Categories
Encouragement

Grace & Hope Award 2022

Extending Grace and Igniting Hope—this is the vision of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.

I would like to tell you a story of grace and hope being lived in dramatic ways under the guidance, inspiration, and tireless efforts of two ministry leaders in our church family.

When God stirs a passion in the human heart, there is no telling where it may take you or those who fall under their influence and leadership. We have been blessed to see what a vision can do to bless an entire city!

Scripture speaks to us about seeking the well-being of the city where we dwell. The setting of Babylon in the ancient world of the exiled Israelites has become a familiar context for God’s people today.

The leadership at Smythe Street Church has challenged us to seek God’s blessing on behalf of our city, and the people have engaged in this vision—sowing the seeds of compassion for our beloved city of Fredericton.

Pastor Verner—Lead Pastor—Smythe Street Church

Pastor Verner has consistently challenged our church to be a people of great compassion for those in need. He has consistently encouraged us to look beyond the context of our church family to see the needs of the impoverished and homeless.

For many years now, when the vision of our church is being carefully and prayerfully cast, one of the mountains that Pastor Verner has been consistently determined to tackle is the mountain of homelessness. This caught the attention and captured the hearts of our parishioners, and the results have been truly inspiring.

The Best Church For the City

At the urging of Pastor Verner, our leadership team and family of believers decided that they would not strive to be the best church in the city, but rather, the best church for the city.

Leadership Inspires Action

The casting of a passionate vision for the marginalized resulted in an outpouring of resources for the homeless and impoverished of Fredericton. In the year 2021 alone, Smythe Street Church invested in the people of our city who were struggling with the effects of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and poor mental health.

The church family at Smythe Street Church gave more to the ministry of Care in 2021 than at any other time in the history of our church.

Tangible Results that Touch the Needy and Glorify God

Each year we see these acts of compassion in growing numbers…

  • In the past year alone, 69 individuals, through the direct intervention of our church’s ministry of care, have been prevented from being homeless.
  • The number of housed families expands to 126 when we factor in the partnership we have established with some key agencies in our city.
  • 40 families were provided with an overflowing hamper of food at Christmas.
  • Dozens of families were provided with food assistance throughout the year.
  • Prescription costs were covered for over 15 individuals who could not pay for proper medication.
  • Over 30 families were provided with a home starter basket as they moved into safe and affordable housing, some of them coming directly out of tents into a warm bed they could call their own.
  • Advocacy with various social agencies and programs was provided for over 50 families and individuals.
  • On-site visits and care assessments were made weekly for those dwelling in tents at various spots throughout the city. This is a ministry of Care that was a product of the vision cast in our church. Bill, an SSC family member, faithfully and capably leads a ministry called “Under the Tent.”
  • Transportation costs were alleviated for 20+families.

This is only a very brief snapshot of the many facets of the Care Ministry at SSC.

Jill—Creative Arts Director—Smythe Street Church

At this point, I must introduce another key player in the advancement of Care in our church. Her name is Jill. The numbers you see above would not have been possible without her impassioned leadership on behalf of the impoverished.

It’s not so unusual that the connection would be made between the ministry of worship and ministry for those who suffer from poverty. Jill was moved by the truths of scripture many years ago, that state clearly, that our worship is not restricted to the faith gatherings of the body of Christ.

Our God-glorifying activity is also seen in how we care for the homeless and the marginalized.

Under Jill’s excellent leadership and passion for the hurting, the following has happened in our church and city…

Eviction Prevention and Stable Housing

The above-mentioned statistics defining the numbers for eviction prevention are a direct result of tireless efforts made to connect with and assess the needs of the homeless.

A Christ Honoring Reputation

The reputation of our church has grown to the point where various social agencies in our city have developed a deep and appreciated relationship with Smythe Street Church. Regular calls and collaboration have become the norm between Smythe Street Church and the people on the front lines of poverty alleviation in our city.

The result has not just been the direct relief provided for the homeless, but the establishing of a tremendous witness for Christ among those who work in social agencies in our city.

What God is doing through our church to show love and care for those in need has been amplified through mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships with various agencies in our city who care about the same things we care about.

The ”By-Names” List

Smythe Street Church is seen as a vital partner with many agencies across our city, but…

One of these key agencies in our city is the “By Names” List. This is a working committee that identifies “by name” the people who are homeless—working to get them off the street and into a place of their own.

This working group was able to get 126 people off the street and into a safe dwelling during this past year!

It Gets Even Better

In conjunction with the United Way of Fredericton our church became the recipient of four newly constructed housing units, which will sit on a parcel of ground in our city (targeted completion is Summer 2022), and will house 4 people who will be rescued from homelessness and placed in a safe, beautiful, and functional apartment for as long as they are in need.

The properties were not only given to us free of charge (funded and built by local businesses) but there is a budget provided to fund the maintenance and upkeep of the properties. This was a result of the partnership that Jill has fostered with others in our city who care for the homeless.

Walking With Those in Need

A crucial element has been put in place when it comes to keeping the homeless housed. The need for friendship and companionship is key when it comes to the well-being of the hurting and marginalized.

Money is not enough.

In response to this three teams of six people were assigned one individual each for the period of one year with the goal of consistent, loving, supportive weekly connection. The result has been very encouraging. A marked change was seen in those who became a part of what is called a SUN Lite team.

Stability and well-being were strengthened where there had been consistent patterns of emotional, mental, and physical dysfunction. This was a direct result of the friendships that our church teams provided through SUN Lite.

A Growing Partnership

The ministry of Care has inspired other churches in our city. The SUN Lite ministry has expanded to include inter-church teams who are walking with our dear friends and enabling them to break the hurtful effects of poverty. This is a picture of a training event held at our church where key leaders from churches in our city were invited to learn how to be a part of a SUN Lite Team.

It is my belief that grace has been extended and hope has been ignited!


Wayne Flowers serves at Smythe Street Church in the Care, Connections, and Teaching Ministries.

In his free time, you will find him enjoying life with his wife, Brenda, and their family, playing music, or enjoying the outdoors.

Wayne loves hearing people’s stories of coming to know Jesus and inspiring them to use their gifts to serve Jesus.

Categories
Encouragement

A Year of Hope

What Impact Does Hope Have On the Mission of the Church?

It might be as simple as chicken noodle soup…

You know, the good ‘ol remedy for when you are feeling under the weather. Nothing else is appealing when you don’t have much of an appetite.

Hope can be the same! It’s a simple comfort when the world seems dark and circumstances overwhelm.

“Jesus gave them another parable: There once was a woman who had ten valuable silver coins. When she lost one of them, she swept her entire house, diligently searching every nook and cranny for that one lost coin. When she finally found it, she gathered all her friends and neighbours for a celebration, telling them, ‘Come and celebrate with me! I had lost my precious silver coin, but now I’ve found it.’ That’s the way God responds every time one lost sinner repents and turns to Him. He says to all his angels, ‘Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found!'”

Luke 15:8-10 TPT

There’s a whole lot of celebration going on in Luke 15—it’s said that each coin was the equivalent of a full day’s wage. The coin’s value was just that, it didn’t lose its value because it was lost. Isn’t that a beautiful (easily overlooked) truth!

But this chapter in the Bible also has another easily overlooked truth…

There are three parables in Luke 15—The Lost Sheep (1 of 100), The Lost Coin (1 of 10), and The Lost Son (1 of 2)—you see it don’t you? Each soul is extremely valuable.*

Having had a salvation experience—you know the extraordinary value that Jesus places on every soul. This is the hope we carry!

A “hope-shaped mission” is a Luke 15 mission—lost to found!

…there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold… (vs. 7)

…Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found… (vs. 10)

…It’s only right to rejoice and celebrate like this, because your brother was once dead and gone, but now he is alive and back with us again. He was lost, but now he is found… (vs. 32)

Luke 15 celebration moments are to be common—like chicken noodle soup is when you are sick. So, what impact does hope have on the mission of the Church?

Two of the three parables necessitated an all-out search for what was lost, but the last parable…

The Father’s heart was on display—longing and looking (…hope…) for his son to return. Let’s not just look for something we lost but, hunger for the lost soul so they can be found—alone to belong, valuable even when lost, significant, and always loved!

So the church becomes what love and hope look like in a lost and broken world…


*Side note: you can feel lonely and lost in a crowd (1 of 100), lonely and lost where you are needed (1 of 10) and lonely and lost in your family (1 of 2)—but don’t think for a moment that Jesus isn’t looking for you!

Categories
Encouragement

A Year of Hope

What is Christian Hope?

“So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner has gone in before us…”

Hebrews 6:18-20 TPT

Because of Jesus—we have this certain hope—confident expectation!

God’s promises are faithful—as the scripture lets us know, it’s a place we can hide and be anchored.

Growing up on the prairies it’s hard to understand how or why an anchor works. But it’s interesting to note that there are permanent anchors—a mooring. Unchangeable. The kind of anchor we can count on being in the same location no matter how far we travel.

We know that there’s not much ‘unchangeable’ in the human experience and probably exactly why we lose our hope from time to time. We unmoor, lose trust in God’s promises, and get tossed about by the waves of circumstance.

We all live in a culture where values, morality, and worldview are constantly shifting. Live more than 20 years and you know that to be true from first-hand experience. When we focus on the waves (like Peter), we begin taking a stand on things that have no eternal purpose—we are unmoored.

“The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”—Hebrews 10:23

Our hope—that is, our confident expectation—is not based on trends or indicators but in Jesus who is faithful.”[1]

Let us hold—a command, one you’ve shouted to your child/grandchild working their way across the monkey bars in the park. Simply because you don’t want to see them fall.

God, our father, asks you to hold on—to be steady and consistent.

Confident access to the throne behind the veil gives the believer the ability to hold unswerving confidence in God’s promises. The faith that you possess is your way of holding on. Remember the moments God came through, spoke a word, opened your eyes, answered a prayer, did a miracle, and saved your soul—the biggest miracle of all!

Anchors need to catch on something, they must be set into the seabed, while suction does its work from below, creating resistance that holds. That is what God’s promises are, and He will never fail to keep them. So our confidence in Him is well-founded and our profession of hope is one we can be confident of.

Christian hope is not based on you or me, our dreams or potential, but on God’s faithfulness! Nothing can shake your confidence when you are anchored to His promises—His word!

When darkness veils His lovely face 
I'll rest on His unchanging grace 
In every high and stormy day  
My anchor holds within the veil 
His oath, His covenant, His blood 
Support me in the whelming flood 
When all around my soul gives way 
He then is all my hope and stay
 —"On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" by Edward Mote

[1] A Year of Hope by Rev. Wes Mills

Categories
Encouragement

He Will Enable You to Complete the Task

“Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”

1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT

David reminded Solomon that he had a task to complete—a huge task—because David had plans. A read-through of 1 Chronicles 28 gives you an idea of the scope of how large this building project was and would be.

It was a place for the habitation of God.

And today, Peter still reminds us that God is building His spiritual temple and that we are the “living stones.” To be identified as Christ’s living stones means that we are in union with him and share his nature, for he is the Living Corner Stone upon which we are built.

“Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples. If we make disciples, Jesus will take those “living stones” and place them in the spiritual temple that He is building.”[1]

The word “living” is translated from the Greek word “zoe” meaning, not just human existence but, the absolute fullness of life—including spiritual and eternal life.

Our human frailty has us with our heads down, buried in circumstance, afraid or worried. At times, our view is of all the wrongs in the world—forgetting to “lift up our eyes.”

“But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual ‘nation’ set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. For at one time you were not God’s people, but now you are. At one time you knew nothing of God’s mercy, because you hadn’t received it yet, but now you are drenched with it!”

1 Peter 2:9-10 TPT

You have a story to tell!

His glorious wonders—you’ve been drenched in mercy! These two ideas work together so that more living stones are added to His temple. Can you imagine all of us as His living stones? He can.

“As we enter 2022, we have a task to complete, and that task is to make disciples. But we don’t do it on our own—he has promised to empower us by His Spirit in the task.

In spite of the uncertainty that 2022 may bring, we can be strong and we can live without fear—because the Lord is with us, and He has promised to enable and empower us in the task of making disciples!”[2]

You have many glorious wonders to share and you have more than kindness to give—you know something of God’s mercy!


We’d like to share the following encouraging read with you—igniting hope within you to share your story!

Why the Hearts of Desperate People are Opening for God


  1. https://acop.ca/facing-2022-with-confidence-anticipation/—by Rev. Wes Mills
  2. Ibid.
Categories
Encouragement

The Lord is With You!

Emmanuel – God with us! He isn’t just Emmanuel at Christmas time—He is with us every moment of the year.

The reason that we can be strong is because He is with us. The reason that we can live without fear is because He is with us. [1]

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalms 16:11

Saying the Lord is with you, is so much more than it seems.

It’s actually a love story. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, there is a moment in time when you knew that He loved you.

A regular day—ordinary really, hands in the soapy water of the single sink in a tiny apartment. The few dishes are hardly worth the full sink of suds, but a vase is spied on the top shelf—that you have to drag a chair to in order to reach, speaks of its irregular use.

A heart simply wonders when flowers would be received again.

A supper invitation the next day.

Family, laughs, and dishes done together—time to go home. At the door, a beautiful red rose with a note attached. “I love you,” nothing else written.

It came from Jesus, He hears quiet thoughts of hearts and made a point to get a flower in the vase. Love. What is your story?

Jesus prayed for us in John chapter 17—a beautiful portion of scripture…

“I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

John 17:23 NLT

A tiny little conjunction in bold, but absolutely important to understanding…

We don’t think about the meaning of this word, but what it means is “to the same extent or degree; equally.”

Now look back at the verse, and it should leave your mouth agape! We read about the relationship Jesus had with the Father, the closeness and intimacy, the unity, the whole book of John is filled with that special relationship.

As equally—think back to that moment of love, when you knew, when you accepted His grace and allowed His love.

The presence of the Lord brings joy, meaning, and anticipation to our lives! 2022—it is with the joy and the confidence that comes from knowing He is with you.[2]


We’ve been leaving little challenges in our January blogs—remember this well-known saying “Love God, love people?”

Here is your challenge this week…

Show love to someone on your heart. Send a card in the mail, leave a treat on a neighbours doorstep, make a call, send a bible verse, there are a thousand and one ways to show love, so let’s show ❤️ the ACOP way!


  1. https://acop.ca/facing-2022-with-confidence-anticipation/  —by Rev. Wes Mills
  2. Ibid.
Categories
Encouragement

Do Not Be Afraid!

Fear is a big subject all on its own.

In 2021 with the Covid-19 pandemic raging, surveys indicated people’s top two fears were a loved one dying, or a loved one becoming seriously ill. Other things that people are fearful of include violence, terrorism, racism, being alone, civil unrest, and not having enough money for retirement. [1]

The world likes fear, exists on fear and wants us to bow to it—five minutes of any news program, and your fear is up a notch or two.

So what do we do?

It has been said that the most often repeated command in scriptures is “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” or some variation of this command. I am not sure if it is the most repeated command, but it is found over 100 times in the King James Version of the Bible. [2]

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18 NIV

Perfect love is God’s love—and God loves us unconditionally—it drives out fear! [3] Pause, pray, invite, meditate and soak up His love—it’s there for the taking, freely offered!

Made perfect in love—doesn’t that sound amazing?

Next, get ahold of your thought life. Fear is cyclical, every once in a while it catches us again, but we can control our thoughts and though feelings may come at us unbidden, we have the power to choose how we’ll react.

“Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.”

Philippians 4:8 TPT

Fear is powerful when combined with the lie that you are alone, that maybe you’re the only one who feels this way. It leaves you guessing about what you should believe or think, wondering about what is true.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attached and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Eccelsiastes 4:9-12 NLT

Enough said!

As we enter 2022, we need to remember that we have a good good Father who loves us unconditionally, and in the security of His love, we have nothing to fear.[4]

In 2022 let’s respond with hope rather than fear!

So here is your 2022 Challenge, step outside of your comfort zone and get involved in something bigger than you. Ignite Hope in your heart so you can ignite hope in others!

  • ECO—Learn something new, challenge your ideas, igniting hope in your heart!
  • Prayer & Beyond—Ignite hope through prayer the first Tuesday every month! (Zoom Meeting ID: 517 383 7633 | Passcode: 11111)
  • She International Cohorts—These spots sell out fast! Join and find hope in all you do, bringing others along in the journey!
  • Kairos Online—Discover God’s heart for the Nations, hope and light in this broken world.
  • Ministry Mind Leadership Podcast—catch up on your listening!

Download & Print this small gift of Bible verse reminders—Hope over Fear!


  1. https://acop.ca/facing-2022-with-confidence-anticipation/ by Rev. Wes Mills
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

Categories
Encouragement

Be Strong!

When the pandemic began in 2020, we weren’t sure if it would be a sprint or a marathon. Twenty-one months into the pandemic, I would like to suggest that it has turned into an Ironman competition!

Whether you know it or not, you are a runner. Is that a surprise to you?

All of us are running the race marked out for us from the beginning…

“We will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.”

Excerpt from Hebrews 12:1-2 TPT

Passion—This is what motivates you, gets you moving, running the race like the prophet Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” —Nehemiah 8:10

Determination—You won’t quit, keep going—even when it’s hard, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13

Attention—Focus, where your mind keeps wandering off to—”But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” —Isaiah 40:31 MSG

Expectation—Is Jesus enough? “You love Him passionately although you have not seen Him, but through believing in Him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory. For you are reaping the harvest of your faith—the full salvation promised you—your souls’ victory.”—1 Peter 1:8-9 TPT

We naturally think of our bodies when we think about being strong…

Being strong isn’t about us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our inner being.

Rev. Wes Mills

Athletes train, and believe it or not you will find programs that will get you ready for a Triathlon in 12 weeks! It’s a mix of training that will strengthen and condition your tendons, ligaments, and endurance so you can “enjoy” your race. You work slow, building strength and it’s very important to take a day of rest each week (after training). Build and rest, build and rest…

It’s a pattern that is familiar.

In the same way that an athlete strengthens themself by training, so we strengthen our spirit by reading the scriptures and spending time in the presence of the Lord!

You, as an effective ACOP leader, are aware that spending time with the Lord is the foundation of everything you do. Build and rest!

Take a few laps with the scriptures above rattling in your mind, pray in the Spirit, build and rest. You are what the world needs—ignite HOPE!

This is your friendly reminder to take some time every day to “strengthen yourself in the Lord.”

Did you know…

As an ACOP Member, you have a library of Bible Studies and Inspiration to build up YOUR inner being?

Sign-up for Rightnow Media with ACOP—Our Free gift to you!


Categories
Encouragement

Where is Your Bethlehem?

“Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem… He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Luke 2:4-5

It wouldn’t have been an easy journey, especially for Mary, who was nearing the end of her pregnancy.

Why did she go? It was decreed by the government of the day that everyone had to go to their own city and participate in a census. It’s also possible that Mary was ready to leave the village of Nazareth where judgment about her pregnancy and unmarried status was in abundance.

Mary and Joseph knew they would travel far from family and into a city whose streets would be overcrowded with many people on the same journey.

Nearly nine months before their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary spoke life-changing words to God, words that were to comfort her in the many uncertain years ahead. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

With those simple words of faith, she could endure the long journey on the back of a donkey, the cold streets of Bethlehem, the staring faces of strangers, and even the filthy smelly stable with its straw-lined manger.

Where is your Bethlehem?

The last few years have been difficult for many people and the journey has been long. Covid has changed how we live—how we interact with one another. It has put strains on marriages and relationships; pastors have had to pivot numerous times. People have been uncaring and even hurtful with their words, circumstances, and situations—difficult.

I want to assure you that when we give ourselves as servants to a loving God, we can—in quietness and confidence—add “May it be to me as you have said” no matter the place or position in which we find ourselves!

My humble prayer for you as friends, family, and community is that you would know that the overcrowded streets you walk are filled with many people on the same journey.

Although these days are uncertain, may God give you a supernatural ability to walk more confidently in the year ahead, no matter the situations or circumstances.

As you journey through the streets of your Bethlehem with staring faces of strangers and the smelly circumstances of this world, may you continue to extend grace and ignite hope in the community that God has called you to!

Categories
Encouragement

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a special time of year. The fleeting beauty of the harvest season can cause us to reflect and rest, and we should!

These last 19 months across the world have caused many of us to feel out of place, or as though things have been taken away. Strife seems to be an everyday occurrence in the world, and we all feel loss…

But a timely reminder from one of our ACOP Pastors puts the world back into the right perspective. Step outside your door, hear the birds singing, or the chatter of squirrels. Depending on where in the world you live maybe you can hear the slap of a beaver tail or the winged noise of ducks over the water.

See and enjoy the harvest colours, painting the world, for a short time. Breathe the crisp morning air, a clean quality that isn’t enjoyed at other times of the year. Even better wrap up, with a warm mug of your favorite morning beverage, and sit with the Holy Spirit for a moment.

These are things that the world can’t take away…

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Time with God, your fingers linked with the one you love, or a grandchild crawling on your lap.

A cookie and a glass of milk with your children, a good book, a mug of hot tea, and warm sweaters. A dog running through the leaves, or a friendly chat with your neighbour as you clean the yard for winter.

Christ enables us to see the good in this world, He is the love that casts out fear. He is the anchor to our souls, the joy that comes with the morning…

Overflow with thankfulness. Happy Thanksgiving!