February 28, 2018
Frontiering, reaching the unreached and building bridges between new cultures and people groups, is something at the heart of the C&MA and something we need to continue to be about.
So says Jacob Birch, Atlantic Regional New Ventures Developer.
But how do we best break new ground and reach out to groups that have yet to be reached with the gospel?
TOGETHER. In partnership with others, working towards the same cause.
This sense of teamwork and interconnectedness rang clear as Jacob described the various developments taking place between traditional churches, house churches and grassroots movements in the Maritimes.
Today we'll look at one such partnership in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
With Maritimers leaving Atlantic Canada for work and an ever-shrinking ageing population left behind, the Maritimes is in need of new life. To help facilitate that turn, the federal government has recently launched the Atlantic Immigration Innitiative with hopes of drawing international students and professionals to Canada's eastern shores. The nations are indeed coming to the Maritimes, with 9000 international students arriving in Nova Scotia alone and 7000 of them to the city of Halifax. Already in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Nelson Yeung is working with the Canadian Chinese Alliance Churches Association (CCACA), preaching and leading Bible studies with some of the 600 Chinese students attending Cape Breton University.
Amidst this growing reality, Jacob envisions the future:
What if there could be an international church in Atlantic Canada, a witnessing body of believers for and by international students?
Christian Aglah is a graduate student at the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick in Fredricton. Leaving his home in Ghana and his career as a science and math teacher, Christian came to New Brunswick to pursue a master's degree and to follow God's call to start a church in Canada. When he first arrived on campus he attended a BBQ for graduate students. There were eight or so students talking about themselves around his table. It soon became clear to him that none believed in God.
"Where are the Christians in this place?" he wondered.
Later that term he was asked to feature a researcher in the field. Christian ended up connecting with Bill Morrison, a professor at the Faculty of Education. As they dialogued about research, the two got to know each other better. Eventually, Bill was interviewing Christian. He began by asking Christian about his name...
Bill Morrison is an associate professor of education at UNB and a clinical psychologist whose research on organizational psychology flows into the business he runs. He is also the pastor of Lakeville Corner Baptist Church in Fredericton. In 2010, Bill and his wife Louise began a house church which then grew to a network of three other house churches across the Atlantic region. These house churches are places where people who are already involved in ministry can be connected and strengthened, even as they are connecting and serving at their local churches and elsewhere. Over the years, the leaders of two of these house churches have then gone on to pastor two local churches.
When Bill realized that Christian had felt a call from God to start a church in Canada while he was back home in Ghana, he did what he and Louise have been doing for many years already: he invited Christian to connect to their Thursday night house church community where he would find other Christians to walk with him as he pursued his endeavors on campus. Little did he know that his invitation was an answer to Christian's quiet prayer: I hope I can find believers to walk with me.
Bill, Christian and Louise
If even a few young people are committed to God, they will be able to make an impact...
says Christian, as he prepares to distribute flyers around campus for the upcoming Sunday meeting he will be holding.
Currently, Christian meets with a small group of students, all curious and some in the process of coming to faith in Christ. There are fellow Ghanians, students from Nigeria, a Jewish student from Israel, a Moslem student, and more coming from Nepal, India, Bhutan and Iran. They meet on Sundays in a room booked in one of the halls, share pizza, and go through the Alpha course together, watching the videos, discussing their experiences, and looking at scripture. Meanwhile, Bill is running Alpha at Lakeville Baptist, where Christian is now connected and attending.
Bill and Louise are encouraging; they've stood by me, says Christian.
It's the Alliance flavour -- not walking alone -- interdenomintational connecting, says Bill.
As Atlantic Regional Developer, Jacob Birch continues to prayerfully and strategically come alongside this frontier work unfolding between two new friends in Christ.
- Pray for Jacob, as he discerns how best to support and assist this potential New Venture.
- Pray for Bill and Louise as they continue the work of connecting the little faith communities to the larger ones across New Brunswick.
- Pray for Christian's wife Sarah, who will join him and his degree program at UNB this August.
And pray for Christian -- that like the Christian in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress who needed to walk with a fellow companion (Hope) if he was going to stay awake and alert in his faith -- he might continue his work with hope, strengthened by other frontierers who will walk alongside him in his new country.
You can learn more about the various Atlantic Canada Regional Initiatives and find out how to support them here.