Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your ongoing contributions for the advancement of the kingdom through HeartCry Missionary Society. This is the first field report from Christ Community Church, a church in Fredericton, the capital of the Canadian province of New Brunswick; a church that is thankful for your support but more importantly covets your prayers. Our greatest desire and need is to be prayed for.
My family and I have been living in the city for just over a year now, though the church is eighteen months old. We had been travelling back and forth, but the Lord graciously provided enough money for my wife and I to afford renting an apartment, and it couldn’t have come at a more needed time. Four months later, my wife gave birth to our first child, Thomas Shepherd Betts. Needless to say, with a new church, a new city, and a new baby, God has brought a lot of changes into the Betts household since Christ Community Church began – all of them for good.
God is always good to His children, and never does he leave them without everything they need. Over and over, He has given patience, kindness, meekness, and compassion and helped my wife and I to grow in Christlikeness through the various trials we’ve faced. They are only simple trials, common to every parent and minister, but they still produce an increase in Godly character. God has also shown Himself to be eminently reliable. Yes, he reveals Himself that way through His Word, and His word is completely trustworthy; but it is one thing to read about the trustworthiness of God and it is another to witness it – even in small ways that some would call insignificant. Yet we have been able to meet every demand that the ministry has placed on us solely by the grace of God.
Fredericton, the city where God has called us, has a population of roughly 60,000 people with 45,000 more in the surrounding area. And it is a unique place in its region, Atlantic Canada. It boasts the highest income per capita, the most educated population, and the most high-tech industries. Its top employers are the New Brunswick government and the education sector, with a number of Universities and Colleges. Most people are only nominally religious, usually catholic, anglican, or liberal, but there are a large number of agnostics/atheists as well – enough that they stand out. This region that we are in is similar to the North East of the United States – Vermont, New Hampshire, etc. Not only are we near them geographically, but we are in a similar state culturally, mentally, and spiritually.
For this reason, ministry in our city could be compared to ploughing through a field of bedrock. Progress is made slowly, and the ploughs must be regularly sharpened; but I praise God for those whom He has brought to this work. The people in the church are eager, willing, and able to put their hands to work in the fields. Not a day goes by where the Gospel does not go out, and it goes out in every direction. What started out as a group of twelve has grown to between forty and fifty, and most all of them are eager to take the good news to those around them.
A young and zealous convert, a plumber, always carries tracts and never leaves a worksite without bearing witness to the risen Lord. An investment advisor, who prays for boldness, shares with her clients the words of Life. A paramedic pleads with people in their dying hours to turn to Christ. A pilot instructor has the privilege of teaching students from China who have signed a contract that they will not convert to Christianity nor attend a church. Yet he faithfully proclaims Christ to them, knowing it could cost he and his wife their jobs. An old truck driver, who leaves tracts in his employees trucks and writes scripture on the doors of his garage, implores people about the condition of their souls. Another young man travels from almost two hours away, twice a week, just to be part of our congregation and help us with our evangelistic efforts. And these are only a sample of the kind of people that God is raising up to work in the ministry here.
I can take no credit for this. If you asked me why so many in this small congregation were passionately evangelistic, there is only one thing I can say: The Lord has given them a heart for the Gospel. I have prayed for them, and though evangelism is not my area of gifting, I have gone out with them to encourage and train them but have done nothing unusual that a faithful minister would not do. I have made it my first focus to preach and teach the Word in all its counsel, to care for the needs of the flock, and to take the Gospel to the lost. Add to this the necessity of daily study and prayer, and I have little time for anything else. The small but growing group of believers here are like chicks with their mouths always open to receive nourishment from the Word, and the unity of our church has been wonderfully preserved by the Lord. All of this is praiseworthy, and the praise belongs to Him!
The growth has not been primarily from conversions. There is a handful, maybe ten or twelve, who have made professions, or have attended regularly, even under some difficult and hard preaching; but some appear to have little concern for their own condition or salvation. Most of the growth has been young people moving to the city and were recommended to our church, or people dissatisfied with the luke-warmness (or downright error) of previous churches. We have not in any way set out to steal people from other churches, but due to a lack of faithful ministries in the area we do not turn them away if they come. I do not want to imply that the other churches in Fredericton are all wayward, but a majority are anemic and very infected with poor theology, love-lessness, and worldliness.
There have been a few conversions, but I could count them on one hand, and all of them had been church going people; the evangelical lost, so to speak. In terms of breaking ground to the people outside the church, it has been insurmountably difficult. In the parable of the Sower, the unfruitful seed landed among rocky soul, others among thorns, and some on the foot path, but our seed seems to be landing on concrete and asphalt.
How To Pray
Please pray that we would see our evangelistic efforts rewarded and that we would cling to the promises of God and not grow weary. Pray that the congregation would see the blessedness of evangelism and proclaiming the Gospel in and of itself. Pray that we as a congregation would see the intrinsic and God-glorifying value in the simple proclamation regardless of the response. Nonetheless, please pray for a breakthrough – that the seed would land on good soil and that God would prepare hearts, open eyes, and give ears to hear. Pray with us that souls would be added to the Kingdom!
Corey Betts, on behalf of Christ Community Church, Fredericton, NB.