Joy Fellowship
Summer 2003 Newsletter

smiling sun


[ Back ]  [ Next ]

 

Joy Unspeakable: The Vision and Mission of Joy Fellowship

By Dave Choi and Matt Johnson
Excerpts from a paper for Regent College—Part One


Joy Fellowship in Vancouver, BC, is a church that provides an exciting, refreshing example of what it looks like to be a missional church in its ministry vision, identity as the people of God, and its strategies for living out its vision and identity.

Every body of Jesus Christ exists with a purpose in this world; Joy Fellowship is not any different. Indeed there are special needs, but the church still stands with a living vision: a two-fold purpose. The first is "to help people with disabilities and their families to believe in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and to help those who are, or become Christians to grow to their fullest possible maturity in Christ."

With the hopes to fulfill this part of the vision, Joy Fellowship focuses on the Scripture. "The Bible is central," says Joy Gregory in the interview, "even if most of the people can’t read, they know it’s important." This was evident when the presider asked for volunteers to read the scripture reading during the Sunday service. Three or four people immediately rushed up to the front. And while they needed assistance reading each verse, the passion for the Word of God was clear without a doubt.

The second half of the vision states: "It is also our goal to stimulate and help individuals and churches to reach out to neighbours with mental and physical disabilities, and not only to accept them spiritually, but also help them to discover and to contribute the special gifts of the Spirit God has given them…" The word gift seems to beat closely in the hearts of the members of Joy Fellowship. When visiting the church’s website at www.joyfellowship.bc.ca, 1 Cor. 12:4-6 cannot go unnoticed. And the phrase, "The weaker are indispensable" is the ethos of this community. Joy Gregory responded immediately and fervently to my utterance of this sentence. This transitions us into their identity.

Joy Fellowship view themselves to be "disciples, followers, sheep, and God’s team." But one characteristic distinguishes them from all others: their giftedness in their weakness. They see themselves as people that have been individually gifted to nurture the body. It might seem ironic at first. They are physically and mentally disabled and may be limited in many ways. But I want to contest this presumption, for there is no irony here. In fact, from my observation, I believe Joy Fellowship understands more fully of what it means to be "a body with many parts…with varieties of gifts…varieties of ministries…and varieties of effects…but with the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12).

For example, we were immediately welcomed by their ushers and their greeter even before we entered into the church building. The warmth cannot be compared to that of any other church. It was different. These people were truly gifted in this area. Lezlee was one of the greeters, and it was quite difficult to make out the words she was saying, yet immediately we were engaged with her by trying to converse with her, unlike the many churches we walk into as newcomers to say a few generic "hellos" and proceed into the sanctuary.

Another gift this body posses is the gift of intercession. Every month a prayer calendar is composed and for each day of the month the church is praying together for the issue or person/people designated for that day. Much of their intercession goes out to missionaries. For example, when we visited Joy Fellowship, a missionary family, the Janzen’s, from Brazil were invited to share so that the church might support them in prayer.

They are also indeed people without fronts. There is nothing to hide, they are as authentic as can be. They are who they are and they truly come as they are, yet each are still accepted. Joy Fellowship is an accepting community that receives all types of people.

Part Two of this article
will be featured in the Fall Newsletter

 

horizontal rule

 

Outreach team Our outreach  teams visit many people,
receiving and offering music, laughter,
friendship, and the love of God.
We are thankful to God for the
opportunities we have to serve.

 

horizontal rule

 

Upcoming Events

June 20 - July 14—David Hayward Jr. and Joan Lew on missions trip to Kazakhstan. Two weeks of Bible-based ESL classes for teachers in the schools and one week spent in disability ministry. Please pray for this team.

July 3—Daytrip to the aquarium with a trainer tour of the sea lions.

July 10—Daytrip to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Ladner.

July 17—Indian Arm Luncheon Cruise.

July 29 - August 1—Summer camp at Camp Alexandra in Crescent Beach. A wonderful four days near the beach and ice-cream store. Our Bible study theme will be the names of Jesus.

August 5—Daytrip fishing at the trout farm in Mission. Everyone catches a fish.

August 11-14—Tent camping at Porpoise Bay in Sechelt, B.C. The Sunshine Coast Joy Fellowship will join us for a BBQ and games day. It was so much fun last year, we thought we'd go again.

 

If you would like to help at one of these camps or daytrips,
please call Joy at 604-263-2703 or
David at 604-251-6403.

 

horizontal rule