Koos and Aubrey

I spent Sunday with Koos and Aubrey in Duncan BC. Their church has a growing neighbourhood outreach they help with every Sunday afternoon. It felt similar in some ways to what we are doing in Marabá. Koos and Aubrey have four children, and they are praying about becoming full-time missionaries in Brazil. They moved from the Northwest Territories to Vancouver Island as a step of obedience to God. Life is really good, and really challenging. They appreciate your prayers.
We had a really nice Sunday together.

Royal Roads University

Several of the teachers and leaders at the Justice Institute, and other people I know, have taken online programs from Royal Roads University. Everyone I talked to loved their studies. “I could keep my full-time job, and work this in on my own time. It was very doable.” “Our whole cohort was sorry when the two years was up. We wanted to keep studying together.” This is a way I can continue to keep studying even while working in Brazil. I am praying about this option for next year. I appreciate your prayers and any thoughts you may have.
Here are some photos I took of the RRU Campus while I was here in Victoria.

Thoughts about Conflict Resolution

Here are some photos from the ferry ride over to Vancouver Island. I am in Victoria for a week-long course with the Justice Institute of BC.
One of the things I like best about these courses on Conflict Management is that I feel God is pleased. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Working with three nationalities, and with so many variations in each of us, I am often perplexed at how we can get hung up in a conflict. Now I am learning how we could have done things a little differently and we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain and time.
Here are a few tidbits from the courses I am taking:
– “Conflict resolution is not simple. It is an art. In these programs you will learn how to use some tools. Knowing how and when to use them is the art.”
– “Whenever you find yourself arguing with someone it is very likely there is a power struggle going on.”
– “People who feel powerless often act in the most bizarre ways, displaying anger, frustration, or silence, and then they often feel bad about it afterwards.”
Personally, when I can help someone get past a stuck place in their life, I feel really good. And I think this goes back to my first idea. I think it is because God is pleased, and truly pleasing God makes anyone feel good. We are made for this.

XM and a CPM

The Xingu Mission (XM) is taking intentional steps to plant a Church Planting Movement (CPM). When we first started this mission us missionaries met together to pray about some goals. Planting churches that plant churches and working ourselves out of a job were among those goals. Other specifics included planting 1,000 churches that were healthy, growing and planting more churches.

In the business world this is sometimes called a BHAG, a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. We realized that without God we could not reach this goal. In the fifteen years since those meetings God has continued to grow this movement. Countless people have pitched in to help. The Brazilian leadership is rising up. We have over 50 churches and church plants. Some are very small, but some are well-established city churches. We are well on our way to 1,000.

Things are changing for us missionaries. We are learning we need to pass the leadership baton over to the maturing Brazilian leaders. We still have much work to do as we continue to reach into new regions to plant new churches and raise up new leaders.

As I think about this mission and movement it feels like it is alive, growing and healthy. As we raise our four girls, when we finally get comfortable with one stage of their lives they are already moving into the next stage, from diapers to children to adolescents to teen-agers. In a few weeks we will have a 20 year old daughter! This is how this church-planting movement feels to me.


PS This is a photo of a leadership conference in Altamira earlier this year.

A Very Cool Church Story

Pastor Art’s parents were missionaries in China when the country went to war. They sent their two sons to boarding school. The Japanese took over the boarding school and turned it into a prisoner of war camp.  Eric Liddell was also a prisoner and one of their teachers. Art’s parents came back to Canada. Two years later America marines stormed in and freed the prisoners, including Art’s brothers. Art was born in Canada.
After some time Art’s parents felt called to return to the mission field, first to Thailand and then to Indonesia. They put Art and his sister in a boarding school in Three Hills Alberta, much to their dismay.
Meanwhile Henry and Edna Thiessen were planting churches among the Dyak tribal people in Indonesia. There was a period of time when there was a vicious war between the Dyaks and the Chinese with serious slaughter, machetes, and blood. One day about 20 Chinese women, children and babies came seeking refuge at the mission station. Edna hid them in a back room at the risk of her life. If a baby cried while they had Dyak visitors the missionaries would be considered traitors and everyone would be executed. One night a big truck roared up to the house. Edna thought it was the Dyaks, on the warpath, and that they were all dead. Disbelief and then unspeakable relief flooded over her as Art Birch’s father stepped down from the driver’s seat. “I have come to take these people to the city Edna. You can rest easy.” Art’s dad was working with another mission agency that ministered to Chinese people in a big city some distance away.
About forty years later,  in 2011, here in the town of Aldergrove, BC, Pastor Art became the pastor of Ross Road Community Church. Uncle Henry and Aunt Edna, sent out from this church many years ago, are still active members. Art met them for the first time, and they compared the stories about how his dad had helped Aunt Edna, many years earlier, halfway around the world.
This is the church where I grew up and where Dad and Mom are still active members. Henry Thiessen is Mom’s older brother. Their parents, my grandparents, were among the founding families of this group. For 64 years this church has been actively working to help people in Aldergrove, BC, Canada and the world. It is thriving still. What an honor to have a heritage like this.
Pastor Art Birch, Ross Road Community Church, Aldergrove, BC
Uncle Henry and Aunt Edna Thiessen

Ross Road Community Church, Good Friday Service, 2012


It’s Spring! In the woods there are green buds everywhere. Mom’s flower gardens are springing into life. People are starting to mow their lawns. The whole rhythm of life starts again. 
It feels like all of creation is full of hope!
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Why I Love Church Planting

What is the best way to help people with significant long-term help? There are lots of good things going on in the world.

  • education
  • health care
  • stopping exploitation of children
  • clean drinking water
  • housing
  • environmental stewardship
  • etc.

Now imagine these types of good works coming under a healthy local church. You get all these practical benefits plus:

  • Family relationships are restored.
  • People have hope for the future.
  • People learn how to be generous, forgiving and loving.
  • People learn how to care for their families, and to help their neighbours.
  • Most importantly, people come to peace with God.

Why I love church planting.

  • Healthy local churches bring healing to a broken neighborhood like nothing else.
  • Healthy local churches last for generations.
  • Healthy local churches provide a safe environment for families and individuals to celebrate, to get help, to live life.

We can do the good things without the local church but how long do they last? What provides the motivation for people to live altruistically? Jesus said that those who live whole-heartedly for the kingdom of God will be greatly blessed in this life PLUS they will have eternal life. (Mark 10:30, Luke 18:30).

  • Christianity is good for individuals, for families, for communities and nations.
  • I love the local church. If we do this well good works will follow. 
  • We each have a limited amount of energy, time and resources. 
  • I want to spend mine planting churches. 

A healthy local church is good news for neighbourhoods. I cannot think of a better way to help people.