Interview with Janelle Keough
Janelle Keough

Janelle Keough and her husband Steve were happily involved as volunteers in their church...until God started stirring something new within their hearts. It eventually led to a process which included quitting their jobs and moving clear across the country, from BC to Nova Scotia, to work as church planters.

What led you to replant a church in Port Hawkesbury?

We were in BC, working other jobs and being involved in our local church, but also feeling like God was calling us to ministry; we were just not sure in what capacity and where God wanted us to go. As we began to pray about it, we started to feel like our time in BC was coming to an end. We are originally from the east coast, and during the weeks of prayer, we felt God was uprooting and sending us back home. Meanwhile in Port Hawkesbury, unbeknownst to us, a small group of people were praying for a pastor who would continue the work that was started. During our time of prayer, we really felt God impressing on us to begin to let people know that we would be moving back East. It was during that process that we heard about the ministry that was started in Port Hawkesbury. I flew down to visit the town, meet the people and get a sense of what the ministry was like. Then, in the weeks that followed, we heard the call of God clearly. And so, we quit our jobs, sold everything that wouldn’t fit in our car and drove cross-country. 

What's the vision of the church now?

Matthew 5:16 - "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”. We want to be a light that guides the way to Jesus. With our words and our actions, we want to show others that He is a God that is for them! We want our community to encounter and experience the unfailing love of Jesus! 

How have you made connection with the community?

There are not a lot of places to hang out, especially in the fall and winter months. It can be particularly challenging if you are a parent/caregiver of a young child - So we started a Play Cafe that runs every Friday morning, where kids can play together while the adults can connect and build friendships. We’ve gotten to know quite a few families because of Play Cafe. Our town doesn’t have a movie theatre, so we do free movie events that the whole family can enjoy. We’ve also been invited to be part of some of the community events in town; we’ve done things like spotlight and giant bubbles during festivals and markets and we’ve brought our bouncy castle to a few events. Each opportunity has been a great way to connect with the families in our area. 

What's been the most challenging part of replanting in this community?

I think the most challenging part is not having a lot of people to work with. To some extent every church planter or pastor can probably say the same thing, but it’s so much more noticeable in rural church planting; your pool of people to draw from is limited, which can make running ministries and outreach challenging. We’ve been very blessed to have a few neighbouring PAOC churches send mission teams to help lead worship on the Sundays our worship team was unavailable, and to help us put on some of our bigger events.  

What's in your heart now to see the Gospel advance in Port Hawkesbury?

Getting to know our community and making connections with the people has helped us identify two viewpoints that exist in our community. There’s a belief that if you are associated with a church that’s enough. The other side doesn’t see a need for God at all. Both share this view that God is not personal. This year we want to be intentional about deepening the relationships we’ve made. We want to be able to engage with them in daily life so that we can show them that Jesus loves and cares for them; that the God that created this universe, who formed them in their mother’s womb, desires to have a relationship with them. We want our relationships to reveal the relational heart of our Father. 

How can we pray for you and Steve?
Pray that God would continue to provide for all our needs as we minister here in Port Hawkesbury. We want to reach our community in fresh new ways, so pray for creativity and inspiration. Pray that God would raise up more leaders to help us in the work here. Most importantly, pray that the Holy Spirit would move and that souls would be saved!