Category: Emergency Ministries


Would you believe in an addictions councilor who was arrested for drug trafficking? Would you believe in a marriage councilor who was getting divorced? Would you believe in a fireman whose house burned down or farmer who never harvested a crop?

Would you believe in a God who does not always do what you would expect him to do? Would you believe in a God who allows some people to choose eternal separation and torment (i.e. hell)?

Would you believe in a God who created some people destined for destruction…all so that he could demonstrate to you and I the blessing of a relationship with him and the peril of lacking that relationship? The apostle Paul asks this question of the church in Rome.

This line of questioning has become quite popular these days especially within the writing of Rob Bell and others and I think that it is having a damaging and confusing impact on our faith. These questions play on our natural sense of morality as they cause us to question what WE think is good and loving…which leads us into dangerous grounds.

I once thought that our natural sense of morality was evidence of God’s fingerprints on our lives. I think we can all agree that things like violence toward children is one of the most depraved things a human being could engage in…God would agree. But I now see how cursed even this seemingly good moral sense is for it tricks us into being sympathetic for the things that WE deem moral with no regard for whether God has said it is moral or not.

I dare say there are many in the church today, even good God fearing people, that when pressed on some areas of morality in our society today would find it very conflicting in their spirit to uphold God’s morality when our own morality seems to just make more sense.

Some Christians and other well meaning people wonder why we are so down on same-sex marriage and abortion; can we not just go with the flow on these issues? What is so wrong with loving whom you want to and choosing to have a baby (or not to) when you want? Is not the right to personal choice and unique personal expression a fundamental aspect of human freedom?

The problem with this line of questioning is that it puts us in God’s place and makes us the supreme judge of what creation was made to be and what potential it has to become. Do we really think that we know enough about love and enough about God to fill in for him from time to time?

Paul says to the Roman church, “But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who form it, ‘why did you make me like this”. (Romans 9:20) God speaks through Moses in the Old Testament when he says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Ex 33:19)

God did not say we would always understand everything about this world and everything about Him. However, he did say that he would always be good and in that we can have faith.

Romans 8:28 “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If you are ever confronted with the “how can you believe in a God who…” line of questioning you can tell them that your faith in God does not mean that you can always understand all of God’s ways. Having faith in God does not always mean that what seems logical and good to you is what is best for creation.

Instead, our faith is such that we trust that God’s ways are still good even when we cannot understand them!


Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death”.

Imagine that a little boy went to school one day and in his art class he decided to make a very special craft just for his mom. The little boys poured all kinds of energy, love and attention into this craft and finally completes his masterpiece. That night when he gave it to his mom she was overwhelmed with the amazing display of love that her son has shown to her. The little boy went to bed feeling very content with himself.

The next morning the little boy woke up and went downstairs for breakfast. When he walked into the living room his heart sank into his chest; there was his piece of artwork abandoned on the living room floor like a piece of trash. Why would his mom do this to something that was so special? Why did she not put it in a safe place?

The little boy was very sad; however, he came up with a plan. He was going to make special pieces of art for his whole family! Once his mom saw how happy these things made others she would realize how carelessly she had treated her own. Day, weeks and months went by and the little boy made many special pieces of art and gave them to his aunts, uncles and grandparents. Some days his mom noticed what he was doing but other days she seemed not to notice anything different at all.

Finally one day the little boy ran to his mom, jumped into her arms and said, “Mom, it’s your love and attention that I want, not everyone else’s. It’s because of you that I have made all these presents for everyone else. It’s you they were for!”.

The little boy’s mom finally got it; all the pieces of the puzzle came together. She hugged her little boy tightly and said, “I’m sorry I have not realized this sooner. I was so caught up in being so busy with life that I forgot that you were always right here with me. I guess I took you for granted; but I promise that I will not anymore!”.

You might be wondering what purpose this story has? The entire fall at Emergency Ministries I have been asking the students one question: What is the message of the Bible? The message of the Bible is much like the message of this story.

The history books in the Old Testament tell us that God created the world and all that was in it; he did this and gave it all to humankind as an amazing present. We, however, did not always regard our relationship with God as something to be cherished and so we often have discarded it much like the little boy’s mom discarded his artwork.

God’s plan at getting our attention was to pick one group of people and bless them beyond what they could ever imagine; once the rest of the world saw the amazing blessings given to these people they would certainly restore their relationship with God. The little boy thought that by giving presents to his family members his mom would realize how special her present was.

The prophetic books in the Old Testament show us that although God blessed Israel they did not always embrace that blessing and relationship with God. The little boy in the story found that his family members were not always that thrilled with his artwork; in the end all he wanted was his mother’s attention.

The gospel books of the New Testament show that God decided to remove the barrier between him and humanity; he came to earth as Jesus Christ. He died and miraculously rose again to demonstrate that he was God and that there was never anyone like him before. The rest of the New Testament shows how whole towns and individual people were changed by their relationship with God.

The little boy in the story finally ran into his mother’s arms and confessed the truth about what he had wanted all along.

God wants our attention. He wants our hearts. There is no sitting on the fence.

Joshua 24:15 “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Talk to a youth leader or a pastor today; give God your attention.

So…what is the deal with this guy Abraham anyways? That was the question that we tackled on Wednesday at youth. We have been attempting to figure out what the whole story of the Bible is and we determined that it is this: God’s attempt to restore a broken relationship between you and I. It’s actually quite dramatic and “chick-flick” like romantic; a desperate lover moves heaven and earth to reconcile himself to his bride. If you think I am overstating this just read Song of Songs in your Bible.

God decided to use Abraham to get the attention of the world. This old man who had no sons was given a son whose descendants would form a great nation: the nation of Israel. This nation was given great blessings as well as the promise of divine protection (…I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you…).

God’s intention was that these blessings would not just remain with Israel but that they would get the attention of the whole world….and that through Israel the whole world would be blessed and realize that God Almighty is THE God!

We tried an experiment: I dumped a ton of candy on a random group’s table in the youth room and watched what happened (Alisha, Kaitlin, Chris & Stephanie were the luck ones!). Those at the candy table were thrilled to be there and those who were not there were paying close attention to the candy table and even attempted to snuggle up to them and get to know them…hoping that they would get a share of the candy.

This was exactly God’s plan! Israel would be blessed and others would be attracted to that blessing. In turn they would hear about Israel’s faith in God and that God was the source of all of their blessings.

It didn’t always work out as planned. If it had of there would be no need for such a big bible. The fact of the matter is that Israel didn’t always live up to the blessing that they were given….and so the story continues.

More on that story next week!

Submitted by Alisha Sheppart

On Thrusday, September 29, the girls of Emergency Ministries held the first Girls’ Night Out of the new school year. Alisha Sheppart organized the event, sending out emails, and creating a facebook event page to promote it. The girls were also encouraged to bring their school friends.

The girls gathered at Pastor Nathan and Mandy’s house right after school. There was about 10 girls in attendance, with Mandy Hill and Cindy Morrone there as leaders. The girls ate snacks, baked and decorated cupcakes, and played a few games, such as charades. They also chatted about school, church, and any thing that was going on in they’re lives. They enjoyed each other company, and everyone said that they had a great time.

The next Girls’ Night out will be held at the beginning of November and will be a manicure party!! If you have any questions about the Girls’ Night Out, be sure to ask Alisha Sheppart! 🙂

This week at Emergency Ministries we spent some time talking about a very important story…the story found in the Bible. I heard the Bible described this way by a youth pastor this week: letters from dead people. The Bible is the inspired word of God…written by people as they shared their journey of faith with us.

Many of us go to church and youth group and heard little snippets of the Bible here and other verses and stories there. Many people are familiar with Noah and the flood, Moses, Joseph, Jesus, Adam & Eve and so on. However, just knowing a piece here and there makes it really hard to get what the Bible is all about…what is the one story that the Bible is telling? What is God’s one message to us?

Can you imagine if I told you I was going to read you a story but only pages 5, 10, 15, 20…and so on? You would not have a great sense of what the story is about, would you?

Bearing all this in mind, we started with at the beginning and we started to discuss our way through all the major events or milestones of the Bible.

#1: Creation. God created everything that there is. Before creation was God because he always was around. Everything lived in perfect relationship with God.

#2: Disobedience: Eve was enticed by the serpent to disobey God and she enticed her husband Adam to do the same. The perfect relationship between God and his creation was broken.

#3: Hmmm…..we had a lot of discussion about this one. Some suggested Noah…others Moses…others Jesus. While these people are important they do not described the next major turning point in the story of the Bible.

The question is something like this: God made everything in perfect relationship with him but it got broken. What do you think his next move is?

Finally one student, TH, came up with the right answer although we did not dig into explaining why this was the right answer. I look forward to continuing this conversation next week.

p.s. Do you know what the answer is?

Hold on a moment…are we still living in the middle ages where people actually were put to death because of their religious convictions? Is this still the first century where Roman Emperors like Nero would take bundles of Christian people and light them on fire to illuminate the streets at night?

No, the last time I checked the calendar we were living in the 21st century, 60 years after the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of this declaration states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Why then has Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Islamic convert to Christianity living within Iran, been sentenced to death THIS VERY WEEK by Iranian courts?

Nadarkhani is a 34 year old married man and the father of two young boys. He attracted legal attention when he opposed having the Qu’ran taught to his boys in school and instead requested Christian teaching in its place. Three separate days THIS WEEK he was offered to have all charges dropped if he would renounce his faith in God before an Iranian council; he has declined and they have said that he must die for his infidelity to Islam. Lawyers are attempting to stall his execution but it could take place at any time.

Even more disturbing for me is why people do not seem to care about this. I only discovered this because I have a google alert set to scan the news media for occurrences of “Sharia Law”. When I investigated further I found that the only new agencies in Canada reporting this story were the National Post (on their blog, not their print publication), Canada Free Press, and the Gospel Herald. What about more mainline and prominent national broadcasters like CBC and CTV?

Am I missing something here?

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has issued a statement that rebukes Iran for this action. But that seems to be the extent of the public outcry.

Please, spread the word and certainly pray that this young family does not have to endure this tragedy. Pray for Christians in Iran…the expressions of faith that we take for granted in Canada are not available to many in other countries all over the world.

Stay tuned for more details…

This morning at 8:05AM almost a dozen students gathered around the flagpole at Essex District High School. As I write this post students at Gosfield North Central Public School are gathering at their school. Why, you may be wondering? Because today is our annual See You At The Pole (SYATP) event. Still confused? Let me explain.

It all started with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas who came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in 1990. These students wanted to spend time together praying to God and growing spiritually together. Throughout this experience they felt a real great burden to pray for their schools; they drive to three different schools that night, gathered around the flagpole, and prayed. It was as simple as that

The vision for this grew however; the students wanted to coordinate an effort where students all over Texas would be praying simultaneously for their schools. This movement quickly adopted the name See You At The Pole (every school has a flag pole) and the idea was shared with 20,000 students in June of 1990 at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. That year, on September 12, 45,000 students gathered at the flagpoles of their school in four different states to pray before the start of school.

On September 11, 1991, the number quickly grew to 1,000,000 students praying at the flagpoles of their school from Boston all the way to Los Angeles. Today there is over 3,000,000 students praying in the United States as well as a vast number of students from over 20 countries around the world.

One act of faithfulness in 1990 has sparked a worldwide student prayer movement. And we have been a part of this for two years running at Essex District High School. Though we are only a very small part of this large movement, faithfulness in prayer pays off more than we can possibly imagine.

2 Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

James 5:16  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

For more information fee free to visit www.syatp.com

After a long break from blogging things are back up and running! This week at Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel we hung out together and talked about what it is like to go through changes and transitions in life. I shared about my experience working at McDonalds while I was in High School; the only thing constant about that job was that there was constant change! The crew changed, the menu changed, the prices changed (and went up!) and the contests changed. (BTW, I cannot wait until the monopoly contest comes back this fall!)

All of the students are now going through a period of change. Teachers change, schools change, friends change, courses change, grades change, after school hang outs change…and change can be lonely, stressful & sad.

One of the great things about faith in God Almighty is that the bible records stories of His interaction with humanity in almost every situation that we can imagine. The prophet Isaiah speaks to the Israelite people around the time of their defeat and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. The Babylonians were a nation that came and destroyed the homes and cities of the Israelites and then carried all the people off to their land to work for them; talk about a changing season in their life! Nevertheless, this is what God says to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah:

 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
(Isaiah 43:1-3)

 

The moral of the story is this: God does not come to pass. Instead, God comes to stay. Israel was going to get through and indeed thrive in their new season of life not because they were amazing in and of themselves but because they were going to place their faith in God once again.

I urge you, both Monkey Barrel and Emergency Ministries students, to place your faith in God this semester and see how his blessings and provision make the changing seasons of life much more bearable.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”      (John 16:33)

Tuesday night was our weekly Emergency Ministries event in Essex and this week we decided to carpool to Silver City to catch some movies together. I must give credit for this idea to Michael Sheppart, one of our recent High School graduates. He commented once that all the movies we can rent and show in house are so old no one cares anymore or they are “garbage” (his word). So, in order to watch something current and something is not “garbage” we have carpooled to Silver City the past two years.

The guys (and a few brave girls) went to see Transformers. It was a busy night; we had to sit in the front row and I am not lying when I say that I am on my second extra strength Tylenol fighting the headache I got from looking up at the screen for two and a half hours. By the way…the movie would have been just as good (for me anyways) if they had cut out about 30 minutes of ‘bang bang BOOM’ at the end. I might not even have a headache if they had done that!

Aside from being a little longer than necessary at the end, I did find the plot and the storyline quite entertaining. Two positive messages emerged from the movie and are worth remembering.

1. Everyone wants their life to make a difference.
Sam really wanted to make a difference with his life. Early in the movie he sat through many job interviews and was ultimately offered a job in a mailroom; not the job a recent college graduate wanted to get. Sam’s new boss had some wise words when Sam initially rejected the job. He said, “What you want Sam is the job after this job”. The moral of this story, if you are faithful with the little things you will be faithful with the big things. If you are unfaithful or slothful with the little things, you will also be unfaithful or slothful with the big things. (I’ve read that somewhere before….hmmmm) Sam eventually got to have his big moment of significance later in the movie!

2. If you make a deal with the devil you will get burned…every time!
It was a mistake on the part of Sentinel Prime and the human race to think that they could make a deal with the Decepticons. (I can hardly believe I am having a serious conversation about Decepticons  and Autobots) No matter how alluring, how tempting, or how much of a good idea it seemed, the Decepticons showed their true colors when in the end they attempted to destroy the very people (and robots) that they made an initial agreement with. Wrong is wrong and bad is bad not matter how good it might look for a moment in time. Remember that!

All in all it was a great night. I got to know H.G. a little better and quite honestly she needs to have a reality TV show based on her life. I told her I’d give a shout out to her crazy one-liners in my blog today and so here it is. If you don’t know her yet I challenge you to have just one conversation with her and they you’ll see what I mean!

The girls (and a few brave guys) went to see Zookeeper last night and you can read my wife’s review of that movie on her blog at www.mandyhill.ca

Our youth ministry at EGCC regularly participates in hands-on ministry endeavors so that our students have an opportunity to experience a practical side to their faith. We have assistance numerous times at the local soup kitchen, we have operated two short term missions trips to the Dominican Republic during March Break (2008 & 2010) and we have participated in other local events. This summer we are doing something that we have never done before: we will attempt to plant a Jr. High Youth ministry at a sister church in the city!

This is the plan: we know from the body of research that exists regarding teens and faith that students are most receptive to faith in Christ in their Jr. High years (i.e. ages 10-14, grades 5-8). It makes sense therefore that this is out target group. We are in the process of planning an entire week long Jr. High day camp to be held at our sister church and staffed by a mix of volunteers from our youth ministry and their youth department. This will be held from August 22-26. We will blitz the surrounding neighborhoods with flyers & posters as well as engaging the online community with a Twitter account, Facebook page, custom website, and a YouTube promotional video. All of this will be coming online shortly.

What are we expecting for an outcome? We are praying and expecting that significant relationships will be initiated between our sister church and their surrounding neighborhood. We want to see this week long summer camp turn into a weekly Jr. High ministry at our sister church; plans are already underway for this to happen. Ultimately we want to see these Jr. High students grow into well discipled Sr. High students and bring a new dynamic of youth and leadership to come alongside of the existing leadership at our sister church. These are ambitious plans…but all things are possible!

What can you do to help in this effort? If you are a teenager that attends Emergency Ministries, we need a few more volunteers to work on preparations as well as running the events during the week of the day camp. If you are not a teenager please pray for us, our sister church, the neighborhood, and the ministry staff that will carry on this program in the fall.

As with most other youth event, I will provide a daily blog update during the summer missions project so that you can keep on top of what we are doing and so that you will know how to pray for us that week. Stay tuned for more info!