayer together, hearing great reports of mission advancement. Fellowship International and Fellowship Chaplaincy reported a record recruitment year and FAIR (our humanitarian relief department) announced a new organization partnership with BridgeNorth, a ministry to the sexually exploited in Canada. We gained practical insights in workshops, heard from OMF’s Executive Director Jon Fuller on current mission practices in Canadian churches, and from Trinity Western University's Carson Pue on their very public religious freedom court battle with the provincial Legal Societies of BC and Ontario. TWU will defend their case on November 30 through December 1 at Canada’s Supreme Court… we are encouraged to pray on Sunday November 26 in our churches for religious liberty in Canada. All this was capped off with a great banquet and laughs with the improv troupe The Fidgets.
OUR MEMBERSHIP VOTE
In the middle of FNC2017 we gathered together in a business session for discussion and a VOTE of our Membership-Baptism issue. We have been dialoguing on this issue for three years. At FNC our delegates voted on “National Council’s MOTION”… 451 votes were cast (79 were remote votes) and the result was as follows: YES – 53% NO – 47%. The motion failed as it required a two-thirds threshold. A second “member’s Motion” was discussed but later withdrawn by the mover and seconder.
November 19 — Fellowship Day of Prayer
I hope you and your church took advantage of our annual Fellowship Day of Prayer. I’d love to hear back from some of you on what your church family did to focus on the Fellowship in prayer on Sunday, November 19. If you missed this opportunity, why not consider scheduling another Sunday worship service or other gathering. You can go to www.fellowship.ca/DayofPrayerTools for some resources and tools to help you plan this.
Have a blessed week,
Many have experienced a short-term missions (STM) experience. Today, I’d like to share some of my own personal experiences from a recent trip to Lebanon as well as the STM experiences of Willowdale Baptist (Toronto, ON), and newly appointed Fellowship International missionary, Kim Doro (City Centre Baptist, Mississauga, ON).
Karim and Rita Anayssi and their girls have been Fellowship International missionaries since 2011 serving at the Cedar Home in Beirut, Lebanon as Executive Director. Cedar Home is a not-for-profit Christian orphanage caring for girls ages 3-16 who have lost at least one parent. The home provides a family atmosphere with spiritual, physical, educational, and emotional support for girls.
When I visited Cedar Home during my recent trip to Lebanon, I was so impressed! By the facility itself, the evident love between the girls and care-givers, and the vision Karim has for further growth and impact. Karim shared the stories of Baby Lucas — a newborn found in a blanket at the front door — and Syrian refugee sisters (ages 5 and 6) who were recent arrivals. This would be a great ministry for many of our Fellowship churches and donors to get involved with. I’d love to talk to you about it.
The Anayssis’ sending church is Willowdale Baptist (Toronto). Recently, the church’s Executive Pastor, Ben Porter, and an STM team visited Cedar Home.
We asked Ben to comment on their trip:
“From May 29th to June 12th, I had the opportunity to lead a short-term mission team from Willowdale Baptist Church which served in Lebanon. We spent months praying, planning, and fundraising. God opened many doors to bring this ministry opportunity to fruition.
“The team came together at Cedar Home in Lebanon. We spent much time building relationships with the 15 girls who live there. We led games, crafts, devotionals, worship and prayer times. God loves these girls so much and though they come from rough backgrounds, they were so loving and caring. God is using Karim and Rita to save these girls’ lives. The vision for expansion and the favour God has poured out on this ministry is nothing short of remarkable. I definitely got the sense that the Holy Spirit is moving through Cedar Home.
“With hearts filled, and eyes needing to be dried, we said good bye for now to all those at Cedar Home with the hope that we will return soon.
“Please keep Karim and Rita in your prayers. God is moving through His people all over the world! I want to thank the Fellowship International staff for their guidance and wisdom in making this life-changing mission trip possible.”
In September 2017, Kim Doro was sent by City Centre Baptist (Mississauga, ON) to Cedar Home. She is serving for several months as a mentor and tutor to the girls in the home as a mid-term missionary. Kim’s story is unique in that she grew up at Cedar Home and is now going back to love the girls. We asked her to tell her story…
“It was many years ago when I first entered the doors of Cedar Home. Just a few days before my mother's death, at four years old, my two sisters and I were left to be cared for by strangers. I remember well how I hated that place and the people there. In that same place I spent my childhood and adolescent years. During the early years, many times I swore to myself that once I left Cedar Home, I would never return or want anything to do with it.
“However, in that same place, I was introduced to my Lord and Saviour — the best gift anyone has ever given me. I learned about His true and unconditional love. Although I swore never to return, something within me started to feel different. I knew the impact that place had on my life and at one point I said: "Well, there is a possibility... one day! Maybe one day after I retire and have nothing else to do". I did not realize how soon that day would come.
“ At the beginning of this year, during a very challenging time in my life, I kept asking the Lord about the reason for all those challenges. One word was always the answer — MISSION. I struggled for awhile with the Lord and where I felt He was leading me. I prayed more, asked more questions, and asked for different signs. To my amazement, the answer never changed and the reassurance of what He was asking of me was becoming clearer. God was asking me to retire early, go back to Cedar Home, and work with the girls. WOW! I was astonished! My life was turned upside down! Talk about when God wants your full attention, complete surrender and unconditional obedience! At that point I asked God to give me peace and courage to take a leap of faith. Sure enough, He showered me with what I needed; I stood one Sunday in awe of His work in my life and I surrendered all to Him!
“Here I am after more than 40 years, and am looking forward to going to that same place to serve among the girls using the gifts that the Lord has given me. This time I am willingly going. I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me, believing that I will be blessed beyond measure.”
Please be praying for Karim, Rita, and Kim as they continue to serve at Cedar Home and impact the girls for Christ.
If you have any interest in connecting or getting involved with Cedar Home, please contact our Fellowship International department. We would love to talk to you about this ministry or any other short-term mission’s initiative you might be thinking about.
Have a blessed week,
FNC 2017 has begun! Hundreds of delegates from our churches across Canada have arrived for our Fellowship National Conference (FNC) in Toronto.
Online Live Streaming and Voting at FNC 2017
This year we are voting on the Fellowship National Council’s motion below; an issue we have been discussing and debating for three years:
“To change section 4.1(a)(ii) in the Fellowship Bylaws from “Demonstrates agreement with the Affirmation of Faith” to “Demonstrates agreement with the Affirmation of Faith. The definition of baptism as ‘the immersion of the believer’ (in the Ordinances Article) and the definition of a local church as a ‘company of immersed believers’ (in the Local Church Article) are intended to describe the normative practice of baptism and the resultant nature of the church. Notwithstanding those definitions, it is recognized that MEMBER churches may choose, in exceptional circumstances to practice believers’ baptism where an individual cannot be physically immersed or to accept into membership an individual baptized as a believer by another mode.”
In the event member churches were not able to send delegates to FNC 2017, an opportunity to register remote delegates was given to our Fellowship constituency. While it is too late to register voting delegates, please be in prayer as our Fellowship family discusses and votes in the Tuesday afternoon (November 14) business session.
The Fellowship Bible Engagement Project: #TheGreatestBook
We’re right in the middle of our Bible Engagement Project
#TheGreatestBook (Nov. 5-19) and I am hoping you and your church are involved in this endeavour. For the past 18 months we have been promoting involvement in #TheGreatestBook as a way to encourage all Fellowship Baptists to be in God’s Word daily.
I have a favour to ASK:
I would love to receive some brief testimonials from those who benefited from this Fellowship Canada-wide project. I plan to share these in a future Word from Steve blog. Ways to share:
Fellowship Day of Prayer
Just a quick reminder that our Fellowship Day of Prayer is coming up this Sunday, November 19. This is one Sunday where all Fellowship churches are encouraged to pray for our movement of churches — church health, church planting and leadership development — along with our Regional National ministries — international, humanitarian relief and social justice, francophone, and chaplaincy ministries. Resources and tools for the Fellowship Day of Prayer are available HERE.
We are stronger together and all success is due to our collective commitment to prayer. Thanks for praying for our amazing Fellowship family this Sunday (November 19).
Have a blessed week,
October is Pastor Appreciation Month! I hope we thank our pastors on Thanksgiving weekend! Hope all pastors got some rest on the long weekend, too. It’s so important to recharge our batteries. You can’t keep charging without recharging.
The Psalmist reminds us of God’s desire for each of us to find adequate rest, saying in Psalm 127:2 (Message): “It is useless to rise up early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know that God enjoys giving rest to those He loves?”
Did you catch that? God enjoys it when we have a good rest. So do something spiritual today… have a nap this afternoon? God is very clear about our need for rest. To ignore His fourth commandment is foolish. When we function outside the way God designed us, we are headed for trouble: spiritual, emotional and physical burn-out. A Sabbath rest each week is commanded to rest the body, recharge our emotions and refocus our spirit… sounds like a three point sermon, eh?!
THE CLERGY CARE NETWORK (CCN) CALL 1-888-5-CLERGY
If you are feeling overwhelmed today, please contact someone. I know there are resources available in each of our Regions to support you.
One such support is the Clergy Care Network (CCN). Our National Fellowship pays for free phone counselling help for all personnel of The Fellowship including pastors, missionaries and chaplains, along with their spouses and children. Access is FREE to you.
The number is 1-888-5-CLERGY.
CCN is provided by Focus on the Family and developed in conjunction with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Its purpose is to provide a listening ear. Pastors, missionaries, chaplains and their families can access the CCN help line through e-mail or by using a toll-free number. Callers can remain anonymous if they choose. The staff of the Clergy Care Help Line can:
Need some support? Make the call!
Have a blessed week,