Waterloo UBF, Canada
April 2, 2014
In 2013 Pastor Joshua took his first Sabbatical leave in over 20 years of ministry, and I filled in as acting pastor for the duration of the year. We went through several experimental steps as we tried to adapt to this new situation as a community. The Lord was gracious to us and continued to do His good work among us even amidst the confusion. I’m especially thankful for the various leaders who served on the Core leadership team with me, led the several Ministry Teams, facilitated small groups, and served in other ways. I’m thankful that P. Joshua and I were able to continue a good relationship as friends. Through Joshua’s ongoing mentorship God many times inspired, encouraged and challenged me. I’m thankful for the breakthroughs in greater openness and sharing for many in our congregation, the growth in relationships and friendships (including ups and downs). Steve and Susie Kang joined our chapter in the summer, and have been a great encouragement to us. Four people were baptized: Sam Y., Megan, Michelle and my daughter Leah. We continued to grow in God’s grace and be equipped with the help of others in the larger body of Christ. We also had our own Spring Retreat “A New Thing” and Christmas Coffee House, and some of us attended the UBF ISBC in the U.S. and the Labor Day Meeting in Toronto. The Seeds of Waterloo Club continued to operate under the leadership of Estella, Scott, Michael and Joseph. And at different times in the year we had members of our church in various places in the world, and we continued to maintain connection with the Grondins in Japan.
We had sermons on Luke’s Gospel, our ministry Core Values, a Relational Wholeness series in the summer, and on the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-6) in the Fall. By the end of the year, the Lord had enabled us to establish a leadership structure broken down into the Core Team and the Board. Working between Core and other leaders and members, we finalized our Ministry Core Values to complement our Vision Statement. We were also able to come up with an informal set of guidelines for romantic relationships. And we began a process of revisiting our financial priorities as our desire to submit ourselves fully to the Lord’s leadership in this area and to experience His provision and power through it. We had one intern, Clara Yoon, for part of the Fall, and we are now in process of developing our Internship program to be more meaningful and beneficial for the Church. Many people also went through intensive sharing times for healing and deliverance and experienced spiritual breakthroughs.
Personally this year was a challenge but also a great blessing. I found that when God put me in a position where I was required to preach and lead, He also provided the resources I needed to do this. I found a significant increase in God’s anointing on my time with the Word of God, so that preparing sermons was very enjoyable as God made His words flow in my heart and mind. (I hope other people also got something out of it.) I finished my MTS thesis in the early spring, and began a second PhD program in Theology in the fall. Doing this in addition to teaching, pastoral duties, and family life made things very busy, but the Lord carried us through somehow. My family had a lovely camping trip in the spring, and at the end of the summer I was able to build a tree-house for my kids in the backyard, which was a small miracle for me. Hudson began school in the fall, Isaiah moved up to grade 1 and Leah to grade 2. We are praying for them to continue to grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with men.” Their faith is small, but I believe they are in the Lord, and He will work out His own good plans in their lives. Though I experienced some significant improvements and increased regularity in my personal prayer life, I know there is still much more to grow into in this area. Jennifer worked throughout the year, and supported our family in so many ways. I felt the Lord challenging me to grow in Eph 5 love for Jennifer. I want to see her walking in greatly increased vibrancy, joy and confidence in the Lord’s love this coming year.
2014 Goals and Direction
I do not have anything particularly new or sensational as far as vision for 2014. I want to see the Lord strengthen us through obedience to the things we’ve already been hearing from His Word. We heard a sermon at the end of 2013 based on John 15 that emphasized God’s desire to strengthen and build up our “root system” so we can bear good and lasting fruit. Based on David’s life, God builds us into healthy and fruitful branches through two main things: the field of intimacy and the cave of community. According to WUBF’s Vision Statement, we seek to be fueled by God’s love to love God, each other, and the world around us with all we are. Our Core Values emphasize the Lordship of Christ and the Spirit, doing whatever we do out of the place of intimacy with God, living in the light in a safe and supportive family, discipleship and partnering with others to bring God’s kingdom. We want to see God carry us many steps forward into this vision this year. In order for that to happen, we have to listen to Jesus who says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (Jn 15:7,8). I felt that the Lord was leading me to these two verses personally, but they are also my prayer for our community. I believe they include the goal of increased intimacy with Jesus through going deeper in the Word of God and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit as the basis of our lives. Because we are branches together in one Vine, these verses also include community, suggesting that the more connected each of us is personally with the Lord, the more we’ll be able to live together as a healthy and vibrant community, building each other up and bearing good fruit together to please and honor God. Finally, Jesus’ words highlight the central importance of prayer. He intends prayer - the life of asking of God, and receiving from God, to the glory of God - to make up the core of our relationship with Him.
My reason for focusing on the Sermon on the Mount in the fall was to encourage us as a community to lay a strong foundation in the teachings of Christ concerning how we are to live. When we pursue the kingdom and righteousness of God as our top priority and go after it wholeheartedly, the Lord will take care of everything else. I want to see us grow in our commitment to Jesus and to His words. I also want to see us being built up in the callings and giftings the Lord is making to bud in our hearts, so that not only our community here in this church but the bigger community around us and even the larger body of Christ may be strengthened and edified. We remain a small church and almost everyone here is unpaid, either working or studying full-time and participating in church life on a voluntary basis. As a result, we can wonder how much growth is really possible. But we do not rely on ourselves but rather on the Lord, who provides us the strength and the wisdom. Many times in 2013 I asked God about my life: “Isn’t it too much to be doing all these different things? I feel that I can’t do any of them well.” And I asked God about our church: “How can we operate as a healthy church with so many limitations in our size, availability, and even the level of commitment of our leadership?” But I kept feeling that God wanted me to continue doing what I was doing, and keep running this race as a church. I don’t see clearly where all these things are going, but the Lord is telling me to simply trust Him and believe that what we are sowing now we will be able to reap a good harvest in due time.
Personal Prayer Topics and Goals:
1. To grow into a more vibrant life of intimacy with the Lord through prayer and the Word.
2. To fan into flame the gifts of God in preaching and prophesying. To pray for others earnestly.
3. The Lord’s anointing on my family life, relationships, teaching, and studies in theology.
Ministry Prayer Topics and Goals:
1. Develop our root system personally and as a community. Field of intimacy & cave of community.
2. Grow leaders (giftings & callings) and church programs according to our vision and core values.
3. See greater connection to and impact on our community, flowing out of (1) and (2).