Late in 2016 my friend, evangelist Chuck Price, brought the Ontario towns of Prescott and Cardinal to my attention. “Could we do a Finding the Hope outreach in those neighbouring towns?”
We prayed and spoke at length with pastors in these areas and plans came together for outreaches on the Easter weekend of 2017.
The churches involved were unable to carry the costs of the outreach so we sent a request for funds across Canada. And many of our partners responded!
Finding the Hope packets were prepared and included invitations to special evangelistic events.
In Cardinal, outreach events were conducted Good Friday to Easter Sunday. At that time, this small church had a very small congregation. But up to 100 people crowded into the church for the event!
In Prescott, the plan included a Finding the Hope packet mailed to every home along with an invitation to an Easter morning breakfast held at a local school. At the breakfast, Pastor Roger had two people in his small congregation share their testimonies of how Christ changed their lives and 20 people responded by inviting Christ into their life. It was a turning point in the ministry of that congregation which, only a few years earlier, faced a grim future.
I visited with Pastor Roger in early December of 2017 to hear first-hand how God is at work in their community.
He shared that several years earlier he and his wife felt lead to pastor the small struggling congregation. Their first Sunday had six people in attendance, including the pastor and his wife. There was no money for even a modest salary and the church’s future was clearly at stake.
He worked slowly at sharing the Gospel any way he could outside the church building. By God’s grace they experienced some growth over several years however financial stability was still not achieved and things were tight. Then it’s as if a dam broke on Easter Sunday morning at the outreach breakfast.
Since that Sunday morning they have baptized dozens of people who have experienced salvation. People who were broken and in bondage are experiencing the redeeming grace of God. The testimonies of God-to-the-rescue are amazing!
We always encourage churches that participate in a Finding the Hope outreach to engage in mission to their local harvest field with an ongoing approach and watch God bring the increase. Nothing can replace persistent prayer for a community, a clear gospel proclamation to every home, continual cultivation of the harvest field through a variety of ways, and intentional discipleship of people who respond to the Gospel.
This is what Pastor Roger has been doing, not just leading up to the Easter weekend of a year ago, but even more so since the breakthrough that has seen the work grow to new heights.
Before last year’s Easter outreach they would have seen a maximum of 60 people on a Sunday. Eight months later, when I visited him, they had grown to two Sunday services because of the Fire Marshal’s limitation of 90 people in the space where they meet. Since then, they’ve added a third Sunday service in the evening in the nearby community of Cardinal.
In order to gather the whole flock together once a month for worship, fellowship and evangelism, Pastor Roger also conducts a special evening event regularly in a school auditorium where visitors also join in.
Key to this outpouring of grace is prayer. The Pastor noted that he has an active intercessory prayer group that prays for every new convert and everyone in the church each week. Congregation members are being raised as evangelists. All sorts of outreaches outside the church building are making the Gospel present where people live and where people go.
At the close of our visit Pastor Roger said to me with great conviction: “The harvest is ripe. It is a lie when we think it is not.” I couldn’t have put it better!
Their sense of expectation is contagious and they believe that the past year is just the beginning of so much more to come for their region, by God’s grace.
Let’s keep this great work of God in prayer, that many more precious people will experience the freedom and life that only Jesus can give!