“I often feel more like a spectator than a church planter,” says Daniel (all names have been changed to respect privacy). For the past few years, he has been church planting with the C2C Network among First Peoples in North America. But most of the time, he hasn’t felt like he’s been in control of the outcomes of his ministry. “I haven’t come up with any original idea or smart thought. I just show up and watch the Spirit of God at work.” And what is the Spirit of God doing?
One day, while Daniel was distributing food to those in need, he met a woman named Emily. She had an injured foot, so he took the opportunity to pray for her. “I could tell right away that she was very appreciative and responsive,” Daniel said, “so I asked her if she would like to hear more about how to pray to Jesus and hear his voice.”
Emily invited Daniel into her home on the reserve, where she lived with her boyfriend, Chris. The two of them lived in a very small and run-down place, which was situated within a larger communal living facility on the reserve. “When I stepped foot into their place, it was obvious that they were heroin addicts. There were needles everywhere.”
Even though it was painful for Daniel to see their living conditions, at the same time he felt very welcomed in their home. Chris was equally as warm and friendly as Emily.
As Daniel began to share a story from the Bible, the couple listened attentively. But as they listened, Chris opened the door of their room into the hallway, so that others in the facility could come and go as they pleased. “Emily told him to shut it, but Chris insisted on keeping it open.”
As he continued to tell the story, it became apparent to Daniel that people were coming to the room to buy drugs from Chris. “Some of them would look around, see me, and ask what was going on, but Chris would just tell them, ‘We’re reading the Bible and learning to hear God’s voice.’”
As bizarre as it seemed to Daniel, he also felt very privileged to be there to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and the presence of Jesus in that place. At the end of their time together, Chris suggested that Daniel come again in a few days.
At their next meeting together, Daniel focused on the story of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15). “It was during that story that Chris encountered God in an amazing way. He was instantly transformed.”
With the door still open, Chris began telling everyone who was nearby that this Jesus was better than heroin! Suddenly, the couples’ room became a hub for Gospel proclamation on the reserve.
At the next meeting, more people showed up and Daniel led them through a reading of the Woman at the Well (John 4). In the middle of the story, a young man entered the room and said, “I’m hurting. Can you help me?” (In the language of addicts, it clearly meant that he wanted heroin but couldn’t afford it.) Chris immediately gave him what he wanted. Then the young man looked around the room and asked, “Is this a safe place?” Chris and Emily assured him it was, and so the young man proceeded to prepare the drug and take it right as the others continued to discuss the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.
That young man came to the next meeting, but not for heroin; he came for the story. Eventually, he came to faith in Jesus. Since then, the group has continued to grow and multiply. That young man and six others from that group have started other house churches, or faith circles, as they call them on the reserve.
For Daniel, it’s clear that Chris was the man of peace that Jesus talked about with his disciples. Daniel takes the words of Jesus seriously in Luke 10:5-7: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them… Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
God used Chris in a powerful way to host Daniel – the Gospel messenger – in that context. And Daniel was amazed at how natural the process was: “It was all very indigenous, and peaceful. It was completely on their terms. I just watched Jesus come into that room and meet those people as they were.”
Daniel noticed three simple keys to how the Gospel took root and the Church was born in those meetings on the reserve: “The door was open. It was a safe place. Jesus was there.”
“It’s that simple,” Daniel concludes. “Wherever you’re going with the Gospel, God is preparing people to receive you as the messenger. But you’ve got to be prepared to be a person in need, to make yourself vulnerable, to go in humility. That’s what Jesus is saying in Luke 10. The person of peace cares for you and provides for your needs. They become your advocate. It takes away the unhealthy power dynamics in the relationship.”
In the case of Chris and Emily, Daniel was also reminded that the people of peace then become the new messengers of the Gospel. “They were the insiders that opened the door for others in their context on the reserve. They were the new laborers, raised up from among the harvest, allowing the Gospel to speak and transform from within.” Daniel has enjoyed watching the Spirit at work among First Peoples. He’s often been surprised: “God has taught me to expect the greatest results from the most unlikely places.”
To learn more about C2C and their church-planting initiatives across North America, go to c2cnetwork.org
The C2C Network Joins MB Mission
By Randy Friesen
After several years of processing the big idea of having the C2C Network join MB Mission, the Canadian Conference of MB Churches gave their final vote of affirmation on November 1, 2017 at a Special General Meeting in Abbotsford, BC. It was a good example of the community discernment process that we see in the Book of Acts when the apostles and elders declared, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...” (Acts 15:28). The vote passed with a strong 85% majority. I want to express my thanks to everyone who prayed and invested in this process. There have been many people who gave their input along the way with counsel and engaged us with many important questions. We are grateful for an involved and supportive constituency. Together we are stepping forward in faith in the direction that God is calling us.
We are most excited about the high level of passion and commitment that we see in both our Canadian and US MB Church Conferences. We believe that this merger anchors us securely in our MB family and also links us to a much broader kingdom network. Together, we are committed to One Mission – local, national and global. We want to see churches everywhere embracing this vision to equip everyone to share the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations.
We continue to ask for your prayers as we work together to effectively merge our agencies and align our systems. Although we are adding North American church planting to our global work, we will be keeping global MB Mission donations separate from the donations received for domestic church planting with C2C. Please pray that in all things we would be faithful, humble and wise as we serve Jesus and his Church in the days to come.