Do you know why I love living in Beamsville? Do you know why this former Montrealer would rather be here, in Niagara, than in the city I was raised in, and love deeply even to this day?
I made a promise while living in Quebec that I would never leave, even though there was a steady stream of people leaving the city on a regular basis. The language situation back then was making many English-speaking Montrealers think seriously about staying there long term. But my love for my hometown was so strong, I was sure I'd never leave.
Obviously, I changed my mind. So, what did it?
Only one thing could: ministry. And more specifically, ministry to teenagers. To be sure, there were opportunities in La Belle Province, but not to the degree that I was hoping for. I felt that a change of scenery was needed. And I'm sure you'd agree that moving to Beamsville from Montreal constitutes a change of scenery.
I've talked to many young people who couldn't wait to get out of small towns like Beamsville, so they could find their way in the big city. But towns like Beamsville have very big advantages over big cities. One major advantage, in my mind, is that it's easier to work together and be united in any given cause.
I have the privilege of being part of a group of area ministers who want to work as one body, to minister to people around us who don't know Jesus yet. Eight different Beamsville area pastors, and a number of ministers from other Christian institutions, have participated in meetings (when schedules permitted) since the group began meeting almost two years ago. About five will attend on average. Percentage-wise, if that many Montreal pastors sat down at a table to talk about how they can come together as one, under the leadership of Jesus, to minister to Montrealers, and each other... that would be quite noteworthy, I think. Geographical, doctrinal, and even scheduling issues would create challenges for a Montreal-based group looking to come together once a month.
That's why I'm so excited about living here. Certainly those are challenges that local pastors must face as well, but the smaller amount of churches in our area means that it's easier to get a greater percentage of pastors together. And a good chunk of the pastors in this area are meeting together, praying together, eating together, and just sharing their hearts with one another. It's so exciting for me to see that, while we recognize the distinctive characteristics of every church and denomination represented at any given meeting, we also embrace the common bonds that exist: we all love Jesus, we all want others to experience his love, and we see the value of combining resources so that others can experience that love.
I want you to be as encouraged as I am about what God is doing among our churches, and among the leaders he's raised up to lead them. Personally, I've never seen the level of communication, the cooperation, the sharing of resources that I see taking place all around us. Which is great, considering all the resources we have belong to him anyway, right?
I believe that God can, and will, impact a community through a unified church. That's something I'm hoping to see happen as we all keep listening to what God wants each Christian ministry to do in his kingdom. To that end, can I encourage you to pray over what is taking place in the region? Ask God to keep speaking to all of his ministers, and to lead them in the way he would want them to be led. I've come to know some of these awesome people very well over the last two years, and I know they would love to know that you are praying for them. They want what God wants, and that includes wanting to make a difference in the community God has placed them in.