Worship By The Lake: A Celebration of God’s Faithfulness – A Reflection by Pastor Kevin Klassen

I first came to Whyte Ridge Baptist Church 21 years ago.  Not really because I wanted to.  And certainly not because I was very interested in finding a church home.  I recall that I visited this church reluctantly, coming here together with someone who had other friends who attended here.  And then I basically never left.

WRBC very quickly became my church family and, ever since then, God has used my time at this church to change my life in some very significant ways.  First of all, it is here that I met my beautiful wife (on the worship team, no less).  And it is also here that I have found and enjoyed many life-giving friendships.  And even deeper than that, God has used the teachings, the relationships, the joys, the challenges and the experiences that I have had in the context of this church family to change me on the inside.  He has used my time in this church to mercifully convict me and lovingly shape me, teaching me about His Word, His grace and His sufficiency.

And in recent years, God has granted me the profound joy of serving as a pastor of worship and care – ministering within the very family that has loved me and walked with me throughout almost all of my adult life.  God is so very, very good!

Because of this history, there are plenty of personal stories that I could tell about God’s faithfulness to us and through us as a church family.  And I know that there are many others who could do the same, whether they have attended for a long time or a short time.

And this coming weekend, September 10th and 11th, we are going to be gathering at our church property on McGillivray Boulevard to Celebrate the Faithfulness of God!  It will be a fun weekend of worship, fellowship and prayer – remembering the stories of God’s faithfulness in the past and asking and thanking Him for His continued faithfulness in the future.

We will be especially be remembering the gift and the purpose of the land that God has given us on McGillivray.  In fact, this weekend will serve as a celebratory kickoff to a Capital Funds Campaign that we expect will move us forward toward the construction of a new church building that God will use to continue to faithfully build His kingdom in and through us.

Worship By The Lake:

On Saturday evening at 7 pm, we’ll have an outdoor celebration that will include much praise and prayer as well as stories that celebrate the Lord and His loving kindness.   Following that will be a bonfire and fireworks.  A few of us are also camping there overnight and you’re welcome to join us (and there are portapotties there, in case that’s a deal-breaker).

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Sunday morning we’ll continue our celebration with an outdoor worship service at 10 am, followed by a BBQ lunch.

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Everyone is welcome!!!  Bring your friends, bring your lawn chairs, bring your mosquito repellent and bring hearts that are ready to worship the Lord.   Prepare your own heart by reflecting upon your own story of how you have seen God’s faithfulness to you and to this church family.  And let us come before Him with thanksgiving and also with anticipation of how He may use this land and building in the discipleship, worship and witness of His church.

For just as we each have personal stories to tell of God’s work in and around us during our time at WRBC, I believe His faithfulness is most greatly reflected in the way that He chooses to include us in the Great Story that He is writing in the building of His Kingdom for His glory.  God is so very, very good!

– Written by Pastor Kevin Klassen, Associate Pastor – Worship and Care

 

Worship By The Lake

Pathway Camp Ministries Update: Garden Hill First Nation

An excerpt from a recent Pathway Camp Ministries Update:

Our week in Garden Hill First Nation has come and gone and we were happy to serve an average of 75 children/day (even with the holiday Monday factored in). It is hard to believe that 2016 was our 10th summer of ministry in Garden Hill.

Pathway
The logistics for the week went really smoothly – thank you for your prayers. We were able to fly and also cross the lake in good weather on both weekends.

The majority of our team was from Whyte Ridge Baptist Church and we are grateful for their energy and passion. So many of the children were happy to see familiar faces again. Even though the weather was a little unsettled, the team was able to mix indoor and outdoor activities and everyone had a great time. The children in this community are also amazing at Chapel time and they love singing! It’s great to see their enthusiasm.

One of the councilors brought thanks from Chief and Council for coming to teach their children and it was hard for everyone to say good-bye.

We praise God for the opportunities of the week.

 

For additional information on Pathway Camp Ministries, visit pathwaycampministries.com

My God Story – Katy Hollander

291573_10150801668450346_1780175920_oHi, my name is Katy and I’m a missionary with Youth for Christ Winnipeg. I work as a counsellor at Turning Point Youth and Family Counselling Services. YFC is a non-profit organization that exists to help young people reach their full potential by combining healthy relationships and faith-based programs and services. As an extension of YFC’s mission, Turning Point offers professional and affordable counselling to teens and their families.

I have always been interested in connecting with people, hearing their stories, and walking alongside those who find themselves in difficult times. I have had a long time interest and involvement working with youth in ministry settings. It is as a youth leader in the church that God lead me into counselling several years ago.

Photo Collage Spring 2016I started my ministry at Turning Point YFC as a student intern in the spring of 2012, while working on my Masters in Counselling degree at Providence Theological Seminary. In addition to the counselling ministry, I also help run after-school and evening clubs for teen girls; a sewing club and an art club. Both clubs emphasize building relationships with peers and mentors and developing a positive sense of self through activities and meaningful conversations on influential topics relevant to the girls’ age and development.

As a missionary with YFC and as a counsellor at Turning Point, I have a unique opportunity to minister to teens and
families through counselling as well as through our girls’ club programs. I have a passion for connecting with young people and seeing lives changed and restored by the power of Christ. I consider it a privilege and an honour to journey with teens and their families on the road towards hope and healing.

Check out Turning Point’s website at www.turningpoint-yfc.com to learn more about this ministry.

Update from Seră Project (Romania) – Christina Cooper

Sera Project

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your financial and prayer support for my service trip to Romania with Segue and Reaching Out Romania. This trip was an amazing opportunity to serve and learn from others whose experiences and lives are very different from our own.

Sera Photo 1While we were in Romania, we were working with a shelter for girls who have been rescued from the sex trade. Our task while we were there was to prepare the site for a greenhouse we had bought for them through fundraising efforts throughout the school year, and to help put up the greenhouse. This greenhouse will be used to provide food for the shelter, increasing food sustainability and food security, as well as providing a source of income as any excess can be sold, and an opportunity for the girls to be a part of the process of growing and caring for something. This task was a little more complicated, and more involved, than we had anticipated. The site that we had to work with was on the side of a hill, and the area that had been previously flattened was not big enough for the greenhouse. In addition to this, the greenhouse did not arrive while we were there, and is scheduled to arrive shortly after we came back to Canada. So instead of simply putting up the greenhouse, we had to hire an excavator do dig out and level a significant portion of the hill, while our team worked to build two retaining walls to keep the large amounts of disturbed soil from falling onto the house. It was a lot of hard work, but we had an amazing team, and the girls from the shelter were also very excited to help us in whatever way they could. These girls did not cease to amaze and impress us with their determination, strength, and desire to help. As a result, over the course of the week, we were able to not only build both retaining walls, but also to buy the supplies and show them how to build garden boxes for the plants in the greenhouse, as well as spend some time doing teaching on effective planting in a greenhouse.

Sera Photo 2Although we spent most of our time on the work site, we were blessed to also have some time to spend with the girls at the shelter, either eating together or just simply hanging out. In meeting these girls, who were all between the ages of 14 and 21,  we were struck by the fact that they were just that – girls.  These were not abstract ideas, nor simply victims or projects, but girls – who lived and teased and cried and laughed and loved Justin Bieber, who asked if we would sing Hillsong worship songs with them – girls who have seen and experienced many terrible things, things that defy even imagination, but who are still living and in and through whom God is working. In spending time with these girls, God reminded me of his heart for them and for others who society has abused or forgotten – the truth that these are His beloved children. My heart was broken for these girls again and again, and God showed me even more clearly His heart for restoration -bringing each of these girls back to Himself and showing them that they are loved and worth fighting for, and for bringing healing. He showed me the beauty in each of these girls, and the transformation that has been taking place especially in the lives of the ones who have chosen to trust in Him and put their faith in Him.

During our time in Romania, we had the opportunity to bless this organization and these girls with a greenhouse-to-come, with all the preparations taken care of in advance. But our time spent with these girls has also been a huge blessing and a learning experience for me, one that I will not forget and, I believe, one that will play a part in shaping who God is making me into as a person. Again, thank you so much for your prayers and support – without you this trip would not have been possible.

– Christina Cooper

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Our God Story – The Oeste Family

Hi, my name is Marsha Oeste, and this is a story about how my life got turned upside down, and inside out – and how God has used this to grow and challenge me AND make me more dependent on Him.

On September 3rd 2003, my husband Andrew and I welcomed our first daughter, Jenna Elizabeth, into the world. We were very excited to be first time parents and had many dreams and wishes for our daughter. Much to our surprise, Jenna was diagnosed with Spina Bifida. Her spine had not developed normally in utero, and she had a big opening in her back. The Neurosurgeon closed her back the day after she was born, and put in a shunt in her brain to manage Hydrocephalus.

We were told that our daughter would likely not walk, and that we would have other health issues in our future with her. Jenna spent a month in the hospital, and then we finally got to bring her home and have a more typical day to day life with her.

During that first day, and the month following, we relied on God in a way that we never had to before. He was our strength and our shield. We had so many people from our church and my home community loving us and encouraging us and helping us. That support has continued through Jenna’s 12 years, and there have been easy years and hard years when it comes to Jenna’s health and our care of her. She has had many hospital stays, doctor appointments, and surgeries, and through it all, God has provided and carried us through.

Jenna and Marsha Oeste

Right now, we are at another point in life where we are being stretched in our faith, and where our needs are pretty significant in taking care of Jenna. As Jenna grows, we are struggling with transporting her in our current van. We have been physically lifting her in and out of the van, but it is becoming dangerous to Andrew and I to continue doing this. We are in need to a wheelchair lift van, which are very expensive to buy. We have applied for funding from the government and from two other charities, but this means waiting and also no guarantee of funding.  Time is not on our side in this situation, so we have started doing our own fundraising.

Please keep us in your prayers for safety and physical strength, to keep going until God blesses us with enough money to cover the van modification for a lift.  Thank you and God bless.

For the CTV interview featuring the Oeste family, click here.

Breast Cancer – a Transforming Experience

Breast Cancerby Irene Toews

I have attended Whyte Ridge Baptist Church for about 7 years. I was originally asked to share my story at the 2014 Ladies Retreat. The theme for our weekend was Transforming Encounters with Jesus. 

Well, for the last 14 months I have been experiencing a transformation in my life, also known as breast cancer. When asked if I would consider allowing my story to be put on the website, I had to take a deep breath. Once its “online” it’s out there. When I got home I remembered I had promised God I would share whenever and with whoever asked. 

When I think of the word “transforming” I am grateful that it is not Transformed. I believe no matter where we are in our life, we are in a perpetual process of being transformed. There are some days I say to God, “really, we are still working on that area of my life.”  I picture God and its like he rolls his eyes and says back to me: “Yes Irene, we are STILL working on that area of your life.” 

The Day My Life Changed

On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, my life changed. I thought “I haven’t done a breast check for a while.” So as I sat on my couch, I did a quick check. First the right, and wait…, what was that? Quickly I checked the left, no lumps. Again I checked the right. My heart sank and my mind raced with questions. Maybe it’s the way I’m sitting, or I know, I’ve gained weight. However, I knew what it was by the size of the lump. When I pressed on it, it didn’t hurt. I tried to push the all the crazy thoughts out of my head trying deny what I already knew. That didn’t work well so the next day I called my doctor for an appointment. I was scheduled for a mammogram and the following week a biopsy.

During this time I was in a bit of a fog. I can’t remember who I told about the lump or if I asked for prayer. I know I was praying.  On September 11, 2013, during the biopsy, I was told I would be immediately referred to a surgeon. I asked if it could be removed with a lumpectomy. The doc said “not with this type of malignancy”.

It was strange hearing the word malignancy, aka CANCER, spoken and it was referring to me and my body. How could this be? I have worked in Medical Administration for 20+ years and have had to call people in for appointments so the doctor could tell them they have cancer, but ME! Again the fog and survival mode kicked in. I got dressed and walked out of the clinic. A friend had driven me to the appointment, and as we walked down the street to the car I said “I have Breast Cancer.” I said it so casual it was like I just asked, “so you want to go for coffee.” I was trying to be normal, not fall apart right there on Tache. But then it would be normal to fall apart after being told you have cancer, right?

Independence is a Hard Thing to Give Up

Be normal. Be Strong. Be Independent. I was thinking how do I tell my family? What will happen to my job? Is this a hereditary thing—do the women in my family have the gene? I was glad my parents were not around anymore to see me go through this. And yet, I needed them at this time, …and will I die? My independence and life were being threatened. I was scared and lonely, more now than ever. I am a 54 year old single woman. What will I do? Where will I go? Who will be there for me?

The next hard step was to call my family to let them know. I had told my oldest brother about the biopsy. Now I had to confirm the diagnosis — I have breast cancer. I also called a few friends and cousins and the word spread quickly. Every time I say the words breast cancer, even to this day, it did not and does not feel real. I am still processing so much. 

Oh yes by this time there were many tears. Yet there were things that had to get done before life was no longer normal. I wanted someone to hold me while I cried into my pillow in the middle of the night. One of my nieces said to my brother will she never catch a break. My family and friends were sad, angry, and concerned. This cancer didn’t just affect me.

I’ve use the analogy of a freight train to describe how I felt about this cancer thing. Remember in cartoons the damsel in distress tied to the train tracks waiting for her rescuer to come and save her from getting run over by the train. Well, that’s what I pictured. Me, standing on the tracks, tied tightly by cancer. All the while my friends and family were standing beside the tracks yelling, trying to get the train to stop. Yet it still came barreling down the tracks towards me. 

When it hit me, amazingly, it didn’t knock me down. Yes, I may have swayed with each car hitting me, but to me, each car was a phase or step in the process. It was hard to watch those on the side of the tracks being concerned for me, worrying, praying, and watching me go through all the surgery, the treatments. I felt sometimes I needed to be the strong one in this and not let them know how scared I really was. Being independent is a hard thing to give up.

During this time I prayed or inwardly pleaded—some may have called it yelling—with God to give me strength to do what I had to do and get me through this and, oh, by the way, WHY ME? I never liked when I asked my parents “why” and they came back with “because I said so.” I had to trust God, my Father, in this and everything, because HE SAID SO.

Fast forward through medical tests, appointments, and decisions. The big one, do I have one mastectomy or two? 

Surgery

October 29, 2013, at 5:45 in the morning, my brother and sister drove me to the hospital. I walked in knowing within a few short hours I was going to have my double mastectomy and reconstruction. This was a very surreal moment. Yet as I walked in I wondered how am I walking without grabbing on to the exit doors to avoid going into the hospital.

I know there were many people praying for me at this time. I remember praying just as they were putting me to sleep, asking God to guide the hands of the surgeons and to keep the cancer cells out of the lymph nodes. The cancer they did find in the first lymph node was so small it was not measurable. Praise God, I was released from the Health Sciences Center after a few days. 

During all of this, somewhere in my mind, I knew chemotherapy and radiation were in my future. This scared me. 

Home

Once I got home it was nice to be in my own safe place. My cousin had sent over a Tempur-Pedic bed and this allowed me to sleep in a sitting position with my knees bent. Due to the surgery this is how I had sleep for 2 months. My Christmas present to myself last year was to sleep in my own bed on Christmas Eve. It felt great — it felt normal.

After 8-10 weeks of recovery I started getting ready for my next step in treatments. Chemotherapy, losing my hair and toenails, feeling sick, and food tasting like sand for 4+months. I joked, at least my taste buds got to go to the beach last winter. I needed 24/7 care for 4-5 days after each treatment.

Cared For

I’m a little independent in case you haven’t noticed a theme here. However, being dependent rather than independent was a pleasure and a challenge for me. My caregivers made my meals, cleaned my house, sat with me. They distracted me with humour and what was going on in their lives. I was learning to be dependent on others. 

When we are independent we do not ask for help quickly or easily. I had learned from a young age to fix it, figure it out for myself, put myself last. Now this may be a bit of a Mennonite thing — help others, fix others, do for others first. My mom’s test to see if we were really sick was if you’re staying home from school, then you can do the dishes or vacuum, or clean the bathrooms. We went to school a lot.☺ It was hard to feel helpless. I had people say they were surprised at how healthy I looked and sounded during this time. Yet trying to do things that would normally take a short time was a daunting task for me.

After my first treatment of chemo I did okay for the first few days. Slight flu-like symptoms. Days 3-5 kicked in and I had already sent my “care-giver” home. Why keep her here when I can do this myself. Bad decision. Again I was fighting with my independence. 

I was so sick. The anti-nausea drugs kept the nausea away but the side effects were awful. I was weak. I was able to get my coffee, water or a piece of toast. I didn’t eat much those days and I was so doped up I couldn’t talk much. I remember a friend called to see how I was and all I said was too tired to talk and hung up. During that week I prayed to die! Really I did. I pleaded with God to take me home. I did not think I had the strength or ability to do another day, never mind five more rounds of chemotherapy. He obviously did not answer that prayer. 

I started losing my hair on day 12 after my first treatment. My friend Sue is a former hairdresser so she came over and shaved my head for me. We both cried that night. 

Rounds 2-6 were better. I stopped one of the anti-nausea drugs. I was able to arrange for people to stay with me till day 5. They tagged teamed a lot. Some of my neighbours mentioned that I must be popular; they had never seen so many people going in and out of my house. I did assure them I was not popular, just well cared for.

I am still amazed at the many people that came to take care of me. I felt I didn’t deserve it. I’ve not done enough for these people for them to care so much. I know I am loved by God, not by how much I do, He just loves me. Again, at times it’s hard to get my brain/heart around this concept. Satan loves to tell me I’m not good enough to be loved. I’m learning to take a deep breath and a brave step forward out of my comfort zone to ask for help. I can testify to the fact that the blessings I have received in allowing people to care out-weigh the fears of asking for help or being thought of a burden to others.

During my treatments and recovery there were so many friends from church, my Life Group, and my family that were there in body and prayers, phone calls, emails, food, snow shoveling, and so much more. I missed going to church on a regular basis; when I did go I was amazed and so blessed at the many different people that came up to me and said we pray for you every day. I wanted to say who are you people to care so much. I sometimes wanted to ask who are you because I didn’t know their names or couldn’t remember. 

God’s Plans

Through all of this, I sometimes found it hard to pray, read my Bible, focus on God and His will. I knew God had a plan. I knew this from verses like Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, DECLARES the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. 

And Hebrews 13:5: 

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Back when I first knew I had cancer, I drove to a quiet spot and opened my Mom’s bible. Now my parent’s had passed way 1 1/2 years earlier and I had been the main go-to child during the last years of their life. That was and is a whole different transforming experience in my life. Anyway, Mom’s Bible had been in my car since her passing. I opened her Bible and read where it fell open to Ezekiel 37:4-5

Dry bones, listen to what the Lord is saying to you, “I, the Lord God, will put breath in you, and once again you will live. I will wrap you with muscles and skin and breathe life into you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” 

Whenever, I would share a concern or problem with my Mom or Dad, Mom always would have a verse of comfort or encouragement, not to mention their prayers. Please know, I don’t adhere to crossed over loved ones speaking to you, but I felt that this is a verse she would have shared. I know it is out of context, but it was a comfort all the same. 

In my darkest moments, a song or verse would come to mind and I would contemplate or sing the words till they penetrated my heart and mind and soul. “When Peace like a River, attendeth my way, When Sorrows like sea billows roll.  IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”. That was my Dad’s favorite song. 

Philippians 4:4-7 says:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

So I kept saying and singing, to God be the Glory. Sometimes over and over till it penetrated my being.

It helped me to pray for friends and family going through their own issues and many others who needed God to touch their lives.  I know have a God who loves me and is not surprised by my circumstances. He knew before I was born what I would go through in this life.

When asked am I mad at God, I often tell people I was angry at times, yes. But I know in my heart He loves me and will never do anything to pull the rug out from under me just for fun. So I trust Him.

God is Still Working

So where am I in this transforming encounter with Jesus? I’m still transforming, he is still working on me. I’m still learning to trust, ask for help, and make prayer and study a bigger priority. I am apprehensive for what He will ask of me, where I will share this experience, and what the future holds health wise.      

In closing, one of the books I read this winter was the Prayer Box, by Lisa Wingate. It has this prayer about God’s Grace. 

“Yet amid all of this, there is the water of Grace. It flows in all directions, seeping into the hidden crevices, the darkest spaces. The water of Grace, is a sponge to the lips. A trickle and then a flood of hope, the river moves into the mountain stone by stone slowly widening its path, going over each of us, cutting into each of us, washing the places that are hard, that would separate us from one another, from you, among us and within us. After the Storm all are equal, all wanting, all needing, all in need of the water of Grace from one another and from you.”

I praise God and thank Him for loving me enough to give me family, friends, and a church family like Whyte Ridge. It’s your love and prayers that helped get me through this year. And I thank God He is NOT finished with me yet.