As in other years, we also this year received visitors from our churches. There were brethren and sisters from: Victoria, BC; Isabel, SD; Lynden, WA; Loveland, CO; South Holland, IL; and Hudsonville, MI. It is good to visit with these brethren and sisters, and experience the real, communion of the saints. And it is with pleasure that we bring into practice the admonition of the Lord from I Peter 4:9.
We further had visitors from the Netherlands. These visiting relatives came from: The Hague, South Holland; and Vlissingen, Zeeland. Further, there were visitors from: Lemmon, SD; Chiliwack, BC; Bancroft and Toronto, Ont.; and from out Alberta-Lethbridge, Calgary, Brooks, Innisfail, Red Deer, Lacombe, Cold Lake, Nearlandia, and the Edmonton area. Our people have visited Pella, Iowa; Doon, Iowa; Loveland, CO; Lynden, WA; Victoria, BC; and South Holland, IL.
We have just remembered, with thankfulness, that our congregation was instituted three years ago, and it is good to reflect, on the past. When instituted the congregation, consisted of 34 souls, (five families). At present we have 64 souls, (13 families); 27 confessing members. Our total growth was three families from other churches, and four young families by marriage (internal) plus, of course, our minister’s family (which helps quite a bit—12). During these three years we experienced the blessing of receiving our own minister; the baptizing of seven infants; three marriages here, and one marriage in Loveland; three professions of faith. But also in our first year we were reminded that we do not have a continuing city here, but are looking for a better land, as one of our young members was taken away by death.
During the last eight months we further have two families (10 souls) worshipping with us two times each Sunday, and one elderly widow who is with us most afternoon services. We pray the Lord, that if it is pleasing to Him they may be added to our number. Besides the above we generally have other visitors; therefore our average attendance including visitors is seventy-eight. One Sunday this year we had ninety-six in attendance.
Ours is a church in its first love, a congregation that has just come out of years of arguments and a trying to call an apostate church back to the law and to the testimony. And especially our older members all in one way or another know how the Lord led them out, and brought them into this new fellowship. Each can witness of personal experience in this; but also each must (a holy wanting) testify that it is the Lord’s doing, and that it is marvelous in our eyes. None of us would have come out had not the Lord pulled us out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. And then looking at ourselves we can only say with the church past: Waarom was? op mij gemund, grote God van dood en leven, dat Gij my ontferming gunt.
Once a month we send out a letter to approximately 800 addresses, some to other places from which we receive addresses. So a few each month go to Calgary, that rival city of Edmonton, 190 miles to the south of us. And out of this has now come contact with five families of which three just recently were visited by our minister. He was very well received and they requested tapes and other literature and even made a monetary contribution. Some of these families are already worshipping once a Sunday, and reading Dutch Sermons in a home. We pray that the Lord will also bless our small efforts there. One is reminded of the words of our Lord in Rev. 3:2: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.”
Our regular monthly ad in the Edmonton Journal (local daily) has also produced some visitors. Just recently we have started a weekly fifteen-minute message on Sundays over one of the area radio stations. So far we have not had any response, but we know that God’s Word will not be void, but that it will do that which is pleasing in His sight, and that it will be quickened.
We are blessed with an active young people’s society, presently fourteen of our own and an average of five others, of which three attend regularly our church service. Our young people meet on Sunday evenings, alternating at the homes of our members. On Monday evenings they often go swimming, and on Friday evenings they often end up at the Boston Pizza for food and fellowship. Winter activity also includes bowling or skiing. Even this summer when there was no Young People Society meetings, they met most Sunday nights at one or the other homes for fellowship. And another teenager from one of our churches visiting with them remarked that they are like brothers and sisters; actually how beautiful a testimony, when outsiders notice that. Catechism classes have also been attended more or less regularly by three outsiders; even there the Lord instructs others.
In writing this all, one cannot help but be reminded of a hymn, “Count your blessings, count them one by one, and see what the Lord has done.” Ours is a very young church, a church on the hoistings, a small church, a church in the middle of nowhere, as far as sister churches are concerned. Lynden is 800 miles away, and Isabel at least that. Ours is a church in a great and fast growing city (4th in Canada), a church surrounded by apathy, and enmity. But also a church, as the above shows, given much work by the Lord, a church of brothers and sisters that may witness of the real oneness we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. As we are again fed from week to week with the meat of the gospel and grow back in knowledge. We can only say, Yes, that is as it was when we were young; we do not hear any thing new, but that which has been forgotten. And that again gives peace, and we go on. Saens tranquillis in Undis, Edmonton is calling. YES, pray for us.