40 Years and Counting – Anniversary Sunday
Forty is a very significant number in the Bible. It’s the number of both testing and ultimate breakthrough. Think about the times when 40 is used in the Bible narrative.
- 40 days of rain while Noah was on the ark – then a new day dawned!
- Moses spent 40 days on Sinai – then he received the Ten Commandments!
- Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness – then they moved into the Promised land!
- Manna was given for 40 years – then they feasted on the bounty of Canaan!
- The spies spent 40 days searching the new Land – then they moved in to conquer!
- Elijah fasted forty days – then he passed the baton to Elisha!
- Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days to repent – they did and were saved!
- Jesus fasted 40 days – and then his Kingdom ministry began!
- The disciples spent 40 days with resurrected Jesus – then the Holy Spirit was poured out!
- Forty years of age is considered to be when a committed believer becomes an elder!
- Every mother knows that after 40 weeks of pregnancy – new life comes!
Northside Church formally began 40 years ago this week, and although thousands have been saved through our ministry, this begins a new season of breakthrough!
In 1971, after graduating from Life Bible College, I was appointed as Youth Pastor at Coquitlam Foursquare Church, (which 20 years later became our Northside Church Coquitlam Campus)
A few years later, in October of 1976, while living in Coquitlam, God surprised me with a prophetic vision. While working full time in management at Canadian Forest Products, I was serving with Pastors Wes and Gladys Wray as Assistant Pastor. Susan and I had been married for seven years and our girls, Kelly and Kristy, were not yet in school.
The vision was of a woman giving birth to a baby, and the word of the Lord, which accompanied the picture, was, “This is how the church in Port Coquitlam will be born!” I knew in an instant that God was calling our family to begin planting a new church in PoCo, and that we were not to gather people who were already Christians but were to begin with new baby believers!
After talking with Susan, we began our research by driving regularly through PoCo, looking for a possible place to live, a place to begin our new church, and envisioning the possibilities ahead of us. We had no money and no people, but we knew that God had called us, so we forged ahead with naive enthusiasm.
By June of 1977, we miraculously sold our home in Coquitlam and had purchased a much smaller home in a new subdivision of Lincoln Park. We moved on July 1, 1977. In February of that same year, Susan and I had gone with Wes and Gladys to a Conference in Van Nuys California, where I learned the power of Supplication Prayer. After we moved into our new home, I mapped out 100 surrounding homes, on which I focused as my “parish”. Although as far as I knew, none were believers, these were the families whom we were sent to reach.
Every evening, when work was done and after our girls were in bed, I began practicing what I’d learned about prayer. For an hour before bed, I walked up and down the streets of our parish and claimed the souls of those 3-400 people for the Kingdom of God. I prayed, “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done Father”.
In those same months, Susan and I made friends with our neighbours. Susan is a gifted encourager and friend; she soon was having coffee with several of the women in our parish.
I would often hear roars of laughter as they chatted about their children and whatever else women talk about! We helped them with whatever we could – putting in lawns and building fences or looking after kids. We practiced loving our neighbours. Our children attended Lincoln elementary school and we purposely made friends with teachers, parents and the principal.
After six months, in January 1978, I had become a little disheartened with God. We’d obediently moved, were praying and loving our neighbours, but nothing was happening! In a lunchtime meeting with my Lord, in my car at the A&W, I asked him why, after six months of praying, nothing had happened! God answered me with a question, “How long does it take to have a baby?” I immediately pulled out my pocket calendar and marked our first baby’s birthdate as March 1, 1978.
Two days before March 1, I was at work when Susan called and excitedly asked, “Guess what happened this morning?”
“What happened!” I responded.
She then told me how our next door neighbour had knocked on her door after the kids were in school. Betty was Chinese and very shy. She’d never come over before, but something was on her mind. When Susan invited her in for coffee, within half an hour, she was crying and happily invited Jesus into her life.
That was only the beginning. Two or three other neighbours followed suit, and within weeks Susan was teaching a simple Bible Study in another neighbour‘s home. Ladies began inviting their friends and pretty soon about 15 to 20 women were gathering every Thursday.
The men were a bit harder, but when they saw the change in their wives as they gradually became Believers, they showed some interest. I started another Group in our home on Wednesday evenings, in which I taught some very basic Christian principles. Over the months, that group grew to over thirty. It should not have been surprising to me that my neighbours were imitating what we had done – they began inviting their friends to learn about Jesus.
On Sunday May 27, at 10 am, we held our first official service at Lincoln Elementary School. (Pastor Wes had spoken the week before when we invited our friends and our church family at Life Center, which is now Northside Coquitlam, to celebrate and pray with us.) Because everyone at our new church was either a seeker or baby Christian, our services were very simple. Susan played the piano, and led in some easy choruses, I taught basic doctrine, Kelly and Kristy looked after and taught the small children; then we drank coffee and ate cookies! Fun days! By summer, we were running 40 to 50 people and Northside Church was born.
I felt that God was calling me to reach out to not only the Northside of PoCo, the Northside of the Fraser River, from Mission to New Westminster, and the Northside of the border (that’s Canada). Our theme verse was Psalm 48:1 “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the Northside.” I figured that if God lives on the Northside, then that would be a perfect name for his church.
January 19, 2020
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October 27, 2019