Ministry Update from WRF member Michael de Coteau in Tobago
Greetings brethren, in the precious name of our sovereign King,
As you would already know I have been involved in the work of Church planting in Tobago and for a long time worked in isolation from any organised entity.
In my last update I alerted you to the fact that I was trying to make contact with others who could help in establishing a Reformed work on this island and my search led me to a Pastor in Trinidad who advised me to bring my ministry under his guidance and oversight. The Church he gave oversight to, though not at the time in association with any other, had drafted up a constitution to establish The Association of Reformed Bible Churches in Trinidad and Tobago, and it was this association that we were invited to join. We did join but (without undermining the good intentions expressed) the association proved unfeasible and unfruitful. I shared my concerns with the Pastor and, his resources being too limited to support a Church plant outside the realm of his jurisdiction, I was forced (not by him and not without trying to make other contacts) to reconsider my calling in this vocation.
As men of more experience I am sure that you are well aware of all the challenges that I would have faced in trying to accomplish such a grand task. The challenges did prove to be too great for me considering the situation I was in and so as a result I decided to put the work on hold until there could be a better foundation for me to build on.
There were some necessary changes to be made and the first was for me to seek employment in order to better provide for my family; God has graciously answered prayer in this area and now I have committed myself to a full time job. The other concern of mine was the spiritual growth of my family and at the advice of the Pastor referred to above we saw it fit to visit an evangelical Baptist Church on the island even though we knew fully well that it was not reformed. The Pastor in Trinidad knew the Pastor here as they both attended the same Bible College in the initial part of their ministries. We were alerted to the fact that the Pastor here travelled every year for six months to be with his wife who lives in the U.S.A. and that the Church might need some help.
We visited regularly for a few weeks with no motive other than to be spiritually fed and during this time we had no formal conversation with the Pastor. I set out one Sunday determined to talk to him, just so that I could share a little about my family and our brief history in the ministry. He was ecstatic because he saw immediately that I could be the one to give him the assistance in the Church that he had been so long praying for. We spoke again the following Sunday and he was convinced that I was the answer to his prayer.
His Church building is designed in such a way that he lives upstairs and annexed to the sanctuary downstairs is an apartment that he offered to rent us for less than half of the rent that we were then paying. The reason for him doing that was so that we could be somewhat eased of a financial burden and also that we could be right on site when he left to take charge of the Church.
We were ecstatic! Just as he was convinced that we were an answer to his prayer, we praised God for answering ours in giving us the opportunity to do ministry in Tobago and to work towards seeing a reformation take place, not only in this Church, but in the island(s) at large.
Presently we are just about settled in our new home and I lead the worship services on Lord's Day mornings and Thursday evening Bible studies, ministering God's word to a small remnant. The Pastor has been in the U.S.A. since mid August and the people here have accepted me in his stead in good spirits and are confident that the Church will be strengthened through my ministry as I fill in for him in his leave.
I haven't spoken to the Pastor much about doctrine, neither has he asked, his only concern is that I preach the Bible which, with God's help, is what I intend to do.
Please pray for us in this new and extra-ordinary endeavour, that God will give us a good working relationship and that the greater cause of His Kingdom will come first despite doctrinal differences that we might have.
Sincerely and respectfully yours in Christ,
Michael de Coteau.