God's Seven Year Plan
Port Hardy Baptist Church
“And the people were full of a sense of celebration—all that giving! And all given willingly, freely!”1 Chronicles 9:29 (MSG)
It’s a pretty momentous occasion when a church gets to host a celebration that includes guests from around the Province, their own congregation, the local community and the other side of the country! This wasn’t just any celebration, it was a two-day event to mark the achievement of a vision cast over seven years earlier. Never could they imagine the path God would take them on to get to this time. Those two days of celebration took place on November 10-11, 2018 in a small community on Vancouver Island’s northeastern coast. Port Hardy is described on one website as being “resilient” and this is certainly true of all the people who jumped in to support the vision of Port Hardy Baptist Church. This is the story of their journey and the reason for this two-day event.
Eight years ago, under the leadership of Kevin Martineau (Lauren), the church underwent a consultation with Fellowship Pacific that resulted in a new vision to minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical and social needs of their community. It became quite clear that their existing building was not sufficient to grow a church. Andy Faber, a long-time leader in the church, spent countless hours working out a plan for a new building, well aware that the church did not have the financial means to take on such a project. He convinced the church that their only choice was to seek volunteer labour, a daunting task as they needed to find engineers, labourers, a construction foreman and many more individuals.
It was about this time that the Martineaus met Peter and Sandy Rabey at a regional convention where they were paired up as prayer partners. Peter was pastoring at Courtenay Baptist and he and Sandy would spend part of their summers fishing at the northern end of the island. The four became fast friends and had discussions about the building project. Courtenay Baptist sent work crews over several years to help with framing, dry-walling, electrical work and plumbing.
Through a lot of prayer and set-backs, Port Hardy Baptist continued on, blessed with construction labour from other Fellowship churches in Campbell River and Port McNeill. Many organizations from the community and beyond donated concrete, free services and equipment. Finally, as a gesture of partnership, Courtenay Baptist raised funds for an awning at the entrance of the building – their congregation gave $19,000!
The partnership with Courtenay Baptist continued on and in 2016, Peter Rabey retired as their pastor. Sadly, Kevin Martineau had to resign from Port Hardy Baptist due to health issues. Peter was asked to preach on numerous occasions and in 2018, he became the Interim Pastor. Peter says the “people were worn out, exhausted and discouraged and we had the privilege to see them get into the new facility, and then see a new spark of vitality restored with growing excitement.”
This story is so much more than just a building project. Mary Giesbrecht talked about the incredible relationships and true friendships they have built with people from their sister Fellowship churches. People like Dan from Courtenay who would show up over and over with workers, equipment and food from his garden for everyone to enjoy. Don, a retired carpenter from Port McNeil came faithfully, often on his own or with his wife, to “tackle the elephant one bite at a time.” Eric from Campbell River came to preach at Port Hardy during times they did not have a pastor. He also built all the cabinetry for the entire church building! Mary says there are hundreds more similar stories.
Port Hardy Baptist is extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support they received over those seven years. It was an exciting time last summer when they moved into the new facility that was completely built by volunteers! And on November 10-11, it was time for a celebration, a dedication and grand opening, a time to recognize and thank everyone who pitched in, and to give thanks and praise to God for sustaining them through tough times. More than 100 people attended those two days of celebrations. Mary Giesbrecht says there were times over those years when they wondered why it was taking so long for them to find a pastor. God’s timing was perfect of course. He took care of that too – at the same time. The church recently welcomed new Pastor Tim (and Margie) Viers. In Mary’s words “God has been leading us all along, teaching us and growing us, and we eagerly await to see what’s next!”