As a bi-vocational planter, what does a "normal" week look like for you?
Being a bi-vocational planter is an amazing opportunity because it allows for me to meet with people who might never consider entering a church. I’m able to share the wisdom of God with them, speak life and hope into their situations, and even pray with them. At the same time, it can be pretty exhausting. My week is split into medicine days [as a Medical Doctor] and ministry days. I front-load the week with medicine by working Monday and Tuesday at the hospital and then spending Wednesday through Saturday in the community, doing administrative duties, preparing for our gathering, and focusing on seeking God.
What's the passion that led to you plant a church?
My heart aches when I think about people not knowing Jesus as Lord and Saviour for eternity - but even that they are walking through life in this world and have no concept of their identity, worth, or calling in the here and now. We are desperate for people to have real encounters withthe love of Jesus, through the power of the Spirit, in such a way that every obstacle is removed which might prevent them from meeting Him. We believe that, for some people, the power of God must be experienced to crack through the hurt in their hearts so that they can receive His love.
Can you tell us about your church? Who are you reaching?
Our church is small but growing. We are reaching Acadian Nova Scotians. This is a unique and culturally rich people who have fostered pride and self-sufficiency and have a francophone background rooted in Roman Catholicism. Our church has an atmosphere that is intended to foster encounters with Jesus. Our gatherings are casual. We meet on Saturday nights, with dessert, and we have the slides, music, and parts of the message in English and French because we feel that this honours the Acadian culture and removes stumbling blocks. We spend a lot of time in worship because music is such a rich part of the Acadian culture.
How do you, as a couple, make work, marriage, and ministry healthy?
We really love each other and we also really like each other. We pray together and try to make decisions together. We work hard at communication and figuring out how to blend well to one another’s strengths. Mario travels quite a lot, so we are thankful for FaceTime, texting, email, and phone calls.
What kinds of connections have you made with the community that excite you?
We try to be intentional about sharing our table and free time with non-Christians and having coffee or lunch with different people regularly. This has been really wonderful for getting to know people and loving them. We are working to foster unity and trust with the other Christian Church in Clare and hoping to do outreaches together. We have one couple from this church who have really become close friends and support us in many of our outreaches and activities. I am in the process of completing security clearance to be a chaplain to our local RCMP detachment. This will be a great opportunity to invest in the law enforcement for our area. We have been invited to some new activities from some of the regular community events that we attend, so we see a softening in accepting us which feels like it has been a long time in coming. (Think meat crib, washer-tossing, music choirs, singing Christian music at secular rock festivals.)
What would you say to someone out there thinking of planting in a rural community?
Rural communities need Jesus and they need church planters. The process of planting and the relationship-building make the approach a lot different. It is more personal, transparent, and every place we go is an opportunity to share our testimony and potentially pray for people. We are planting with an incarnational approach.For us, after having learned a church planting strategy, this plant in a rural community is different because we are regularly reminded that Holy Spirit has a specific plan for each aspect of the church. We just seek Him because He knows what will touch the hearts of the people of Clare.
How can we pray for you?
We would love if you could pray that we continue to have a hunger and complete desperation for God, that we seek Him and have ears to hear His heart and His plans for Clare and for the church in Clare. Pray also that we not become discouraged, that we hear prophetic words when we are sharing and that we would see supernatural healings and miracles. Believe with us that hard hearts would be opened to the love of Jesus.