This month, Faith News Niagara is introducing a new segment called "5 Questions", where readers can get to know the local ministers of the region a little better.
What is your name, the name of your church or ministry, and the length of time you’ve been at that ministry.
Doug Bylsma, pastor of living hope presbyterian church here in Beamsville, renting at Great Lakes Christian High School. I have been a minister of the congregation for four and a half years.
What is your favourite pastime: reading, sports, outdoors, etc.
I would say hockey and gardening. One is intense, and one is really tame.
We've always had gardens. I got flower beds around the house, And a little bit of a vegetable garden. We do a variety of stuff. I just enjoy it. You get out there, and you're just doing something with your hands while you're thinking about other things. I just find that relaxing.
What is your favourite all-time or current Bible book, story, passage, scripture; or extra-Biblical book.
I read the Bible, maybe several chapters a day. Outside of the Bible, there’s one book that I have in my hand called Valley Of Vision. It is a prayer book from the Scottish English Puritans. In the morning I do my own devotions, but after lunch I just read one of these prayers. It kinda sets the tone for the afternoon. Many of those prayers are very uplifting and powerful, very humbling, and they place the majesty, power, glory and the holiness of God before for me, and they encourage me to look to Jesus. That book is in my had three to five times a week.
Briefly describe the series of events that brought you to your church, your current role, and ministry in general.
I was a cabinet maker, a carpenter for 10 or 12 years. Under the preached word of our former pastor, I really sensed this strong call to ministry. I have always been involved, at some level, within the church, and at some level in a leadership position, even if it was just running the boys club in one of my former congregations. So I've always kind of gravitated towards at least being actively involved in the church. But under the ministry of the proclamation of the word, I felt the call to ministry, something that I put before the Lord by simply saying, “I’m a carpenter, not an academic, but if you're calling me to this then I trust that you'll give me the ability to do the studies. I’ll go to seminary and I'll do the training.”
I did it part time because we had a family, which continued to grow. So it took eight years to complete my seminary studies, but I now have a bachelor of theology.
I served the congregation for eight years as their elder. The former pastor had moved on. There was a pastoral vacancy in the congregation. I was not looking to take the pastoral call to this congregation simply because I think sometimes it's healthy to get fresh people into a ministry.
The confirmation needed, from my perspective, to be unanimous. So the congregation, with me absent, had a meeting and they unanimously extended a call to me. There was no dissent. I wanted it to be unanimous so I saw that as God's hand. So we moved ahead with them extending a call to me to be their pastor.
Briefly describe how you met Jesus.
I was raised in a Christian family so church is in one sense was something I've always done. However, as a child, I would say in one sense I don't think I know a day that I didn't know Jesus. My parents taught to me about Christ, I went to Sunday school, church, and have godly upbringing. On the other hand, I would say when I was in Grade 9 or 10 so I was about fourteen or fifteen, those Christian convictions became my convictions, where I owned the faith for myself. My mom and dad taught me well, but I now believed this for myself. I embraced Jesus now as my Saviour. I put my trust and confidence in him.
I have no spicy conversion experience to tell. Mine is a pretty boring one. But I think it's one that is boring, but one that we often see reflected in Scripture when we read in the Psalms, “I will be a father to you and to your children, and to the generations in the future”.
There's an idea that God loves families. He loves individuals, but he loves to work in the midst of the family, and in the midst of Christian upbringing. And I think that my testimony is one that says that God works through families all the time. That's why we send our kids to Sunday school, that's why we send them, if we can, to Christian schools. Because we know that God works. He loves and delights to work in the midst of families to bring salvation to children. And I am a testimony of that. So I would say that my conversion experience happened over, I would say, a couple of years, where I really started to come to a conviction that I do believe this, and I will commit my life to Christ as Lord and Saviour.