by Gerald D. Reimer, Director of Church Planting
In each their own way, our Canadian church planters are modeling a passionate heart of service in the eleven new church plants across our country.
For some of them, they have moved to Canada from another country with the primary purpose of being missionary church planters in our own backyards. For others, it has meant moving their families every 10-plus years as they hand over the work to others and venture out into another new community where they don’t know a soul.
It means studying and learning a new culture and language. Difficult choices are made along the way with regards to schooling for their children. It can mean finding a second job in their bi-vocational role, second-guessing their ministry efforts, always trying to keep their home neat and tidy as they host neighbours, and the list goes on. At the core of all of this exists a calling, a passion, a purpose, and a love for Jesus and the people that they serve.
Please continue to pray for our Canadian church planters. Consider joining them as in most cases they work alone and would love to have additional team members, whether in bi-vocational roles or even as tentmakers. And pray also for the people in the communities they are living and serving. These are people whom Jesus came to save!
“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14–15).
When thinking of bi-vocational church planters, I remember one who had a tremendous influence on my life, Arnaldo Gonzalez.
In 1993 I had been sent to Chihuahua, Mexico, by EMC Missions to join other EMC missionaries doing church planting and youth ministry. Shortly upon my arrival I was introduced to another single young man my age, Arnaldo (Aldo) Gonzalez. Within weeks we became friends and over the course of my three years living there, Aldo and I spent countless hours together.
One of my favourite memories of Aldo was when we left the city one weekend and went to his home village of El Picacho to help run a quinceañra (a coming of age birthday party, which is a big deal in Mexican culture) for his 15-year-old niece. All adorned in beautiful gowns, his niece and her dozen attendants walked down the dirt streets from her house to the small EMC-affiliated church. A program followed, prayers of blessing were said over the young woman, and then the meal began.
During the next several hours that I had the privilege of working beside Aldo, this faithful church planter displayed his servant-hearted character. By the time the evening was over and the property was mopped and cleaned, inside and out, we were exhausted, but so completely filled with satisfaction and joy for helping make the celebration so enjoyable.
Much too soon for a servant of God, Aldo passed away in December 2012 at only 43; and, adding to grief, his wife Rebecca passed away a short time later.
Together they had modeled what sacrificial church planting looks like. They had given themselves completely to the ministry, using up almost every moment of their personal time on evenings and weekends to bless the small Fuente de Vida (Fountain of Life) Church.
While both working full-time jobs, they had made it a priority to make Kingdom building their focus. Bible study or message preparation, visitation, youth ministry, Sunday School lesson planning, preaching, teaching, serving and so much more flowed out of their passionate hearts.
When I think of bi-vocational church planters, some of my thoughts go to them. And I am thankful.