Ministry Update :: August 2020

It’s been a while! Here’s a little update on some of the things we’ve been up to.

Kids’ video for our church

Like many, church has been a bit different. For a long time, our church only did services online. During that time, we were asked to do one of the kids’ features for our church’s online service. We were provided with a rough script and we filmed it in our yard.

You can watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7F4xMNyU2s


A new audio drama?

Work on the No Ordinary Story audio drama is moving along, overseen by John Cross and James Janzen. This music and drama gospel presentation has been over a decade in the making, but we are nearing first publication. Last year John consulted with a Christian drama professor with extensive script writing experience. With his input, the team engaged in a script re-write, largely telling the true stories of three actual people.

The audio drama is now in the editing stage. We hope to have this available in audio format by Christmas and then the next goal is to create the resources for churches to perform this as an evangelistic outreach event by next year.

We wanted to have an international sound, so the voice actors include three mild accents: Scottish, Indian and Canadian. In a time of social distancing, this made for some interesting challenges to get their voices recorded, but we are thankful for how the process has gone.

Thank the Lord with us for his provision in many ways and for directing this huge project forward.

Other happenings

Naomi has been writing articles for GoodSeed to inform and encourage people to share the Gospel message. The confluence of crisis, isolation and technology has led to some exciting stories of people sharing their faith in new ways. We’ve heard of many studies taking place via Zoom; of increased openness to the Gospel all over the world; of an increased burden among some believers to reach out to those around them.
Troy continues to plug away at his responsibilities, which include everything from government paperwork, financial oversight, website maintenance, responding to many email inquiries each day, maintenance around our office, keeping our store going and getting new storefronts up and running (we’re almost ready to open one in Australia), among many others. He has much more to do than he has hours in his day.

Give a few of them a read at:
What is Truth? part 1, part 2, part 3

Summer

Despite all that is going on, we have had some good opportunities to get out and enjoy the short Alberta summer. We are stay a lot closer to home generally, but thankful to live in a beautiful part of the country. We have had lots of local walks and bike rides, and many camp fires in the back yard.

We had a few days at a Christian camp as a family and our eldest, Ellie, stayed on for 10 days as a volunteer in the horse program. We also have a camping trip planned for later this month before the whole back to school rush.

Thanks for joining us on the journey!

Troy & Naomi

Family Camp

Like many camps, Blue Bronna Wilderness Camp has had to do things differently this year. They ended up using their camp to host families amid the pandemic. Located southwest of Longview, and tucked away in the foothills, it is a beautiful facility with some great staff. Our family had a really wonderful time there.

Ministry Update :: May 20, 2020

Video update

Naomi and I were recently asked to provide a short video update for my home church and we thought we would send it along for you to watch or share with your church. In the video we share a little about life for our family during this pandemic, as well as some stories from GoodSeed.

You can watch the video at: https://youtu.be/bfx9CqaA_nI

 


Spring has finally come to Central Alberta! Better late than never. On April 8th I took a snow shovel out to our back garden to expose the soil and the snow was nearly to my knees. Now we are outside more and enjoying gardening, walks along country roads, and last weekend, a hike in surreal landscape in the river valley at Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Here are a few photos of our adventures.

Ministry Update :: Community Preparedness Kits

Community Preparedness Kits

I am thankful for ministry partnerships where we can join in on what the Lord is doing through the Body of Christ. I just got off the phone with a fellow at Samaritan’s Purse’s Canadian Response Centre in Calgary, where they are looking to get more supplies to First Nations people in remote communities of Canada. These Community Preparedness Kits are being distributed in partnership with ministries that work with First Nations groups.The kits contain items like hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and other supplies to help protect people against the pandemic.

An important aspect of these kits includes a resource that explains the Gospel message, and that is where GoodSeed comes into the picture.

Another 5 cases of The Story that Matters heading to remote northern communities.
Sending along the Gospel Message

Along with these medical and sanitation supplies, Samaritan’s Purse wanted to include a resource to explain the Gospel, so they approached us here at GoodSeed to see what we could supply. The Story that Matters is a short Creation-to-Christ explanation of God’s plan of salvation, and Samaritan’s Purse has already distributed 500 copies of this book in this outreach effort and will be sending another 500 out soon. They plan to send out more of these kits as they receive donations to help pay for the supplies.

Please pray with us that these evangelism booklets will have an impact on the lives of those who receive them.

Read more about this program at Samaritans Purse: COVID-19 Medical Supplies Sent to Northern Canada


Watching our church’s Sunday morning live stream has certainly made for a different Sunday routine. One of the nice changes is we have made time to have a big breakfast together on Sunday mornings. This past week that coincided with Mother’s Day, so it was the kids’ turn to make breakfast – french toast and sausage.

Ministry Update :: March 2020

Johnstone happenings

In January we shared some of our plans for 2020, knowing full well they may not happen. At the time, I (Troy) was closely watching events unfold in China and knew that if it broke out around the world, then my wife and children likely would not be able to travel to the other side the world. Even now, like so many people, we are unsure if ANY of our plans for the year will materialize.

Now, with COVID-19 here, like everyone else in the world we are trying to keep up with rapidly unfolding history.

Things we are thankful for:

  • Flexibility in schooling: We were able to pull our kids from school early as their curriculum is easily transferred to a homeschool environment. Naomi was already homeschooling a couple kids to a certain degree, so shifting to full-time with all three wasn’t a big adjustment.
  • Flexibility at work: While practicing social distancing, we are still going to the office (sometimes bringing the kids too), while our other co-workers work from home. This way, we can continue to ship evangelism and discipleship resources out and keep other parts of the ministry going.
  • Family: Spending lots of extra time together, and we pray it will be a positive experience.

Sharing Hope in Uncertain Days

In these uncertain times, as we watch people at all levels of society struggle to cope with the fallout from COVID-19, we want to do all we can to help you present hope and answers to those around you. Many people who were resistant or indifferent to the Gospel before are suddenly much more receptive at this time. Let’s be ready to provide the answers to those who are seeking.

First of all, please do take advantage of the many e-books we have on our website, available in many languages as well. These are great to send electronically to friends near and far. We don’t want financial considerations to limit your ability to reach out to those who need it, so please utilize the code GOODSEEDFREE if you need to.


Also, the VideoBook for The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus is available for free viewing on our website. While great for personal study, this course would also be ideal for online Bible studies or Sunday school classes. Churches may wish to utilize this course for taking their congregations through an overview of the Gospel.

When all is said and done, may we be known for the love we have shown and the hope that we have offered as believers during this incredible time.


Baptism

A few weeks ago, Ethan took a step of faith and was baptized. He had wanted to do it last year when his sister was being baptized, but he broke his arm just days before. We are thankful that we were able to do this before our church was closed.

Ethan was really nervous but our pastor was great and really helped Ethan feel at ease. Some of his friends cheered when he went on stage. He shared a bit of his testimony and his grandfather shared a few words too. Ethan said that when he went under the water it was so quiet and then coming out of the water he heard people applauding and cheering. It was a very special day.

Birthday

Last week we also celebrated a birthday in our house. Ellie turned 15. Fifteen!

Our party was a bit smaller because of the ol’ social distancing thing, and we had to delay our usual family birthday adventure, but had a good time at home as a family. We’re thankful for this young woman and the joy she brings into our lives.

Lastly, I thought I would share a letter from my home church in Sackville, New Brunswick, which we thought was very well-written to address some of the issues Christians now find themselves facing. May it encourage you as well.

Thank you for praying for us. May God bless you and keep you safe!

Troy, on behalf of us all


“I sat down to write this letter a few times this week, and each time I did, the next day brought news that changed things for us as a church and for the people we love and live with. You know that we are living in unique days. Some of our people remember epidemics from the past, but now we have more information and disinformation than ever before. We want to know what is happening and some of us are anxious over what is happening. It is vital that we think through this situation and our lives with courage and wisdom.

1. We will remember that God is still God, and we choose to trust in Him and not fear.
Many Scripture passages instruct us not to fear. We all know that there are some healthy fears – like not running around on the highway – and there are destructive fears, like being anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6: 25-34). It is easy to be at rest when things seem to be under control, but the rest God wants to give our souls is His peace in the middle of challenging circumstances. Our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121). We are called to be still and remember that HE is God (Psalm 46:10). He has promised never to leave us, and He will help us (Hebrews 13:6). No matter what comes, we know that God is FOR us and loves us (Romans 8: 31-39). The righteous is not afraid of bad news; he trusts in God (Psalm 112:6-7). God is still sovereign over viruses. He is faithful and kind. We must preach these truths to our hearts in this time.

2. We will be compassionate with those who are affected.
Faith does not negate mourning or sadness in this life. Our trust in God does not mean that we always understand what is happening. So, as we trust God, we will remember our humanity and not ridicule those who are upset in ways we may not be. We cannot say “It’s not a big deal”, or “It will all work out” because we do not know. It is possible that people we love will get sick and even might die from this virus, and we will be called to mourn them while hoping in God.

3. We will neither become news-addicts, nor news-ignorers.
God has given us opportunities to be aware of the world around us so we can pray and prepare. From our government and other places, we can get real facts about what is happening and what we can do to mitigate our exposure. We are told to wash our hands well, use hand sanitizer, and not touch our faces. We may be told that we cannot congregate for a time. We will not look at the government as either our Saviour or our enemy. We will seek to obey and trust our authorities in every way that does not specifically violate Scripture.

4. We will continue to minister well in all the ways we can. In doing so, we will seek to both love well and lay down our lives for others, and for the gospel.
There seems to be two parts of this. The first is loving our neighbours well. This means that we stay home if we are feeling ill, are frail, or have been exposed. It means that we cannot shake hands for a while and that we might need to stand away from people we care about. Those actions of love are attempts to keep our loved ones and others as safe as possible. But love also means that we check on our neighbours and friends and seek out ways to help them. We might need to do grocery shopping or get meds or help walk their dogs.

Love also means laying down our lives for others. Christians throughout the centuries have, because of their hope in the gospel and the resurrection of the dead, run in where others are scared and running away. Some of us might be called to dedicate ourselves to the care of one ill person or family and isolate ourselves with them if our hospitals are over-run with patients. All of us will have to reach out by phone or other means to care for others. Isolation is not an excuse to think only of ourselves.

5. We will look for ways that God is using this unique chapter in human history to cause people to see the insufficiency of what they are trusting in, and point people to the gospel.

It has been interesting to watch as things we thought “would never be moved” suddenly are shaken. What we have treasured and put our security in – economic systems, scientific breakthroughs, sports and entertainment, control and power, ease and comfort – have all been radically challenged by the impact of this virus. People are feeling vulnerable in ways that they have not often felt. God is using this time to point people to the brevity of life for all of us at all times, and the need we have to find our salvation in the cross of Jesus Christ. We will look for ways to point people to Jesus, the one who saves the repentant sinner and gives him or her an undeserved destiny with Him forever, because of His grace.”

Pastor Andrew Swanson, Main Street Baptist Church