Our local ministerial meets tomorrow. This monthly gathering of peers in ministry is a highlight for me. I look forward to the opportunity to spend a bit of time chatting with other pastors and ministry workers, all of whom have such a heart for Jesus and for his kingdom and his church. Meeting with these men and women is the spiritual equivalent to a shot of B12 vitamins—I feel energized and strengthened just from spending a short bit of time in fellowship and prayer with these godly and humble leaders.
I have enjoyed the ministerial over my years in Duncan, but over the past few months, a special sense of blessing flowed into my life from these fellow labourers for Christ. I shared the challenge and sorrow of our church struggles and division with these colleagues, and their support, prayer, and ongoing words of encouragement and grace proved to be such an incredible strength for me. (Their rich good humour was no less a blessing. After I had spoken of our difficulties in St. Andrew’s, one of them quipped, “well, there is one good thing—if the devil is busy at your church, maybe he’ll leave ours alone!) During the past months, so many of them have called simply to ask how I was faring and to offer to extend to me whatever time, prayer or help I might need. More than anything, their strong affirmation of my ministry and integrity as a disciple of Jesus buoyed me up through the toughest moments of slander and attack.
In the weeks in between ministerial gatherings, I have the privilege of gathering each Wednesday for lunch, theology and prayer with two special brothers, Walt Vanderwerf of Duncan Christian Reformed Church and Joey Cho of the Cowichan Grace Native Fellowship. We continue to build a bond of mutual trust, respect and care as we seek to share our delight and discoveries from God’s Word, hold each other up in prayer, and simply bless one another in whatever way we can.
The psalmist declared “how good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) dwell in unity (Psalm 133:1). How blessed we are when we allow the Spirit to nourish and challenge and empower us through the gift of fellow sojourners in faith. As important as it is to cherish, protect and grow our faith relationship with Christ through our private times of reading and meditating upon scripture and opening our hearts in prayer, equally we need to invest ourselves in trusting, vulnerable relationships with others. Too many Christians, too many men, and too many pastors try to do life and faith on their own, and simply find themselves overwhelmed. The Christian walk was never meant to be a solo enterprise. We need others to walk alongside us and we alongside them, and be one another’s encouragers, rebukers, listeners, helpers, counsellors and supporters. Above all, we need to place ourselves in those shared relationships through which the companionship and compassion and strength of Christ may flow.
For all those who have been such precious brothers and sisters in Christ, thanks be to God!