On Thursday, January 17, my daughter Esther (who works in our bookstore), her boyfriend James Engelsma, and I headed for Ontario for a weekend of ministry, with 30 boxes of books on board, weighing down the back end of the van. Included among the books was a brand new title, Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans, which I coauthored with Terry Slachter. We got off to a late start due to van problems, but made it on time that evening to the Covenant Christian Church of Wyoming, Ontario, where I gave an address on “The Biblical Model of Marriage and Child-rearing.” About 200 people attended from several URC churches in the area. Esther and James helped me sell about seven boxes of books after the meeting.
We then drove on to Hamilton, Ontario, late that night, but ran into a white-out blizzard near Brantford. For twenty minutes I could not see the highway, nor the traffic in front of us or behind us. I crawled along at 15 miles per hour, relying primarily on signs on either side of the highway. It was very scary; earnest prayer went up from our vehicle during those minutes, as well as much thanksgiving after we made it through the worst part of the blizzard. We finally arrived at the home of our friends Connor and Susan Keuning at 1:00 a.m.
That morning we left an hour early for a conference commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, being put on by the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. Somehow all three of us missed a turn-off on the highway, and we ended up getting lost. By the time we arrived at the conference venue (9:25 a.m.), we had not only lost the half hour we thought we would have to set up the book table, but I was also ten minutes late for the opening session of the conference. When we arrived, the 300 attendees were singing, waiting for me, so I went straight to the pulpit. Despite feeling frazzled by the embarrassingly late arrival, I felt helped in delivering my lecture on “Catechism Preaching.” Other major addresses included “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Heidelberg Catechism” (Dr. Lyle Bierma), “The Heidelberg Catechism: The Secret of its Success” (Dr. Herman Selderhuis), and “The Comforted I in the Catechism” (Dr. Jason VanVliet). Workshops included studies of the catechism in relation to evangelism, the pulpit, future generations, and the church-home-school.
Late Friday afternoon, James, Esther, and I packed up most of the remaining books (the rest stayed behind with Michael Dewalt, a PRTS alumni, who looked after the book table for the remainder of the conference), and drove on to Zion Free Reformed Church, Fenwick, Ontario, where I spoke that evening to 250 young people on following God fully. The young people were great; seldom have I spoken to such an attentive audience. There seemed to be an unusual amount of conviction; I pray that divine benediction will follow this talk and bear eternal fruit. Afterward, the young people surrounded the book table, buying up all thirty of the remaining copies of A Puritan Theology, and scores of additional books. We didn’t even have time to write up invoices, as the crowd around the table was just too intense. Between the three venues, we sold close to $7,000 worth of books, and returned home with only three boxes of the thirty boxes of books we had brought with us. Pray that these books will be read, and that God will bless them richly to many.