Monday, July 22, 2013

Chasing after a first time guest...

I can't believe it has been since January since I have written about what God is doing in and around us here in Richmond. So many God stories have happened. So many only God stories have happened. I have been at Towers for almost two years and this past year, year number two, has been great. Our first year was a slow year. We saw lots of seeds planted, but only one person begin to follow Christ and only that person was baptized. However, this year has been much different. I am not a numbers guy when it comes to church stuff, but I think these numbers show God's faithfulness and presence in a city like Richmond where pluralism abounds.

To date:

  • 11 people have began a relationship with Jesus
  • 5 of those have been baptized (more soon)
  • 100's have heard the Gospel (many for the very first time)
  • Over 400 volunteers have served without us so far this year (more to come)
  • One of our Richmond Network sites now has a church planter
  • New faces continue to show up on Sunday morning


The list could go on, but I want to share about one of the "new faces" that visited Towers recently. The story begins like this:

A team of volunteers from Prestonwood Baptist Church split into five prayer walking groups and completely covered our neighbourhood in prayer. One of the areas was the neighbourhood across the street from the church to the west. It is the neighbourhood where my kids attend school and I coach basketball. One of the "new faces" had attended a worship service at Towers the day before they prayer walked. He lives in this neighbourhood. The day he visiting Towers for the first time was insanely busy. We were setting up for a city wide block party, two mission teams were in town, there was a guest speaker and I (along with help from others) was trying to manage it all. 

At Towers, when someone visits for the first time they receive a gift bag. Inside this gift bag are chocolates, a Bible, a short book, a thank you note from me for visiting including my card and a Starbucks card. As soon as the service was over, "D", immediately left and I did not get a chance to chat with him. He was out in a flash. However, I decided to chase him down in the parking lot and give him a gift bag. I told him my number and email were in the bag and I would love to connect and chat with him sometime. I received a text that afternoon from him saying that he enjoyed the service and he would love to connect because he was searching for "god" and forgiveness of sin. The next day his street was prayed over and three days later he walked to the church and we were able to meet. On Thursday "D" gave his life to Jesus Christ. Did you hear what I just said? He is now a follower of Jesus. God worked in his life in a crazy way. He showed up to the church because it was the closest to his home. His street was prayed over. He came to the church with lots of questions about the Cross, forgiveness, why bad things happen and I answered those the best I could and God worked through the whole situation and changed this 21 year African-Canadian from Halifax's life.

So, what's the point of this blog - Do not be afraid to chase a visitor down in the parking lot and give them a gift. Seriously, do not forget about the one. No matter the size of your church there is always the chance there is the one who is searching. There is the one who is hurting. The is the one who needs a personal relationship with Jesus. I never would have thought that a last minute gift as a visitor was walking out the door could be used by God to change his life. "D" will be moving back to Halifax in about a month. We will be baptizing him and discipling him as much as possible before he is sent out to Nova Scotia. There is a need for churches in Halifax and who knows maybe God will call "D" to be a church planter in his city. We are trying to connect him with believers in Halifax. Will you pray that happens?



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goosebumps

For the past two weeks we have been prayer walking neighbourhoods. One is the neighbourhood that our church is located. The other is one of our church planting sites. Multiple times during the week I go out for a walk around our church neighbourhood and pray. On Thursday night as we prayed during our weekly prayer gathering, I brought up the fact that there is no one from either church (that meets in the building) that actually lives in our neighbourhood. My family is the only one who lives next to the church. I said that we should begin praying that neighbours would start attending our church.

When I said this, I meant through relationships, through serving them and loving them, they will eventually visit our church. Sunday morning, I was sitting in my office around 9:00am doing some last minute prep for the service when Daniel walked through the doors. Daniel sat down on my couch and we began to chat. We began to get to know each other. I asked him about his relationship with Christ, where he was from, what he did for work, and where he lived.

For me in that moment, the most astonishing answer was to the question not about his relationship with Christ (he is a follower of Jesus), but of where he lived. HE JUST MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD AND WAS LOOKING FOR A CHURCH IN HIS NEIGHBOURHOOD. I immediately got goosebumps. I told him that we had been praying that neighbours would visit the church. He smiled. I shared this with my friend Lily, who was at our prayer gathering on Thursday night. Her response, "Pastor, you just gave me goosebumps."

God is hearing our prayers. God is at work in our neighbourhood. At Towers Church we love God and we love our neighbours. Part of loving God is being obedient to pray for our neighbours.

I hope God gives you goosebumps often. If not, check your pulse and your relationship with him. Continue to pray for us as we Love Our Neighbours.

Pastor Garrett

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pray with us for our neighbours

Recently I came across a book Ed Stetzer mentioned on Twitter called The Art of Neighboring. I read a few excerpts from the book online and God really began to reaffirm some things in my heart that I had already been thinking about. My father in law ordered the book for me and I have been reading it this week. I look forward to being able to share the principles of the book with the great people that I am blessed to pastor and with you too.

Jesus told us in the Great Commandment to love Him and love our neighbour. Do we even know our neighbours names? I begin to look up and down my street and at the houses near our church building (I live next to the church building) and I was only able to name a very small percentage of our neighbours. That means I do not know anything about them. Just from my front stoop I can see Canadian families, Filipino families, Punjabi families, Chinese families, Saudia Arabian families, British families and others. All of them do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A recent demographic done for our neighbour shows that approximately 22,000 people live within 0.5 miles from the front doors of our church building. Within 1 mile, there are over 140,000 people. Over 95% of those people do not know Jesus. A majority of that percentage do not know anything about Jesus.

Today, our church, will begin a monthly prayer walking initiative in our neighbourhood. Next week will do the same thing in an area we want to plant a new church, Steveston Village. We are going to gather at 2pm Pacific Time and just begin to walk the streets that surround the church building. We will pray for God to bring salvation to the homes. We will pray for God to bless these homes. For the many new homes being constructed, we will pray for followers of Jesus to move into those homes to help us impact our neighbourhood. We will look for neighbours in their yards or walking the streets and pray for open doors to share the Gospel with them. We will look for our neighbours needs and for ways to serve them. We will be the presence and the light of Jesus Christ. 

I am asking you, wherever you may be, to pray with us at 2pm Pacific Time. I have friends all over the world in many different time zones. Will you stop for a few moments at 2pm Pacific Time and pray with us and for us?

I know God is going to do great things when we have faith in Him to do great things and I look forward to sharing with you what happens!

Pastor G
@garrettholmes