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.
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
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.
by Hans Ostrem, Church Planter
Have you ever been asked which biblical character you most imitate?
I have been asked this many times though out my life and ministry. This is a very hard task given the vast examples in Scripture. Though I have chosen different characters at different times in my life, currently I choose Gideon.
I relate so much to Gideon’s calling, as I also was surprised to be called into His service. My parents are career missionaries, but I never felt that on my life. Of course I desired to serve Him, however, I wanted to do so in my own way. I studied medicine after college, happy to leave evangelism and ‘missions’ to those ‘called’. I still remember when my (now) wife and I were praying for clarity in getting married and were seeking Him for the future. My wife knew she was being called to serve, but I believed I was unworthy. “ [. . .] “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 1 I can relate, also being least in my Father’s household. I felt that God could and should use others with greater potential for His kingdom. With Gideon, he also doubted himself. But the angel of the Lord provided a sign, demonstrating that God was not only calling Gideon, but was WITH him. I did not physically see the angel of the Lord with my calling, but knew it was in fact, God. I knew that no matter what happened in my life, He was with me and would use me, for His purposes.
Later on, Gideon’s faith was tested in battle. “By a divinely guided process of elimination, the numerical strength of Gideon’s army is reduced from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300.”2 In a relativity short period of time, God reduced Gideon’s army to the mere but humble 300. Yet, he was facing an army of over 100,000. God wanted Gideon to trust that he could still win with so few soldiers. Again, God sent a sign in the form of a dream, this time, to help Gideon know that God had not only called him, but was still WITH him.
In my life and ministry I have faced some pretty incredible, and seemingly impossible, circumstances much-like Gideon. One of my big life applications from Gideon’s life; is to trust that God has not only called me to His work, but is WITH me always in it.
1 Judges 6:15b (English Standard Version)
2 Howell, Don N., Jr. Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003.
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.