Jennifer and Christina grew up as daughters of ministers. They moved around often and watched their parents love people and preach the gospel. Christina says, “God was always at the center of everything our family did.” Growing up this way helped these sisters see truth from a young age. Jennifer watched the struggles her parents faced in ministry, and she also watched the growth that took place in their life as a result of the struggles. This increased her faith and gave her the values she has today. Both girls live in Toronto with their parents, Yousif and Jacqueline, and are a very active part of the ministry at House of Prayer International Milton, the church they helped their parents start two years ago. Jennifer is 27 years old, sings in the choir, and helps teach young children about Jesus. Christina is 30 years old and serves the youth who are a part of their church. Before moving to Canada, their family lived in Pakistan where they faced enormous persecution because of their faith. They left Pakistan after their uncle was assassinated for preaching the gospel. This impacted their faith greatly. Jennifer says, “It makes you want to hold on to your faith tighter when you know that someone is so against what you believe.” In Canada, they get to experience a religious freedom they do not take for granted. Perhaps their biggest culture shock upon moving to Canada was seeing people refuse to take advantage of their religious freedom. They are thankful for this freedom and for the opportunity to help their parents lead a multicultural church which reaches people from all walks of life. Christina works for a large shipping company, and Jennifer plans to go to Cambridge Heritage Seminary for training to be a pastor. Serving in a church plant is not always easy, and there are many lonely days. Jennifer and Christina are praying for God to send more mentors and leaders into their life for encouragement and support. They are excited about the things God has in store for House of Prayer International Milton. To learn more about their parents and House of Prayer International, click HERE.
Yousif and Jacqueline met while working as nurses in Pakistan. They moved to Bahrein and met the Lord through a local church in 2000. There was no doubt God was calling them back to Pakistan to spread the news about God’s love. Once they were back in Pakistan, they began seeing hundreds of people come to know Jesus. They were there for ten years and started three new churches before they were forced to flee the country for fear of persecution. In fact, the persecution of the church in Pakistan had become so violent, Jacqueline’s brother, who was also a pastor, was assassinated. God provided an opportunity for Yousif, Jacqueline, and their two daughters, Jennifer and Christina, to move to Canada. They may have thought they were only leaving to escape the persecution in Pakistan, but God had plans to use them to reach the diverse culture in Toronto. In 2015, Yousif and his family started House of Prayer International in Milton where they see people from all different countries gather to pray and worship Jesus each week. Yousif and Jacqueline can speak five different languages making it easier for them to reach many different groups of people. Jacqueline loves to host meetings with women in their home. She and Yousif meet people in the markets and invite them over for dinner, or tea, to build relationships with them, pray for them, and share the love of Jesus with them. Yousif works as a nurse and often has opportunities to minister to people through his work and invite them into their home. Their church is currently meeting on Sunday afternoons inside another church building. They are praying for God to provide them with a permanent meeting space of their own. House of Prayer International Milton seems to attract those who are new to Canada or new to their faith, and the numbers are continuing to increase. Please pray for this family and this church as they seek to help others grow in a relationship with Jesus. To learn more about how Jennifer and Christina are serving with their parents, click HERE.
Never underestimate the importance of discipleship. Mauricio and Mabel were working full-time as a computer tech and a dance teacher in Colombia, South America when they were approached by leaders in their church about being discipled into ministry. They began discipling others, and eventually became leaders of cell groups within their church. They knew God was calling them to something different, and after praying, they both had dreams that helped affirm they would be moving to a multi-cultural place. God later affirmed the new place would be Canada, 4,000 miles away from their friends and family.
After 2 years of preparation, including learning a new language, and mountains of paperwork, they moved to Toronto and began building relationships and sharing Jesus through those relationships. Initially, they met with four to five others in the dark, cold basement of their apartment. As their numbers grew to fifteen, they outgrew the basement and searched for another place in the community to meet. In July 2017, King’s Church Mississauga launched weekly gatherings at the local community center, and they have already seen numerical and spiritual growth take place.
King’s Church Mississauga primarily ministers to Latinos, and their heartbeat is to disciple immigrants, refugees, and professionals. There are 35,000 Latinos in the city, most of whom are professionals.
Mauricio said God told him, “I sent you there [to Canada] because I have sheep there without a pastor.” This was further affirmed as God provided Mauricio a job as a delivery driver for a local company. Every weekday he drives around the city, meeting professionals in the community. This provides him with the perfect avenue to build relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel.
King’s Church Mississauga has a vision to evangelize, disciple, and send out. They plan to start seven churches in seven years. They would also like to find a translator who can help them start an English service in the near future.
Mabel is in school to become more fluent in the English language, and she spends her days caring for their 21-month-old son, Oliver. She also leads music for their church’s weekly gatherings.
The Botellos spend a lot of their time pastoring couples, specifically immigrant couples who left their home country in pursuit of their dreams in Canada, and who do not have family close by, or a support system in place to help them navigate the difficult times. They are passionate about discipling these couples toward a Christ-honoring marriage and walking with them through their struggles. They are seeing couples begin to understand God’s design for marriage, and they are encouraged by the marriages that have turned away from divorce as an option.
They are praying for more influence in the huge Catholic and Muslim communities around them. They are also seeking God for the next church location. Please join us in praying for King’s Church.
It takes more than one person to start a church. Kimberley McGibbon serves alongside her husband and church planter, Jason. She is not only his supporter, but she is also the mentor to many other women. Kimberley grew up going to church, where she learned all the “right answers.” “I really was skating along on the coattails of my parents’ faith,” she says. After surviving a flight that almost ended in a plane crash, Kimberley realized that she did not just want to know about Jesus, she wanted to know Jesus and she wanted Jesus to know her.
When she and Jason first got married, he was a musician and she was the owner of an event planning business. They were very active in their local church, but Kimberley was still surprised when Jason began to feel God’s call to church planting. “I didn’t see where I sort of fit in,” she says, “I wasn’t sure of what gifts I would have to bring as a pastor’s wife.” However, as they planted roots at The Sanctuary in Oakville and later at a church in Milton, Kimberley saw that she would be able to serve in many ways. She strives to “see the need, meet the need.” As her family moved to plant a church in Hamilton, she found that there were always tasks that needed to be done.
One of Kimberley’s primary roles is as encourager. She encourages Jason as the leader of a church plant and as a mentor to other church planters, she encourages their four children to have a leadership role in their church—whether that is in leading worship or working with the children’s ministry—and she encourages other church planter’s wives to rely on their unique community.
There are many challenges and obstacles church planters and their families face. According to Kimberley, one of the greatest challenges is the cost of living in the greater Toronto area. Most families are unable to purchase a house and many must work alongside developing and leading a ministry. As they struggle to balance demands from family, work, and their ministry, Kimberley seeks to offer the spouses support.
In January 2017, Kimberley joined the Toronto Church Planting team as the coordinator of spousal health and development. She provides practical resources for the spouses of church planters as they build their ministries throughout the Toronto area. “My biggest thing is to try to get everybody connected with each other,” she says. By hosting events and introducing the church planters to each other, Kimberley helps to foster a community of encouragement and support. With over a decade of experience in church planting, Kimberley and Jason are both able to mentor and encourage younger church planters and their families.
To learn more about the life and ministry of the McGibbon family, check out Jason’s story HERE.
The McGibbon family serves a community not far from the place they call home. Jason grew up in Oakville, Ontario, and now he and his family minister to a network of church plants in the Greater Toronto area, The Hamilton Fellowships. Although Jason did not grow up in church, he became very involved in The Sanctuary Church as a young adult. It was in that community of believers that he and his wife, Kimberley, began to feel called to do something different. As they prayed about where God was leading them, they started to learn about the need for more churches across Toronto.
The McGibbons joined a group from The Sanctuary Church to start a new church plant in Milton. This church was thriving and they were happy to be part of this growing ministry. However, their son was receiving medical treatments at a hospital in Hamilton and they found themselves spending more and more time with the people in the Hamilton community. They began to feel burdened for these people, and five years ago they started a house church, Hamilton Fellowship.
Jason’s heart is in training leaders for the next generation of churches. He is working with other church planters in the area to start a network of church plants. He serves as a church planting coach and is the regional ministry leader for the Canadian National Baptist Convention.
Jason’s vision for Hamilton Fellowship and the other churches in the area is to identify those who are lost, invest in building relationships with them, invite them to a small group or service, and increase by making disciples. “One of the things we learned right from the beginning was the value of being active in the community and serving the community,” Jason said.
There are many misconceptions about Christianity among the people Jason works with. “It’s a culture that has intentionally stepped away from the church,” Jason said. One of the greatest challenges is that many people have not heard the true Gospel.
Jason hopes the network of churches can become more established in the years to come. They hope to have a central building by the Fall of 2017 to act as an administrative resource to the churches in the network. Their vision is that over the next three years they would be able to reach more lost people by having four established churches in the Hamilton area.
To learn more about the life and ministry of the McGibbon family, check out Kimberley’s story HERE!
Multiplication is the heartbeat of Fellowship Pickering. The 4-year-old church plant located in Pickering, Ontario, is reaching a highly diverse, densely populated and widely unchurched area in North America. Matt and Arrica Hess first planted Fellowship Pickering in October of 2013 and by October of 2016, the church multiplied to plant Fellowship Church Rouge Park and Fellowship Oshawa.
Matt grew up near Tulsa, Oklahoma, and felt called to ministry as a 12-year-old. He joined the Marine Corp when he was 19 and again felt called to pastor a church. He began preaching, but still felt like something was missing. After moving churches and starting seminary, he realized that he had never truly given his life to Christ. After surrendering to follow Christ, he and Arrica started to feel called to church planting. When they learned of the need in Toronto, they knew God was calling them to plant Fellowship Pickering. Their family moved to Toronto and began knocking on doors and starting Gospel-centered conversations.
Fellowship Pickering is primarily made up of young families that gather in an elementary school building. They encourage their members to attend the church gathering time, invest in a small group, grow in a community, and give everything to God. Matt wants Fellowship Pickering to look to the harvest in their community. “People have to see that Jesus can’t be a hobby,” he says, “The call to salvation, the call to a life with Christ, is not ‘Hey, when you feel like it, follow me.’”
Matt trains and mentors church planters to fulfill their vision of multiplication. Although they have already planted three churches in the Toronto area, they hope to see nine more planted by 2023. Their goal is to follow where the Holy Spirit has already started to work in the lives of those in their community and raise them up in evangelism and discipleship. “We teach our church planters how to get in to the harvest early and often…to have a mentality to multiply from the very beginning,” Matt says. In the future, they hope to have a permanent space where they can gather to worship together and train believers to plant new churches in their community.
Matt and Arrica hope that more believers can join in their vision to see the Gospel spread and churches multiplied throughout Toronto. Churches can join them by praying, giving financially, and sending teams to serve at Fellowship Pickering. “We really believe in the power of prayer,” Matt says, “And we need people to come up and catch the vision.”
This blog post first appeared April 10, 2017 on NAMB.net
If we want to see a move of God in North America, we should pray that God will move in and through church planters. Church planters are on the front lines, confronting the darkness and spreading the gospel in North America. They often serve in areas with little gospel witness, far from the familiar and comfortable, working week after week to see God’s Kingdom move forward in difficult places. Here’s how you can support them through prayer:
1. Pray for a close walk with Jesus.
Pray your planters prioritize their relationship with Jesus. Pray they stay in His Word, fellowship deeply with Him in prayer and keep their lives pure. Pray God would walk powerfully and intimately with them, so they are able to minister out of the overflow of this personal walk.
2. Pray for an identity grounded in Christ.
Planters are entrepreneurs who long to see something started from nothing. The temptation is often to find their identity in what they do and how well they do it. Pray your planters root their identity deeply in the gospel.
3. Pray for a strong marriage and family.
Balancing family and ministry can be difficult. Pray your planters are sensitive to the needs of their families and make shepherding them a priority.
4. Pray for wisdom.
Church plants can be fragile organizations. Every decision can be one that makes or breaks the organization. Pray God gives your planters great wisdom as they make decisions weekly that affect the growth of the plant—and the extension of God’s kingdom in their communities—for years to come.
5. Pray for favor in their community.
Pray local business would open their meetings spaces. Pray local leaders would help them connect with the community. Pray for natural relationships with neighbors. Ultimately, pray your planters find people open and excited about a new work in their community.
6. Pray for faithfulness in their work.
The hard work of church planting can be draining and discouraging. One week can be exhilarating with success, while the very next week can be a crash of disappointment. Pray your church planters stay focused and faithful to the call God has placed on their lives, even in the midst of the ups and downs of difficult ministry.
7. Pray for fruit for God’s kingdom.
Planters plant churches because they have a passion to see individuals and communities transformed by the gospel. Pray God will have His way in men and women across our land. Only Jesus can save lives. Pray that He will transform hearts and lives.
In the center of one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in North America, Trinity Life Church seeks to engage an unreached people group—the people of Toronto. Mike and Missy Seaman, together with their two daughters Emerson and Reagan, first moved to Toronto in 2012. Mike, along with his parents and twin sister, surrendered his life to Christ as a young boy when a neighbor invited his family to church. “We were totally passionate about the Word,” Mike says, “God was transforming us.”
Mike met Missy when they were both college students. Mike began to share his faith with her and within a few short months, Missy shared Mike’s passion for having a relationship with Christ. As they grew in their faith, they began to feel called to full-time ministry and stayed obedient as God called them first to seminary, then to church planting, and finally to Toronto.
“God really grabbed our hearts for the lack of Gospel opportunity and the lack of Gospel presence in Canada,” Mike says. “We knew very little about Toronto, but we knew we were going to plant a church in downtown Toronto.”
They were alone in a city of 3 million people, but they knew God was calling their family to be a light in a lost community. They did not begin with a Bible study or a church service. Instead, the Seaman family began by living life on mission. They looked for opportunities to help people in the community and as they did, people began to notice. The more they helped, the more people wanted to know about them and why they acted the way they did. Over time, God built up a core group of individuals and the Seamans started a Bible study. The Bible study grew in to a worship service, and today Trinity Life Church is a growing body of believers.
Mike describes Trinity Life Church as “transient.” Church members often come and go, but the vision of Trinity Life Church is to help members first find their identity in Christ, and then find their destiny in Christ in order to reach their city and the world. “We’re not trying to gather a crowd,” Mike says, “For us it’s not about growing our church, it’s about releasing people into the kingdom.”
Trinity Life Church focuses on local and global engagement. Mike hopes this body of believers will feel empowered to reach the unreached people in their city and around the world. Mike is currently training members at Trinity Life Church in church planting strategy, with the vision of multiplying churches across Toronto.
As Trinity Life Church continues to grow, Mike says, “We don’t just want to pray about our strategy…we want to make prayer our strategy.” According to Mike, this is the best way to offer support for Trinity Life Church. He says, “Prayer should not be underestimated in terms of partnership. It is the key to what we do here in Toronto.”
by Brett Porter, Send City Missionary
Across our city, within our tribe, the majority of our churches are young. When I say the majority, I mean literally over 2/3 of our churches are less than five years old. We have over 40 churches in our network that are still in their infancy. We are so excited about what God has done and continues to do across the city. Our church planting team is extremely grateful for those who laboured long before many of us became a part of what God is doing in the city of Toronto.
Our vision is simple: To see a massive growth of local expressions of the Kingdom of God all across our city. For this to happen, we cannot simply keep adding churches. We must continue to develop systems for multiplication where these new churches are planting new churches that plant churches. The ultimate desire is not simply to have numbers on a sheet, but to see groups of people living out the Kingdom of God all over the city. The result will be transformed communities living underneath a new banner, King Jesus.
The questions we often hear are “WHEN” and “HOW” should a church plant another church? Here are some thoughts to consider…
- There will never be a perfect time to plant :: As a church, there will always be reasons why “now” is not a good time to plant. This does not mean recklessly start trying to plant a church, but rather develop a strategy and move forward in executing that plan. With no strategy, every time planting comes up, it will be pushed back for some “good” reason.
- You may need other churches to take the journey with you :: This is especially true if your church is young. While you may feel a good strategy is ready to be implemented, it may be wise and even necessary to invite other churches to join in the sending.
- Every church, even new church plants, can be supporting churches :: Regardless of size, age or location, every church can be a part of supporting a new church plant – through praying, through joining on the ground with ministry and through giving funds and resources. This is not about volumes of time spent in the new church plant field or the amount of money given, but rather an intentional focus outward for Kingdom expansion.
- Start with a simple first step :: Often churches, young and old, overthink what it means to partner with another church. As you make a plan, start with something easy to get the ball rolling. Some examples: send a financial gift to the new plant, have a day of prayer and fasting for the new plant, or have a team visit the plant location to encourage the planter and his family or core team.
- Be prepared to manage the tensions :: If you are intentionally investing yourself into Kingdom expansion, tensions will always present. You will find tension from leadership and people from within the church asking questions such as, “Why are we sending money away, when we need more?”, “Why are we always praying for another neighbourhood/city?”, “Shouldn’t we get more healthy before we spread ourselves so thin?” and so on. These will not go away…so learn how to manage this tension. Stand your ground on the vision and call to be Kingdom focused. Be a church that plants churches; it’s worth the effort.
- Model the example of giving yourself away :: As the leader or leadership team, set the pace for the church about what it means to give yourself away. This means as a leader, you should be an example of what it looks like to take the extra steps to be about Kingdom expansion. Put on display what it looks like to be a prayer partner with someone besides you, your ministry, etc. Demonstrate what it looks like to give your time and energy to a ministry that is not related to you, but totally a Kingdom work outside of your ministry. Lead by example of giving to Kingdom expansion above and beyond regular tithes and offerings.
There are many more things we find ourselves talking about, but these are a couple of on-going conversations. Consider these, add more and dive fully in the world of discovering new leaders, raising them up and sending them out to begin to Kingdom expressions all over the world.
by Brett Porter, Send City Missionary
I’ve been reading many reviews of smart watches. I’ve looked at the Apple Watch, Pebble, FitBit, Garmin, etc. I’ve read about prices, make and style, and I’ve tried to determine what each different device does…some do similar things and some are unique.
One of the things I keep running across is the healthy discussion about Apple making things we don’t really need. What I find amusing is that Apple has made it their mission to create things that aren’t essential, but we end up not having a clue how to live without it today. An example is the iPod/mp3 player. Many of us can’t imagine living without one. Carrying around a walkman or discman would be crazy today. The same goes for smart phones & tablets.
I heard a great leadership principle while visiting the Apple headquarters several years ago and was reminded of that thought again today. The principle is to “lead not by consensus, but lead toward the best decision.”
In leadership, often the decision is determined by what the majority thinks and is not driven by what is best for the group (especially when many are initially against the decision). When we lead others based on consensus resulting in less than best decisions, we are not really leading anywhere that matters.
Thoughts on leading toward the best decision and not consensus…
- Listen :: Just because you are not going to lead by consensus, does not mean you don’t listen to others…especially those on your leadership team. Allow for people to speak into the decision. Most likely, you are not the smartest person in the room, so take the advice of others into consideration so you make the best decision.
- Learn :: Take advantage of every next step and spend time learning as much about the options on the table as you can. Assume the posture of a learner. Research, ask others, and dive into other similar decisions you can find to discover what happened and determine the consequences – good and bad – of the decision made.
- Push Back :: Often we make decisions at step one and never consider step two and three to follow. Take time to push back on the options…if we do this, what happens next? What new issues come from making this decision? The trick in this is about sharpening each other in the decision process, not being Negative Nick or Debbie Downer. There is a difference! This will allow you to move forward with boldness and confidence.
- ONE Voice :: After you take the needed time to make the best decision, make sure your team moves forward with one voice. This is not the time to have “side-conversations” about why you don’t like this or that. That time was in the above steps. At this point a good leadership team will move forward with one voice and one movement.
I hope this has spawned some thoughts for you as a leader. Now grab your iPod, turn on some tunes, take your smartphone, computer or tablet and jot down some thoughts about ways to lead your team – not to consensus but towards their best decision.