My name is Andrew Eby and with my wife Molly and our 2 daughters Lucy and Ruby, we serve at North Peace MB Church in Fort St. John, BC. We served for 8 years in Maple Ridge doing youth ministry but, in the Spring of 2014, we felt a stirring from God to move on and pursue a Lead role. We were put in touch with North Peace, but at first look said “No!” There was no way we were moving 15 hours north to a small rural town.
But God was warming our hearts to the idea.
We agreed to a Skype interview and then a week long candidating process. As we boarded the plane, my wife and I had 2 conditions to saying yes to this church: God had to make us fall in love with the town and the church, and we both had to be on the same page. Halfway through the week of candidating we looked at each other and said: “I think I love it up here.” We accepted a call to the Lead Pastor role and in September 2014 we moved to Fort St. John.
The church was around the 200-person size when we moved in September. They had been through some hard times as a church, losing 4 pastors in one year, and had gone through a process of healing and rebuilding trust. The congregation was excited to move forward and to see what God had in store for us a church. The elders and I prayed and began to seek God on what our mission and vision should be as a church.
In the Summer/Fall of 2015 we rolled out a new vision.
Our mission was to glorify God and make disciples, and the vision was to be a multiplying church. We wanted to see our life group ministry multiply, we wanted to go to multiple services, we wanted to train up and send out vocational missionaries and we wanted to plant churches. The goal of multiplication was to reach lost people and make disciples. Fort St. John is made up of 28,000 people who live right in town or in some of the neighbouring smaller communities, and the vast majority of them do not know Jesus. We saw our church planting churches in the Fort St. John area to bring the gospel to people. We rolled out this new vision to the church and there was excitement and nervousness. The church had been in maintenance mode for a while and this vision was big and outside of anyone’s comfort zone. But, in the midst of nervousness and questioning, there was a sense of excitement that we were moving forward as a church and had a desire to reach lost people and disciple them. In October 2015 we launched 2 services. This was the first step in getting people comfortable multiplying.
If I’m honest, this was hard for a lot of people in our church. Theirs was a small rural church mindset where everybody knows each other’s names and we are our own big happy family. But God was blessing our church and we were seeing growth and we needed to multiply. The amazing thing is that when we launched 2 services we immediately saw growth! Giving people more options for service times allowed people more flexibility to attend, and we even saw new families and lost families able to connect because of 2 services.
We have been at 2 services now for two and half years and we have seen God do incredible things in that time. We’ve seen lost people saved. We’ve seen Mormons, Buddhists and Hindus come to check out the church. And we’ve seen God grow our church by almost double. Praise Jesus! He is the one who changes people’s hearts and grows His church.
In the fall of 2016, we began to pray and ask God where we could multiply next to see more lost people come to know Him and to disciple them. 10 minutes outside of Fort St. John, a hydro dam is being built on the Peace River. This is a 10-year project with a 2000-man camp built to house the workers. We began to pray and dream what it would be like to reach out to those workers living in the camp. After phone calls and emails and meetings, the managers of the camp asked if we would start a church service on Saturday nights, down at the dam. They would provide the room to meet in, access cards to get through security, and whatever else we would need. God was opening doors for us. Since December of 2016 we have sent a team down every Saturday to walk around and visit with people, to build friendships with the workers down there and to invite them to a discovery Bible study. In the year and a half that we’ve been going down to the dam, we have seen God move in cool ways.
It hasn’t been what we envisioned (hundreds of people attending and the spiritual room being packed) but we have made connections with 40-50 people who we were able to share the gospel with and build relationships with. Many of these people were not followers of Jesus but were curious about Him and about what the Bible said.
In November of 2017 our elders met to pray and seek God in what was next for our vision of multiplication. It is really easy to sit and talk and say “One day we will plant a church…” without ever putting that vision in motion. We prayed and fasted and discussed what planting a church in Fort St. John would look like. God laid it on our hearts to pursue planting a campus in the southeast part of town. This is a part of town that is seeing growth and yet there is only 1 church in that entire part of town.
As a church, we are looking at launching a campus at Easter 2020. Building up to that launch date, we are hoping to hire a Campus Pastor and a part time Worship Director. We are looking to build teams and start life groups in those neighbourhoods to begin to reach lost people. We are hoping to train a team of people in evangelism and discipleship who can work alongside the Campus Pastor to reach that part of Fort St. John. Right now, we are in the planning and discussing phase as a church. There is a lot of excitement, but also fear. It somehow feels much more real when you begin to take next steps that have a date attached to them and money in the budget. But so far, we have seen a desire from our congregation to be on mission and take risks for the kingdom of God.
Throughout our whole journey in Fort St. John, we have seen the faithfulness of God and his love of multiplication. Every time we have taken a step of faith in multiplying ourselves, God has been faithful.
It might not look exactly like how we thought it would, or like how the church down the road is doing it, but God loves lost people and wants to see them saved and discipled. As a church, we are passionate about multiplication and are excited to see how God is going to reach Northern BC for his glory and honour!
Favorite Book: anything by Tim Keller
Favorite Movie: The Jungle Book (cartoon version)