LAMBTON COUNTY, CANADA – Why start again? Why farm the farmlands of Lambton County? The Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5 seems to highlight our answer – ‘if I acted crazy, I did it for God…Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes.’
For over 30 years, we have been involved in church planting and re-planting work in a large urban area outside of Toronto, Canada. When God moved us from that place – He really moved! We landed in the serene setting of Lake Huron, in the middle of farm country. How is this going to work? We don’t know anyone. We don’t even know how to get to the next town. This is going to be an adventure.
2 Corinthians 5: 11-14 (The Message)
That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
In 2014 our lives were turned upside down. From city to country, from health to illness, from strength to weakness, from fulfilled urban lives to lonely farm roads. Really God? What is this about? Our path to the North American Mission Board was about to become even more strange. We felt deflated and defeated. The very weakest of the weak. But God had a plan.
The plan was not drawn on a white board. It wasn’t devised in a board room. It developed on the back of a napkin in a tiny restaurant when someone simply reached out and said ‘let’s get in touch’. It wasn’t long before that became a birthday in a blizzard, an unexpected farm country sleep over, ensuing ‘questions about the Bible’ meetings. Life on life. Christ’s love moved us.
More detours. More people. Free Bibles were given to us – and we had no idea why. But God did. It was His architectural drawing that was beginning to unfold and we couldn’t see how the plan was taking shape. A caring pastor became a friend (and ultimately became our sending pastor). LOVE in unexpected places.
Then the North American Mission Board…and now The Bridge Gathering. A group that desires to connect community to Christ because He loves us. It has been a bumpy, beautiful ride – very much like you would get on a hay wagon. We meet people where they are – on the streets, in a coffee shop. We love them – because God has placed us together in this confusing place called the world. Our bridge across the water and our eternal Bridge have been established to bring the message of LOVE where it might not have existed before. As we live this life nurturing those whom God has placed around us – it’s not difficult to understand the answers to our original question of ‘why’? It’s because of LOVE. His Love for all of us.
Jump ahead to 2017 we are full of anticipation for what God will do in Lambton County. We have already been having discussions about how to reach those around us who have either forgotten the precious Gospel or who have not heard it. This involves planning and resources. As a tiny group of eager messengers – we have had lots of conversations about our ideas and our passion for the Message. Now we are tasked with prayerfully considering what ideas we might ensue to focus on sharing the Good News to those around us.
Meanwhile, we have had very encouraging conversations with a number of people who need Christ in their lives. We have also spent time encouraging a few saints along the way. We have offered cookies to coworkers, pizza to the ill (whose appetite can be enticed by it), time to the tired, and encouragement to those whose point of view is limited to their own circumstances. At The Bridge Gathering – we’re doing life together, while we continue to consider our mandate ‘connecting community to Christ’.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cecil Cogswell is a NAMB Church Planter in Canada. Jayne is a Church Planter’s wife and together they serve at The Bridge Gathering, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.