Letters from the Seven Churches to British Columbia

| |

Despite a postal strike in Canada, members of Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey, British Columbia, still got mail.

 Their letters, written 2,000 years ago, were originally addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor, in the book of Revelation. Rev. Albert Westerhuis, Fleetwood’s pastor, read each letter from the ruins of the original church to which it was written. As the video began to roll with a familiar face and voice from an ancient, unfamiliar site, the congregation listened.

“This idea was on my mind for a long time,” said Westerhuis, “to visit the churches of Asia Minor and preach a series on it when I returned.”

Westerhuis traveled to Turkey this past spring with his wife and videographer, Luanne.

For Westerhuis, visiting the cities and studying the letters in their historical and cultural context gave him a deeper understanding of the power of God’s Word. “The world in which the apostle John found himself was cosmopolitan, multicultural, and multi-faith. It is amazing to see how the Christian church took root in that complex society, as well as to learn how each community struggled with its own circumstances,” he said.

On their self-directed tour of the seven church sites, the Westerhuis’s used an iPad to document their research, store their itinerary, and collect archeological information.

“As we studied the passage in its setting and context and tried to find connections with our church today, I noticed that all the different issues raised are relevant [today] in one way or another,” Rev. Westerhuis said. “Artemis’ temples may be not so much different from our malls. It all comes down to the question, what or who do we really worship?”

“One of my greatest joys was incorporating photos and videos of the sites into the sermon,” Westerhuis said. “How much better can it be when you can combine your interests with your work as a pastor?”

About the Author

Jenny deGroot is a freelance media review and news writer for The Banner. She lives on Swallowfield Farm near Fort Langley B.C. with her husband, Dennis. Before retirement she worked as a teacher librarian and assistant principal. 

See comments (7)


Very creative! Very cool!

Albert--I'm glad you have had this dream and now the opportunity to make this visit and prepare for your sermons on the subject. It's a good dream. However, I suspect that if I were to visit Turkey and those ancient places, a dominant note in my heart would not be joy but sadness and dismay at how those churches eventually were uprooted in the later Muslim context. I hope you will have something to say about that as well to your congregation. If your sermons are recorded and available, I would probably like to hear them.

Revelations always felt out of touch and very mystical to me, and it is. Albert brought context, life and relevence to a passage that was written for churches all struggling with the same things we struggle with here. Thank you Albert, your gift of enlightenment for our church in Surrey is very much appreciated.

I couldn't help but get a tingly feeling listening to Albert read the letters to the seven churches from the book of Revelations. Albert's voice seemed to reach back in time to the first readings. The sermons were comforting (shared struggles) yet the video was a grim reminder of what is left of those churches. Great series!

The best part of the series of Albert's sermons was listening to the letters of John to the seven churches directly from the ruins of those churches and then realizing how much relevance those letters still have in our life in 2011! God's Word is alive through the centuries!

It was amazing how apostle John's ancient letters to the churches in Asia Minor became relevant to our society today the way Albert exposed and explained them in such a creative way. Each Sunday we were challenged anew in what the Spirit says to the churches. Thank you, Albert!

Is the series Letters of the Seven churches to British Columbia by Albert Westerhuis available for purchase