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The group that God built

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For a quarter century, Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship in Coquitlam, B.C., operated out of a gym, so being turned down for a mortgage to build a new sanctuary in 2004 was a major disappointment. The dream they had cherished since 2001 seemed impossible.

Now, in 2008, they realize they weren’t ready. God was building his church, starting first with its people, and that can take a while. After a four-year journey of faith, God finally blessed them with a new facility.

With a membership close to 300, Eagle Ridge is located in a suburb that has started to change. Now new families – some of them Koreans, Chinese, and Persians – rub shoulders with homeless people and long-established Coquitlam families.

In late 2005, one of those couples, now older and financially blessed, issued a challenge to Eagle Ridge. If the congregation truly believed God wanted them to add to their church, the couple would give $150,000 in cash, but only with a dollar-for-dollar match from the congregation. Within the year, members were amazed to see the full $300,000 come in. With the downpayment, they once again could apply to the conference for a mortgage.

“Everyone felt this was what God was calling us to do. It was a step of faith,” said Pastor Doug Monkemeier. Their mortgage was approved by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, but they still needed $150,000 to begin construction on the sanctuary. So there was more prayer, more soul-searching. Before the end of 2007, they received the full amount – in cash, not pledges!
“It’s important,” said a recent immigrant woman, “that everyone give to the best of their ability – and beyond.” She didn’t have much, but gave sacrificially. That attitude, which permeated the congregation at Eagle Ridge, left Al Thiessen of the Canadian conference’s Stewardship Ministries in awe. “It is the most generous congregation, but it was something that God taught them,” he says. “God has brought them there.”

God continued to work. Eagle Ridge gave generously to a Colombia mission, ran a thriving youth program, and lent out their facilities to other groups free of charge. They decided to help the homeless (see article “Gym does doublt duty on Sunday“).

Construction was another learning process. Many volunteers helped to build. The contractor encouraged good initial planning. “Changes cost money,” says Monkemeier, “so plan carefully at the start.”

The bottom line? “We see our building as a resource,” says the pastor. “We want to use it to achieve our three goals: to show love, to share hope (through the gospel), and to strengthen faith.”
It’s no surprise that the dedication service for the sanctuary was marked by jubilant worship.

Barrie McMaster

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