JH Christmas Production Needs YOU!
“THIS YEAR’S presentation, The Journey, is a powerful musical with a strong Gospel theme,” says creative director Carol Adams. “It’s about a mother who has stepped away from her faith and is encouraged by her child to read the Christmas story from the Bible. As she reads, the events surrounding Jesus’ birth come to life on the stage. The biggest question we’re facing is, how do we get this vital message across to the public? “In the past, we’ve relied on flyer delivery by the post office, and handouts that we give to members of the congregation to deliver in the area in which they live. We’ve also tried door-hangers that we’ve placed on homes in the local area, but all these methods are highly labour-intensive, quite expensive to print and produce, and seem to have a fairly low percentage of response. We’ve got to start taking more advantage of social media, and that’s where we need the help of everyone in the congregation.
“This is a way to put the shoes of the gospel of peace on our feet, and walk the electronic road to our friends and neighbours and loved ones.
“Incidentally, we’ll be producing a few colourful letter-size posters, so if you can get permission to post one at your workplace or favourite coffee shop, that would be great. If everyone in our church took a poster, who knows how many people would see it and decide to come?
Or if you have friends that attend other churches, why not ask them if they would be willing to place a poster in their own churches, or some other high-traffic area? “Rehearsals have now been ongoing for a few weeks and excitement is building. Let’s do our best to make The Journey a resounding success, to glorify the Name of our Saviour. He’s done so much for us; the least we can do is let others know that of all the stories ever told, His story is the most important they could ever hear.”
Will The Blood of Japan’s Martyrs Bear Fruit?
IN THE MID 17TH CENTURY the Tokugawa shogunate (leadership) of Japan decreed that the country would henceforth reject all foreign influence, sealing off its borders to the outside world in an effort to preserve the nation’s ethnic and cultural purity. All foreigners were expelled, except for a tiny enclave of dutch traders on a small island off the coast of the mainland. Those Japanese who had become Christians over the past few centuries (mainly through the influence of Catholic missionaries) were given a choice: deny Christ or suffer the penalty of death.
Some would make a pretence of denying their faith, carrying on their devotions in secret without Scriptures or pastors, but many thousands decided that they would rather choose martyrdom. Some marched to their death by fire, carrying their children in their arms; others were killed in mass crucifixions.
The country’s closed-door policy remained in effect until the mid-19th century, when gunships of the American Navy under the command of Commodore Perry forced them to open up once more.
Ted and Nadine Staunton recently returned from a short visit to that fascinating and populous country of 127 million people, 39 million of whom alone — more than the entire population of Canada — live in greater Tokyo, just one of its cities.
Though the evangelical Christian pres- ence in Japan remains extremely small, rep- resenting about 2% of the population, it is reported by evangelists there are encouraging signs that a ‘Christian tsunami’ has begun in the far east and is beginning to roll westward. If the blood of the martyrs is indeed the seed of the church, as Pastor Jon recently reminded us, then we should expect a great harvest of souls in the country of Japan.
Elder Profile: Lance Michael Peters
“I SHOULD probably have been a computer software engineer,” Lance Peters admits. “When I was a kid growing up in Ponoka, Alberta I was fascinated by computers — I love numbers and logical, linear thinking. By grade 10 I was coding algorhythms for Pacman and creating other computer games. I’d be programming before school, through my lunch break and after dinner. But nobody told me it could turn into a career. my dad was an accountant, but I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. I liked drafting, so I went in for that.”
After high school graduation, a two-year course in architectural technology followed, at the Northern Institute of technology in Edmonton. The first year consisted of a grounding in general architecture; with the option of taking landscape, interior or architectural design in the second, he chose the latter, and after graduation found work at a New Westminster architectural firm. “Fortunately, they were using the software I’d been trained to use,” he says. “the work was mostly of the institutional variety: schools, hospitals, prisons.”
His chosen line of work involves making sure everything about a designed structure conforms to code, is feasible to build, satisfies the client and works well for the end-users. It involves overseeing every detail of the project, in consulta- tion with governmental agencies, designers, builders, engi- neers of many types, clients and end-users.
“I love working with people,” he says, “and today’s technology is amazing. On one recent project I was talking with the design architect in Italy, the client in London, the structural engineering team in Victoria, and a design support team in India — all at different times, mind you — on conference calls.”
Such planning and organizational complexity doesn’t seem to faze him.
“People sometimes ask me, ‘How can you be so happy?’ Well, I’ve got a good job, a great family, and my relationship with God is continually deepening. Looking back, I can see His hand on everything in my life.
When the recession hit in 2008, I had steady work when other companies were failing. even when I moved from downtown way out to the boonies in south Surrey, He provided me with a job close to the beach. Now I ride my bike to work almost every day, so I’m healthier — I lost 45 pounds in six months.”
After a series of jobs at architectural companies both large and small (curiously, each seemed to consist of a time span of seven years), Lance is now employed by Ankenman’s Associates, an architectural company in Crescent Beach.
His life-philosophy is focused on giving, both of his time and money. “He gave us His Son,” says Lance, “so the least I can give Him is my time [he serves on the board of elders, is head of the church’s finance committee, is on the properties committee and the executive committee. He is also on his strata council and is chairman of a community garden in Crescent Beach]. But what gave me tremendous freedom of mind was deciding to tithe of everything I earn, with extra giving above and beyond. I wish I could say to everyone — in a nice way — ‘What are your priorities?’ It really changed my whole outlook on life.”
Speaking of family, 19 year old Lance met his wife-to-be Ellen Petersson in an IGA store in Ponoka, where both were working summertime jobs. “She was setting floor-tiles, and I was fixing shelves,” he laughs. “Then she went off to teach school in a northern community, but we managed to keep in touch by phone and letters.” the couple would marry in 1989, two years after Lance accepted Christ into his life.
“Her mom prayed me into the kingdom, I think,” says Lance. “I wasn’t from a Christian background — plus, I wasn’t Swedish either, which didn’t go over too well to begin with.”
Ellen works as a kindergarten teacher at an elementary school in South Surrey (and is also head of the children’s program at Johnston Heights Church). The couple have two daughters, both of whom are following the Lord: Linnéa, currently a university student working on a B.A. degree in policy studies and political science majors, and Annika, who is to take a B.A. in Christian education.
When asked when and why Johnston Heights became their home church, Lance replies, “We began attending in 1990. Larry Giesbrecht at the door was so welcoming. And John Hanson (actually a relative), Bruce and Judy Flegg and Don and Trudy Handy were instrumental in getting us involved. We didn’t have kids at the time, but we knew this would be a great environment for them grow up in.”
Lance also (somehow!) finds time to enjoy several hobbies. “I do most of the cooking at home,” he grins. “I love following a recipe. Pulled pork — mmm. And I do woodworking. I have most of the tools I need — except for a jointer. If anyone has one they’d like to get rid of, please let me know!”
An example of Lance’s handiwork can be seen in the church nursery, where he designed, helped make and install the cabinetry.
Showing God’s Love to the Disabled Poor
GREG AND SHELLEY PECK’S love for the disadvantaged people of Guatemala began in late 2015, by way of a Bible study group hosted by JHC members Harold and Valori Bootsma. “they were asking if anyone would be willing to accompany them on a mission trip down there to volunteer with a Christian ministry called Hope Haven, who had established a factory assembling wheelchairs. We said ‘Why not?’” recalls Shelley. “Somehow, I’d been feeling that I had come to the end of my tether.
I’d told God ‘I don’t care what You want me to do, I need to do something different.’ Little did I know what He had in store — my life was to be turned upside down!”
‘There’s a huge demand for wheelchairs all over South America, and other countries,” Greg explains. “Wheelchairs donated in Canada are sent to the U.S., where prisoners re-furbish them before they’re sent on to Hope Haven’s factory in Guatemala. New chairs are also assembled there, mostly from parts manufactured in China.
“Malnourished or disabled people, those with birth defects or war wounds, are ostracized by society. They’re looked on as being cursed by God,” he continues. “People shun them, even spit on them in the street. There’s no such thing as welfare or social services for their support. And they’re absolutely unemployable. People with a disabled child will hide them out of sight. It’s a social stigma.”
“The needs there are so great,” adds Shelley. “Poor people live in lento’s you wouldn’t keep garden tools in — four or five people in a tin shack with a dirt floor. And there’s a lot of corruption in official circles to deal with. Sending a shipping container down there — which costs $10,000 — well, it just might not be released for a month, because they expect the ‘gringos’ to pay a bribe. But you have to avoid doing that, because then it would always be expected.”
A cavalier attitude toward pollution is widespread, an aspect of Guatemalan culture Greg finds very disturbing. “they dump everything in the river, and when things get too bad they pile it all up and burn it,” he says. “And there’s clapped-out diesels everywhere, belching out thick black ex- haust. But it’s an agriculturally rich country; the fruit is twice the size you get here and much tastier.”
Their first trip in November 2015 led them to a small town called Santo domingo Xenacoj (‘Shanaco’), an hour’s drive from Guatemala City, where they helped build a house and installed water purification systems (“you don’t want to drink the tap water down there,” notes Greg).
In February 2016 Shelley jumped at the chance to visit Guatemala for a week on her own, joining a missionary group of 10 people she did not know. They went to the small town of Santa Lucia, where they built four houses, gave out clothing, did medical home visits and installed solar panels in 13 houses. She was amazed at how God has worked: “I was sitting reading my Bible one morning at 4 am, my usual get-up time,” she says, “and this security guard came over and asked me by signs if I would read to him.
I spoke no Spanish, he spoke no english, but here I am reading to him from the book of Proverbs!
“One morning I saw this fellow in a restaurant, wearing a gas station uniform. there were others in the same uniform there, but nobody seemed to want to be near him. So I sat with him for a while, and found out he had a club foot — that was why he was being ostracized. So I helped him get up the steps outside — there are no railings for people — and he showed me his swollen foot. So I got some ice for it, and that became my daily routine. The other workers started getting more and more curious; the next day they sat a bit closer, and finally they were sitting alongside him.”
On her last day there, Shelley went by herself to Xenacoj. “A man called Eric, a prosthetic technician at the factory, came in and said ‘I need you to come with me. there’s a lady here from the women’s prison that needs prayer.’ ‘But I don’t speak Spanish,’ I said. ‘I’ll translate,’ he replied.
“So we go to this room with two guards carrying m16 guns standing outside. This old lady was in there, who’d been in prison for seven years. She had come to the factory to get a new prosthetic leg. So I began praying for her, with Eric translating, when she starts chiming in, and crying — it was kind of chaotic, but beautiful. Then Eric says, ‘She wants to pray for you. She’s so touched that you came all the way from Canada just to pray for her.’ It was so emotional.
“Then just as I’m turning to leave, one of the guards grabbed hold of my arm, quite hard. Tears were streaming down his face. At first I wasn’t sure what he wanted, but Eric says, ‘He wants to accept Christ as his saviour.’ So I’m kneeling down alongside him, my hand on his m16 assault rifle, praying for him in english. Wow!”
The couple returned yet again in August 2016 by themselves for 13 days. Shelley has found many opportunities to minister to the needy. “Even something as simple as a touch can make such a difference,” she says. “I gave this guy at the factory a kiss on his disfigured cheek, and it really touched his heart. He couldn’t understand why, but it doesn’t cost me anything to show God’s love and compassion. Now he smiles and offers his face up whenever he sees me, for another kiss.” “Empathy is her spiritual gift,” says Greg, “People just flock to her, especially those with disabilities” (Greg’s sister Susie was wheelchair-bound, as is Shelley’s son Andrew). “I give them massages,” says Shelley, “because it’s hard on the body sitting in a wheelchair all day.”
The couple are returning to Guatemala this December, taking along a massive amount of donated clothing and hard-to-buy items they have collected, that currently fills much of their Surrey home. How will they get it there? “God has yet to show us how, but He will,” chuckles Shelley.
To find out more about Hope Haven’s wheelchair ministry, click: http:/www.hopehavenintenational.org