ALPHA

Written by: Lee Mayta

Even though I grew up in church, the information I retained was limited to the Sunday School stories I heard, and some of the bigger questions were left unanswered. When I decided to take Alpha, I chose to leave all of my previous experiences and preconceived notions of God, Jesus, and church at the door. The experience of Alpha was life-changing. Not only did I find answers to my questions, but I also made lifelong friends that walk this path of faith with me and help me search for answers when inevitably more questions arise. It also started my journey of reading scripture, which not only has strengthened my relationship with God but also has set an example for my daughter who also reads her Bible daily! I am so grateful for the experience of Alpha and can’t wait to take it again!

Written by: Michael Lam (Alpha Prayer Team)

God helped me in my unbelief. Honestly, I did not believe Zoom Alpha would ever work. But God showed me His love has no borders. He drew people into our Zoom gatherings from all over the place. Yes, we have an unstoppable God.

As time went on, His love really broke through people's hearts. Joyful tears increased as people began to see who Jesus is and what He has done for us at the cross.

Watching people change during the course took away my unbelief. God was definitely working.

The people I prayed with felt there was a great celebration in the heavens for the ones who have decided to follow Jesus.

This was the shot in the arm that I needed.

God is so good, ALL THE TIME.

 

 

Alpha Course
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BEREAVEMENT JOURNEY

Written by: Uli & Tanya Larosa

We have been delighted to run two sessions of the Bereavement Journey course this year - one in person in the Fall of 2019 and one currently online. Both sessions have provided space for those experiencing loss to learn, share and grow in their own unique and individual grief journeys. The course runs for five weeks and includes short videos which focus on specific areas of grief and then a time of sharing. We feel so blessed to be able to come alongside people in their experiences of losing a loved one. In this pandemic, many of the participants on our current course have not been able to have a memorial or even have people close by to bring comfort. They have found the course to be very helpful. Here is what two participants had to say:

I joined the Bereavement Group at the church last fall, after losing my Mom the spring of 2019, and my step-dad eight months before. Prior to this group, I felt like I was part of an invisible group that was trying to deal with some very significant losses. Sure….friends did acknowledge this loss and tried to listen and help. But there was a real sense that they often couldn’t relate to what I was going through, so there were many awkward silences when I wanted to share about my Mom. It became so clear to me that we live in such a death-denying culture, and it is an uncomfortable topic for many people.

This is my second time going through this Bereavement Class, and it has been very helpful and profound. It has given me space and a place to deal with some of the anger, guilt, and regret that have been a part of my own story. Watching the videos, and hearing other group members share their stories and insights, has given me a framework for my own thoughts and feelings. In this group, I have felt listened to, and understood, as everyone there is also dealing with the loss of someone special to them. During our sessions, there was a real sense of not being so totally alone. I learned that we are all on our own unique grieving journey, even though many aspects of this are common to everyone in the group.

Tanya and Uli were warm, and welcoming; and showed us acceptance, compassion and understanding. They gracefully, listened to comments, and helped us to open up to share our own thoughts, without judgment. This group has helped me to absorb the losses and to integrate them, into who I am. In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote from our manual that summarizes so much of this group time. “ In fact, the bereavement journey enlarges us. We grow to incorporate our loss, to keep it safe and with us, yet we are free to function and move on.”

-Dianne Hein Heal

While watching church online late last summer, I saw the Bereavement journey course. I had just lost my mom to cancer in July 2020. I was so thankful to be able to get together and share my thoughts and feelings in such a safe place. The facilitators were gentle, caring, and non-judgemental. It was such a calming feeling to go each week both into and home from the group. I learned, I found support and I would recommend this course to anyone who is walking the journey of losing someone they love. There is much to be gained by being surrounded by people who understand what you're going through.

-Wendy Laforest

 

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DIVORCECARE

Written by: DC & DC4K Team

DivorceCare helps you recover from the pain your separation or divorce has caused; to you, your family, your friends. That’s the reason for DivorceCare. It’s a special weekly support group and seminar conducted by people who understand what you are experiencing. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to deal with the pain of the past and look forward to rebuilding your life.

This year due to COVID-19 restrictions, DivorceCare looked a little different than usual. We did not serve a full meal or were able to offer childcare. We still met in person, keeping safely distanced.

We ran 2 Divorce Care sessions at the church this past year, involving a total of 9 adult participants and 3 children. Our attendance was committed and regular, and we had group members coming out from Port Moody and downtown Vancouver. We continued to meet in person throughout fall and spring.

We love seeing our groups ‘gel’ as stories are shared, trust builds, support, and comfort are offered. Separation/divorce are significant, life-altering traumas, into which our program speaks hope, healing, and grace.

We are so grateful to be allowed to see the positive changes in people’s outlook as they listen, share and learn throughout the course of our 13-week program.

 


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FREEDOM SESSION

Written by: Andrew & Liv DeGroot

One of the most evident ways we have seen God working in our Freedom Session ministry over the past year is through our prayers for vulnerability. The healing that comes in Freedom Session cannot come if people are not honest and vulnerable with each other and with themselves, and so we have really been praying for that honesty and vulnerability since the beginning of Freedom Session in September.

God is so good, and we have seen this vulnerability taking place in the ministry all year long! In fact, it has become a common thing that Table Leaders will share, that their group is so open, honest, and truly desiring to heal. This is even more significant considering that we had roughly 45 people participating in this healing over the past year - that’s 45 people being healed by the love of Jesus through their hard work of vulnerability!

 

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JOURNEY WITH ME

Written by: Kamie Moree

Journey With Me has definitely had both a positive and challenging time this year. Our biggest challenge (loss) was the death of Debby Ryan. Debby continued, no matter her condition, to bring an encouraging and uplifting spirit to our meetings. No matter how she felt, she showed up. I loved Debby’s spirit and miss her a great deal, but am happy for her that she is free of a body full of pain and disease and is with our Heavenly Father. This is our second loss in two years, the first being Christine Tulloch. Your prayers for the group dealing with loss while trying to maintain hope are appreciated.

Our group is small but uplifting. I’ve always maintained that I would be happy if no one needed to attend and there was no cancer to deal with. I’m not looking for large numbers, I’m looking for those who walk alongside one another, encouraging and feeding one another God’s love and promises.

La Vonne Dougall continues to walk with me as a co-facilitator and she has brought such a positive spirit and wonderful depth of ministry care and knowledge to our group. I have been so blessed to have her by my side through this. Although we both are also dealing with cancer, we seem to have a good balance and the ability to push through. I believe that’s God’s grace to both of us.

We have been “online” for over a year now. As those that attend are immune-compromised, I don’t see a quick end to how we meet. However, we are making the online work and use it now as a time for a devotional and sharing with one another where we are at and what challenges we are facing. We are able to hold one another up in prayer and encourage each other in our separate but similar journeys. May God truly bless you for your part in holding Journey With Me up in prayer.

 

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LIVING WELL

Written by: Cal & Suzie Warneke

This has certainly been a year to remember! As Living Well entered its 6th year of ministry in September, we really had no idea what was ahead and the impact it would play on all of our mental health. We are incredibly grateful for a church that not only sees the importance of caring for our mental health but also provides resources to do such a thing.

This year we have also been incredibly grateful for the value that our BC government also puts on caring for your mental health in the way of education and support groups. As a result, Living Well has been able to continue to meet both in person and via zoom throughout this entire year.

We have asked a few of our participants to share what this year has been like for them:

God is working through me every day and I know that there are good days and difficult days, and He sees it all and helps me make better choices and helps me grow into an apprentice of Jesus and I am grateful that He is with me as it gives me a sense of peace and lightness. Being a part of Living Well has given me a sense of community and that I am not alone. It also gives me a safe place to be no matter how I am doing. I know that when I am there I am surrounded by a loving and caring group that gives me encouragement and hope.

I feel like God has given me so many means of “community”! Living Well, Apprentice Group, Life Group, counseling, and the North Langley church family to help me with my journey with God. God has given me freedom and even though I have my highs and lows I know I am not alone, and he surrounds me. “God is my strength when I am weak” and I try to remember that quote in my day-to-day life.

-Holly

And here’s what Brandon had to say:

Being a part of this ministry has personally changed and affected me in pretty much every area of my life. The way I think, act, and do things have all changed. I think back to when I was a new Christian and I had bought a book from the Christian bookstore. It was titled “WWJD”. Which stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” I ask myself this very question all the time. When something goes unexpectedly… When I don’t know what to do… When I am uncertain… When I feel like I can’t find any direction in my life. I Pray and ask myself… “What Would Jesus Do???” Another way being a part of this ministry has personally changed me or affected me is by helping me with my fear. One huge fear in my life that I deal with on a daily basis is my brain tumour. I had a brain tumour removed over 10 years ago and this is constantly on my mind. I was told that it would most likely grow back, and this scares me a lot. I almost died getting through the surgery to have it removed. I Lost part of my vision, lost my short-term memory and had to learn how to talk and walk all over again. I don’t want to have to go through this again. Being a part of this ministry has very much helped me change into a worry free man and has affected me throughout my journey with God!

-Brandon

And lastly, we asked Andrea to also share from her perspective as someone who is caring for others with mental health challenges:

I came to Living Well about three and a half years ago. The year prior to that, I faced the crisis of a loved one suffering a mental health breakdown. At that time, I had gone to a Canadian Mental Health Association peer support group which was a tremendous blessing, similar to Living Well but without the prayer and direct acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. In addition, I had taken the peer support group facilitator training with Sanctuary Ministries, a Christian mental health organization. I was becoming well equipped in this new world of mental health challenges, and I wanted to be able to support others on what is a highly tumultuous journey.

However, as the life of my loved one continued careening, and I likewise careened through tears and confusion and a great sense of recurrent loss, I knew I needed more support than I was strong enough to give. Heartbreak is not fixed by education alone. I needed some stability, a place of refuge, somewhere I could lay it all out and make sense of it ... or not make sense of it, but at least know those around me could handle the story and not expect me to put all the puzzle pieces together. Really, I needed a place to cry, to share, to listen, to pray.

I was so thankful to learn of Living Well as a Christian, faith-based support group within an easy driving distance. The first months of attending Living Well, I was in great anguish pretty much every meeting but by the end of each evening, I experienced renewed strength from listening to others, sharing myself, and praying together. The second year, I gobbled up all the educational pieces as well as experiencing renewed strength in the fellowship of each meeting. The third year, I had a love-hate relationship with the meetings - I hated that I needed to spend time like this, but I loved that I could spend time in community, and always left refreshed.

This year, I have loved the broadening of our support group as due to public health restrictions on gatherings we have been together the whole night as a whole group, rather than breaking out - those with lived experience and those living with a loved one who has lived experience. This works better for our Zoom/in-person hybrid, but more importantly, it feels so whole and I love each and every member of our support group. Of course, I still very much appreciate the educational piece of every meeting, too. It is remarkable to have the calibre of professionals coming in to speak with us on salient topics with such practicality and compassion. It is a safe place. It is a safe community. It is a place of story and healing.

I am so thankful to Suzie and Calvin for facilitating so lovingly and authentically. I am very thankful to the professionals who give of their time and expertise. I am thankful to the North Langley Community Church for valuing and supporting this ministry that welcomes us. Praise be to God for the gift of Living Well, where our hope is restored and strengthened through Christian fellowship that is grounded in Christ and a well-balanced approach to mental health. Has God answered my prayer? Yes, finding a place to flounder and flourish while being accepted and loved and helped is an answer to prayer. Thank you very much.

-Andrea D.


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MARRIAGE COURSE

Written by: Rob & Sue Rhea

This last year (2020) was a first for The Marriage Course. We (Rob and Sue) did the entire course on-line through Zoom. We didn’t know if people would go for it, but to our surprise we had over 50 couples sign up!! The stress and uncertainty of Covid has affected every part of our lives… and it is showing up in our marriages. We LOVE encouraging couples in their relationship with one another as we know it takes INTENTIONALITY, COMMITMENT, EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION and a myriad of other skills in order to thrive. In a world where it seems to be increasingly difficult to stay married – The Marriage Course is a perfect opportunity to learn and deepen these skills. The course was updated last year (filmed here in Vancouver) and offers couples the tools to build a strong and healthy relationship that lasts a lifetime.

During each evening, couples talk about important issues that can get swept under the rug in the rush of daily life. We are honoured to host and facilitate the course sharing tips and stories from our own marriage. This course is for any and every married couple, no matter how long you have been together or where you are in your marriage, from struggling to thriving - we all can grow and deepen in our understanding of one another. In the privacy of your own home, you watch a video that stops intermittently for you to discuss questions from your workbook. Although we are “meeting together” all your discussions are private between only the two of you – camera off and mute on! You’ve got to love ZOOM!

Sessions cover:

  • Strengthening Connection
  • The Art of Communication
  • Resolving Conflict
  • The Power of Forgiveness
  • The Impact of Family
  • Good Sex
  • Love in Action

Here is a testimonial from one of our couples from last session:

“My husband, Ken, and I took the Marriage Course this past Winter. We were recently married so it was perfect timing for us to help get our new marriage off to a strong start! It is the second marriage for both of us and, after experiencing the heartbreak of divorce in our first marriages, we are very committed to doing all we can to have a happy, healthy, Christ-centred marriage together. Ken and I are also in the unique situation of being on opposite sides of the border, not being able to spend much time together since the border restrictions of the pandemic were imposed. The online format of the Marriage Course enabled us to connect and communicate about important topics each week. I feel that the Marriage Course definitely helped to strengthen our marriage and bring us closer together during this very challenging time."

-Wendy Mitchell

We’d love for you to join us for this 7-week course and begin a journey of refreshing and deepening your relationship!

 


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