Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Impressions of Church Day West 1997

Written by Rev. J.W. Wullschleger
On Monday, September 1st, the four churches of the West held their Annual Church Day. Bellevue was the organizing church. Many cars of the churches of the West crossed the Canadian border in the morning hours of Labour Day and moved along the American highways in the direction of Bellevue. Heavy delays were expected because of construction work on the roads, but the traffic was normal. Many people probably chose to sleep in this morning. There was a lot of fog on the way and southward it became cloudy and rainy. Around noon the sky cleared and the weather turned beautiful. During lunch we could sit outside the church in the sunshine and most of the people made use of that. The Bellevue congregation had rented a church, the Coal Creek Chapel, in one of the wooded districts of that city.

The Bellevue congregation was instituted a year ago and it was good that our sister church became actively involved in our church life. A day like this is also a good opportunity for nurturing fellowship. About 140 people (children included) attended this day. It was a two- to three-hour-drive to Bellevue, but it was worth it. The general reaction was very positive.

The program was as follows. At 9:30 a.m. coffee was served and at 10:00 Rev. Wullschleger opened the morning session. After a time of singing with Psalter requests from the audience, prayer was offered and our missionary, Rev. K. Herfst, addressed us. We were very happy he could be here. After his topic we sang a Psalter during which a collection was taken for foreign missions (total sum was about $ 500). A discussion followed with Rev. Herfst answering questions from the audience. Rev. D. Neff (former interim pastor) prayed with us for lunch and after lunch the afternoon session was opened by Rev. L.W. Bilkes. After singing audience requests, Rev. H. Overduin addressed us. Rev. K. Gangar closed the afternoon session.

An attraction for the children was a mini-train with an engine and ten single passenger cars (made of huge plastic water jugs) which toured across the parking lot. All the children had several turns. It was a well-chosen surprise and much enjoyed.

A summary of the speeches follows. The speech of Rev. Herfst was entitled "The Feeding of the Five Thousand as it Relates to Missions,Ó based on John 6:1-14. Rev. Herfst pointed out that this miracle of Jesus is the only one that is recorded in all four Gospels. The Lord shows us thereby that His resources are inexhaustible and that we should expect our help from Him alone. The Lord can fulfill our needs, no matter how extreme they are. Our extremity is God's opportunity. ChristÕs compassion for the multitude stands out in this passage. Rev. Herfst gave the illustration of a family he visited. The father was put in jail on pending trial. People came to Rev. Herfst to make him aware of the need of the family. He saw a poor family of which the three youngest children were seriously underfed. They stared at him with big, glassy eyes. He was astonished that these children were left to die, whereas none of the neighbours or fellow-villagers did as much as lift a finger to relieve their need. Their answer was, 'Why should we? Everybody has to look after himself. We are not to care for others." As Rev. Herfst was entering this home a visitor came out, extending a hand to pastor Herfst, saying "God bless you." We are disgusted about this type of ÒChristianÓ behaviour (read James 2:15,16), but what do we do to feed the hungry? This miracle has a further application to evangelism. What do we do to bring the Gospel to those whose souls are starving? We often feel hindered because of our limited means: lack of abilities, of knowledge, of funds, of manpower, etc. These are no obstacles for the Lord, since He used five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a multitude. God works often with insignificant means. Think of Gideon who defeated the enemy with an army of 300 men.

The title of the address by Rev. Overduin was "Reflecting on a True Story About a Grisly and Fatal Bear Attack". Everybody was wondering what this story would be about. Pastor Overduin did not leave us in uncertainty very long. The title refers to the Bible story of Elisha and the children of Bethel of whom forty-two were devoured by two female bears (II Kings 2:23-25). His motive for choosing this passage was some vacation time spent in the mountains with his family in an area regularly visited by bears. In re-telling the story, Rev. Overduin stressed the tender-heartedness of the prophet, pointing out that this gruesome story is does not in conflict with ElishaÕs character. He acted as God's appointed servant. No personal revenge played a part. The context suggests that the prophet was shocked by the sudden way God executed His judgment upon these children. We should not forget that Bethel was a centre of false worship. There was little respect for the prophets of the Lord. Bethel is the second most often mentioned city in the Bible. It is outnumbered only by Jerusalem. This narrative contains a lot of warning. God is not mocked. The speaker brought out ten Gospel lessons to be learned from this inspired bear attack story: 1) The Truthfulness of Scripture. If the Bible were a book of men, intending to promote their own religion, this story would not have been in it. 2) There are Two ways in Scripture, a narrow way to life and a broad way to destruction. 3) The Terribleness of wrong upbringing. True religion was not honoured in Bethel. The people served God as they saw fit. Parents are in an urgent need to be faithful to the Lord and His Word in raising their children. 4) The reaction of the evil crowd. The children, whose ages could vary from 5 to 20, stirred each other up--or rather down--in the way of evil. Peer pressure is a great temptation. Children that knew better may have been in the jeering crowd. We need to influence others for good and to have friends who influence us in the way of godliness. 5) The Trials of GodÕs true people. The world honours false religion. True worship of the Lord is not honoured in this world. 6). The Tremendous power of God in defending His own and punishing the wicked. God has every resource available to punish the wicked and preserve His own. 7).The Trauma of God's judgment. These children running away to escape God's judgment are only a weak picture of the anguish of unrepentant sinners in the coming Day of judgment. 8) The Terror of ChristÕs judgment. This story gives us a faint glimmer of the terror Christ endured when He bore God's wrath on sinnersÕ behalf (Psalm 22). 9). The Tenderness of heart that should be ours as confessing Christians. Elisha went to Mt. Carmel before he went to Samaria. Mt. Carmel was a place known for the execution of God's judgment (I Kings 18) and a place of fervent prayer. "When have you last pleaded with God on Mt. Carmel for the salvation of sinners?" Rev. Overduin asked the audience. "The best sermons on hell are not spoken with harshness, but with weeping". 10). The Triumph of GodÕs cause over all. People may scorn God for a long time, but in the end God will bring about justice on the earth.

Labour Day 1997 was a good day for us at Church Day West, a day in which we were reminded, exhorted, encouraged to be Òsteadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the LordÓ (I Corinthians 15:58).

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