On the Ground Floor
I'm often asked, "What exactly does Home Missions do as an agency of the Christian Reformed Church?" There's so much to this answer but perhaps a recent three-day visit to Eastern Ontario provides valuable insights.
My visit started with Adrian Van Giessen, in Waterloo, Ontario. Adrian is one of our seven Home Missions Regional Leaders. He's responsible for all of eastern Canada and connects with 120+ CRC congregations through seven Classes. He's a pastor, trainer, encourager, equipper and so much more to countless people each week. Over dinner, I heard from Adrian and his wife, Barbara, as they shared the joy and passion of seeing established and new churches discover fresh ways to grow.
Within an hour after dessert, I met the leadership team of The Journey, a Home Missions-supported local church plant. Pastor Andrew Zantingh and his team — all bi-vocational — shared powerful testimonies of how new believers are coming to know the Lord. Among many stories, one was of a man who recently confessed at a Sunday morning service that he was shaking off a hangover but heard the voice of God speak to him through the music of associate pastor Toyosi Awesu. Like so many, this man is on a journey of listening more intently to God's voice. Praise God!
More Tangible Evidence
The next morning, Adrian and I met with local pastors involved with area Home Missions-sponsored clusters. Again, I heard the passion of local ministry leaders who desire to see the Gospel proclaimed effectively. Later that afternoon, we met another group of pastors from an emerging ministry cluster in the West Greater Toronto area. They articulated their own unique challenges and opportunities to see the Kingdom expand in their communities, and we talked through how they might accomplish the goals God has placed before them.
That evening, I traveled to New Market, where I spoke to a group of people at Bethel CRC. Together, we asked questions about what it means for an established congregation to be a missional outreach church. The discussion was robust as various new ideas were introduced — ideas that Home Missions is able to bring to local churches because we've been learning from others and we have the capacity to help churches discern their place in God's mission.
The Testimonies Continued
The next morning, we joined Jamie Vander Berg and Jen McIntyre, two campus pastors at a Home Missionssupported campus ministry at the University of Guelph. As we spoke with them, Jamie and Jen were quick to articulate how their ministry was started and is being sustained through gracious support from classis, local churches and a Home Missions grant.
As I drove home, I thought about how all that I just encountered isn't just happening in Ontario, it's happening in big cities like Seattle, Calgary, and New York City, as well as smaller communities like Kelowna, BC, and Edgerton, Minnesota. God is leading a powerful, life-transforming Gospel movement in North America, and Home Missions is empowered with a unique role to serve and lead in so many areas. Every day, we're looking for and listening for the Spirit's leading, letting it become a part of our rhythm of doing ministry as we serve the CRC, together with you. What an amazing blessing!
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