A Word From Steve Jones
May 18th, 2020
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
I recently heard from one of our Fellowship missionaries in Pakistan. In an email to fellow missionaries serving there, he wrote:
“We do understand that in all of this God has not departed and left us to our own. We are people of ultimate hope and God is not going to abandon us. May God use this to cause us and many others to look to Him.”
During this time of upheaval and uncertainly, a good place to look is to Him. Our hope rests only in Him.
A couple of years ago, I was attending a Fellowship staff prayer day. I was in a spiritually lean time due to life’s burdens, and God met me in a remarkable way through a Psalm we had shared earlier in our morning worship time:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6 NIV
I realized that I had been subtly putting my hope in other things. My hope is in Jesus — only Jesus. This verse continues to sustain me when my heart inevitably starts to wander.
In times of uncertainty, we can become fearful. God understands. The Bible has many reminders of Him telling His children not to be afraid.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
Instead, God calls us to be courageous. He calls us to respond in faith and be a witness for Him; to reach out to someone with a word of comfort and encouragement.
Our hope is not found in this world. Augustine reminds us in his writings that hope is found in Christ and the world to come, saying: “As we are saved by hope, so we are made happy by hope. Neither our salvation nor our beatitude is here present, but we ‘wait for it’ in the future, and we wait ‘with patience,’ precisely because we are surrounded by evil which patience must endure until we come to where all good things are sources of inexpressible happiness and where there will be no longer anything to endure.”
Although our security, hope, and happiness are not found in this present world, it is this very hope that propels us to respond to this world, this pandemic, with hope, not fear.
Our attitude toward COVID-19 should be marked by hope and peace, not hysteria and panic.
“Do not be anxious about your life….Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 6:25, 10:28 ESV)
We should not comfort ourselves with false information that drives us to selfishness, or panic that causes us to hoard face masks (that health professionals desperately need), soup cans, and toilet paper. We are called to be a light in our society; a light on a hill, obvious to everyone. Our job is to help our neighbours when they are sick; to support business people and help keep our economy going; to support, rather than criticize, our public health practitioners and government officials as they seek to address this crisis with wisdom and compassion. Their recommendations may possibly be imperfect, but we should pray for them.
One Fellowship pastor wrote saying he was asking his people to believe that when we think about the pandemic of 2020, we will recall a time when our church pulled together, got to know each other even more in virtual ways, and got on mission in our community.
Most of us are looking one or two weeks down the road during this pandemic. Let’s also look one and two years from now. How do we want to remember our behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020?
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains, and friends:
We are living in unprecedented days as we adjust our course in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped our world. We have the great assurance that God is in control and that He goes before us especially in these days.
As part of the Church's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Fellowship, in partnership with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), is joining with the World Evangelical Alliance in inviting Canadians and churches to participate in a Global Day of Prayer and Fasting on Sunday, March 29. We encourage you to visit the EFC webpage for more information and resources.
Please consider promoting this special day of prayer among those in your congregation and/or within your circle of influence. Praying is one of the best ways we, as believers, can respond to such a crisis!
Together, let’s seek the face of God, asking Him to intervene in these very challenging days.
Grace and peace,
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here…
A little over a week ago my wife mentioned that over 350 people had died in Italy on one day (March 15) from the COVID-19 virus. The seriousness of this unprecedented time seemed to sink even deeper in my gut upon hearing this sobering statistic. That was just one day, in one country. A developed country! The statistic represented someone’s mother, grandfather, child, friend, baby. Lost forever. Oh Lord, what are we to do?
I heard from one of our own Fellowship International missionaries in Europe this week. He said they were confined to their home but were using Zoom to remain connected. He wrote, “This unusual situation opens doors for interesting discussions about spiritual matters. Since Monday I’ve had opportunities to share my hope with three non-Christians. People around us are anxious and destabilized. I believe God in His mercy wants to STOP US from our frenetic way of life to speak to us. We need to be recentred on what is essential. “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 33).”
My wife and I were out the other day and she pointed out a random sign that said, “Be still”. Marilyn mentioned to me she thought that was good counsel for all of us in these days of uncertainty and upheaval. “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:11). In our stillness we should find and experience peace. A peace beyond the common understanding of those around us. But stillness doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity. Most of us would agree this pandemic is an opportunity for the Church to shine.
A friend of mine, who happens to be another denominational leader in Canada, recently wrote saying he and his wife were sending hand written notes to 20 of their immediate neighbours. I thought it was a brilliant idea and hope some of us will consider doing this as well. Here is what they wrote:
“Hello! We are your neighbours, (insert your names), and we live at (insert your address). In light of the fact that some of us may get sick during the COVID-19 virus pandemic and we may have to stay home, we wanted you to have our phone numbers. Please call or text if we can help in any way. If you run out of supplies or need groceries picked up or dropped off at your door, we are happy to help as much as we are able. We are all in this together! You are not alone! Our phone numbers are (insert your cell numbers).”
One of my wife’s friends posted on FaceBook, her willingness to care for two school-aged children, free of charge, during the two-week extended March break (in Ontario) when parents are desperately scrambling for child-care and they are still required to go to work.
Let’s get creative. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus while we take care of our neighbours and one another. Stay safe out there.
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here…
I recently became a granddad for the first time. I didn’t think it possible to love anyone as much as I adore my granddaughter. Issy smiles and I melt.
I recently heard of a ministry to help grandparents better care and minister to their grandchildren and parents.
Bob and Denise Dobson attend a Fellowship Church in British Columbia. Bob is no stranger to our Fellowship. He and his brother, David, have served in leadership in our Fellowship for decades.
The Dobsons lead a ministry, “Intentional Spiritual Grandparenting,” that serves the local church by training believers on how to influence, nurture, and impact their grandchildren. I have asked Bob to comment on this ministry:
“Grandparent” is a verb…
“’Papa, can you help me to become a better Christian?’ my eleven-year-old grandson asked me as I was recently driving him to his hockey game.
“Grandchildren are facing pressures every day from a hyper-connected digital world. Their peers are often at odds with biblical truth. Many experience life doubly hard, navigating loneliness, self-image doubts, and relationship breakdowns in an all too often hostile world. Unlike ourselves, they’ve been born into a world with strong cultural messages that threaten to distort and destroy faith in Christ.
“God has raised up a new ministry for my wife, Denise, and myself: Intentional Spiritual Grandparenting. Through regional seminars and local church sessions, we speak on how to influence, bless and nurture your grandchildren for lasting impact – leaving a legacy for generations to come.
“Grandparents are an important part of any and all family units. They provide history, wisdom, and a connection to the past, as well as the ability to share lessons learned with current and future generations. Grandparents are uniquely positioned and have a Biblical mandate to spiritually influence our grandkids. If we don’t teach and disciple our grandchildren, someone else will.
“In our seminars, we investigate how to ensure our faith in Jesus Christ will live on in our grandchildren and the generations that follow. We learn how the intentional involvement of grandparents in their grandchildren’s spiritual development is harmonious with Scripture. We share a common motivation and passion that our grandchildren will follow Jesus Christ.
“The seminar covers…
-what the Bible says about grandparenting
-reaching the heart of your grandchild
-overcoming the barriers of distance (geographical, relational, and spiritual)
-becoming an intentional Christian grandparent
-how to give a spiritual blessing to your grandchildren
“Feedback from the participants comment that they leave the seminars with new inspiration, urgency, the realization of their full potential to pass their life experience forward, and a new mandate to ‘write the signature of God across the souls of their grandchildren.’
“By the way, you need to know that the answer to my grandson’s question was, ‘Absolutely!’“
We plan to invite Bob and Denise to our next Fellowship National Conference (November 2-4, 2020 in Toronto) to present a workshop on how this ministry might serve our local churches. But don’t necessarily wait until November to find out more. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-970-0362, and consider inviting Bob and Denise to conduct a Grandparenting Seminar at your church. One Fellowship church did exactly that and I asked their pastor, Rod Heppell from Sardis Baptist Church, to comment on the experience:
“As a pastoral staff, we were planning a sermon series on relationships addressing marriage, singleness, parenting, the usual, when we decided to also talk about grandparenting. We had never done this before but felt it was a significant topic that needed to be talked about and maybe too often gets overlooked. I had heard about an ‘Intentional Spiritual Grandparenting’ seminar taught by Bob and Denise Dobson, and so invited them to come and present this to our church family. It was excellent!
“The content of the seminar, and the way in which Bob and Denise address sensitive topics in a nonthreatening manner, makes this an outstanding presentation. Biblically rooted in principals found in Deuteronomy 4 and Psalm 78, Bob inspires grandparents to consider how they could leave a spiritual legacy for the next four to five generations!
“The response was amazing! Grandparents commented that they had never realized the significant role they play in passing on their faith to their grandkids. Others had never thought about how they could bless their kids and grandkids with a spiritual blessing. Some learned how they can close the relational gap that exists between them and their grandkids. The seminar is filled with many practical ‘how-to’s’ for becoming an intentional spiritual grandparent, and covers a wide range of issues and situations facing grandparents today. Every grandparent will benefit from taking this seminar. From a pastor’s perspective, it was very beneficial for my congregation.”
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here…
Fellowship Chaplaincy just experienced a handover a few months back. While I serve as Fellowship Chaplain director, giving overall leadership to this growing ministry (we have grown from 27 to 106 chaplains in the past five years), there is an Advisory Council and other National staff who do much of the work to support our amazing chaplains.
I’d like to publically thank Thomas Hopkins, who served as my Associate since 2012. He stepped down in January 2020. Before leaving, he was asked to comment on some “takeaways” he has become aware of while working with our Fellowship chaplains. I thought they were insightful, and so wanted to share them with you:
Here are three key “takeaways” from my time working with Fellowship Chaplaincy:
To our chaplains, I want to say keep pressing on as you serve, even in the face of adversity, loneliness, and spiritual warfare. Your work is vital and you are making an impact in our country. Thank you for being an inspiration to me!
Thank you, Thomas, for your service to our Fellowship chaplains.
Introducing Larry Freeman, our new Fellowship Chaplain Coordinator
Larry began his ministry in January of this year. He is no stranger to many of the Fellowship family in the FEB Central Region where he served as a Fellowship pastor and chaplain for many years. We asked Larry to briefly introduce himself to the entire Fellowship family.
My name is Larry Freeman and I am the new part-time Chaplaincy Coordinator (taking over for Thomas Hopkins so that he can go back to his 'real' job). I’ve been connected with Fellowship Chaplaincy for over 20 years, serving on the former Chaplaincy Board and also functioning as a chaplain.
My chaplaincy connection began when, as a new pastor in Parry Sound, ON, I was looking for ways to connect within the community. This led to involvement with the local hospital, Ontario Provincial Police detachment, volunteer fire departments, ambulance services, local funeral homes, the local Legion, the local jail, and many other opportunities. As you can see, I didn't quite fit the mold of a 'normal' chaplain as I crossed over into many of the areas where our chaplains serve. After over 11 years of doing both pastoral and chaplaincy ministry concurrently, the point came when I had to make a choice as to which one I would commit. An opportunity arose to become a full-time chaplain at our local hospital and an adjoining long-term care facility. Although this was my full-time job, I was still seen more as a community chaplain, being called upon to help people in a variety of ways through many different avenues.
After serving as the hospital/long-term care chaplain for almost 15 years, I felt it was time for something new. I retired from that role and the Lord opened the door to take on this role with the Fellowship.
On a personal note, I have been married to my wife Judy for over 37 years, I have four married daughters and we have been blessed with six grandchildren to date, four granddaughters and two grandsons.
— Larry Freeman serves part-time as Fellowship Chaplaincy Coordinator.
If you have any questions about Fellowship chaplaincy or becoming a chaplain, please contact Larry at email@example.com
Steve Jones here:
I have a prayer accountability partner whom I have learned much from over the years. I love when my friend spends time praying over me. In his praying, he spends much time repeating Scripture. It is a powerful way to pray. In a small book he wrote, “22 Life Lessons on Prayer,” he asks the question, “Do I regularly express faith in my prayers using Scripture to do so?” (page 35). Thank you, Tim, for being my prayer buddy.
In a recent conversation with our Fellowship International Director, Dave Marttunen, he mentioned a book he recently read about prayer, which asks the reader to petition for God-sized specific prayers. The book is, What Are You Trusting God For? by Gregg Hinzelman. I’ll let Dave tell you more about the book:
“I recently read one of those books that gave me a slap, but with ‘tons’ of encouragement. It is an easy read and possesses many insights from the author’s life. The title, “What Are You Trusting God For?” is as evocative as the author’s life stories. Author, Gregg Hinzelman, lives what he writes – and you meet him as a prayer warrior.
“Without referencing James’ exhortation…’you have not because you ask not’….the writer appeals to the reader to start asking God-sized specific prayers.
“His insight into why we don’t pray zeroed in on the primary issue: we really do not want God to control our lives. Yet, we know this: until we surrender (as often as needed until He is where He deserves and desires to be for our good and His glory), we struggle with less. It is true, isn’t it? Our individual and collective experience shouts out that is true! We must surrender our pseudo sense of control to God. We can easily give lip service to the truth that we know God is always in control but, in this case, surrender means so much more than acquiescing to His authority. Surrender means that we choose God to be in charge willingly, purposefully, and with heartfelt submission. I surrender to His leadership and to His values.
“All this from Gregg’s third chapter. We need a reminder like this from time to time.
Prayer is the means to everything God wants done and wants us to do.
“Hinzelman reminds us, “The more we give God control in our lives, the more useable we become…”
“One of the saddest commentaries on how poor surrender leads to big disappointment, dissatisfaction, and frustration is located in the life of Samson. He was like a superhero with remarkable strength. The biblical record demonstrates how much he did, and how little self-discipline he developed. The summary lines, that he avenged more through his death than in his life, should disturb us. Samson had God’s presence and power, but lacked God’s control. I think that war is one many, if not all of us, fight – if not frequently, at least from time to time. Surrender remains hard until we value His power at work in us more than our power at work for Him. We believe and practice the Gospel – apart from me you can do nothing.“Let Hinzelman’s words coach you on to some practical steps.