First News

Celebrating the Graduates

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These past few weeks have been a special season for some of our youth. Lily Arndt, John Jiwa, Sarah Lim, Hannah Mitchell, Naomi Kawamura, Jien Ng, Natalya Porter, Maria Walchuk graduated high school! We rejoice with them and their families for what they have accomplished. We praise God for the many ways that all of them have blessed our youth group and our church! We all know that school plays a very important role in their lives. And so, we want to celebrate this milestone. 

To the FBC community: 
I encourage you to keep Lily, John, Sarah, Hannah, Naomi, Jien, Natalya, Maria in your prayers. Whether they stay with us a little longer or venture out to study at a university beyond the boundaries of BC, let us bless them, trusting that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in them. We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in every decision that they make.

To our Graduates: 
You might be feeling like you only have one chance to make the right decision about what you are going to do with your life after high school. I would say: try your best but rest assured that God is with you in whatever you do. If you are already set on what you are going to do, may you know that God is with you. If you need time to think about what you are going to do, remember that God is gracious and will guide you as you discern. 

Remember that, in the end, your choices, university programs, and profession do not define who you are, but Christ is the one who tells you who you are! 

I would like to close by praying the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians:

"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." - Philippians 1:3-6 (The Message)

 In Christ, our hope!
Filipe Balieiro
Director of Youth Ministry

Posted by Filipe Balieiro

Update with John Tsang

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Photos | Left: NBA Game 6 viewing party | Right: Last meal before surgery

How are you doing in your recovery?

First, I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers, thoughts, and well wishes. I really appreciate the cards, notes, fruit baskets, and flowers! I'm onto week 7 of my recovery and I think I am doing very well. Everything seems to be going as it should. Around week 5 and 6, it felt like I made a significant turn. I felt more energy and I was able to do more, so much that I was able to host a viewing party at my place for the Pastoral team for Game 6 of the Raptors!     

My recovery plan includes a cocktail of medication to keep my heartbeat and my blood pressure lower. As well, I am to walk 30 mins a day. No lifting, no housework, no driving, and lots of guiltless naps. But those first few weeks were hard. Everything took a little longer, sleep was intermittent, and I was dealing with episodes of irregular heartbeat but that finally subsided and now I am able to drive and I got back on my bike last week! Fred Liebich ... here I come.  

What was surgery like?

I got a notice about 9 days before surgery that there was an opening for me. At first, I thought surgery was happening way faster than I was ready but then, I heard stories of people who had bypass surgery with one day notice!  In retrospect, the timing was right in that I didn't have an 'event'. The Lord's timing is always perfect, He is indeed good to me.  

Surgery day was an early morning, Karmie and Hannah drove me to St. Paul's at 6:30am. I got ready and settled into the area before the OR and saw a familiar face welcoming me... Laine Bosma. As they wheeled me into OR, the team of doctors and nurses greeted me as if they knew me! Soo Goh Tai (who used to work as a cardiac nurse at St. Paul's) went to visit the day before my surgery and let them know that her friend/pastor was coming in! So I think I got the 5-star royal treatment. 

Surgery was about 4 hours and after anesthesia took effect, the next thing I knew, I woke up in the Cardiac ICU really groggy and in pain. I had tubes and wires coming out of me. But as I read more about what the surgery involved, it is amazing what modern medicine can do. This too is God's gift to us and a way that He provides healing... this is what the Bible calls common grace to all. Those first few days in the hospital were really difficult but I was thrilled to be discharged and able to recover from the comfort of home.  

What else has been happening over the past month and a half?

The first week that I got home (early May), there was this story of a car accident at the Peace Arch crossing where the sole driver of a van died on the scene. I didn't think anything of it other than how odd and tragic. Then a few days later, to my shock, I found out that I knew the driver of the van who died. He was a Pastor from a church in Port Moody that I once served alongside with, Tom Cheung. Anna and Greg Burke also know Pastor Tom from the time he served at Oakridge Baptist. This incident put my surgery into perspective and the fragility of life. I was able to attend the memorial in early June, reconnect with some friends and co-workers from the past. I was really moved by the support from the wider Christian community for Pastor Tom.   

Anything else strikes you over these past few weeks?

A friend of mine passed along a small book by Charles Ringma, it is a collection of Ringma's reflections during a 6-month sabbatical. That was helpful to reflect on his thoughts on one's identity during a time of 'non-productiveness' and learning to be loved by God simply as who he was, a child of God. A number of people have been very helpful in sharing the stories of their heart surgery and recovery.  

I had the opportunity to read some books by John Swinton who is a Pastoral theologian. He was in town doing a series of talks and for a week-long course at Regent College. Swinton offers theological reflections on death, disability, dementia and mental health. Very thoughtful insights. For example, how do we see individuals with disabilities? For a short while, I was a shut-in. Many of us (if not all), will experience disability at some point in our lives either through health or through aging. How do we come to terms with or accept disability when it happens to us? How do we include those with disabilities? How did Jesus interact with those who had disabilities or illness? What can we learn from the healing stories that we find in the Gospels?   

Earlier, I joked about how there was one final lesson that God had in store for me and that was to be a patient and to receive care. But I do hope that the feelings that I experienced will help me be a better caregiver and empathize and understand with those who go through surgeries, health issues, setback, etc.  

Finally, my time of 'disconnecting' or isolation with the church fellowship was temporary but I recall one quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Life Together. Bonhoeffer wrote:

It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God's Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone.  

The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the Triune God. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God's grace from the bottom of his heart.  Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.

When will you be back to FBC? 

Overall, I'm feeling good and will start the Healthy Heart Program at St. Paul's in late June. The tentative plan is to ease back into work with part-time in July and gradually moving to full-time by August. Of course, we'll monitor that as things progress and try not to rush anything.  

 See you all soon!
John Tsang
Minister of Congregational Care

Posted by John Tsang

Season of Prayer: Week 3

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It was a joy to have Daniel Whitehead (Executive Director of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries) with us at First this past Sunday. His reflections on the first half of Psalm 139, particularly as it relates to God's knowledge of us--God knowing us intimately, reminded me of the following two excerpts from Jim Packer's "Knowing God": 

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it--the fact that he knows me. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters. 

 This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort--the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates--in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. 

There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corrupt in me than the which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. We cannot work these out here, but merely to mention them Is enough to show how much it means to know not merely that we know God, but that he knows us. [1]  

"This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father...'" (Mt 6:9). As Jesus always prayed to his God as Father (Abba in Aramaic an intimate family word), so must his followers do, Jesus could say to his Father, "You always hear me" (Jn 11:42), and he wants his disciples to know that, as God's adopted children, the same is true of them. The Father is always accessible to his children and is never too preoccupied to listen to what they have to say. This is the basis of Christian prayer." [2] 

Indeed, the Father, Abba, intimately knowing us is the basis of all of our prayers. In prayer, we come to a greater awareness of whose we are. And so, for this week, as we pray, may we marvel at who He is and in doing so come to know much more deeply whose we are. In between our petitions, let us take time to adore. To gaze with wonder. To stand in awe. To fall in worship. As Richard L. Pratt, Jr asks in his book on prayer, "When was the last time you were fascinated with God?" [3]

Throughout the week, we hope that this attached appendix will be helpful to you. It contains a number of the names, titles, and metaphors for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the Bible. [4] Whether it be at the very start of your day or as you are praying with others in your Connection Group, please do take time to pray with the list at hand. 

IN Him, 
Justin Kim 

_______________

[1] Jim Packer, Knowing God, pp. 45-46
[2] Ibid, pp. 238-239
[3] Richard L. Pratt, Jr, Pray With Your Eyes Open, pg. 27
[4] Ibid, pp. 183-190

Posted by Justin Kim

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