Good Shepherd Christian Reformed Church, a small Korean congregation in Surrey, B.C., used a grant from Pastor Church Resources* to help its congregation better understand God’s message of salvation in the book of Exodus.
Receiving the grant helped the struggling congregation come together and played a role in enhancing their faith, said Young Man Kwon, pastor of Good Shepherd.
“I am very proud that we were able to launch this Bible study in my church. . . . I really appreciate the support and praise God for his grace.”
Good Shepherd was formally started on June 28, 2009, with support from Fleetwood CRC in Surrey, and from Classis B.C. South-East. Its members are mostly Korean immigrants who have a background in the Presbyterian church, and they gather at the Fleetwood CRC building, said Kwon.
As the church started experiencing a series of ups and downs in recent years, Kwon began to pray, asking God what the church could do to create more stability. In the process, he learned of support available to small congregations from the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He applied in June 2018 for a grant to Pastor Church Resources, and his Bible-study proposal was accepted.
In his proposal, Kwon said that he was planning to set up a “one-to-one Bible study led by lay leaders.”
“I needed some books, lecturers on small group ministry, and retreats for attendants, and the grant covered all of that,” said Kwon.
His overall goal was to teach lay leaders to share with the congregation how God brought the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the promised land, and to apply lessons from Scripture to their current lives.
“After receiving the grant, for 14 weeks I led two groups, which 10 people attended — and three of them volunteered to be leaders,” he said.
This was what he had hoped for, but Kwon pointed out that there were still challenges. One person had quit the Bible study partway through, and some participants had different ideas about the way the groups should function.
“Thankfully,” said the pastor, “God helped us go through those hardships.”
Although his goal had been for participants in this initial class to start one-on-one Bible study with others, group members had other ideas.
“One deacon, Sam Yoo, decided to lead the same Bible study for his family members, and two female leaders wanted to work together to lead a group consisting of women members. It was not a one-to-one system, but still a group led by laypersons,” said Kwon.
As Sam Yoo began to teach the course to his family, Kwon met with them and explained the course to help them. He also met with the two female leaders — Kim Eun Kyung and Lee Jimyung.
In meeting with the groups, he said, “I came to know many new things. It was a good opportunity for me to understand [church members and their thoughts] better. We all got closer.”
He also “found that the Bible study really built up the faith of the members,” he said.
One older woman who participated in the study said, “I really did not know there is a deep message of God’s salvation plan in Exodus.”
One deacon said, “I am so impressed with the fact that both the structure of the sanctuary and Exodus as a whole show the same message: God’s salvation plan.”
Some other group members said they appreciated the chance to become better friends, and they are looking forward to the next course.
At the end of the first session this spring, Kwon held a dinner at which members of the Bible study shared what they had learned.
“All of the members appreciated this opportunity to learn from the Bible and to have fellowship with each other,” he said.
“We came to set up the project because our members are not equipped to be lay leaders and they were too shy [to do that]. But that is changing. We praise God and pray for the next session this fall.”
*Good Shepherd received a Sustaining Congregational Excellence Grant. This grant program is now concluded, but Ignite, which funds innovative ministry in the CRC, is available to continue to help small congregations grow and flourish.