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|Athletes in Action||Christian Embassy||Connecting Streams||DRIME||FamilyLife||Global Aid Network||The JESUS Film||LeaderImpact||The Life Project||P2C-Students||WHEN|
|Athletes in Action||Christian Embassy||Connecting Streams||DRIME||FamilyLife||Global Aid Network||The JESUS Film||LeaderImpact||The Life Project||P2C-Students||WHEN|
We're grateful for you!
Your faithfulness is making an impact.
At Power to Change, we are deeply grateful for your commitment and investment in proclaiming the gospel message in Canada and around the world. Together in 2017, the Power to Change family of ministries shared the gospel message nearly 850,000 times and 24,237 people indicated a decision to follow Jesus.
The following stories highlight some of those transformations. We hope you will be encouraged and inspired by what God is doing through the ministries of Power to Change and our humanitarian partner, Global Aid Network.
Together, as we celebrate 50 years of ministry, let us continue to proclaim what we have seen and heard, for we cannot help speaking about Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,
President, Power to Change
From Tragedy to Hope
Devastation is a familiar sight for the Shamattawa First Nation.
In recent years, the isolated community in northern Manitoba has been repeatedly ravaged by arson, destroying several homes, a portion of an old school, warehouses containing building supplies, the community’s band office, and their only grocery store.
A 12-year-old child was charged with arson for the band office and grocery store fire. Five other children involved in the incident were too young to be charged.
Many kids in the community are dealing with shock and grief, residents say. Four successive suicides among Shamattawa youth in 2015, and recent deaths due to illness, have thrown the community into deep mourning.
Residents believe a lack of support and recreation is causing children to act out.
In July 2017, Athletes in Action (AIA) travelled to Shamattawa to run a week-long sport camp for kids. A team of four student-athletes—coordinated by Dallas Williams, the Director of Manitoba AIA Sport Camps—ran gym classes in the morning and spiritual lessons in the evening. Many kids jumped at the opportunity to play, learn, and compete in a safe and active environment.
“Our team grew to love the kids and the teachers,” says Dallas. “We ask people to have a relationship with Jesus, but first we develop relationships with them.”
The student-coaches thrived in their leadership roles, exemplifying their caring hearts and passion for sport. “Administrators thought so highly of the team that they wanted them back next summer,” adds Dallas.
On one memorable evening, AIA team members took on the local RCMP officers in a basketball game and drew a crowd of both camp-goers and local residents. It was an enjoyable and truly unique experience, says Dallas.
For the children of Shamattawa First Nation, just showing up sends a message. Not many outsiders venture into the community to build relationships and share a message of hope. AIA continues to pray that the message of Jesus will take root in the community.
Hosting sport camps in remote regions like Shamattawa has its challenges, but Dallas witnessed God’s provision in 2017 and the tremendous impact sport and love can have on local communities. “We are excited about how God has blessed this work so far, and anticipate what He will do in the future,” he says.
Athletes in Action hosted over 40 basketball, volleyball, and multi-sport camps in Manitoba during the summer of 2017, and over 150 camps across Canada. These camps provided a significant opportunity to share the message of Jesus, demonstrate His love, and engage youth in the fun that sport has to offer.
Ambassadors for Christ
David Imbrock, the Senior International Representative of the Christian Embassy, works to inspire and disciple leaders in Ottawa and around the world. One of those leaders is Ambassador Edgar Gaspar Martins of Angola.
In February 2017, David encouraged the ambassador to invest more in his spiritual life. The ambassador agreed and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He also set out to read Scripture regularly, using the bilingual Gideon New Testament David gave him so they could read together.
Five months later, the ambassador and David prayed together for the elections in Angola.
Ambassador Gaspar Martins approached David with great enthusiasm a few weeks afterward.
“Brother, let us choose a Psalm of thanksgiving to praise God for how he has answered our prayers with a peaceful election and a good new President!” he said.
As the Christmas season drew near, the two men began discussing evangelism. Ambassador Gaspar Martins came to realize that the best thing he can do for someone is to help them know Jesus. With some input, the ambassador created a Jesuscentered Christmas message for his embassy’s annual Christmas card. He also reviewed the Four Spiritual Laws booklet in his language, and took three copies to share with others during the Christmas holidays.
“It’s exciting to see how he is stepping out in faith to be a witness for Jesus,” says David.
The ambassador continues to seek intercessors for Angola. Following God’s answer to prayer for a peaceful election in August, now is the time to pray for godly advisors to serve the new president, and for the government and the people to work together for the good of Angola.
"What makes Jesus so famous?"
This question, posed at a weekly Connecting Streams’ Bible study, piqued Sarah's* interest. As an inmate at a local prison, she’s been hearing a lot about Jesus in recent years.
The first time was when she was living in a homeless camp in Edmonton’s river valley. A man who camped nearby began reading the Bible aloud and discussing Scripture with the others every day.
Sarah was deeply impacted by this.
“Although she’s been in and out of prison for years, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing God’s truth taking root in her life in more recent months,” says Connecting Streams staff member, Emily LeCerf.
“She looks forward to our weekly Bible studies and says she’d never miss them.”
Connecting Streams continues to walk alongside Sarah and others on their spiritual journeys, and as a result, many of those who volunteer with the ministry are impacted as well.
“God has used Connecting Streams as a pivot point in my life in so many ways,” says Joie, a volunteer and advocate for the ministry. “I am so grateful for all that He has done and continues to do. He has blessed me through friendships, spiritual growth, challenges, and answers to prayer.”
*Some names have been changed for privacy.
Fear turned to joy
As Andy* walked through downtown Vancouver, something caught his eye.
A group of people dressed in black were performing a drama in Robson Square. He stopped to watch, curious to see what it was about. A story of the grace and forgiveness of Jesus unfolded before him. It was a message and performance unlike anything he’d ever seen before.
Amanda, a DRIME team member, saw Andy standing amidst the crowd and approached him. “She took the initiative to talk to me and the time to get to know me,” Andy says. “After that, she introduced me to the team, and they’ve since adopted me into their DRIME family.”
The DRIME team continues to teach and encourage Andy on his spiritual journey.
“They’ve given me a better understanding of Jesus in many ways, and are always ready to help with any problem I have,” he says. “So much fear has been turned to joy since I’ve been talking to them.”
In another part of the world, DRIME also touched the life of a woman named Grace. As she watched a DRIME team perform in Kenya, she was moved by the message of hope, but she mistakenly believed that her sin was too great for her to be redeemed. She had made so many mistakes—many of which were visible to her neighbours.
When Grace spoke with DRIME team members, she confessed her reluctance to accept Christ or go to church. The team members told her of the unconditional love of God the Father, and of His Son, Jesus. “Immediately she accepted salvation and now she is attending church,” says Eva, the leader of DRIME Kenya.
*Some names has been changed for privacy.
Faith did not begin at home for Justine and her husband, Jon. Both were raised in homes where there was little to no mention of God.
“We never read the Bible, prayed, or knew anything about God—other than how to take his name in vain,” says Justine.
So when Justine attended church for the first time at the invitation of her aunt, she was taken by surprise. “That first service was like an epiphany for me,” she says. “I felt like I had finally come home.”
Jon indulged Justine’s ‘Sunday hobby’ for a while, but as she committed her life to Jesus and grew closer to God, Jon became more antagonistic about faith.
“It became something we couldn't talk about,” Justine explains. “It was a part of my life that was increasingly important to me, and he wouldn't even acknowledge it.”
Justine prayed for God to intervene. A breakthrough came when her aunt suggested she and Jon attend a FamilyLife Weekend Getaway. Surprisingly, Jon was willing to attend.
“Something happened that weekend,” says Justine.“Jon didn't hear foolishness and naiveté when they talked about faith and marriage—he heard strength and wisdom that made sense.”
The three-day conference is designed to help couples reconnect and re-establish the foundation of their relationship. “The weekend helped us come together without trying to change each other,” adds Justine. “We learned who God made us to be together, and Jon saw the incredible wisdom that the Bible and the Holy Spirit have to offer.”
In the summer of 2017, after months of wrestling over his decision, Jon surrendered his life to Christ. Now, he and Justine are both active in church and Bible study, and are building a Godly marriage and home together.
“God answered every one of my prayers in beautiful, awe-inspiring abundance,” says Justine. “That one weekend changed our lives. I know the Holy Spirit moved through the speakers, making the weekend what it needed to be. I can only imagine that other couples felt it too. I will forever be grateful we came.”
Clean water changes everything
For many women and children in rural Africa, the search for water consumes their lives. Often travelling long distances through dangerous territory, they spend hours each day seeking water to sustain their families.
The water is found in open, hand-dug wells or collected from streams and ponds. It is dirty and filled with parasites. The very water they take such pains to find will make their families sick, and could ultimately cause their deaths.
In the small west African country of Benin, this picture is changing dramatically. Many women are now healthy and contributing to their communities, children are able to go to school and play with their friends, and villagers are flourishing with renewed health and purpose.
Clean water changes everything.
In 2017, GAiN’s Water for Life Initiative provided their one thousandth well in Benin in the village of Houngnihedo. This is a significant milestone. By the grace of God and the generosity of donors, this means that approximately one million people (10 per cent of the country’s population) now has access to clean water.
Along with the provision of a water well, villagers receive training in proper sanitation habits, hygiene practices, and safe food handling methods.
Communities are also trained in water management, basic maintenance, and financial practices to oversee the long-term functioning of the well.
While clean water has dramatically improved the physical health of villagers, their spiritual health has also been impacted by the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In partnership with The JESUS Film Church Planting Strategy, 277,963 people have heard the gospel and 43,177 have made a decision to follow Jesus since GAiN first began their work in Benin.
As of today, 6,506 church members have been trained in evangelism and discipleship, 361 new churches have been planted, and 9,925 people have chosen to be discipled and grow in their faith.
“As we celebrate this milestone in Benin, we also acknowledge the labourers and praise God for the way He has blessed the work of every hand,” says GAiN Executive Director and CEO, Ray Sawatsky. “As God leads, we pray that one thousand wells will lead to another thousand, and that more hearts and lives will be transformed for His glory across this country.”
The Forgotten Places
In Kabala, Sierra Leone, Saidu Kamara and Foray Mansaray strap 50 pounds of equipment onto their motorbikes and venture down a dirt road into the mountainous region of the Kuranko people.
The roads are rough in this northeastern district, making many of the villages difficult to access and leaving the people socially isolated.
These are the forgotten places.
When the men arrive in a village, they meet with several other fellow believers—also members of a church from Kabala. Together, they invite the villagers to see a film in their own dialect about a man named Jesus and His message of hope.
After the film, the villagers are invited to come forward to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. In the weeks that follow, the new believers are discipled by nearby church members, and a leader from the Kabala church shepherds the young believers, eventually planting a new church in the village.
Through the JESUS Film Church Planting Strategy (JFCPS), Pastor A.B. Samura of Kabala has planted five churches in the Kuranko region.
"Since the introduction of this church planting strategy in our district, it has helped our mission to expand to places we never thought of going,” he says. “JFCPS has helped the Body of Christ here in the area of church planting and evangelism. The training materials are widely used in most of our churches.”
In the same way, JFCPS teams travel throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Paraguay to show the JESUS film, disciple new believers, and plant churches. Here are some accounts:
"I was a Muslim before and I used to argue with Christians about their faith, especially the claim of Jesus being the Son of God. But the JESUS film made me understand that indeed He is the Son of God who actually came from heaven to die for our sins. I am really convicted by what I’ve seen and heard from Jesus Himself." – Issa
"It was during the JESUS film show that I decided to trust and follow Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus give direction to one’s life and draw one closer to God. I believe the best way to live one’s life in this world is to love and serve God...I’ve decided to trust in Jesus and to join this new church where I can worship God and fellowship with other believers. Thank you very much for bringing such a wonderful film to us. We are truly blessed." – John
Called to Lead
In 2016, Cindy Parker attended a LeaderImpact Forum in Red Deer, Alberta. As both a partner in the accounting firm of Olsen Joly LLP and a Christian growing in her faith, Cindy greatly enjoyed the event.
The speaker was engaging and the conversation was lively and meaningful around the tables.
Several months later, Cindy was asked to join a LeaderImpact group in Red Deer. She began meeting regularly with other leaders to discuss matters of business and faith, and she soon sensed that God was calling her to a leadership role within the ministry.
However, God had work to do in her life before she was ready to lead.
“My gift—according to the grace given to each of us—is leadership, and I was trying to bury that gift and not embrace it and use it for God’s glory,” she admits.
So it wasn’t until 2017 that Cindy began leading a LeaderImpact group, and she is currently involved in launching the LeaderImpact City Team in Red Deer.
“I am humbled, yet very much excited about what God is planning for Red Deer, and about the spiritual lives that will be transformed,” she says.
"I just wanna let you know that after planning out my suicide on May 3rd, 2016, I accepted Jesus into my life that same day inside of a porta-potty at my jobsite.”
In December 2017, The Life Project received this comment from Mark* on one of their online articles. They recognized him as the same commenter from two years before.
Mark had been struggling with suicidal thoughts since his youth. In 2015, he searched "I want to believe in God but I don't know how" and found an article on one of The Life Project's websites with that exact title. He poured out his heart in the comments section, and asked for help because no matter how hard he tried to be good, he could not feel any assurance of faith in Jesus.
A Life Project mentor responded, explaining that salvation is by grace alone and suggested a prayer that Mark could use to commit his life to Christ. Nothing was heard from Mark for over two years, until he left a new comment in December. His life was transformed!
“I'm now working with the kids ministry at my church,” he wrote, “as well as with the middle and high school ministry. I do my best to be a beacon of light for those who are lost, as I was. I heard God's knock at the door long before I accepted Him into my life. I would like to thank you for investing your time in replying to a comment like mine, and spreading the good word! God bless you."
*Name has been changed for privacy.
Patrick stepped onto the University of Victoria campus looking forward to exploring life’s fundamental truths, being challenged by talented classmates, and developing deep relationships with new friends.
Much to his surprise, he encountered the most important of those truths, challenges, and relationships, his first day on campus when he met Justin, a staff member with Power to Change – Students.
“During our first meeting, we spoke a bit about faith,” says Patrick. “I casually explained to him that I believed in God, citing my mother’s faith as a professing Catholic and my own upbringing in the Church as proof of my spiritual life.”
However, Justin’s response surprised Patrick.
“He said that if I had not personally accepted Christ as my Saviour, I was actually not saved,” Patrick explains. “That dissolved two false paradigms that I held about God. First, it dismantled the idea that one can inherit faith and salvation. Second, it suggested that God is not an ‘out there’ God. Rather, that He is a relational Being who desires a personal relationship with me.”
Patrick had many doubts and reservations about faith, but his curiosity was piqued. He and Justin began meeting every week.
“Justin presented me with evidence and questions to mull over. He didn’t force me into a ‘gotcha’ moment that exposed either my hypocrisy or intellectual inadequacy. He focused everything on Jesus, and whatever doubts I expressed would frame our discussions.”
Months later, after much discussion and self-reflection, Patrick got down on his knees in his dorm room. “My prayer for salvation was the first honest prayer of my life,” he says.
Soon afterwards, Justin walked Patrick through what his new life in Christ would mean. “He explained the importance of finding a church community to be grounded in. I bought my first Bible. I started praying regularly. And at the end of the school year, I got baptized. It was an amazing time of growth in my new-found faith.”
However, over the summer and into his second year of university, Patrick’s faith journey ground to a halt, compounded by a season of clinical depression and anxiety. He struggled with mental illness, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.
“My doctor prescribed two different medications to treat my illness. I also tried to cure myself with drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy relationships,” he says.
Patrick ignored Justin during this time. Then, after two years, Patrick was exhausted trying to fix himself. He began to read Scripture again and returned to church.
“My pastor suggested that spiritual breakthrough only comes when one surrenders to God as Lord over their life. I hadn’t fully appreciated that the price paid on the cross—and the resurrection three days later—is not simply about my salvation, but also about my very existence,” he says.
The first person Patrick reached out to was Justin. During Patrick’s fourth year of studies, Justin continued to be a trusted friend, encouraging him to surrender to God each day and to take new steps of faith in sharing the gospel with others.
“I knew that without God as my foundation, nothing else would work. My two years with depression and anxiety are proof of this,” he says.
Patrick completed his first year of law school in 2017 and continues to be an active participant in the Power to Change – Students’ ministry at his campus. He is experiencing how knowing Jesus truly changes everything.
Ade Ying’s experience with WHEN has been a journey of faith steps and steady growth.
When Ade first attended an informational gathering about WHEN, she instantly connected with the goal of helping introduce Cantonese-speaking women to Christ. Though she attended a church in Vancouver, she saw this as a way to impact her home neighborhood in Coquitlam, B.C.
At the first WHEN event in November 2016, Ade took on the role of floor manager, using her keen attention to detail to keep everything running smoothly. At the second event in June 2017, the attendance doubled and Ade took on the challenge of training a new floor manager, as well as actively suggesting improvements to make guests feel more relaxed.
Immediately after the June event, an opportunity presented itself to have a well-known, young Christian actress share her story. There was a very short timeline to prepare for the event, but Ade was one of the strongest voices to say, “Let’s do it!”
Her prayer was that God would double the guest list again, so she began to invite friends while still paying close attention to her duties as event co-chair and emcee.
“Although there was so much to be done in a short period of time,” Ade says, “I felt very supported because our WHEN team prayed for each other. In my former experiences, I would have been trying to plan everything out in detail. But in WHEN, I was learning to leave things to God.”
Following the event, Ade said yes to the opportunity to host a Discovery Group in her home. To her delight, one of her guests began to attend and before Christmas, Ade had the privilege of helping her accept Jesus as her Saviour and Lord.
Through WHEN, God has brought wonderful opportunities for Ade to fulfil her desire to share His love and inspire others. “God shaped me to be used in His ministry,” she adds. “Looking back, God’s grace has been in every step.”