We have two new baptism testimonies, and a membership testimony of people who joined our church this month! Check them out below.
1) When did Jesus first get your attention?
It seems like He was always there, in the background perhaps, taken for granted, but always present. In Grade 5 an 8th Grader challenged me with ‘God has no grandchildren, so are you his child? Have you said yes to following Jesus?’. Not long after, I did so. In Grade 8, at Redberry Camp I renewed this, with a much greater understanding of my choice.
2) What is a faith marker in your life?
So many…the unexpected invitation to international ministry with IVCF when I was considering going overseas…the job from Kodaikanal International School when I thought I would head to another (but they said see us in 2 years time)…the offer of a different role at KIS at 6 years, when I was looking to move on…
3) What is Jesus doing in your life right now?
Keeping me company, giving me support in a small cluster of families who enjoy hiking as much as I do. We have become a ‘family’ in a different way through the isolation of lock downs (once 5 to 10 could meet). Showing me a few specific families and individuals I can help, who are struggling without work.
4) What is a favourite scripture and why?
Psalm 19 “The heavens declare the glory of God; … the skies proclaim the work of his hands. … Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” As a person who loves being outdoors, hiking, camping, going for walks, being with my animals…each time I see His presence and am reminded of His love…
5) Why do you love our church?
It has been ‘home’ from childhood. Support financial, through prayers, sharing with care groups on my short visits to Canada, or to the congregation (sometimes in church service, sometimes at a congregational meeting). The outreach and vision of Forest Grove (in so many ways) is inspiring even when I am far away.
When did Jesus first get your attention ?
As a 12 year old our family moved to Dalmeny and I started going to girls club and youth at a church with my new friends. It was through these friends, their families and the church that Jesus caught my attention, and I came to understand how I could have a personal relationship with him. Jesus became a friend, the word of God became real and the Spirit’s presence was a comfort as I began a journey of faith and discipleship.
There have been many faith markers in my life, as God has shown Himself to be faithful and trustworthy in so many ways. Early in our marriage my husband, Scott struggled with colitis which over a few years led to his hospitalization for many weeks at a time, several surgeries and then almost a year off of work. As a wife and mom of two little kids I felt the presence of God in many amazing ways through that time comforting us, providing for us, giving peace and then complete healing for Scott. He is a God who sees us and comes near; and He often uses difficult circumstances and others who come alongside to show us that.
What is Jesus Doing in My life right now?
Jesus is lifting my eyes to look beyond my own circumstances and to things that are on the Father’s heart. He has a deep love for all people and for hearts to be made whole; to bring beauty from ashes, mourning to dancing, freedom from bondage. Isaiah 61:1-3 Without Jesus so many things seem hopeless and without meaning in our lives and the world around us.
As I reflect on 1 Thess 5:16-18 I feel an invitation from the Spirit to these things: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for all who belong to Christ. If honest, these things are hard for me to live out moment by moment in my life. At times I get stuck in a narrative that leads me to lose focus on the promise of Jesus and His purposes. It is only through the power of the spirit that I can hear my Father’s voice and walk out these truths of scripture.
I love the blessing in Romans 15:13 “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” How encouraging to think of the Lord as a GOD of HOPE and that He is the one that is able to fill me with all joy through the Spirit, when I put my trust in Him.
Why do I love our church?
The people and the mission of our church is what I love. What a blessing it has been to walk out my faith journey with so many good people who love the Lord and desire to serve Him and others. I am thankful for the many leaders and families who poured into discipling my children as they grew up; many who have prayed for them, given them opportunities to grow and use their gifts. I love that we are a church that seeks to have an impact locally and globally, and cares about discipleship and the needs of others. I love that we are a church that seeks to develop leaders and work collaboratively with others in our global family of Christ.
For many of us, 2020 was a difficult and painful year where many problems were amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. For our family, 2020 included a tragedy that has impacted us every day. In many respects, 2020 had been anything but a “Happy New Year.” However, after hearing Maureen’s December 13th message on Joy, it has brought home the fact that joy is not happiness, it is so much more. When I thought about that message, I thought about how I would define joy. Here is what I came up with. Joy is fulfillment, contentment and satisfaction despite life’s circumstances. In the gospel of Luke, chapters 1 and 2, the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth’s baby John will be “a joy and delight to his parents”. The baby John “leaped for joy” when he came into the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Later, after Jesus’ birth, the angel told the shepherds that the birth of Jesus would bring great joy to the world. Joy in these verses speaks of a fulfillment of ancient prophecies. Happiness is fleeting and the pursuit of happiness disappoints. However, joy has an eternal quality and the pursuit of joy does not disappoint. Joy is a choice. God is the originator. Nehemiah 8:10 says: “… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I am on a journey and I’m discovering that it’s possible to have joy even when circumstances are difficult and happiness seems absent. Joy is a fruit of the spirit (Gal.5:22) and as I read the scriptures, I see that it rises above circumstances, pain and trials. 2 Corinthians 8:2 talks about the joy of the Macedonian churches: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” James 1:2,3 also speaks of joy amidst trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” It’s obvious from these verses that, if I choose, I can have joy in the midst of any negative circumstance in my life. I also know that even the hardest trials are not purposeless. To me, the most profound verse about joy is Hebrews 12:2 (1b – 2): “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.” His choice to die for us is described as joy! I thank Jesus that he made that choice, for you and for me! Because he sacrificed earthly happiness for eternal joy, we all have eternal life through him. Christ chose to pick up his cross for a bigger purpose. I realize now that I may also have to do the same. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I know this is possible. Our joy is that God is with us (Immanuel). As Isaac Watts wrote in 1719, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!” I certainly want to wish everyone in our church a Happy New Year, but much more than that, I wish everyone a New Year filled with God’s joy.
I would like to leave you with a blessing from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Have a joyous New Year! In Christ’s Love, Ron MacKay
- When did Jesus first get your attention?
I think the 1st time was in elementary school when my mom had a brain tumor. My mom was a believer and raised us kids going to church and teaching us God’s love, but my dad was not living the abundant Christian life during my childhood (he had grown up with a Christian family but had thrown that away). Through my mom’s hospitalization and surgery Dad didn’t know where to turn or what to do so he met with the pastor and turned his life over to Jesus. The change in Dad was a total miracle! My mom recovered and lived for many years. Dad and Mom lived out their love for Jesus and I saw how Jesus works miracles and is alive!
- What is a faith marker (or key moment in your faith) that you have experienced?
Nothing is a coincidence with God! When my brother died suddenly in a car accident, I was overwhelmed at the way God works. He set up opportunities before and after Don’s death that people could say were coincidences, but they were definitely God’s hand orchestrating it. This was such a confirmation that God is in control and I can trust Him at all times.
- What is Jesus doing in your life right now? (Be as current as possible, like during the pandemic)
Jesus is teaching me (or trying to teach me) to wait on Him and know Him. Because of the limited gatherings I am sad, but I know He can and will uphold me and be there with me. It is difficult for me, but I am learning to ‘be still and know that He is God”. I need to choose JOY!
- What is a favourite scripture and why?
Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I am not an anxious person so its not that part of the verse that sticks out for me but the part of giving thanks in everything. I am reminded that in the good and in the tough times if I approach things with thanksgiving my outlook and response reflects the goodness of God and how thankful I really am for who is and the many blessings I have.
- Why do you love our church?
The opportunity to serve together with others. I love all the generations from the littlest to the oldest. The teaching is solid. I love the people and working at the church with the pastors and staff is a real blessing!
Jesus first got my attention on a canoe trip when I was in grade 7. Even though I grew up in a Christian home and knew about Jesus, the Bible, church, etc., it all came together when I snuck away from the group and climbed a hill. The view overlooked a beautiful lake, and mountain range with a sunset in the back and I remember thinking, “It must be true.” In that moment all the Sunday school stories, and prayers, and teaching that I had learned became real and I realized that the faith I grew up with must be true. God made everything, he loves me, the Bible is true. This enlightened moment likely only lasted 10-15 seconds (remember, I was a grade 7 boy) but it was the first time that Jesus really got my attention.
I have many faith markers in my life. I’ve seen God perform miracles, provide in times of need, and transform lives but a key marker for me was my call into ministry. I didn’t want to be a pastor. I wanted to be a Camp Director. As I concluded my undergrad at Columbia Bible College in BC the Campus Pastor asked me why I would disciple people for only two months during the summer when I could disciple them for 10 months during the year? I didn’t like being asked the question because it minimized the ministry that camps have but I told him I’d think about it. This question resounded in my mind like a loud gong for a couple of days and I realized that God was speaking in a unique way to me. I went back to him and asked if there were any jobs for just High School youth pastors. At the time there was only one job in Canada, it was in Saskatoon. After many miraculous twists and turns I got the job, left my family and the mountains that I loved, and moved to the prairies hardly knowing anyone. I believe God spoke clearly and led me to where he wanted me to be.
Currently I am learning about submission. I am not a natural rule follower. For much of my life I have viewed rules as suggestions and recommendations as permission. As I’ve grown in leadership I have really appreciated when people willingly submit instead of questioning and challenging a leadership decision. This has caused me to come to realize the freedom and joy there can be in submitting to others. I still have a long way to grow in this discipline but I am starting to see the fruit that comes from submitting to authorities.
A favorite scripture is John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s one of the most commonly known verses and it has always been a guiding verse for me about who God is. But I also really love the verse right after it, John 3:17, “For God did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” I’ve encountered many people throughout my life that see God as a ruthless judge who is waiting to condemn people. This verse shows God’s intention to save and not condemn us. That’s why he sent Jesus!
I love our church because of the deeply rooted desire to take risks for the sake of mission. I have seen this church quickly rally when there is a demanding task that needs to be accomplished. This church has the faith to build a large facility in the middle of a field back in 1984. It has the faith to reach a group of indigenous people in panama, leave the church service without shoes for the sake of those in need, and find a new way to be a multi-site church. We have the faith to take risks believing that the Holy Spirit is leading us.
When did Jesus first get your attention?
Jesus captured my attention at a young age. I think my first experience of feeling seen and known by God was a summer at Redberry Bible Camp when I was about 10 years old. I remember during one of our “free times” finding quiet time to myself, reading my Bible with fresh eyes and that’s when I first felt like my prayers were a personal conversation with God.
What is a faith marker in your life?
A significant year in my life was my Grade 12 year of high school. This year marked a time when I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to articulate my faith and truly understand and communicate to others what I believed. During that year I was deciding between post secondary schools and making big decisions about the trajectory of my future. That year was a faith marker because I felt God’s guidance and decided to go to Bible school.
What’s Jesus doing in your life right now?
With the way this year has changed our routines, I’ve appreciated reflecting on my life with Jesus and being intentional about how I remain filled. This year has also helped me to reflect outwards in different ways. As I have sought to learn more, my heart has been broken by the racial inequalities and injustices in our world. God has been opening my eyes to realities this year that will change the way I live and lead going forward.
What is a favourite scripture and why?
Years ago I memorized Hebrews 12:1-3, which says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
I think these verses capture a full picture of our life of faith. That we are witnesses to others, that life can weigh us down, we need to pursue the goal and we are only able to do this because Jesus is our champion. I like having a champion in my corner:)
What do you love about FGCC?
When I think of our church, I like to think of the individuals that make up our church body. I think of the individuals who inspire my faith, the people who model servant leadership, the kids who bring incredible joy and innocence to a life of faith and the people who live and express their faith vulnerably. I am thankful for our church family. I hope that everyone who experiences our church family feels included and seen, and that they experience the love of Jesus through each person they encounter.
- Jesus first got my attention at a VBS program in 33rd street MB Church when I was 10 years. The speaker was Mrs. Myrtle Wiff (missionary) and I gave my heart to the Lord.
- A faith marker in my life was when I was 15 years old and I rededicated my life to the Lord through Charlene Lutzer at a Revival meeting. That is when God became very real to me and I became excited about my faith and it became personal and real.
- Right now (through this season of covid) I have learned to become more reliant on God…learning very much patience and learning to accept change. I am depending very much on his word and praying for guidance and direction through prayer. I have learned that I can be a blessing to my seniors even though I cannot see them in person.
- Philippians 4:13 “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”….the verse given to me at my baptism…has always been my strength when I am weak.
- I LOVE Forest Grove Community Church. Ever since we started attending here 25 years ago, we felt welcomed and encouraged. People were friendly and hospitable…inviting us into their homes with other couples so we could get to know many others. Through the years I have come to love this church and its congregants even more. Since I started on staff here 19 years ago, |I have been supported, encouraged and blessed.
Jesus first got my attention around grade 9, roughly 2-3 years after I thought I had started to follow Him. I inititally did that out of the desire for approval from my cabin leaders at camp, but it was after being involved in youth group for a few years that Jesus started to become more real to me. I was around Christian people my own age, and I started to watch them be followers of Jesus in their real lives as I befriended them. This pushed me to actually be serious about following in the footsteps of Jesus, and I started to realize that He mattered to me.
A faith marker in my life would be my time at Briercrest. One time in particular I can remember running out of money in my first semester, but felt the call from God to continue to use my car as a blessing to others. I continued to drive people where they needed to go (to the airport in Regina, groceries in Moose Jaw, etc.) without asking for money. My mom was very against this, but I felt like it’s what Jesus would do. That Christmas I got a (very) late tax return that funded my entire second semester. I knew then that Jesus was looking out for me, and I could listen to His direction for my life.
Jesus is currently teaching me about patience. Being slow to anger is a quality of God that I want to emulate, and Jesus is teaching me the value of doing that in my own life, and the value of that in the lives of others as well. If I am slow to anger, others are more calm, and feel safer around me.
Some verses I hold onto are Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which essentially say that there is a time for everything, and a purpose under Heaven. I try to let this verse guide me to not be too surprised about bad things, and to take them in stride.
There is a time for everything, and a purpose under Heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die.
A time to plant, and a time to uproot.
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
A time to teardown, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them.
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
I love that our church has so many people willing to serve; and more than that, we have people who serve abundantly, and who care about the younger generations in our church. As someone who’s faith was formed in youth group and at camp, I value those spaces so much, and I appreciate those who pour into those spaces.