Well, as I write this, Canada is getting ready to celebrate its 150th birthday. We will highlight all the things that make Canada unique and a great place to live. We may even think back over our history and reflect on how that has shaped our understanding of Canadian values – but I wouldn’t count on it. Far too often our reading of history takes today’s events, beliefs, realities and values and reads them back into our history – making it say what we want it to say.
I trust I am not about to do that with my reflection on this past weekend’s celebrations in Enchant, Alberta (look it up on a map folks!); the longest serving church in the EFCC.
First of all, kudos to those who did all the work planning the event! It was fun and the reflection on the faithfulness of God and His people was inspiring. This was a huge undertaking for a small church. But this shouldn’t surprise any of us. The list of Christian leaders who have been trained and mentored in the Enchant church is impressive!
As we were served a wonderful meal by our Alberta friends on Saturday night, I was so taken by the list of those God has called into full time ministry from this tiny town! These folks were pioneers who planted churches, became missionaries and sacrificed for the gospel and their Lord. Their lives are convicting – they really did believe that the gospel was the power of God for salvation!
My second impression from the celebration is how powerful the faithful service of those called to lay ministry has been in this church and throughout the EFCC across generations. The Enchant story reminds us that everyone has a calling to follow Jesus! The heroes of the Enchant story are lay and clergy alike! Sam Odlund becomes a believer – he attends the Free Church Bible College in the US – comes home and returns to his calling as a large farmer in the area. Pretty unimpressive, right? Wrong! He and his wife serve the church and the people in the area lovingly, share their home, and lead many to Christ – Carl Fosmark among them! Carl Fosmark and his younger brother Lee eventually become pastors in the fledgling Free Church movement in Canada. Carl later returns from Oregon to pastor in Enchant and is a key leader of the EFC in Canada! Lee the big gentle encourager, plants churches all across the Canadian prairies. Yet neither one of them is used of God unless the Odlunds follow Jesus in a life of hospitality and Christ witness – in farming!
Lastly, I was struck by how the Free Church began in Canada. All of this happened because a preacher from the US came to Canada and preached revival – repentance and commitment to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We in the EFCC are currently focused on “Revitalize: becoming a gospel sharing people”. We want to return to that pioneering spirit where we obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and share our lives and our hope with others. Yet I am reminded that it all begins with personal revival.
I must first have a white hot faith in Jesus, the Messiah, King and Lord of all creation – and my life. I must really believe that he is the Hope of the nations. And I must live as part of His family in such a way that others will ask me to give an account of the “hope that is in me”.
This church has been a community of saints (not perfect, I am sure), but to see the love they had for former pastors and that love those pastors had for these people was inspiring. That kind of Christian community will be key to sharing the gospel in the next 100 years as it was in the last 100! May we be a movement, reflecting the love of Christ, obeying his calling as pioneers who sacrifice so lives will be transformed for eternity.
Serving with you,
PS — you can see more impressions of Enchant’s 100 year celebration on Facebook and Twitter.