It was eight years ago today that Sara and I (pictured at right) drove into Vancouver to lead the ministry here. In some ways it is hard to believe that 8 years have passed, yet I face the reality of the passing of those years every day (the grey hair, the wrinkles and the aching joints, but especially in my grandchildren). But I also see it in each of you. Some of you became Christians in those 8 years. Some of you got married and/or had children. Those of you who had children when we arrived in 2002, my, how they have grown! We’ve all gotten older and hopefully wiser.
For sure, together as the VCOC family of disciples, we’ve been through our share of ups and downs in those 8 years, haven’t we? Two completely unexpected and very tragic deaths in the first three months rocked our worlds and for some, rattled their faith. Then came a “firestorm” that swept through every church in our fellowship. The months that followed were tense, and often angry times. Satan was doing his best to destroy what God had built by tempting our sinful natures with selfishness, self-righteousness, resentment, wrath. Some demanded apologies and some, seemingly, wanted vengeance. It was one of the most trying and faith testing times of my life to date; and I’m confident that each and every one of us who were disciples of Jesus at that time felt it deeply!
Yet, here we are today. Satan won some victories in all our lives and he persuaded some to give up on God and/or on us as a church. But the Vancouver church is still here and we are about to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We’re all somewhat older and hopefully wiser and, I pray, as zealous as we’ve ever been for the glory of God! I believe God has been working these last few years to set us up for victories like those we experienced near the beginning of the Vancouver church, when dozens were baptized into Christ and God added more than 60 souls to our number between April 1991 and September 1993!
What we all must be is men of faith – a faith that motivates, inspires, acts and sacrifices! I believe that the third decade of this church’s young life can be our best yet for the glory of God. Satan will try to discourage, dissuade, distract and disunify us, but if we each stand strong in the Lord and strengthen our fellowship with each other, Satan can be defeated and God can win incredible victories through us.
So here’s to the next 8 years (and beyond – Yes, I did see Toy Story on the weekend). May we truly do all that we can individually, and collectively as brothers of the Son of Man, to bring glory to God.
“Rise up, O men of God, the church for you doth wait. Her strength unequal to her task, rise up and make her great. Lift high the cross of Christ; tread where his feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of Man, rise up O men of God.”
In Christian love and fellowship,