by Mark Penninga
In our weekly staff call this Monday morning, I read from 1 Corinthians 3:11-13:
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”
As we look into a new year with hopes, plans, and maybe also some anxiety or fear, we do well to remember that we have a firm foundation to build upon. Christ’s work is steadfast and solid. We have the privilege of building upon it. And our work isn’t going to be in vain, even if this world will one day be destroyed. The day is coming when our work will be revealed for what it truly is. “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward” (3:14).
Yes, there is much work to be done in Canada in 2019. ARPA’s board and staff has been planning for this year for months and years already. We are entering the third year of a three-year strategic plan and are so grateful that God has blessed this work abundantly, so that we have already exceeded some of the key organizational goals for these three years. Many of you have made this possible. We are overwhelmed by the support we receive from you, through your volunteering, prayer, and finances. Speaking just of the finances, your giving this year amazed and humbled us, covering all of our expenses from 2018, even with a budget of an astounding $1.2 Million. We sincerely thank you for the stability and drive this gives us, allowing us to keep our focus on executing our mission.
At our recent face-to-face board meetings in Ottawa, our board approved a draft budget for 2019 that is close to $1.4 Million. We are taking another big step because of the support you have already shown, as well as the continued need for faithful Christian political and legal action in Canada.
Some of the expansion, Lord willing, that will be part of 2019 includes:
- Increasing the size of the Assistant to ARPA’s Director of Advocacy position from half-time to full-time;
- Adding a new full-time BC Manager who, like the Alberta Manager, will be responsible for both engaging with the provincial government and mobilizing Reformed Christians in BC to political action;
- Expanding our Fraser Valley office so that it has space for our Director of Advocacy (Mike), full-time assistant (Elyse Vroom), Webmaster (Daniel Kanis), Research Analyst and Editor (Anna Nienhuis), and the new BC Manager;
- Contributing in a significant way to some large projects to speak up for pre-born life, in partnership with other pro-life organizations.
Alongside this expansion, we have many other things on the go. Next month already we are looking forward to our second God & Government Youth conference. We have gone through the difficult task of narrowing down all the applications and selecting 34 students from Grade 11 and 12 classes across Canada. These students are now working on booking meetings with MPs and Senators and preparing for those meetings. The conference will include three days of training in current issues, meetings with government officials, Parliament tours, and street activism.
Many in this country are closely following the challenges that the Christian schools in Alberta are experiencing. We are awaiting court decisions that will affect how we move forward on this issue. We will also be carefully watching the provincial election that Alberta will be going into this spring, as the outcome will likely have a big impact on Christian parents and schools.
Though ARPA is non-partisan, we will also be following the federal election being planned for October. Through our local chapters, we hope to assist with all-candidates forums or questionnaires to ensure information is accessible to our supporters to assist them in making an informed decision.
Prior to that federal election, you will see us on fall tour again! This year we hope to split into three separate teams, so the tour will be more condensed for our staff and you may get to see some new faces presenting.
Of course, most of our work lies between these events, in the day-to-day meetings, researching, writing, lobbying, newsletters, and much more, as we seek to educate, equip, and encourage you on a host of issues in the Canadian public square. Our hope is that, together with you, we can do all this work grounded in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is only when we build on His firm foundation that we can produce work that glorifies God, and serves His people, beginning now and extending into eternity.