The Wonder of the Global Church
Last week I experienced the power, the beauty, and the reach of the Church in a way that left a deep and indelible mark on my heart. My husband John and I, along with our daughter Angela and her husband Rod, arrived in Listowel, Ontario (population 6,000) to spend 24 hours with one of my favourite authors and people on the planet, Ann Voskamp, her sister Molly, and their awesome husbands and families.
We arrived just as they were harvesting the wheat in their fields – the crop was ready and there was much work that had to be done so everyone literally had their hand to the ‘plough’. So rather than eat a meal in their home or in a café, a beautiful table, chairs and delicious meal was brought to the fields. It was the closest I had ever been to a wheat field during harvest and the words Jesus spoke in John 4 were shouting to my spirit.
“Why would you say, ‘The harvest is another four months away’? Look at all the people coming—now is harvest time! For their hearts are like vast fields of ripened grain—ready for a spiritual harvest. 36 And everyone who reaps these souls for eternal life will receive a reward. And those who plant spiritual seeds and those who reap the harvest will celebrate together with great joy! John 4:35-36 TPT
When it’s harvest time there is such joy in the labour as many hands and hearts work harmoniously to get the most important job done – to bring in a “harvest” of souls that are ripe and waiting.
Such a beautiful church community is being built and nurtured in a small, rural community in Ontario, Canada and it is breathtaking.
From there, we flew to New York City (population of Metro NYC is 20,000,000+), to attend the Hillsong Conference at the Barclay Center where over 15,000 people gathered to worship our Saviour and to hear the Word of God taught. The contrast of Listowel and NYC could not have been greater, yet the impact of both was equally powerful and truly magnificent as the “harvest” is literally everywhere.
Over 32 years ago, John and I put our hands up and said yes to pioneering and planting a church in Surrey, BC. It didn’t make sense as John was a dentist and had built a thriving dental practice, but the call to leave our safe and secure lives to take part in building the Church of Jesus Christ won our hearts. We have never looked back with regret over our decision to follow the call of God to build His Church.
Along with the privilege of building Relate Church locally, which we plan to invest heart and soul into for the rest of our lives, we have also been immensely blessed to see, experience, and invest into the Global Church. To see the reach, the strength and the wonder of it all amazes me.
This is also why I am committed to support the ministry of Leverage as it is a place to come alongside one another together to help serve to the local Church. We are not competing with each other, but serving one another to build God’s family wherever He has called and placed us.
We are so much better together.
I know that God’s big family, the Church, is far from perfect and it never will be as it is flawed with all of our human frailty, but it will forever be God’s plan while we are here on the earth. We are collectively called to reach, to love, and to serve in His vast and immense harvest field, and what we all get to be a part of is truly wondrous and glorious.
I’d love to share with you some of the most beautiful words I’ve read about the Church of Jesus Christ, penned by Pastor Robert Fergusson of Hillsong Church. It gives me such perspective and great hope in these days where many have lost hope and given up on the Church. I pray it blesses you as it has blessed me many times as I have read these words and may it encourage you to stay on the path God has called you to walk with your hands to the plough of your calling.
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
She is the plan of God on earth; always in her Father's eye: Cherished, mysterious, beautiful and potent beyond measure: King empowered and life infused. She emerges triumphant; limitless with potential; a harbour for the hopeless and an answer for the ages: The church resplendent – a bride for His Son.
She is the body of Christ on earth; born, like her Head, amidst tribulation, under jealous skies. Cradled in her innocence and guarded for His purpose. She grows in wisdom and stature with victory on her lips and freedom in her hands. Hers is an unstoppable cause. She embraces the world with dignity, honour and compassion; gives vision to the sightless and life to the dying.
She is the family of God on earth. Within her compass, the hungry find sustenance and the weary receive strength. She is a haven for recovering humanity, enthralled by grace. She invites the broken, the vulnerable and the outcast to be immersed in love. She stands imperfect, but perfection resides within her. She is flawed but is washed with forgiveness. She has a treasury of faith and a wealth of belonging.
She is the house of heaven on earth: A representative, resolute to reconcile. The Word within her accepts the receptive but challenges the heartless. She is the ecclesia, called out to serve the world: Calling out to welcome in. Blood-washed and armed with testimony, the cross on her lips liberates the chained and offends the unchanging. Like her Master she is pursued and persecuted. Yet she rises with strength in her heart and fire in her soul.
She is the bride of Christ on earth; readying herself for the day when all eyes will be upon her. Prepared and presented before the Lord: The Lamb for whom the world waits, who comes like the rising sun, majestic and magnificent beyond description, while she dazzles with reflected glory. Spotless, perfect and mature, she bows low to cast her crowns and passionately worship Him. Her temporal focus becomes her eternal gaze. She is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By Helen Burns
Helen's warm wit and wisdom is an inspiration to many. She is passionate about seeing people realize their full potential in Christ and discover that they are a gift to this world. Along with her husband John, she is a Founding and Teaching Pastor at Relate Church, a thriving family church in the Greater Vancouver area. Helen travels extensively all over the world teaching primarily on the subject of relationships, marriage and family. She is also the cohost of a global TV program, 'Sex, Love and Relationships" and has authored several best selling books.
John and Helen have celebrated 44 years of marriage - they have 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren which are their greatest joy in life!