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A Story of Service

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I first came to SDBC in the mid 1980s, when the church was on 11A Street, after receiving an invitation from one of my grade 7 students at English Bluff Elementary School to attend a service where teachers were being honoured. In the early 1990s, Shirley and I, our children, and my mother began attending SDBC. We had moved from Richmond where we attended Broadmoor Baptist. However, for too many years we enjoyed the morning service and other special events at SDBC without being connected to the greater fellowship of believers.

That changed with an invitation to attend a men's bible study. Not long after, our group was challenged to reach out to the community and to serve those that needed help. The Helps Ministry that was a result of this challenge, led by Dave Sowerby, helped many people in Tsawwassen, Ladner, and beyond move from one accommodation to another. At the end of each move, the group would pray for the family and bless their new space. The team of helpers impacted many people and built strong relationships among themselves that continue to this day.

When I retired, I was introduced to Stephen Ministry by Rebecca van den Brink and Pastor Paul Johnson. Twelve years later I am one of a team of leaders for this compassionate ministry. As you may know, Stephen Ministers come alongside people experiencing a challenging time in their life. God has blessed this ministry with exceptional people who have volunteered countless hours to serve their care receivers. Stephen Ministers, because of the hours spent together dealing with very emotional situations, have developed a strong bond that will last a long time.

As a young boy, I watched my dad use his skills as a carpenter and home builder to volunteer not only at First Baptist in Vancouver but at Beulah Gardens Retirement Centre, also in Vancouver, and at Keats Camp on the Sunshine Coast. Today, I see the men in our bible study use their gifts to serve as caterers in the kitchen, babysitters for Moments for Moms, servers for the community dinners and Senior Scene luncheons, ushers at the morning service, and story tellers for Kids ministry. We serve not only to be connected to the faith community but because God tells us to love one another. There's no better way to love than to serve one another. Don't wait to be invited. Seek out an existing opportunity or create a new opportunity to serve God by serving others.

If you are interested in getting connected and serving at SDBC, visit our website.

Posted by Doug Thomson

Stephen Ministry: The Sanctuary Course

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In January 2020, Stephen Ministry will be hosting a course developed by Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. Clergy from the Vancouver area founded Sanctuary in 2012, in order to equip the church to make a difference in the lives of individuals struggling with mental health problems. The ministry continues this mission by raising awareness and providing faith-based educational resources and training to promote mental wellness.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, all Canadians will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives, either through experience or through the diagnosis of a relative or friend. In fact, one in five Canadians faces a mental health problem every year. Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent within our society. Perhaps you are looking for ways to support a loved one, or perhaps you are in search of answers for yourself. Either way, you want to better understand the complex dynamics of mental health.

There is more to it than just understanding, however. As Christians, we want to discover the role faith has in mental health and hear what God, scripture, and the church have to say regarding the unique challenges and experiences of mental health problems. The Sanctuary Course is designed to assist you in this process of discovery.

Over the last several years, Stephen Ministers have come alongside Care Receivers experiencing a mental health challenge such as depression and extreme anxiety. Currently, our Stephen Ministers are being prepared to offer this course to our congregation. Our plan is to offer The Sanctuary Course beginning on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 for eight consecutive Tuesdays, between 7–8:30PM. The cost of the course is $10.

For more information about this course, visit the Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries website. If you are interested in attending, click here, or sign up in person at the Spotlight Table this Sunday, October 20th. Registration will close December 13th.

Posted by Doug Thomson

Stephen Ministry

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Stephen Ministers come alongside people during a challenging time in their lives. We all face issues at some point in our life, whether it is grief brought on by the death of a loved one, the loneliness of aging, or the battle of a life shortening illness. As Stephen Ministers, we recognize the growing number of people struggling with depression.

Depression is much more than the temporary sadness many people feel. Depression is more persistent and can be overwhelming. Depressed people lose interest in all their normal activities. Everything, including getting out of bed in the morning, takes a huge effort. They are tired because it is difficult to achieve a restful sleep. They can be quite irritable and not pleasant to be with and so the depression encourages isolation.

Fortunately, there is also an increasing awareness that like other illnesses, if left untreated, depression can have serious consequences. Severe depression can lead to psychotic behaviour and suicide. Like most serious illnesses, depression requires the support of medical professionals that can prescribe medication. However, Stephen Ministers can be a part of the team that supports the person struggling with depression.

We are well trained to develop relationships with our Care Receivers that allow us to be companions on the journey to wellness. We listen more than speak, we accept the person as they are rather than judge them for past behaviour. We provide distinctively Christian care by sharing scripture and praying with our Care Receiver. We know God is in control and through His grace, a person can be restored.

A gentleman in Tsawwassen referred himself to Stephen Ministry last summer. He recognized that his behaviour had changed. After years of living on his own, loneliness led to depression and depression allowed evil thoughts to overwhelm him. Even after visits to medical professionals, including visits to hospital for psychiatric evaluation, he recognized the need for more support. As a Christian he knew God was in control of his life and he relied on God's Word for hope. His Stephen Minister came alongside him to listen to his story as the two walked around Tsawwassen. They prayed together and God intervened. With the help of medication prescribed by doctors the suicidal thoughts diminished. But the journey is not over. This is only one story of how God is working through our ministry to impact the lives of people in our community.

We invite you to contact Stephen Ministry if God is calling you to learn how to share a burden that a neighbour is now carrying on their own. We plan to visit groups within our church community to share skills and attitudes that have helped us over the last ten years.

Or, if depression, triggered by the stress of a loved one dying, or the stress caused by uncontrollable anxiety, or the stress of postpartum, or the stress of life in 2019, is overwhelming you, please contact Stephen Ministry. God will bless your courage to reach out for help.

Posted by Doug Thomson

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