When I was a young boy I used to listen with amazement to the stories of people who had lived lives of faith in the truth of the Bible and the Good News it conveyed. They spoke of faith-prompted adventures that sounded like some of the things you read about in the Bible. I envied their experience often wondering how things would unfold in my own life as I ventured out on the same path of faith and obedience.
So now that the largest part of my life has passed, I look back on where I have been and what I have done, and can’t help but be overwhelmed with a wonderful sense of thanksgiving and satisfaction about my own experience of this life of faith. It truly has been an adventure! Though I haven’t always tracked well, to the extent that I did understand and follow, life has become very full and meaningful.
I count it a great blessing that I was born to parents who took faith in the Bible and Jesus Christ very seriously. Beginners themselves, they too were learning what it meant to follow God even when it didn’t always seem to make sense from a human point-of-view. They took great pains to pass on the essential nature of the faith to my brothers and me by their specific instruction and by their consistent example. Early in our lives they led us to understand what it meant to trust in Christ in a very personal and intimate way. Under their guidance we were introduced to people in the church whose friendship did much ultimately to inform our own values.
It was a bonus for me to be introduced to the community of a good church in Vancouver when I was still in high school. Through the church I found good friends and because of that connection, one summer, ended up at a ranch camp that also significantly informed my spiritual journey. A six-week “leadership training program” introduced me to a Christian student movement called, the Navigators. Through them, I learned the basics of faith and obedience in the truths of the Bible as well as the importance and means of sharing my faith with others. This association also led me to become a student at UBC in Vancouver. Through interactions with class-mates and others my faith was both tested and ultimately strengthened.
It was during this time that I decided to follow an earlier sense of call to full-time Christian service by going to a Bible College of our church denomination in Regina, Saskatchewan. Through study and friendship there that first year my faith grew even deeper. After that first year I decided to finish my undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina before going on for further theological study and Christian ministry preparation. My two years at the U of S enriched my life in many ways. By majoring in Sociology I learned a lot about the relevance of faith to culture. I also learned about leadership through involvement in a student organization called, Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship. And I met the beautiful lady who became my wife.
After my very positive university experience in Regina, I still had a couple of years of theological education to complete at the Canadian Theological Seminary, also in Regina. My heart and mind were stretched by this time of study toward the completion of an Master of Divinity degree. It was also during that time that a faculty member became a close friend and initiated the idea of having me serve as a youth pastor in a church right there in Regina. That experience provided me with more practical tools of what it meant to serve as a pastor which became my life-long work.
From Regina, Carolyn and I went on to North Battleford, Saskatchewan so that I could serve as the pastor of the Alliance Church in that city. The eight years we served there turned out to be one of the greatest times of our lives. While we struggled a bit during those years to find our identity as a couple, by God’s grace we also saw an increase in the size and the completion of a new church building. Those years also brought our four wonderful children into our lives. Our lives were full. God was good!
The next chapter found us in Saskatoon for a few years where I became pastor of a larger church. The bigger challenge in Saskatoon was invigorating and fruitful in many ways again including the completion of a new church building. But the time there also exacted a huge price. It was the first time in our lives that we seriously wondered whether we could continue in pastoral ministry. We learned that the journey of faith sometimes included some severe testing.
A little later, thanks to the timely encouragement of close friends we were able to relocate to Prince George for pastoral work which continued in a church there for almost twenty wonderful years. During the latter part of my work at the Lakewood Alliance Church I also was able to begin a doctoral level course of study at Trinity International University in Chicago — a school of the Evangelical Free Church of America. This program enabled me to process more effectively some of the difficulties which pastors typically encounter in pastoral ministry.
Following the completion of the Doctor of Ministry degree, and with the help of others, I was able to establish a specialized kind of pastoral encouragement service called, Second Wind Ministries. Originally, the idea of Second Wind Ministries was to provide encouragement to pastors who felt overwhelmed by the challenges of pastoral work. Later on, besides providing both general pastoral counselling as well as more specific help for pastors, the work morphed into a more specialized kind of work for churches in order to assist them through the challenges especially of pastoral transition.
Overall, this journey of faith has been far more rewarding and fulfilling than, as a small boy, I had ever dreamed possible. I have found over and over again that God’s Word is true, that God is faithful, that Jesus Christ is everything He promised to be, and that the Holy Spirit is more than adequate for all of my weakness. As I look back, I feel an awesome sense of God’s blessing. I can’t wait to see what else He has in mind as I continue to trust Him and to follow His leading.