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.
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.”
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 Church Planter Robin Wasti, Pastor LEAF Canada
Brampton, north of Toronto, is the fastest growing city in Canada and has one of the largest concentrations of South Asians in the country. The city has followers of Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism, the largest population among these being Sikhs. We at LEAF Canada (Life Eternal Asian Fellowship) are focused on reaching South Asians in the Brampton area and it is our desire to see them come to Christ. This summer, we invested time getting to know the communities around our church and we called our program “Love Brampton”.
To do this, we asked four teams from the US to come help us do outreach activities in connecting with the Asian community. During the month of July, these teams each spent about a week with us – visiting places of worship for the various religions practiced here, going door-to-door distributing Bibles, Scripture portions, and Jesus Film DVDs, and inviting the kids in the community to come to Kid’s Clubs. When one of the teams went door-to-door, they came the home of a Hindu family and talked with the wife. She said that she and her husband shared a large house, but they spoke very little to each other and there was much unrest in the family. The team prayed with her and asked God to restore their marriage relationship. The lady said the team was like an angel of God visiting her that day, bringing exactly what she needed. Many people in the area were given the opportunity to hear about Christ right on the doorstep. During the month, over 2000 Jesus Film DVDs were distributed, each DVD containing the film in 16 local languages. DVDs of Christian testimonies were also distributed.
The highlights of each week were the Kid’s Clubs that the volunteer teams ran in various local parks over a period of 12 nights. The response of the kids was amazing – an average of 100 children attended each Kid’s Club event, with numbers running as high as 198 kids registered at one of the parks. Many people in the community wanted to take part in helping the volunteers run the events. One young lady came a few times and offered her help in translating and helping the kids. In another park, one of the men from the community brought food and drinks for everyone at the Kid’s Club (more than 350 children and adults), as a way to show thanks for the volunteers who were taking time to show love to the children. The men and women of that same community were so grateful that they invited us to come to their Mela (celebration) event that weekend.
During the Clubs, the volunteers played many games with the children, did crafts with them, and also told them several Bible stories. We involved the men and women in games as well, and they really enjoyed taking part in these fun events. We then had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. While the children were doing activities, people from the church walked around the park and talked to the parents to build relationship with those who came. We had great conversations with them and were able to share the Gospel to many.
God has blessed us immensely through these teams which involved people from churches in Stonegate Fellowship Midland Texas, Hands on the Mission North Carolina, Henderson First Baptist Church Kentucky, and First Baptist Church Oceanway Jacksonville, Florida, as well as local Christians such as Richard from OM, Jeremy Langley and his family (IMB) and Joe and Susan (IMB), Mrs. Mussart Anwar, Mrs. Arzoo Shaw and her two daughters and many others local believers. At the end of the Love Brampton events, local Christians went around to various homes to do follow-up with those who seemed interested in knowing more about Christ and to pray with them in their homes. It is a joy to serve Him as we continue to reach Brampton with His love and His story.
Church Planter Jose Fasolino
Every opportunity we have to learn and grow is a great opportunity, especially if it’s related to what we’re doing on a daily basis. Therefore for us as Christians, SEND was an enriching experience. We knew where we were going. What we did not know was that it was going to be beyond our expectations! Emmanuel Baptist Church East brought a group of four church leaders, which is 25% of our Church. How awesome is that!!
We left behind our spouses, children and homes to spend the next five days doing something we all have been called to do. Live our lives on mission. From the moment we left our “comfort zone” for the 14 hour car ride, we began experiencing something we would come to understand as “life on mission”. This was the most important thing we brought back. We understand now that the place where we are living, working, studying, doing everyday life, is our mission field. Those around us; our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are the ones we need to reach. And even though this is probably something we already knew, it is the main reason our lives and hearts are oriented toward church planting – meaning planting churches that plant churches that plant churches…
Our experience at Send2015 was the flame that lit a fuse which nothing can extinguish!
Church Planter Gelvi Urribarri
The Send conference was an awesome experience. My family got to experience a well organized event and was able to meet part of our huge Baptist family. But for me the highlight of this trip was the words of my 21 years old, Jose, when he told me how amazing the whole movement is. He was surprised to see the movement that is supporting the church he is helping to plant in Toronto.
Church Planter Derrick Wilhelmus
My wife and I just returned from an awesome conference in Nashville, Tennessee where we worshipped with 13,500 people, prayed with them, and learned with them from many amazing speakers. This two day event was awesome! The focus was to live out our faith by planting churches, sharing the gospel, making disciples, embracing the life Christ has called us to, and the need to support these efforts.
As I reflect, my heart has much joy and sadness. Joy in the fact that there are many embracing this calling; sadness because many more are not embracing this calling. We need to live an active Christian life. We need to be sharing the gospel with others, we need to be walking alongside others, and we need to be investing in others. We are God’s servants. Our task is to first and foremost represent Him!
People will be quick to share with you places of interest, such as: great restaurants, exciting tourist attractions, a great bargain at a retail store, or a favourite book. But many have difficulty sharing Jesus. Why is this? For everything we enjoy is by the grace of God. Why find pleasure in these things when we can find ultimate pleasure in Him, the One who created everything?
Being a follower of Christ isn’t a solo experience. We work better in numbers. I would encourage you to join us on this journey. Let’s live out our faith together.
by Jacob Puiras
Learn how Jacob and his wife, Tamsyn, are serving their community of Glendon College through this video blog.
by Joshua Sklar, Church Planter
Community. What does that word mean to you? Hopefully, it is more than just a hit TV show and personally, as I reflected upon the idea, I wanted to share an example of how I recently experienced community in a way that was different than I ever had before. I experienced true community, or fellowship, one evening recently at a fellowship called Slingshot Church. No one sat me down and told me they were having community, no one announced the fact that they were different, but I could see a few key markers that let me know that true community was actually happening. Here is what I experienced:
First of all, they were gathered because of Jesus. Jesus himself told us, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also” (Matthew 18:20). Each person around the table was acknowledging their desire for Jesus, their need for Him in their lives, and giving Him the praise and the glory for the way that He, and only He, had put their lives back together.
Secondly, each person there also had a role to play. Some greeted at the door, some led a few songs, others prepared food to share. No one came as a consumer to church that night; they came as participants. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us in verses 4 to 6, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” Each person there came to bring a gift, and I listened quietly as they prayed for each other, shared testimony of what God had done in their lives that week, and shared how God’s Word and the Holy Spirit had led them.
For many of them, the gift they brought was much like the gift they were given: their voice. Each person around that table, no matter their background, education, financial status, race, gender, or past, was given a platform to share. No one was cut off or hushed. No one was short changed or put down, and everyone was free to be a part of the conversation. Sadly, some of those wonderful folks have no other place where they have a voice. This night, the community made it a priority to take the time to listen and to love each one gathered there.
Finally, each person was given affirmation and love for being there and being part of how God is building His Kingdom. The pastor who led the meeting closed the night by telling them they were awesome and that he was so blessed that they chose to come to church. He inspired them as he cast a vision for them to be “Dripping Jesus” (their lingo for sharing the gospel) on those around them in their everyday lives, sending them on their way with prayer, celebration, and an open invitation to return and to bring others with them.
The three ways I saw community that night is by no means a complete list. There are many other ways to experience community. So, I must ask, how have you felt community within your Christian context? And furthermore, how have you contributed to that sense of community personally? My prayer for you is that you find the community you seek and provide it for others as we follow after Jesus together.
Read other blogs by Josh Sklar at purposecity.com.
by Brett Porter, Toronto Send City Coordinator
“Would you consider leading a small group?” I felt my friend was ready to lead and would do a great job. She had natural leadership ability and had grown spiritually in the months she’d attended our home group.
“I’m not sure I can,” she answered.
When I asked why not, I discovered that I was the reason she felt inadequate. I had been leading the small group using all my favorite technology. She didn’t have the gadgets or the know-how to use them. I also used Bible study methods she hadn’t been taught. No wonder she was fearful of leading a small group, because what she saw me do was not reproducible for her.
Jesus words are simple, “go and make disciples of all the nations…teaching these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” This command begins the cycle…make disciples who make disciples who make disciples….
If the call is to make disciples who make disciples, then everything I do should be reproducible. Consider this and every other aspect when planting a new church. If our worship service is too costly, too intricate, or too hard for people to learn—or do themselves—we are missing the mark. If we set up small groups that are complicated or intricate, we may prevent new disciples from becoming disciple-makers..
I love a good “pour over coffee” (it’s so pure and so good). Take a look at this diagram. Think through all the things you have going on in ministry and do a “pour over” into this diagram. Are people able to move through the stages with confidence to become disciple-makers? Are we leading in ways to empower others to lead?
Praying for disciples who are making disciples and churches that are starting new churches to continue to come to life across the Greater Toronto Area.