In 2001, my wife Gail and I moved from Mission, British Columbia, along with our four daughters (Stephanie, Tessa, Abbey, and Emma) to pastor Forestview Community Church in Grimsby, Ontario.
Gail and I met during our undergraduate studies at Simon Fraser University. To put it bluntly, both of us were dissatisfied individuals and it showed in our tumultuous relationship. We were seeking answers to some of life’s tough questions but were not making headway.
We were challenged by a Campus Crusade for Christ worker to study the life and teaching of Jesus Christ for answers. We were embarrassed because, although we had attended church for over 20 years of our lives, we had to admit that we knew very little about Jesus Christ. Gail and I skeptically began to study the Bible and its reliability as a source of truth. Over the course of a year, however, our skepticism had dissolved and the Living God had revealed Himself to us through the person of Jesus Christ.
Within months of each other, Gail and I made decisions to follow Christ. Since turning from our sin and letting God take the lead, our lives have never been the same. This new relationship with God changed everything for us and it wasn’t long after that Gail and I were married.
While Gail began teaching in the public school system, I began graduate studies at Regent College in 1989. We sensed a strong call to pastoral ministry. This call, however, was tested over the next 12 years. During that time I continued taking seminary courses while running a residential painting business and assisting part-time as a pastor in various church settings.
With the increasing responsibilities of a growing family and the high costs of attending seminary, it appeared that the goal of completing the Masters of Divinity program would be better set for our retirement years. We clung to the promise of Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you, as well.” Though we couldn’t see how God would do it, we did know that He had called us to pastor and that He would somehow finish what He had begun. We just hung in there, prayed, and trusted God that He would make a way. And He did!
Within a year’s time, the floodgates of heaven were opened and a generous financial gift was given to us from someone we had never met before. This enabled me to complete my seminary training and ordination requirements. I graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree from Regent College, Vancouver B.C, and we soon received a call from Forestview Community Church to begin a lead pastoral role in September of 2001.
As a family we cannot contain our thanks to a God who has been so faithful in leading and providing for us. We also know firsthand what it is like to live apart from God, to be dissatisfied with life, to be involved in unhealthy relationships, and to be skeptical about the Holy Bible and matters of faith. For this reason, Gail and I can identify with people who are struggling.
We desire to meet people where they are, to offer them unconditional love, to help them find answers to the tough questions about life and faith, and to lead them into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ and His body – the church. We are privileged to be part of a loving and alive church family, called Forestview.
Through our fellowship with this church family, we continue to make new friends and grow in our knowledge and experience of the grace of God. The church has provided a wonderful setting in which to raise our children as followers of Christ. We have also had an opportunity to make a ton of mistakes and yet still be loved and appreciated as valuable members of the family. This is what church is supposed to be! Looking back, Gail and I would never have dreamed of feeling so fulfilled as we are today in pastoring this congregation. We have tasted and have seen that the Lord is very good indeed! We hope to have the opportunity to meet you.
God’s promise to you is this:
” ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.”
Don’t give up on God. He has not given up on you. He will always fulfill His promise to lead and to provide.
May His joy be yours also!
John & Gail