Sunday, October 11 — Aylmer, Ont. — As I pulled into the Church of God in Aylmer, I wasn’t sure what to expect at a church service there — especially during this “pandemic.” What I found was a congregation eager to welcome us, and eager to serve.
We were ushered in by volunteers that showed us where to park. We decided to sit on the benches that were set up outside in the parking lot instead of staying in the car – a bit to much to ask with three small children in the car. I was shocked when, less then three minutes after sitting down, someone from the church came up and offered a blanket to my little girl — they had noticed she was cold before I did! I took it and thanked the man, and settled in for the service.
As the service began, I found myself thinking back to my days growing up, and the various churches I had attended. I thought of how refreshing I found it, not to only hear the beautiful voices, but from people who believed the words they were singing. As the singing wrapped up, it was time for Pastor Hildebrandt to take the impromptu stage that has been created to host these parking lot church services.
The passion and respect the congregation holds for this man became very evident as he took to the pulpit. The choir that sat behind the stage now began to overflow with passion as their pastor took the stage. As Pastor Hildebrandt spoke to the congregation, many members could be heard loudly agreeing with what their pastor had to say, jeering out in agreeance. He spoke about the lockdowns, he spoke about COVID, he spoke about the lies that the government has been telling people and most importantly he spoke about God.
I asked volunteers from his congregation,
“What does it mean to you personally, to have a pastor that is standing on the word of God, and performing more than just lip service, but actually standing on the word of God.”
One volunteer who helps lead the worship team responded by saying,
“When I came to a realization that I needed to be a Christian, then In my heart I want to be a real Christian. Not just you know I Love Jesus.” — I chimed in “not superficial”. — He continued, “now to have a pastor like this, who takes what we heard, say what we heard this morning — some bold preaching that helps me be a real Christian.”
I asked “do you feel like his boldness makes it easier for you to stand up in your own life?” — “Absolutely, to have a leader that will stand, a leader that lead’s like this — absolutely.”
I then asked a more pointed question about why they think churches like to cite Romans 13 which says: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” The responses I received are quite different to what many pastors would say today.
“Read what Jesus did in the Gospels, see how he overturned the tables, and how he stood up to the religious leaders of his day.” Then someone else continued the thought: “Read about Daniel and the three Hebrew children, they could’ve bowed down to the image, taken a knee and still said we will pray to our God but outwardly bow down, but they stood up against the false image.”
Another comment caught me off guard, “young men especially want to do something with their whole heart. I think that’s why you see so few in churches these days. There’s no leadership that stands for anything.”
I also asked if they thought God was describing Canada when they talked about the “dead churches” — that is churches that were lukewarm, and not really committed to God. “You look at what people did three four hundred years ago, what they stood for and there’s pastors and Christian’s in town that would never stand for that anymore — they wouldn’t die for their faith.” This is inline with Pastor Hildebrandt’s message where he says; “If my faith is not worth living for, it is not worth dying for.”
Overall, it was refreshing to be around people who genuinely believed, and practiced what they said they believed — a rarity among many who claim to be “Christian” today.
After the service, we were approached by many in the congregation who sought to get to know us and our little family better. Everyone was very kind and within two or three minutes of chatting, my whole family had been invited over for lunch at one of the members homes. I politely declined as I had golf plans with my brother shortly after the service. I quickly chatted with Pastor Hildebrandt who asked,
“Has someone invited you for lunch?” I told him I had already been invited and thanked him and his Church congregation for their kindness.
It was good to feel human again, to sing with others again, and even go to Church again.
I appreciate people of integrity and character — and that’s why I appreciate Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and call him “Canada’s Pastor”.