Ann Campanelli is a new Bezek Foundation board member. She is a gifted writer, speaker, co-ordinator, and servant of Our Lord which she does on a volunteer basis at her parish in Hamilton, Ontario.  She is married to Lorenzo, and has two wonderful sons, Giovanni and Ezra.

CALLED BY NAME
Sunday
 
As a young girl growing up on the outskirts of a small town in Ireland, I loved playing with my five siblings and many friends.  On occasion, the kitchen window would suddenly open and my mother’s voice could be heard calling:  “Yoohoo!  Ann!”  Immediately, I would go running to her.  When Mammy called, her children always responded.  “Please run up to Creegan’s (one of the local grocery shops) and get a loaf of bread and a pound of butter for this evening’s tea.” Without further ado, and with a few shillings in hand, I obeyed.  Besides the “urgent ” need for bread and butter, the foundation of my response to my mother’s call was love: I knew I loved Mammy and that Mammy loved me.
Although the word “call” can be a noun, I like to think of it as a verb, something one does, or more fundamentally, what God does.  God, first and foremost is calling us into relationship with Him.  This relationship is not based on fear, but on God’s eternal, committed and personal love for each of us.  God says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b)…..”Because you are precious in my sight, and honoured and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4a).  How awesome is the truth of God’s relationship to us.  Immersing ourselves in this reality is the only context from which God calls us to respond.
There is an interesting encounter between Jesus and Peter at the end of the Gospel of John (John 21:15-17).  It is after the resurrection.  One morning following breakfast with several disciples, Jesus pulls Peter aside and they go for a walk together.  Jesus quickly gets down to urgent business with Peter.  However, Peter, being weighed down with sin after having denied Jesus three times, is uneasy.  But Jesus allows Peter to undo his triple failure with a triple affirmation of love.  Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16a) After responding affirmatively, Peter is called to “tend” and “feed” the flock. Jesus’ call to Peter is not founded on leadership skills but on love of the Lord.  Listen to Jesus Who asks you the same question.  Don’t overlook the human dynamic at work when Jesus asks Peter the same question a third time.  Peter feels “hurt”, but finally acknowledges that Jesus knows “everything”- his failure and his love. Is Jesus not reminding you that knowledge of our own sinfulness does not hinder the call to a sincere love of Him Who is ever merciful?  Peter listened and responded to Jesus’ call.  Can you hear and respond like Peter?  
Finally, the name Jesus uses when addressing Peter is noteworthy:  “Simon, Son of John”.  Why not just Simon?  This is deliberate.  Jesus is being very specific to whom he is speaking.  He is also very specific when he addresses and calls you.  In prayer, listen to Jesus who names you and calls you.  
Three Questions upon which to reflect:
(Your name), do you know that you are precious in my sight and that I love you?  
(Your name), are you aware that I know everything about you?  
(Your name), do you love me?
 
Final Prayer:  Jesus, you know everything about me and love me as your precious child.  Help me to know this in the depths of my being and to respond lovingly and confidently each day to your call. 

A wonderful letter arrived in Daniel’s mailbox recently, from  west coast artist friend Gerrit Verstraete, who was closely connected with Rev. Warren and his ministry.

“Dear Daniel,

Greetings from “the coast,” and yes, we’re still on Gabriola Island…

I know, I know, it’s been a long time.

I had begun reading (again) a book of your father and came upon the website for Bezek.

When I turned 65, I took a six year sabbatical from the studio to pursue graduate studies. The journey greatly inspired me to awaken my inner voice as a writer (fiction, non-fiction, epic poetry).

I have in the meantime completed my Doctoral degree and adapted my dissertation into book form.

It is published as “The First and Last Kingdom: Rediscovering the Purpose of Our Existence.”

The book is dedicated to your father and his impact on my life is mentioned in the book as well.”

I have asked Gerrit to expand on his reasons for dedicating his new book (congratulations BTW!) to Reverend Warren.  Below is what he wrote.  Thank you Gerrit, and we hope you, our reader, enjoy this beautiful reflection.  We have also included information on how to order Gerrit’s new book as well.

 

Bernard Warrena strand in a strong cord

September 4, 2016

By Gerrit Verstraete

 

In my book The First and Last Kingdom: Rediscovering the Purpose of Our Existence which I dedicated to Rev. Bernard Warren as my spiritual father, I wrote about a cord of three strands. This cord of three strands is a metaphor of lived-experience concerning three people who were integral to my growth in faith. They were author Jamie Buckingham, counselor and teacher Bernard Warren, and the artist and poet Michelangelo. There were others of course, but these three men were of special significance. Of these, Bernard Warren, or “Bern” as we affectionately called him, I remember as one who gave evidence of a profoundly genuine pursuit of a disciplined ear with which to listen to the leading of the Spirit of God in order to embrace Divine governance into every aspect of life. And he did so with love and kindness and an incredible patience. For Bernard Warren, governance was a profound sense and practice of servanthood. He was willing to be governed and he was willing to listen to others in order to learn and hear what the Spirit was saying to the church. He never stepped on a smouldering candle or trampled on bruised reeds among the people he served. He did not fear failure nor was he shy about disappointment. He had a caring heart, listening ears, and an open door. Significant is that his servanthood taught me about patience with the family of God, acceptance of others, and compassion for those whom God had given me to disciple. Significant is that God’s kingdom also governed all his life. To this day, his example continues to inspire me. And who can forget his profoundly detailed teachings (at least ten points in every message he preached – seven more than the average three-point sermon), as well as his sensitive writings, and his loving way of dealing with people in need and in crisis.

He said: “Teaching can only go so far. Counseling has limited value. It is only as God reveals Himself that light comes. We cannot force a truth on people with our words. Neither should we apply ungodly persuasion in an attempt to have them make even what we think is a right decision.” Halso advised my wife Alice and I “never to neglect the teaching of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Bernard Warren was the embodiment of living a life of trust in submission to the governance of God’s kingdom. He was a man of integrity and trustworthiness. He gave me many opportunities to speak at Bezek’s well-known Friday Nights. He introduced me to his son Stephen, a fellow artist. Bernard taught at our ministry’s Holy Spirit Conferences. But above all, he was a good mentor who showed me the walk was more important than the talk. And I was a prolific talker. His encouragement pointed me to the way of touching people’s lives, not by words alone, but by action.

Bernard Warren stated simply and succinctly, “the Kingdom of God is life lived under God’s gracious rule.” He made no apology for his own weaknesses, yet he enjoyed a sustained ministry of tending to the needs of hurting people. He experienced miracles and joy knowing that the medicine chest of God is an abundant source of wellbeing. He was a practitioner of doing.

His footsteps were a clear affirmation of my personal journey of faith, ministry and creativity, the essence of which is an interaction of hearing, believing, inspection,and doing. The outcome of Bernard Warren’s servanthood in my life was a deeper experience of devotion, kindness, and gentleness, as additional foundation stones of a faith-filled life. Bernard Warren encouraged and equipped the teacher and mentor in me.

 

Gerrit Verstraete is an artist, author, and mentor. He and his wife Alice live on Gabriola Island, BC, where they pastor the Church On The Rock and manage The Hope Centre, the island’s family resource centre. Details at  www.veaministries.yolasite.com

 

It has been 6 years since the passing of Rev. Bernard Warren, in November 2009, but his ministry and books have helped and continue to help Christians seeking guidance, across this continent. An email came into my husband’s usually too full mailbox:
I would be interested in purchasing some of your Dad’s books. Are they still available? What titles are there? I have a few, but i know there are some I am missing. I would like to send them to a friend who used to attend Bezek, and was greatly influenced by your dad’s ministry.

So, this “friend who was greatly influenced” by Bern’s ministry lives in Calgary. We know there are many more people like this woman who would like to be under the “teaching” of Rev. Warren still.  During the summer of 2015, we decided to mail out packages of all the remaining printed books of the Bezek Ministry, to Ontario churches, to be included in their libraries.  We did get a few thank you’s in return, but that was not our purpose in mailing the books. We know that these teachings helped guide people in the path of truth and light.  Most of the printed books are gone; we do have some copies of The Trumpets of Heaven, Medicines of God and Principled Leadership. But don’t fret: starting in the spring of 2016, all printed books will be converted to ebooks and available on this website. As well, three unpublished books at the time of Rev. Warren’s passing will be available in ebook format, also available through the website.