The essential reason why Faith News Niagara exists, is to help bring together the body of Christ in the Niagara Region. Everything on the website, either directly or indirectly, dovetails back to this. In fact, just about everything that I do, centres around this theme.
I mention this because I believe this truth cannot be stressed enough. But I also bring this up because I want to make you aware of something taking place later on this year that supports this mission, something I’d love to have you be part of. But first, a little backstory.
You might be aware that I started Faith News Niagara while still working for YFC/ Youth Unlimited, known to many as Youth For Christ. My then-supervisor suggested that I find out if Beamsville had a monthly meeting of local pastors, something that is common in a number of areas. He thought it would be a good idea to get to know the area’s ministers in order to create relationships between them and YFC.
Turns out there had been a group in the past, but it hadn’t met in a while. But a new crop of pastors were more than ready to resume where there predecessors had left off. A date was selected for a first meeting, and we’ve been meeting pretty much every month since.
Almost from the outset, talk has focused around a joint church service as soon as a new arena being built in town was completed. Over time, and after much discussion, it was decided that a great first step toward a service in that facility would be to have a service at Great Lakes Christian High School first. With that decided, it just became a matter of picking a date. So we did. Mark Sunday, May 1st on your calendar if you’re from the Beamsville area, or if you just feel like joining us for this service.
I have lived in these parts for almost 16 years now. I don’t know of a past event with the potential to bring as broad a cross-section of believers together, to worship Jesus and fellowship with each other, as this one. Not saying there hasn’t been such an event, just saying I’m not aware of one. So let me just come out right now and say this… I am very excited. When was the last time anything like this took place in the Beamsville area? As I said, I personally don’t recall any recent gathering.
I have met lots of beautiful brothers and sisters across Niagara since launching the Faith News site, and even before the launch, during my YFC days. So I’d like to think that I have somewhat of an understanding of how the Lord just might be feeling right about now. How so? Well, a lot of people that he personally knows and likes are about to meet each other, and when they do, they will discover something he already knows: some of the most amazing followers of Christ can be found in all kinds of church buildings on a Sunday morning, all across the region, and this is a great opportunity for a lot of them to get to know one another! I think he’s pretty excited about that!
At our last ministerial meeting, talks began in earnest to flesh out the hour-long service. I shared some thoughts that had been running around inside my head throughout the Christmas season, thoughts about unity in the body of Christ centred around John 17:22 and 23, and Psalm 133. I’d like to share them here with you.
The passage in John has Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to the Father. Starting partway through verse 22, he says (NIV), “…that they may be one as we are one— (23) I in them and you in me— so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus prays for a unified church, unified in him. Unified like he and his father God were. That’s pretty tight.
Then the reference in Psalms says, (NIV) “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” The third verse of that Psalm connects a blessing to being unified.
So my point? Well… perhaps this gathering, this coming together in Christ, is something the Lord wants as well?
Now, I’ve stated in previous blogs that I’m no Bible scholar, but I’m thinking that this is what these passages are indicating. Besides, even non-Christians see benefits in uniting for a cause. This idea has merit even if you were to remove the spiritual component.
Getting back to that ministerial gathering, my last point before we went to prayer was that all believers, regardless of denominational background, have at least two things in common: the same Lord and leader, Jesus, and the same enemy. I felt that considering what it is we want to do, it is essential that prayer be an important aspect of the planning of this meeting on an ongoing basis, because this is not something our common enemy would want to see come to pass.
So I’m asking you to pray for this service, even as you read these words. Pray with us throughout this process. Pray for the preparation and planning going on right now for this service, pray for a spirit of anticipation and excitement to sweep across the area, and pray that a stirring will start in the hearts of all Christians to desire unity. This will be a powerful testimony to the world around us.
Faith News Niagara will be devoting all kinds of space to this, so keep checking back here for the latest. And put this date, time and place on your devices right now: Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 10 AM, Great Lakes Christian High School, 4875 King St., in Beamsville. Can’t wait to see you there.