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Showing posts from 2011

Note from the Pastor, December 25, 2011

After seeing the shepherds on trial in last Sunday’s Christmas musical, I was prompted to ask a familiar question, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I cited Don Cherry as an example of someone who went public on Hockey Night In Canada with his faith on December 17 when he said, “At this time of year we have fun with Santa Claus, but Christmas is about Jesus being born.” If Cherry is ever put on trial for being a Christian, the prosecutor will certainly introduce last week’s “Coach’s Corner” as evidence.

Hopeful Story, December 25, 2011

Some people know that I lost my big sister, Karen, when she was only 36 years old. She was my mentor and one of my best friends. I admired the way she raised her kids, served the people around her and clung to her faith, no matter what life threw at her.

Hopeful Story, December 18, 2011

Looking for Jesus in the "Beams of Light"
  You may be like me at this point and find yourself asking "What's so merry about Christmas?" You may find yourself or someone you know experiencing one of the dark storms of life such as a bitter divorce, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or dealing with a dreaded disease like cancer. There are so many storms people face that seem to become magnified at this time of year. Sure, we go to church and put on a brave face, but in reality we have lost sight of the "Star of Bethlehem". We have become like the disciple Peter, so focused on the storm that we begin to sink rather than keep our eyes on Jesus. A couple of well-meaning friends gently reminded me of this fact the other day.

Note from the Pastor, December 11, 2011

As a teenager living in Willowdale, Anthony, my high school buddy, and I would often head downtown Toronto in December to take in the sights. Last Saturday, the Steve Bell concert at Massey Hall (amazing!) provided me an opportunity to relive those experiences.
  At City Hall, Marja and I watched the skaters. My eyes were immediately drawn to the three arches over the ice pad and I remembered the day Anthony and I climbed them. Today they’re guarded by gates. Back then they were very accessible.

Hopeful Story, December 11, 2011

Colin Carrie, Member of Parliament for Oshawa and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, announced a fundraising effort to benefit a local charity. Beginning this week, Colin Carrie will be wearing the "12 Ties of Christmas" on the last 12 sitting days in this session of parliament and putting them up for auction.

Hopeful Story, December 4, 2011

Preachers, called to proclaim a life-changing gospel, often wonder if lives are actually being changed by their messages. Their worst fear is that their words have no impact. Their greatest joy is to hear that someone was prompted to action by something they said.

Hopeful Story, November 27, 2011

From Cindy De Jong:

  The word Advent points to coming—something arriving. And what we’re centered on during Advent is the coming of Christ. It’s a season of four weeks leading up to Christmas preparing for Christ’s coming…It really points to three comings. It’s not just Christ coming at Christmas when the Word became flesh … but it’s also preparing for Christ coming again. It’s this heightened awareness of the in-between time that we’re in—the already, but not yet. Christ has come already, but the kingdom has not been completely fulfilled yet until his return. Then there’s a third coming, which is Christ coming into our hearts.

Note from the Pastor, November 27, 2011

On Saturday November 19th, members of the Administrative Board, Deacons and staff met for an extended breakfast meeting to discuss a new way to look at our ministries and how they work towards our purpose of bringing people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
  The Admin Board has embraced the theme of being an “Externally Focused and Internally Strong” church over the last few years (from the book The Externally Focused Quest, available in our church library) and this has now become a regular part of our ministry review discussions. Our next challenge is to take a look at our ministries to see how this theme is actually helping us achieve our purpose at Hope Fellowship.

Hopeful Story, November 20, 2011

Last week I had the privilege and pleasure of conducting a double symbolic wedding in the Dominican Republic. We’ve known this was coming for three years ever since I officiated at the wedding of Devonne and Jenn. Back then, they had approximately ten wedding guests and expressed the hope of renewing their vows in the Caribbean in the presence of family and friends from the Islands. Jenn’s sister, whose extended family also lives in the Caribbean, decided to renew her vows, too. It turned out to be a hugely emotional experience, especially for Devonne’s mother who had not seen her son for five years and had never met her new daughter-in-law and two grandsons.
  There was one glitch. On the morning of our departure we examined our e-ticket and discovered that I had depended on a month old e-mail that said we were flying out at 3:15 p.m. whereas a more recent itinerary said that our flight was leaving at 10 a.m. This was heart-stopping news at 7:15 a.m. on a Friday morning when I th…

Note from the Pastor, November 13, 2011

Twenty-five years ago Rick Hansen made history when he completed his Man In Motion World Tour after propelling his wheelchair for 792 days and 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries and 4 continents. 126 flat tires did not stop him from covering the circumference of the earth. Neither did his spinal cord injury (SCI). Since then, his foundation has raised more than $250 million, money used to accelerate progress towards a cure for SCI and a more accessible and inclusive world.
   On Wednesday, November 2, the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay, came through Bowmanville. Thirteen persons, each doing a 250 metre section of the tour from the Zoo to the Recreation Complex, were given the experience of wearing the heavy sterling silver medal that commemorates the world tour. It weighs 400 grams and bears the logo “Many In Motion”.

Hopeful Story, November 6, 2011

Every November since 1921 Canadians have worn poppies. This red flower symbolizes the lost lives and blood of our soldiers. In the past and present they have fought for innocent victims in countries around the world and also protected our freedom here in Canada.

Note from the Pastor, October 30, 2011

In last week’s sermon I challenged everyone who considers Hope Fellowship their church home to take a good hard look at their giving towards the church budget and to prayerfully consider giving through the “pre-authorized debit” program that we’ve dubbed HopePAD.  Currently, only fifty-six households do their giving this way.

Note from the Pastor, October 16, 2011

Over the years, parents in many Christian Reformed churches have been asked by their children, “Why can’t I take Lord’s Supper?” At Hope Fellowship parents have been able to say, “You can, after you share your love for Jesus with the pastor or the elders.” Now, throughout the Christian Reformed Church, parents will be able to say, “You can, because you also belong to God.”

Note from the Pastor, October 2, 2011

Have I ever told you I have the best job in the world? If you ever see a smug look on my face, it’s because I’m feeling sorry for everyone else, since it’s my job and I’m not giving it up! If you ever see me with a smile on my face, it’s because I love what I do.

Hopeful Story, October 30, 2011

When the expansion of our church was being planned back in 2005, one idea that received unanimous support was a well designed nursery area. In addition to Sunday services, one of the possible uses discussed was a weekday nursery school to provide a place for community parents to confidently leave their children in a nurturing environment.

Hopeful Story, October 23, 2011

Every year our youth leaders try to find a retreat that they can attend with our students. Our aim is to help our youth in their Christian walk and to spend time with them in a setting outside of regular youth programs.    This year we chose to go to the Anchor Retreat. This retreat was geared for grades 7 to 12, the first time all our youth were able to go together. On Friday, Oct., 14 six leaders and 34 students headed to Cambridge.

Hopeful Story, October 16, 2011

At the end of our morning services, the invitation is often given to seek prayer from the prayer partners who make themselves available for this. Each Sunday, a few people accept the invitation.
  Are people actually helped or even healed when others pray for them? One person, who wants to remain anonymous, gave us permission to share his experience.

Hopeful Story, October 9, 2011

Over the last few years, you may have seen the words "Ten/Ten" in our weekly schedule. This refers to the leadership preparation group that Marja and I have led for the past five years in our home.
   By now, 42 people have gone through this course. Many of those who attended have found their way into various volunteer positions at Hope Fellowship. This certainly ranks up there for me as a reason to be grateful to God on this Thanksgiving weekend.

Hopeful Story, October 2, 2011

Rev. John De Vries, a retired CRC minister from London who has served as a chaplain in both penal and psychiatric institutions, promoted restorative justice at Tuesday’s Classis Quinte meeting in Bowmanville. As part of his presentation he told the delegates a personal story involving himself and a seventeen year old driver who struck and injured him two years ago.
  The police said he could charge the young man with careless driving. The injuries had really impacted his life. But did he really want to take the driver to court or even sue him?

Note from the Pastor, September 18, 2011

Today we welcome Sheila Dykstra to Hope Fellowship. Sheila is a member here, but is working in West Africa as an Education Specialist/Consultant. She will share a little bit about her work in our service this morning. If you are interested in learning more, Sheila would love to get together with you at some point in the next few days. You can contact her at The following is one of Sheila’s stories of how God is working in West Africa.

Hopeful Story, September 25, 2011

There's an old joke that gets kicked around sometimes that says, “If you do something twice in the Christian Reformed Church, it's a tradition.” I think an event trumps “tradition” when it becomes “the way we do things here at Hope Fellowship.” That's what the week of prayer and fasting is: the way we do things.

Hopeful Story, September 18, 2011

Twice, Marja and I have volunteered to work with Disaster Response Services of the Christian Reformed Church, first in Grifton, North Carolina and then in Munster, Indiana. In both places, severe flooding had displaced people and destroyed homes. In both instances (2003 and 2010), it was immensely satisfying to help rebuild people’s lives. In both volunteer experiences, we came on the scene long after the floodwaters had receded.

Hopeful Story, September 11, 2011

The two bases of the twin towers of the World Trade Center have become twin memorial reflecting pools. Enormous curtains of water flow through carefully spaced weirs into the footprints of the original twin towers, and the names of all those killed by terrorist attacks in 1993 and 2001 are engraved on the bronze parapets surrounding the pools.

Hopeful Story, September 4, 2011

Piria Shukuru walked for one and a half hours to reach the food distribution site in Oiti, Kenya. The young mother of three small children and five teenagers was happy to do it.  “Before the food arrived, the situation was bad. There was no food in the markets and we had to travel far to buy food. This food [from CRWRC] is keeping us strong,” she said.

Hopeful Story, August 28, 2011

It’s the last week of summer. Well, not according to the calendar, but the rhythm of our lives will change dramatically in just over a week.  Judging by how often the phone has been ringing in the church office the last couple of weeks and by how many people I’ve actually seen during the week, you are making the most of the last weeks of summer.
  Even though it seems calm and peaceful, the ripples are starting to make themselves felt in the quiet that is August in a church building. Some of the new ministry season schedules are showing up in the office, and our zone coordinators and ministry leaders have been praying, working, planning for the new season for a good part of the summer.

Note from the Pastor, August 21, 2011

Four years ago, everyone at Hope Fellowship was given a One Year Bible for Christmas. That got many people reading their Bibles as part of their daily devotions. Since then, many more One Year Bibles have been given out to anyone who requested one.
  Seizing an opportunity to connect personal devotions at home and Sunday sermons at church, I began basing my messages on the One Year Bible. In the first year, we focused on New Testament passages. In our second year we focused on Old Testament passages. Last year we concentrated on all the readings from the book of Proverbs, calling 2010 “The Year of Wisdom”. And this year we’re back to the New Testament, referring to 2011 as “A Year At Jesus’ Feet.” Today, in every worship service, you can expect to hear me preach on a scripture passage that you read at home the previous week.
  There is one more connection we want to make for an even stronger spiritual life. And that is the link between our personal devotions, the weekly message an…

A Note from the Pastor, August 7th, 2011

Prayer, according to Hope Fellowship’s mission statement, is central to the life of the church. That being the case, the Thursday morning prayer group has continued without a break throughout the summer as it has from its inception.
  Each week I wonder who will attend. It is summer after all, and people are coming and going all the time. But every Thursday up to six people have shown up. And last week there were eight of us! God is so good!!

Hopeful Story, August 7, 2011

Every year for the last five years a group from our High School Ministries has travelled to Toronto to serve at the Seeds of Hope Day Camp, sponsored by Youth Unlimited Toronto in the Jane & Finch area. This year we had eleven students and Jake returned for his 5th time, as an adult leader this time. The students from previous years remember us and greet us with big hugs and smiles and we are excited to see how they have grown since we last saw them.

Hopeful Story, July 31, 2011

“Did you see the new sign?” I asked someone after it was installed. “What sign?” the person replied, despite having just driven past it into the parking lot.
  “What are people saying about the new sign?” asked Rick James after his company added the LED message board. We had to tell him that over the weekend no-one had made any comments to the staff.
  So let me ask you. “Did you see our new sign when you pulled into the parking lot today? Do you like it?”

Hopeful Story, July 24, 2011

On Tuesday, volunteers from Hope Fellowship’s Run/Walk Group helped two staff members of The Refuge stuff race kits for those who participated in yesterday’s Durham Quarter Marathon. Two and a half hours and eighty laps around the table later, seven hundred boxes were ready for distribution. Each kit contained coupons, advertisements, fridge magnets, nibbles, breath mints, magazines, race fliers, a bottle of water and a map of the route.
  In previous years, we filled plastic bags. This year, we were surprised to find ourselves stuffing boxes instead. Someone had come up with a brainstorm, suggesting that registrants be challenged to return the boxes filled with items that homeless youth could use. Things like toques, gloves, deodorant, toothpaste and socks. What a great idea! Not only were we stuffing race kits; we were also distributing donation boxes.
  Stuffing race kits for The Refuge has proven to be a perfect fit for our Saturday morning running and walking group. Like t…

Note from the Pastor, July 24, 2011

Imagine growing up in poverty, becoming very wealthy, and then giving it all away to liberate children from the same streets where you spent your childhood. This is the rags to riches to rescuer story of Dr. Charles Mully whose life changing encounter with God in 1986 empowered him to forgive the abusive parents who abandoned him and establish the Mully Children’s Family with the money he had gained from his fleet of public service vehicles and real estate holdings. Since then, 7,000 street children have been taken into homes and given an education in his two primary schools and high school. Currently, 2,000 children and young adults between the ages of 1 week and 24 years are part of the Mully family. With the help of donations and volunteers from around the world, MCF also runs farms, operates greenhouses, offers a medical clinic and hopes to develop a University. For his humanitarian work, Dr. Mully and his wife, Esther, have been given prestigious awards by World Vision, the go…