THE MARCH 2014
FAITH FOR 2014 AND BEYOND Donnie Scearce, Lead Pastor
Follow Me.... (Luke 5:27) When the first twelve disciples were chosen, including Levi (Matthew) in the above passage, they had no idea at the time what kind of influence Jesus was going to have on their lives, and certainly no idea what kind of influence they were going to have on the world. They didn’t know where their initial steps of obedience and faith were going to take them. It is always that way with faith. It begins with a significant measure of the unknown, and becomes clearer as time passes. God seems to reveal more of the path as we continue in holy conversation with him and one another. For those who call North Park Community Church their family, 2014 is a big year for at least two reasons. The first is that 2014 is the year of our 50th Anniversary! God has demonstrated his great faithfulness to North Park for almost 50 years by utilizing North Park’s founders, staff, volunteers, and members to influence thousands of people in the London, Ontario area and around the world through our mission effort. The growth of this local and global effort has, by the grace of God, been a remarkable testimony to persistent prayer, resilient people, and a faithful God. The second reason 2014 is important is because during this fiftieth year, we in leadership believe God is guiding us to take on a significant renewal project to strengthen our core and extend the story of his purpose through North Park for the next several years. This project will require a capital campaign. It will simultaneously advance our mission purpose and address some long overdue needs within our building. Though a lot of preliminary thinking has been done, we are excited about sharing the concept of this project with the church family and seeing the vision get clarified as we continue in conversation, learn together over the next few months, and hopefully finalize plans to prayerfully and formally launch the campaign this fall. Like the early disciples and the founders of North Park in 1964, when we step out in faith, we only know that the next step is going to be a big one, that sacrifice will be required, and that every step will be as challenging as it will be exciting. Our founders were forging a new path with a different format than others who surrounded them 50 years ago and yet they pressed forward by faith. And not just once but many times in several different seasons of North Park’s history. Perhaps the pioneering has been done but the faith journey is never complete; each generation works within its own set of challenges and opportunities and we believe now is the time for renewal at North Park again. We will begin sharing more about this vision at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and hope as many as possible can make it out for this exciting evening. Of course, the AGM will include a look back at 2013 as well. We will review ministry highlights, financial results, and vote on important items like the 2014 budget approval and by-law changes. As you pray for North Park Community Church in these days, remember the faith of those who have journeyed before us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2 NIV). Indeed, God has a “race” marked out for this generation of North Parker’s and he is calling us to run it well, following Jesus each step of the way and helping as many others as we can to do the same!
PASTOR PAUL’S BOOK RECOMMENDATION Paul McIlwraith, Teaching Pastor
“Follow Me”. These are the words by which Jesus extended an invitation to all he encountered as he ministered in 1st Century Palestine. In fact, these were the very first words that many of his disciples heard from Jesus. It was a call to come after him and to walk in his footsteps. To learn to do what he did, and to have their lives transformed by him. Jesus extends this same invitation to us today. Unfortunately, in our leadership obsessed 21st century culture, we have done a great job of developing leaders but not such a great job at training and encouraging people on how to follow well.
Leonard Sweet addresses this topic in his thoughtful and insightful book, I Am a Follower.The Way,Truth, And Life of Following Jesus. Sweet gets to the crux of the matter when he writes... “We have been told our entire life that we should be leaders, that we need more leaders, leaders, leaders. But the truth is that the greatest way to create a movement is to be a follower and to show others how to follow. Following is the most underrated form of leadership in existence. Is it not enough to be followers of Christ?” Sweet continues to challenge our North American “leadership first” mentality in this book, when he states how amazed he is that nowhere in the Bible do we see Jesus recruiting leaders for his ministry. He didn’t go to the local synagogue and put up a notice on the bulletin board announcing that he was taking resumes and setting up interviews for potential leaders. Jesus didn’t raid other organizations for their best and brightest leaders. The truth is that these were not the kind of people Jesus was looking for in this movement that he was establishing on earth. Instead, Jesus was looking for those who could follow well. He knew that through those who were willing and able to obediently, humbly and faithfully follow him, he could change the world. And he did! For the past three months in our weekend message series at North Park, Follow Me: Discovering Jesus through the Gospel of Luke, we have been asking the question, “What does it mean to Follow Jesus?” I would strongly recommend Leonard Sweet’s book, I Am a Follower.The Way,Truth, And Life of Following Jesus, as Sweet takes us on a journey away from the cult of leadership to the culture of being a follower. Discover and be challenged anew by the way, the truth and the abundant life that is available by choosing to follow him.
YOUNG ADULTS CONFERENCE Aileen Hunter, Young Adults Intern
Last March, 20 young adults woke up early and drove to the church on the Queensway in Toronto for a young adults conference called Fluid. That’s right, I said woke up early - you know the event is a good one when young adults are getting out of bed before 9:00am! We spent the day hearing from well-known speakers such as Bruxy Cavey, Donald Miller and Eugene Cho. The theme of the conference was “Tension”, and we learned about what it means to embrace and deal with the tension in our lives. Between the worship, the speakers, the breakout sessions, the dancers, the spoken word poets, the DJ, and being there with great friends, it was a fantastic day. It was amazing to see hundreds of young adults worshiping and learning together. The passion for Christ that was pulsing in the room was revitalizing and incredible to see. Overall, it was an amazing day to spend with the young adults of North Park! This year, on March 8, we’re going back to the third annual Fluid Conference. We’re so excited to see what the conference brings this year. With some return speakers, like Eugene Cho, and some brand new speakers like David Nasser, it’s sure to be a day of intense learning. The theme for the conference this year is “HOPE”, and we will be journeying through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The Fluid organizers have this to say about the theme: Hope ...Without it our daily realities can overwhelm us and cause us to lack the courage to step into our tomorrows. But hope has nothing to do with wishful thinking or mere optimism. To hope is to be confident that God will do what he said he would do, in his way and in his time. This kind of hope endures challenges, storms, tragedies, disappointments, and failures. Jesus, when he stepped into our human reality, showed us that none of our circumstances contribute to our hope. We are so excited to join in with over 1000 other young adults for this day. No matter what it brings, one thing is for sure; the young adults from North Park will have an amazing day of community and learning with one another and the young adults of Ontario, centred on King Jesus. For more information about the Fluid Conference, check out EnRoute’s website at www.npenroute.com or our facebook page at www.facebook.com/npenroute.
PRESCHOOL FAMILY DAY - FUN & PLAY Cathy Thornton, Director of Preschool Ministry
On Monday, February 17, we enjoyed our 2nd Preschool Family Day Event. 52 adults and 63 children signed in over the course of the morning, and enjoyed a wide array of different activities. One mom told me the event was a “life saver” for her. With her husband working, and it being so cold outside, she was thankful to have a safe place to come and let her little ones run off some energy. The Bonvanie family was pleased to come for the second year in a row - this time with 2 children. I asked them to share their thoughts on the event. The Preschool Family Day at North Park is a great place to meet, mix and mingle with other families with preschoolers, from both the church and community. We love looking across the room and watching parents crawling, rolling and laughing on the floor with their little ones. There are always fun activities set up to entice all ages. Parents can challenge each other or their children to a life size game of ‘connect four’ or race to see who can stack and unstack cups the fastest.With this cold weather, we are thrilled to get out of the house and burn off some energy running and dancing around indoors. Meeting with families in the same stage of life is encouraging and rejuvenating, as we can share in the struggles and joys that parenting presents. Preschool Family Day is a great place to praise God through play and laughter. What a wonderful way to wrap up the Family Day weekend! - Gilbert & Amanda Bonvanie Thanks to everyone who attended and made it a fun day. Special thanks to my dad who not only helped with set up, but then stayed to clean all the toys on Monday afternoon so they were ready for Tuesday morning Playgroup. You are a trouper dad!
MARCH BREAK FAMILY EVENT Jim (Jazz) Wells, Pastor of Children’s and Family Ministry
Yes, winter will end and before you know it March Break will be here! We will once again host an interactive family evening on Thursday, March 13. The evening is for any families that have children in our grade 1-5 program. But bring the whole family if you have older or younger children as well. The cost is $10 per family and runs from 6:00 - 9:00pm. The gym will be full of inflatables, there will be a cup stacking room, rooms full of large games, some challenging obstacle courses, build your own family vegetable racing car, and of course you finish the evening with making your own sundaes. This is a great night to bring your neighbours and their children for a fun evening of play. If you would like to volunteer at this event, contact me at email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
BAPTISM TESTIMONY Tom Delaney
The Pardo family have an incredible story about God’s grace as he sought after them. Perhaps God is seeking a relationship with you, or maybe you have put your faith in God, and he is speaking to you about being baptized. God speaks to us in amazing ways. Hector listened to God, and his family came to know the truth about Jesus. Is God speaking to you? We trust that God will speak to you through Hector’s story. My name is Hector. We came from Colombia 10 years ago. God has protected us all the way and recently he showed his mercy and love to all of us. I was raised in a Catholic family with strong ties to a doctrine that was teaching us that we needed sacraments for our salvation, to pray to images of saints and to the “mother of God - the virgin Mary” for intercession of our sins. Despite our efforts in following that doctrine, our spiritual life felt empty. We knew about Jesus Christ by listening to the priests…but we were not reading the Bible. A year ago, after feeling that something in our lives was missing, we asked our Father who created us, to send a light and he did it! I started to read the Bible to my family and one day reading Exodus 20, my wife said “One moment, those are not the commandments that I learned. I studied with nuns and they made sure I learned them. Let’s see another Bible.” We looked in three Bibles, and the Scriptures were the same but different from what we learned at home. Today, we care only about pleasing God; we do not stop praying for our family to experience the same joy as we do now, loving God with our mind and heart. We want to please God and not men. We are happy to congregate with all of you and celebrate our new life in Jesus Christ and our declaration of faith through being baptized. Our next baptism weekend is March 22-23. If you would like to be baptized, please contact Matthew Eckert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew Eckert, Pastor of Adult Discipleship
“When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them.They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye.They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again.Then they escorted him down to the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38) There are several interesting verses in the Bible that have impacted me in unique ways. Some of them, like the ones above in Acts 20, appear on the surface to be quick skim verses, almost like extra words added for the sake of content but without much real meaning. And yet, when I read this section of Acts a few years ago, they struck me as very profound. The Apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, but stopped on the way and met with his friends from Ephesus. There he explained his mission to them and the difficulties he was about to face. And then before he left them, we have this profound moment of prayer, to the point of indicating the physical posture they took of kneeling to pray. Friends praying with friends, partners in ministry praying with partners in ministry. This is what we do as Christians, we pray for each other, and we pray with each other. We uphold each other in the work that we are called to do and the overall work that the church is called to do. At North Park, while we have several smaller groups that gather on Mondays and Wednesdays, we have committed to gathering together 5 times this year on a Sunday evening. To kneel with each other and to pray. It is a profound experience to gather and pray. To kneel before our God in worship and to intercede for others. We never want to take this lightly. Let us pray.
WHY WE LOVE COMING TO MOMS’ BIBLE STUDY
I have been attending Moms’ Bible Study for 2 years, and have loved every minute of it. To be honest, at first the idea of getting coffee, treats and childcare for only $3.00 (cheaper than Timmie’s) was the real draw. As a mom with 4 young children, there isn’t much “mommy time” to be had, so 2 hours being child free, sounded fabulous! As I soon discovered, being around other moms has given me so much more than I could have possibly imagined. Every Wednesday, I truly feel that God uses each one of the mom’s I meet, to lift me up when needed. There is always somebody who has, “been there and done that” in regards to parenting, but more importantly I am growing as a woman of God, not just a mom. I have truly become a better person, and in turn a better mom because of the ladies I am able to share, laugh and cry with about any topic we need to discuss. God is at work in all of our lives, and we are quickly learning that we all have gifts that he has given us to use in our daily life. In my small group alone, we have 39 children between us that God has entrusted us to raise. We cannot do this alone, we need each other to support us and be a reminder that these children are a blessing, even when we have bad days. I am so thankful for MBS, and know my children will be thankful I took the time to connect, and renew my spirit. I came for the coffee; I stayed for the friendships!!! - Allison Sterling Moms’ Bible Study has been a huge place of growth in my faith journey. To spend a morning once a week with like-minded women sharing the same struggles and passion as myself, has been so refreshing and calming. Being able to drop our children off with like-minded caregivers allows for us moms to be able to open our hearts, knowing our children are safe and happy. This is a large gift when balancing modern motherhood. The ultimate gift I have received is prayer. I had no idea when I experienced my first Bible Study last fall, the power of prayer with women of faith. Blessings, Dana Melanson, mom of 4
This session of Moms’ Bible Study will run until April 9 (no meeting during March Break). We meet on Wednesday mornings from 9:15 11:15am. Childcare is provided for $3.00 per child ($6.00 max per family). Currently, we are studying Lysa TerKeurst’s “More Than a Good Bible Study Girl”. So come and enjoy coffee, a great Bible Study, fellowship with other moms and a playdate for your children. You are welcome to join us any time during our session.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH TEAM UPDATE David Cottrill, Director of Community Outreach
It is with great joy that we welcome Krista Arnold to the team that serves in Community Outreach at North Park. Krista will be taking the role of Ministry Assistant that Monette Benjamin faithfully served in for many years. Monette has left to pursue some further education and mission opportunities, although she, along with her husband continue to help out at Mosaic and with our Life Resource Centre Junior High youth group. Below is a short autobiography that will help you to get to know this young woman whom God has brought to Northeast London. I’m blessed to have grown up in a Christian home and to have begun my faith journey at an early age. God has been gracious to me throughout various ups and downs in my life as he’s continually kept me close to himself. As I grew closer to God during my teenage years, I became more aware of my passion to help people who suffer from material and spiritual needs. This led me to study missions at Providence College in Manitoba and then international development at the University of Toronto. As I was finishing at U of T, I married Paul Arnold and we moved toVancouver together to pursue different master’s degrees. At the end of our time inVancouver, Paul received a Master of Arts in Theology and I received a Master of Arts in International Studies. After this, Paul and I decided to move to Uganda, so I could pursue community development work in a small village called Tekera. As our time in Uganda drew to a close, we began to see how God had been using our experience in Vancouver and Uganda to prepare us for ministry in the Kipps Lane community of London. I’m thrilled to be part of what God is doing in this community through the Life Resource Centre and Mosaic Intercultural Church, and Paul and I are grateful for the support of the community at North Park. I hope you get a chance to meet her in the near future. Those of you who volunteer at the Life Resource Centre can reach her at krista.arnold@ northpark.ca. We truly are blessed to be able to add Krista to the Community Outreach Team and pray that she will be able to use her gifts, talents and education to glorify God and proclaim his Kingdom.
COME VISIT US AT THE LIBRARY Megan Leslie
Lost something you have borrowed from the library? Well we have some good news for you! For the month of March, we are holding a library amnesty. If you or a family member has lost a library item borrowed before 2014, just let a volunteer in the library know before the end of March. We’ll clear it from your record, no questions asked. Nearly 9% of our collection is composed of overdue items, and we know a lot of those are items people cannot find. By helping us update our records, we can determine what replacements need to be made, and get a better sense of what items we really have. Will you please share your email address with us? Updates to our circulation system last fall have made it easier to send information, such as hold notifications and other reminders, to library patrons via email. This is particularly helpful since we have limited volunteer resources to contact people by phone. Information update slips will be available to fill out in the library. We are always on the lookout for new and interesting titles for our library, and would like to highlight some of our notable recent additions. We have the most recent book authored by the February Missions speaker, Dr. Paul Borthwick – Western Christians in Global Mission:What’s the Role of the North American Church? We also have the book co-authored by the March Missions speaker, Noel Castellanos – A Heart for the Community: New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry. Other new additions include I am a Follower by Leonard Sweet (Pastor Paul’s book recommendation), God LovesYou by David Jeremiah, and Overextended by Lisa Harper. Purchase suggestions from the congregation are always welcome! You can email us at email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you in the library!
FIFTY YEARS AGO AND FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW Ron Burdock, Director of Global Outreach
Hopefully you have had a chance to take a look at the Annual Report for 2013 by now. It’s a wonderful collection of stories of how God has been at work here at North Park this past year. As I was looking over it, I couldn’t help but ponder the impact that we have had over the past 50 years of ministry around the world. More importantly though the work that was accomplished in this last year sits on the shoulders of those 50 years of work. Without the efforts of the early giants of mission at North Park, we would not be where we are today. In the early years, people like Don Kennedy and Wilf Fryday stepped up to serve on what was known then as ‘The Missions Committee’. It was their passion for expanding our reach, that caused them to stand with people like Yoland & Fernand St Jolie, Gaston & Margot Jolin, and Joseph & Jesse Tremblay...brethren missionaries who were making inroads for the gospel in Quebec. All but Joseph are alive today...and the five remaining continue to minister faithfully and expand the work. The St Jolie’s and the Jolin’s have been used of God in radio and television ministry all across French speaking Canada. That’s 50 years of mission in Quebec and they are still going strong.... when you thank God for what we have been able to accomplish in this, our 50th year, consider that North Park has made a significant difference in Quebec. It has been the hard work and vision of people like Don and Wilf, along with others like Clare and Glenda Martin that laid a strong foundation for mission at North Park. Clair is no longer with us, but Glenda, Don and Wilf are still going strong and serving faithfully at North Park. The eighties were a period of growth in our work in Ontario as we chose to stand with Art and Dorcas Taylor of Welland Canal Mission in their difficult work of evangelizing sailors on the Welland Canal. If you have met Art, you know what the meaning of enthusiasm is...as Art lives it out daily in the way that he engages people on behalf of the gospel. It was in the eighties as well that Gerrit and Susan Blok were raised up from the pews of North Park and thrust into Prison Ministry, in what we now know as New Life Prison Ministry (NLPM). Gerrit was an industrial arts teacher who began to share movies in local correction facilities when it became clear that the need was greater than he could respond to. After conversations with the Elders, Gerrit felt that he needed to leave his work as a teacher and trust God for this new work of beginning NLPM. We are grateful to God for the vision and faith of the Elders who had the courage to call people into not only joining organizations but starting them as well! In the past 20 years it’s been people like Angelina Dieleman, Gerry Chamberlain, Ruth Benn, Jerry and Joanne Potma who got us to where we are today. We have so much to thank these people for as they have stayed faithful to our calling of being a church that is committed to sharing the story of Jesus out to the far corners of the world. Today we have over 30 leaders involved in North Park’s work of Global Outreach in some form of active and vital engagement on behalf of the world; and we indeed stand on the shoulders of giants who inspired us daily. I doubt that Don and Wilf could have imagined the kind of impact that the three couples in Quebec would have when they chose to stand with them in 1964. And I doubt that Gerrit and Susan Blok would have believed that they would still be growing and building NLPM across Canada in 2014. These saints, along with the others who have served so faithfully in and through North Park over the years, are to be commended for their vision. They have modelled something to us that is vital to effective mission work...that it takes a long and faithful commitment to something to make a true positive difference. If we are to be effective in the world then it will take focus, effort and commitment on our part. There are no quick fixes in places like Sudan, Syria, and Northern Thailand. The world needs the church in North America to understand the importance of the long journey. It is with that in mind that I remind you of Khem and La-aw’s prayer request for the 358 citizenship applications that are hanging in the balance in Chiang Dao District...are you praying? Will you join us in that long journey of changing the world? And what about the next 50 years.....
COMMUNITY LIFE DEATHS Grace McBurney (January 22) Mother of Rob (Cheryl) McBurney Kenneth Visser (February 3) Brother of Doug (Connie) Visser Eric Whalley (February 6) Father of Lisa (Steven) Stefanko and Cheryl Whalley Catherine Meyer (February 13) Daughter of Adam and Sarah Meyer Robert Douglas Fairbairn (February 16) Grandfather of Chad (Julie) Fairbairn
Thank you for blessing us with the use of your building for our January Graduation. The four grads: Eric, Tom, Andrew and Nathan, all said they appreciated your generosity. -Teen Challenge