Rejoicing in the ministry of others: John Bell and his ministry in Toronto's gay village

One of the most poignant historical reflections that I have ever heard came from a dear friend named Bob Shaker, literary enthusiast extraordinaire and a one-time deacon of Jarvis Street Baptist Church. Bob happened to visit his pastor, T.T. Shields—who, though married twice, never had any physical children—in 1949, when many of those whom Shields had mentored and taught—great future Canadian Baptist leaders like Jack Scott, Hal MacBain, Arnold Dallimore, and Tom Carson (D.A. Carson’s father)—took a different ecclesiological position than Shields and a cleavage occurred between Shields and them. Without a doubt Shields contributed to the resulting division between these brothers in Christ, but he told Shaker sadly, “All of my children are leaving me.” How utterly sad! On the flip side, though, there are those words of the aged Apostle John in 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” It was with these Johannine words ringing in my ears that I read the following post by Baptist pastor John Bell, whom I have had the incredible privilege of teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary (though I would never presume to think of Pastor Bell as a son in Christ--but I was so encouraged to read this): “Sharing the Gospel in the Gay Village” on Tim Challies’ blog.