Reaching - Planting - Mobilizing
A publication of WEC International
Reaching - Planting - Mobilizing
A publication of WEC International
God Turned My World Upside Down
The question is often asked of our missionaries, “How were you called into missions?” One of our newest workers, about to leave for North Africa, shares her story.
I was not born into a Christian home. Religion was a foreign thing in our high-achieving household, not looked upon in a positive light. Things were not looking good for me as a twelve year old, as I began walking down a destructive, sinful path pursuing the world and its revelry.
In good timing, a friend invited me to join her youth group. I tagged along casually for a couple years, tuning out any spiritual talk and enjoying the fun and games. When I was fourteen-years-old, the youth group was going on a retreat to a Bible camp in a beautiful forested area. I decided to join in to enjoy a weekend away with my friends. In getting there, we were given an afternoon of “solo time”—a chance to retreat into nature to pray and read our Bibles. Frustrated, I wandered off by myself into the trees, muttering to myself about how silly all this religion was—and how I felt sorry for these people who were so deceived by it. As I walked, I pulled a leaf off of a tree and began to study it. I had never taken note of the intricacies of a leaf before—thousands of veins and lines, on this one little leaf! And there were billions of them in this forest! I then noticed the same intricacies on my own hands—wow! How could I have not taken note of these things before? I stopped walking in the most beautiful clearing in the woods, surrounded by astonishing creation. My heart began to pound, and tears welled in my eyes as I realized that maybe I had been wrong. That maybe, God was real, and that He had made all of this, and that maybe He had made me! And if He made me, I could not live for myself anymore, but wanted to live for Him. I called out to Jesus to save me, alone in that forest—and it was as if God saw my hard, sinful heart, took it right out, and put a new one in. I was transformed from the inside out. I was not looking for Him, but He saw me walking on a path of death and reached down and grabbed me, as if to say, “No, this is the way—walk in it!”
After high school, I decided to follow the Lord’s prompting and explore the possibility of missions. I headed overseas for a four-month short-term placement, and after two weeks of being there, I said to myself, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Seeing firsthand the realities of those unreached by the Gospel turned my world upside down, and I knew life in Canada could never be the same for me. So four years later, I thank the Lord to be one step closer to serving Him overseas.
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Finding the True Comforter
The story of a woman in Central Asia who found Christ in the middle of a crisis
God has sent missionaries to Central Asia to pray, sow seeds of Truth, engage in spiritual warfare, and spread hope to those living under the clouds of Communism and Islam. You may wonder, how does someone come to the point of putting their faith in Jesus? Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ."
The gospel was not something one Kazak woman, named Gulidan, nor her husband wanted or needed; they were Muslim, and satisfied with Islam. I met Gulidan at a mutual friend's daughter's first birthday party. The friend was Han Chinese, and a believer. A birthday party in Central Asia is more than just eating cake and opening presents. It is a 3-4 hour event with several dishes of savory food, fresh and dried fruit, breads, nuts and of course a birthday cake. Han people feel free to eat any food, including food considered unclean by Muslims. Even though the Kazak woman was very careful to choose what she ate, and did not eat even with the newly bought silverware (it could have previously touched unclean food), the fact that she was there with non-Muslims made me wonder how open this Kazak woman could be to the Gospel. Would she ever consider putting her faith in Jesus? A year later, she did!
So what changed? If you could sit and talk with Gulidan, this is what the conversation might look like:
You: What is your family life like? Are you married or have children?
Gulidan: I come from a traditional Kazak family. I lived in a small village for most of my life. Then I married and moved to a bigger city. I have two boys, ages fourteen and seven.
You: Do you have an occupation?
Gulidan: Yes, I am an English tutor for minority students. I enjoy teaching middle school and high school students English and helping them with questions they have about English. I want to encourage a love and interest for the English language.
You: Have you studied English for a long time?
Gulidan: Actually no. I began to study English when my second son was 3 years old. I studied at a local university. I had a foreign teacher, the first foreigner I had ever met.
You: Did this foreigner tell you about Jesus?
Gulidan: Yes. My family was visiting this foreigner's home for a meal. Afterwards we were sitting around telling stories and enjoying some tea when the foreigner started talking about Jesus and why I needed Jesus. I told him I was a good person and tried to do good things to outweigh the bad things. I said I only ate clean foods and did some prayers and tried to be a good Muslim. The foreigner told a story: If you have poison in food, adding good food will not remove the poison. It is totally contaminated. He was trying to tell me that my good works were not enough to clean me of the sin in my life. My husband became angry, so we stopped talking about Jesus and religion that night. We were still friends, but we did not talk about anything related to Jesus after that. That must have been about 5 years ago.
You: Now you believe in Jesus?
Gulidan: Yes, now I do.
You: What changed?
Gulidan: Exactly a year ago, my oldest son had a mental breakdown from the pressures of school. I took him to a local hospital where they told us that it was a bigger issue and sent us to doctors in the capital city. I packed my bags, not knowing it would be 3 months before we would come home again. My son was put on 4 different kinds of medication. He became angry, gave up on life, and felt helpless. As his mother, I wept for him daily. I didn't have anyone in the capital I could talk with. If I told my family, they would not understand and think my son was crazy.
But one day a friend of the foreigner came to visit. He talked with my son and me, in Kazak, and gave me a Bible in the Kazak language. I had never seen the Bible written in my mother tongue. I began to read it at nights while my son slept. The friend prayed for us and told us that Jesus is the great Healer and great Comforter. After 3 months, the doctors said my son could go home, but would need to continue the medication and remove any stress in his life, like school, for about 2 years. I was very happy to come home, but didn't know what to do next.
You: What happened after you got home?
Gulidan: I was supported by another foreign woman (we had met at a different friend's birthday party). She understood, and encouraged me to pray to Jesus. I told her that I had sought peace and comfort in Allah, but did not find it; the religion I had lived for did not help me during those 3 months in the hospital. But when I was reading the Bible, I felt peace and love and support. I kept reading the Kazak Bible in my free time. My husband also started reading it early in the mornings before he went to work.
One day, I decided to believe in Jesus, who I first heard about 5 years before. He had been so real and present with me through the difficult 3 months. I didn’t believe in Allah anymore. I told God I wanted to follow Him and no one else.
You: When did you tell others about your decision to follow Jesus?
Gulidan: I knew my foreign friends were praying for me. I could trust them, so I shared the news with them first. I told them that I read the Bible daily and want to obey Jesus.
You: What change or differences do you see in your life after you decided to believe in Jesus?
Gulidan: God comforts me; He gives me peace when I read His word. He healed my son. It is by God's power and work that my son is back in school, and excelling. I see that God has a purpose for me and what my son went through. I thought that life was hard before with raising 2 boys, but when my world came crashing down and I couldn’t do anything to help my son, God was there. He surely is my Hope and Salvation and I will live the rest of my days learning more about Him and following Him.
You: Will you meet with a church or other Kazaks who are believers?
Gulidan: I know other Kazak believers in our city and perhaps one day we will enjoy fellowship together. It is too dangerous for us to meet. For now, I am reading the Bible and spending time with Jesus in the evenings. God has been working in my husband as he continues to read the New Testament in Kazak. My sons also see me reading the Bible and we have had conversations about Jesus and God. I fear that others outside of our family will hear of my new faith, and we could get in trouble by the police or government.
God continues to work in Gulidan's life! You may never meet this Kazak woman, but there are people around you who need to hear about Jesus. God is working in Central Asia, and he can work right where you live as well.
Meet our Workers
John & Alice Grenier
Alice, originally from Mauritius, trained for cross cultural missions at Worldview, WEC’s Missionary Training College in Tasmania. She then attended the candidate orientation course in Sydney, Australia, and was accepted into WEC in 1988. Her first assignment was Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, where she spent three years in youth work in an urban centre. During this time, Alice’s family immigrated to Canada. Alice joined them in Canada and served on home staff in Hamilton for three years while applying for Permanent Resident status.
John served 2.5 years with OM and then a short term in the Gambia before coming to join WEC for youth ministry in The Gambia, West Africa. While in Candidate Orientation in Hamilton in 1994, he met Alice and during this time a relationship began. John went to Fuller School of Intercultural Studies in California for three months as part of his preparation for missions. John and Alice married in 1995. They spent 21 fruitful years in The Gambia, in youth and agricultural work. They returned to Canada in the summer of 2017. Their son, Jed, just started his first year at McMaster University. John now serves as maintenance man at the WEC Branch in Hamilton and Alice gives assistance in the finance office. WEC Canada is very pleased to welcome John and Alice on home-staff.
Many of our workers serve in nations where their identities can be compromised. Therefore, we are only using initials or first names.
Harry and Joy
Harry was accepted into WEC in the fall of 2005. Before leaving for his target country, for which he had a passion for souls, friends said they wanted him to meet a colleague at their WEC Branch in Korea. Correspondence began with Joy who also desired to serve the Lord wherever He called. Harry travelled from Saskatoon to visit Joy in Korea where God affirmed their relationship and their call to serve Him together. In September 2006, they married in Korea and the following year moved to the Middle East. They now have three delightful children and are reaching out in evangelism to unreached areas of a large city in the Middle East.
David and Sherry
David and Sherry have been members of WEC since 1985/86. A passion for the lost brought them into WEC and this passion has not diminished over the years. David and Sherry got to know each other when they were on WEC assignments in the Middle East. David is from Saskatchewan and Sherry from BC. They married in 1990, have served in several Asian countries and are now based in the Middle East. God has gifted them in mobilizing new workers for missions and they have seen many young people respond to the call of God on their lives. Two of their three daughters also serve the Lord in missions. The third is still in Bible School. Pray for daily health and strength for David and Sherry and God appointments with those whose hearts are prepared to receive the Gospel.