January 26 is a date that we remember in our family. It is my younger brother Bruce’s birthday, and if he were alive today, it would be his 55th birthday. I miss him – it is the second birthday since his passing in July of 2010. I will see him again, and next time it will not be at his hospital bedside. Hope in Christ is a wonderful thing!
It is also Thursday evening, and I have been reflecting on my notes for the service of remembrance for Josephine Johnson, tomorrow at Fort Langley EFC, 1:30 PM. She lived to the age of 96. I insert some excerpts of my notes for you
Pastor Bill and Josephine Johnson:
Josephine, and her husband, Pastor Bill Johnson were true pioneers in our district. I am not sure that Bill and Josephine would say that God had called them to be church planters. In 1939, as newlyweds and recent graduates of Prairie Bible Institute, Bill and Josephine went to teach at a Bible School in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Pastor Olai Urang of the recently planted Bethel EFC (1939) in Vancouver, sensed that God was calling their church to launch a new work in New Westminster. He recruited a young missionary couple, Ed and Hanzel Nilson (en route to China) to assist, and they began a Sunday School (Beulah EFC Sunday School) in Edmonds St. School. A church planting pastor was needed to grow the work, and Olai Urang recruited Bill and Jo from Saskatchewan (age 26/24) to come and plant New Westminster EFC.
Bill and Jo came to New West in the fall of 1940, and with no promise of any regular salary, moved into a suite in New West for $15.00 per month. Bill supported himself and Jo by working part-time as a salesman and a truck driver, as well as church planting. The work grew. The Johnsons opened their home to children, prayer meetings were held, as a well as a musical group, “Johnson’s Band-Aids.” By 1943, the work was established, and the church structure was built, where it stands today – Douglas Road (Canada Way) and 10th Avenue. Pastor Bill wrote in the “Evangelist,” “Even though there is still a need, as is evident in the difference between the income and the cost, it seemed impossible to do anything but go ahead.”
As New West went forward, Pastor Bill and Jo became burdened for the people across the Fraser River in Langley. There was not any real evangelical work there, so Bill and Pastor Cliff Dietrich of White Rock EFC began prayer meetings in Langley. Bill went out there to scout out a suitable building site for a new work. The plan was to erect a tent on the property, and from this, to launch the church plant. He found a site at the corner of 208th St. and McDonald Ave. (48 Ave). To buy the property, a down payment of $450.00 was needed. All that Pastor Bill could muster up was $150.00, and this was accepted. The $150.00 was the fund that Bill and Jo had set aside for the anticipated medical expenses for the coming birth of their first child, but they believed that God had called them to do this and that He would take care of them – and their baby! A new church (Langley EFC) was born, the Lord made up the money the Johnsons gave through the gifts of friends, and soon daughter Joye was born. Langley EFC has grown and has changed, and God has been faithful. LEFC is trusting Lord for birthing a second campus of their church in the Clayton region of Surrey this spring.
The story goes on. As pastor of New West EFC, Pastor Bill assisted in the planting of the Port Coquitlam EFC, and the birth of Trinity Western University and later he and Jo served as pastors at their home church in Enchant, Alberta and then North Vancouver, before settling in Fort Langley, as Bill became the administrator of Simpson Private Hospital.
Our district has a fund that both supports district ministry and enables us to invest in church planting. This fund is known as theWilliam Johnson Church Ministries Endowment Fund. Right now, these funds are enabling our district to assist a church pastor/re-planter on Malcolm Island, an African church planter in Vancouver and a Church Planting Catalyst for the EFCC – assisting those who continue to walk by faith, and not by sight…
We are all indebted to pioneers like Bill and Jo Johnson, and we are now stewards of what God has entrusted to us through them
A consistent pattern in the planting of these new works was prayer – the prayer meeting always preceded the church plant. We have much to learn from our pioneers, and I pray for their spirit to live on in the lives and ministry of we who serve today.
LPD Conference, March 2,3, 2012 … Just five weeks from tomorrow (Friday) until conference!
Please plan to join us for conference, on March 2,3, and be sure to plan to join us for the workshop/ministerial leading up to conference on Friday, March 2,3! We have chosen a theme of Intercessory Prayer, and we trust that this will be a catalyst for God’s greater work in our lives, churches, region and land. I am attaching a letter of invitation, a handout, a brochure with many conference details, and also an E-Form registration. While we encourage you to join us for the entire conference, you are also welcome to join us for either the Friday workshop, Friday Dinner or Saturday morning separately. Ladies, please note the special time on Saturday morning with Karen and Christine, where Ann Griffiths and Donna Inglis of Fingerprint Ministries will be ministering. Please forward or distribute the attached materials to your church leadership and congregation.
Tomorrow, I will be ministering at the service of Josephine Johnson, before hosting a dinner for Trinity Western Seminary Students tomorrow evening. This is a part of the Christian Leadership Development program, and an opportunity to meet future EFCC pastors and staff.
Sunday, Karen and I look forward to joining the folks at White Rock Community Church, where I am to preach. We value your prayers, and consistently uphold you in prayer as well.
Please join me in praying for:
1. Tammy (Mark) Johnson. Give thanks that she has finished her radiation treatment this week, and pray for her to be cancer free.
2. Fort Langley EFC Search Team are to interview a candidate for Lead Pastor this week. Please pray for a confirmation of God’s direction for all.
May God bless you and your ministry this weekend.