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VOL. 19 NO. 1 >> FALL 2015



THINKING AHEAD The Newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada

Under the umbrella of VMC, Pastor Yonatan Hiruy leads a network of Ethiopian and Eritrean congregations in Canada.

New Life in a New Country Thousands of Eritreans flee their country every month—they are the third largest group of refugees crossing the Mediterranean trying to find safety in Europe. The tiny North African country has borders with Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Red Sea.


“Eritreans are coming to Canada, mostly because the situation in Eritrea is very challenging. It is governed by a oneparty government. The situation is very oppressive,” says Pastor Yonatan Hiruy, speaking of his home country Eritrea. Thankfully, some of the more than 10,000 Eritreans in Canada are finding new life in their adopted homeland. Yonatan was raised in the nearby North African nation of Ethiopia. “After I came to know the Lord, I was active in my high

New Life in a New Country Page 1, 2 Grassroots Response to Page 2 the Refugee Crisis Loving Neighbours on Page 3 Their own Turf

school Christian fellowship,” says Yonatan. He was persecuted for his faith in the early 90s, and fled to Sudan where he was a refugee for four years. After living and becoming a citizen in Sweden, Yonatan was invited to pastor an Eritrean church in Canada. Today under the umbrella of Vision Ministries Canada, Yonatan leads a growing network of Ethiopian and Eritrean churches across the country—there are currently six churches with more on the horizon.

Celebrating Growth in God’s Kingdom News & Events Spreading Grace & Truth in Central Quebec

Yonatan pastors a congregation that meets in a Presbyterian church in the Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto (see photo above). In July 2015, he started a cell group in Mississauga that quickly grew to 25 people and is beginning to function like a church. Yonatan says that over the past ten years, there has been an average of one new Eritrean church planted per year CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Page 4-5 Page 6 Page 7

VMC Welcomes New Executive Director Mike Stone, See Page


Granville Chapel’s Grassroots Response to the Refugee Crisis There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. — William Shakespeare (Julius Ceasar)


believe that there is a tide coming in right now, a tide of compassion that is flowing through Canadian hearts. I’m pretty sure it was the photo of little Alan Kurdi, the drowned refugee boy, that triggered it. But something has changed. A couple of weeks ago one of our young men at Granville Chapel, sent me an email saying,“ My heart is breaking! We must do something.” I took the opportunity to ask about our congregation’s collective soul. While preaching on Sept 6th, I reminded the church that in our history we had sponsored and welcomed a family of “Boat People” from Vietnam. Then, five years ago, we sponsored and settled an Iraqi family who were refugees in Syria. I asked people to contact me if they thought the time was right to sponsor a Syrian family. Within a few days, I was approached by more than a dozen people from within our congregation who all said, “Yes, we must do something.” On Friday Sept 11th, I wrote to the entire church, and asked people how much they were prepared to commit financially, given that it costs about $28,000 to sponsor a family of four. When I woke up on Sunday Sept 13th, I already had one pledge of $1000. By Sunday evening, I had pledges for $36,000. Including pledges from our Mandarin congregation, Morning

Star, the number is currently at $55, 721–enough for two refugee families! Of particular interest to me are conversations I am having with two people beyond our church community who have heard about our Granville’s desire to sponsor a Syrian family. Both of these people, not self-labelling Christians, want to partner with us and give funds in what they perceive as a “must-do” act. I’m not naïve. Ahead of us lie forms and applications, the mobilization of people, and the challenges of finding a place, or places, to live for people whose lives have been uprooted and who most likely won’t speak a word of English. There will be headaches and struggles aplenty! And yet, the tide is running high. And I believe we must catch this one because the “full sea” is currently awash with people whose lives are “bound in shallows and in miseries”. This is an opportunity for the Body of Christ to catch the tide, love in Jesus’ name, and make a difference. Andy Perrett, Lead Pastor, Granville Chapel Vancouver, BC ■

My heart is breaking! We must do something.


in Canada. With support from VMC, Yonatan equips and mentors Eritrean pastors and leaders. He says he keeps an eye out for Christian leaders who come as refugees and helps them begin ministering in Canada. “The work is encouraging at the same time it is difficult, we see people coming to know Christ, especially those who went through traumatic experiences.” Yonatan says the first ten years are the most difficult for refugees as they try to establish themselves in Canada. As well, many Eritreans distrust evangelicals because they are considered by the dominant Coptic Orthodox Church in Eritrea as false teachers. Pastor Ezra Tsegay Gebrehiwot and his Toronto congregation of twenty to twenty-five people, also belong to the network of Eritrean churches. Ezra led a church of about 200 other refugees


from Eritrea and Ethiopia in Cairo, Egypt. When he emigrated to Canada to attend Bible college, he and his wife started a cell church in their home. Since 2012, Living God Church has baptized six people—another seven or eight new believers will join the church through baptism next month. “God is really working in our church. Some of the new believers were delivered from demonic possession. We are glad to serve this miracle working God,” says Ezra. The Living God congregation planted a new church in Guelph this summer. With connections made through VMC, the fledging congregation, led by Pastor Mercy Tesfai now meets at Guelph Bible Chapel. VMC is happy to cooperate with God as he moves among refugees coming to Canada. ■

Mount Zion Worship Centre (an Eritrean and Ethiopian congregation) meets at a Presbyterian church in Toronto.

VISION MINISTRIES CANADA More Flourishing Effective Churches

Northern Hills Church: Loving Their Neighbours on Their Own Turf “W

adults who attend the church. Peter says some of the non-Christians have used swear words as they describe their past interactions with Christians. His hope is that the Northern Hills congregation can help to change their perception. It seems to be working. As people e disciple through from the community “experience relationships…First we people who are shaped by God’s love” establish healthy, strong relationships they are responding to Christ. So far, then we have faith conversations over twelve people have been baptized— time,” says Pastor Peter Roberts. five in the congregation’s first year and A network of Calgary churches came seven so far in their second year. alongside Peter to start a church in a The church is also making an impact geographically distinct neighbourhood on their neighbourhood as they host at the top of that city. Peter gathered events and look for ways to show God’s a team and launched Northern Hills love. “Our Easter carnival has been “We want our community to know that successful—1000 people came last we are here and that we love them.” year, and 1200 people this year, even though it snowed a little,” says Peter. Church in Calgary in January 2014. Last summer the church dedicated VMC’s Moving the Mission Forward five days to helping people in their National group decided to support the neighbourhoods with yard work, church during the first year. Now 21 painting, repairs, and other tasks. Forty months later, Peter’s team of eighteen adults plus children has grown to about people from the church helped seniors, people with disabilities, immigrants, 75 adults plus thirty or forty children and other neighbours. and youth. Their local community association The church meets in a local movie was so impressed that the president theatre and hosts many events. They wrote about the church—including want people who don’t know Christ it’s vision—in a newsletter that goes to feel welcome in their community. “Meeting in the movie theatre has been to 18,000 homes. Now the church is partnering with the community helpful, it is a lot less intimidating,” association on events. says Peter. “We are doing church in “We want our community to know their environment—it breaks down that we are here and that we love barriers.” There are 17 or 18 non-Christian them.” ■

Board of Directors Jim Doherty, Toronto David Knight, Waterloo Ron Seabrooke, Linwood Ken Taylor, Waterloo Binghai Zeng, Toronto Staff Gord Martin, Jay Gurnett, Henrietta Koenig, Deb Cavan, Doug Loveday, John Riley, Indiana Salai Cungcin, Mark Anderson, Pernell Goodyear, Al Rahamut, Gary Allen Thinking Ahead/Vision Ministries Canada 145 Lincoln Road, Waterloo, ON N2J 2N8 Phone: 519-725-1212 Toll-Free: 1- 877-509-5060 Fax: 519-725-9421 e-mail: info@vision-ministries.org Western Canadian Office: 519-872-7252 or email jay.gurnett@vision-ministries.org www.vision-ministries.org Thinking Ahead is published 3 times/year in an effort to connect like-minded Christians and their local churches and encourage them to work cooperatively, especially in evangelism through church planting and church extension. Spending of funds received by VMC is confined to board approved programs and purchases. Each gift designated toward an approved program will be used as designated with the understanding that when any given need has been met, designated gifts will be used where needed most. Gifts of $20 or more are acknowledged with an official tax receipt. VMC is committed to financial accountability; all accounts are audited by an independent auditing firm; financial statements available on request. We appreciate notification of double mailings, names for our mailing list, or if a name should be deleted. Articles may be copied for limited circulation without permission. Please include the credit line: “Reprinted from Thinking Ahead 1-877-509-5060/www.vision-ministries.org.” Editor: Sandra Reimer Designer: Audra Noble Reimer Reason Communications


Good things are happening among new and established churches HOPE CITY CHURCH BARRIE began as a core group of twenty people in March, 2014. After outgrowing their space twice, the congregation of about 90, now plans to meet at a movie theatre in downtown Barrie. They reach out to average folks as well as people in poverty, prostitutes, men and women who are addicted, and former prisoners. “PRAISE GOD for 10 planned baptisms and two salvations in response to the testimonies on Sunday, August 23rd! There was also at least one salvation and other ‘seekers’ coming forward since the baptisms!...And for the momentum of our new Downtown Women’s Ministry that meets in space donated to us by the Salvation Army. Today, 19 (mostly marginalized) women gathered to study God’s Word and to share a meal together. They are quickly outgrowing the meeting space!”

DISCOVERY POINTE CHURCH in Scarborough, ON held their first public service March 22nd, 2015. God answered their prayer for a church building that they could use seven days per week to serve their community. They prayed one night in August, spotted a 9,500 sq facility for lease the next day, and moved in later that week. God is also helping them connect with their neighbours. Church Planter Ezra Byer

—Pastor Kevin Mast, Hope City Church www.hopebarrie.com

Visit to Vision Ministries Kenya “We returned from Kenya with much thanksgiving for safe travel, good health, receptive learners at the leadership training event in Nairobi, a developing Vision Ministries Kenya board and a hilariously joyful celebration of the new church facility built this year in Namanga – Maasai district. Thank you Lord!” —Gord Martin, Executive Director Vision Ministries Canada

“A lady who runs a thrift shop right next to our site has started coming to our church with her husband. We recently honored her in our service because of all the help she has been. This past week she brought 10-15 people over to our building to invite them to our Grand Opening service.” —Pastor Ezra Byer www.discoverypointechurch.ca

The Jesus Network: Immigrant Pastor Reaching People from South Unlike most Pakistanis, Samson Javaid was raised as a Christian. In his mid-20s, Samson began working full-time in Christian ministry. While on staff with Pakistan Bible Correspondence Institute, he did relief work and was a chaplain in a Pakistani prison. “Many Muslims were coming to the prison chapel for prayer,” says Samson. This angered Pastor Samson Javaid Muslim fundamentalists in the community so they threatened Samson and his family. Fearing for their safety, Samson fled to Canada in 2012 with his 4 // THINKING AHEAD

wife and three children. In 2013, Samson met staff from The Jesus Network in Toronto. Recognizing Samson’s gifts and call, The Jesus Network invited Samson to become a part-time staff member. Able to speak Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and English, Samson easily connects with immigrants and refugees from South East Asia and the Middle East. Beginning in June 2015, Samson raised enough support so that he could leave his factory job and work full-time with The Jesus Network! Samson and his wife Samina lead Bible studies and a church service in their dense Toronto neighbourhood. Recently, Samson has begun collaborating with a Chinese Church in Scarborough

s and ministries that are part of the Vision Ministries Canada family

Gentle Shepherd: Rural Church Reaching Youth “From our beginnings, Gentle Shepherd has had a clear mandate to disciple young people,” says Pastor Adam Nickell. Although the majority of their congregation are grand-parents, Gentle Shepherd in the village of Eugenia, ON, also has a number of young families. The 140-person congregation started in 1988 and draws people from surrounding rural areas. The congregation, which has always employed a full-time youth pastor, hosts weekly junior and senior high youth groups as well as monthly and annual youth events. For more than 20 years they offered a monthly worship night for teens and they continue to operate an annual Mud Volleyball Tournament for youth groups from all over Ontario. About a year ago, when a congregation folded in nearby Flesherton, they deeded their building to Gentle Shepherd. With renovations, the upstairs main meeting room became a youth-friendly space perfect for hosting concerts, training events, etc. “Now we have a dedicated youth centre in the heart of Flesherton to use as a tool to help disciple young people, “says Adam. The church also reaches out to children after school with gym games, a devotion, fun and snacks at three local public elementary schools. “It gets our church present and active in the community and it is amazing to hear the stories of kids who come out and who have never heard the gospel of Jesus before,” says Adam. He adds, “During one devotion, a worker brought out a Styrofoam cross to talk about what Jesus did for us. One child asked, ‘Hey – what is with the big ‘T’ ?’. The child had no idea what the cross was or meant.” Some children from the after school program also attend the church’s weekly youth groups and summer kids’ camp. “It is truly a wonderful thing that God is doing here in some amazing rural communities in Grey County!” www.gentleshepherd.ca

East Asia & the Middle East that reaches South East Asians, and a Toronto ministry that helps immigrant pastors reach people from their home countries. Samson also helps to pastor an Urdu-speaking church in Toronto. Thank you to Vision Ministries for putting trust in a stranger who was successful in another part of the world. I think VMC was the first one who stepped out [with funds from the Moving the Mission Forward initiative] so that I could go take a huge faith step as I left my secular job and trusted the Lord. — Samson Javaid, reaching Hindus and Muslims with The Jesus Network



Quebec Church Moves Into a New Neighbourhood

Pastor Jean-Marc Princivil of l’Assemblée Chrétienne Source de Vie Church in Sherbrooke, Quebec baptizes a woman in his backyard at a service in May 2015. Three teens were also baptized that day.

As Lorraine Hostetler was driving in the Mont Bellevue neighbourhood of Sherbrooke, Quebec she saw a family walking in the rain. She stopped to give them a ride. Though Lorraine was not able to communicate to the immigrant family from Central African Republic, she was moved to help them. She asked her pastor, Jean-Marc Princivil who leads the Source de Vie congregation, what they could do. Jean-Marc (from Haiti) told her that his wife Myra was from Central African Republic. To everyone’s surprise Myra spoke the same little-known dialect as the family. Now Source de Vie is helping the family get settled in Quebec. Though they are not Christian, the family attended a recent baptism service in the pastor’s backyard with about 100 other people. For several years, Source de Vie has been reaching out in the Mont Bellevue neighbourhood through a youth club at a local school. A predominately white church, they have been praying for a building in this community of immigrants for the last six or seven years. God recently opened the doors for them to purchase a building that is centrally located next to a key grocery store in the area. “The city of Sherbrooke is behind us, which is quite unusual,” says teaching elder Martin Jalbert. The city changed the zoning to allow the church to refurbish a former restaurant. If all goes well, a Christian contractor will renovate the building in December and the congregation will relocate in late 2015 or early 2016. Watch a video about the work of Source de Vie (in French). www.emontbellevue.com THINKING AHEAD // 5

NEWS & EVENTS Responding to the Refugee Crisis

Still time to...

As church leaders in Canada, we feel compelled to respond to this significant need and work to settle refugees in Canada. Vision Ministries Canada is committed to encouraging congregations across the country to sponsor refugee families from Iraq and Syria, welcome and befriend them, provide new homes for them, and help them integrate into Canadian society where they can live in freedom.

Attend the Bilingual Church Planting Congress, MOMENTUM 2015 Montreal October 27-29, 2015

Interested in welcoming Syrian or Iraqi Refugees who will be arriving in Canada beginning in 2015?

Join more than 600 catalysts, church planters and pastors from around Canada for the next national Church Planting Congress! Contact Jay Gurnett immediately to get a spot jay.gurnett@ vision-ministries.org or 519.872.7252.

The federal government is looking for churches and community groups who will cover the full cost of sponsoring 60% of these refugees—including medical and drug costs not covered by provincial health insurance during their first year in Canada. For the other 40% of the newcomers, the government will cover costs for 6 months of a one-year sponsorship plus medical costs. Sponsoring congregations would help with practical and social aspects of resettlement. If you are potentially interested, contact David Cottrill, Director of Community Outreach, at North Park Church in London, Ontario. 519-457-1400 ext 247 or David. cottrill@northpark. ca. David can give you advice and help you get the process started. Also, find out more information about government refugee sponsorship programs at www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/sponsor/ Consider donating funds to www.mcccanada.org or www.worldvision.org or a refugee ministry in your community or province.

Welcome to New VMC Staff Members Mike Stone, Executive Director, beginning in Jan. 2016 Mark Anderson, Western Canada Network Facilitator, re-started in September 2015 Deb Cavan, Office Assistant, Started in July 2015


Save the date! The (now) Annual VMC Thinking Shrewdly Consultation will take place at 145 Lincoln Road, Waterloo on April 29th & 30th 2016, Friday 9:00 a.m. through Saturday 3:30 p.m. Come – listen, think and pray with us so that together we may see the kingdom advancing in our nation. This event will emphasize participatory learning groups, each designed to strengthen our ministries and enhance collaboration. It will also include plenary sessions. We are hoping for two to three key leaders per church: men, women, older and younger leaders. Registration cost will be $99.00 per person Registration is not yet open

Love the City: Engaging Neighbourhoods November 13 & 14, 2015 at Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative Windsor, ON A weekend conversation exploring how we can make our neighbourhoods good places to grow up and grow old together. Learn how to engage the streets around our homes and our church buildings. www.dwcc.ca/ events2/love-the-city-engaging-neighbourhoods/

Spreading “Grace & Truth” in Central Quebec


ounded in 2003 as a Bible study in the town of Ste.-Annedu-Sault, QC by Jean-Sébastien Lemelin, the Église Grâce et Vérité (Grace & Truth) congregation soon outgrew homes and needed a larger location. With about 100 people in the congregation, they began renting space in a garment factory in the nearby town of Victoriaville. But the building was on a dead-end street and the church entrance was at the back. “The way you do the entrance to a church is very important, “ says Jean-Sébastien . “Your door tells people whether they are welcome or not.” People couldn’t find the church and if they did find it, some turned around because it looked like it was for members only. With a passion to reach French-speaking Quebecers in rural areas, Jean-Sébastien knew the congregation needed a better solution. “In Quebec, only .05% of people are evangelicals. That is less than the most Muslim country in the world. We are the evangelical third world,” he says. A larger building in a better location seemed impossible. In Quebec, churches must put 75% down on a building—50% in cash and another 25% must be guaranteed. Quebecers don’t trust churches—especially not protestant, evangelical ones. Grâce et Vérité just couldn’t afford it—unless God stepped in. The opportunity to purchase a building for a very reasonable price back in Ste.-Anne-du-Sault arose. The 18,000 square foot building—another former garment factory—was in a central location. The town of Ste.-Anne-du-Sault itself is in a strategic location—people pass through it to go to Trois Riverières, Drummondville, and Quebec City. As well, there is no evangelical church within 50 km of this town of 1200 people.

About the Church of Christ Development Company This non-profit lending organization started in 1957, aims to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ through providing low interest financing of capital projects for churches and church organizations in Canada. CCDC is particularly interested in coming alongside churches associated with Vision Ministries Canada. Talk to Jay Gurnett or Gord Martin if you’d like an introduction or any other information.

Église Grâce et Vérité celebrated their first baptism service in May 2015 after moving back to Ste.-Anne-du-Sault, QC

But where would they get the money? It was around this time that Jean-Sébastien heard about Vision Ministries Canada. VMC Executive Director Gord Martin, went to visit the church and its leaders in November 2014—a month later, the Grâce et Verité (G & V) leadership voted unanimously to join the VMC network. Recognizing an opportunity to multiply God’s Kingdom work in Quebec, VMC was able to connect G & V with the Church of Christ Development Co. This lending partner loaned the church the money to purchase the building and do renovations. In May 2015, G & V held an open house—the majority of those who attended were from the community. Through relationships built with the local radio station, G & V broadcast live for three hours during their open house—including a baptism and an interview about what a protestant church is like. The congregation is emerging from a period of rest after the intense work needed to renovate the new building. Members were reassured that their sacrifice of time and money were worth it when a young man was baptized in July. “He invited four friends and they became Christians on the day of his baptism,” says Jean-Sébastien. In light of recent growth, the church plans to hire an associate pastor to care for congregational needs. Meanwhile Jean-Sébastien and others will continue to evangelize in their community. Video about Église Grâce et Vérité (in English) www.graceetverite.org/qui-sommes-nous/vmc/ ■

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Turning Point: VMC Welcomes New Executive Director


hen Moses reached the age of 120, the Lord brought Joshua along to take over as leader of Israel. The board of VMC didn’t want to wait until Gord Martin became a centenarian to find his successor. It’s tricky to succeed a capable and beloved leader—especially when the leader is the founder of the organization or movement. From its infancy in the early ‘90’s, Gord has shaped the ministry of VMC in ways that reflect his passion and personality. So the board began praying that God would bring us a strong and capable “Joshua” to provide continuity and confidence to the ministry. We also asked for someone with the vision to move us into the years “beyond Gord”. When we understood that none of the present staff aspired to the role of Executive Director, we looked further afield. Early this summer, God brought us two very good candidates who know the ministry of VMC. Both brought considerable strength, vision, and passion for

the mission. Our churches across Canada would have been well-served by either one. But after extensive interviews, prayer, and deliberations we had to choose. We were delighted when Mike Stone accepted our invitation to take the baton from Gord. Mike brings an array of gifts. Being a pastor and church team leader for almost three decades has given him both silver hair and a deep heart. As nada a C s ie tr a husband, father, and grandfather is in Vision M to e e th r m he knows the joys and challenges of o fo d lc e ea h W gA ing Thinkin rough this ad family life. Mike and his wife Sharon re e ar u o y th ear, Some of ree times/y inks out issues, and have also walked the road of suffering Th e. m ti t rs very fi ories, th d st an s ll re te o as their 23- year-old son died from C M e M g newsletter,V ts in order to encoura . Since 1992, complications of cancer in 2014. d en n o ev bey publicizes Canada and ately 90 church in es h In 2012, Mike completed his rc u h roxim Better C ongside app d provide services to al e Doctor of Ministry in missional m co e ers an we hav t ow help lead See page 3 for fine prin ey. n church leadership from Fuller d an , ts n pla a. on e manage m hes in Canad Theological Seminary. He is a 165+ churc ho we are, and how w rsion of this ve tw gifted and stimulating teacher/ details abou a printed or electronic page 7 or send n e o iv ce rm preacher. His teaching was very re fo To a the gularly, use inistries.org. (if you’re re n o ti well received this summer at ca li b l -m ai pu info@vision date with em the Vision Ministries Kenya a request to please keep us up to er, conference. g regular read anges). in k es of Thin ch Three years ago, Mike and address about us, read back issu Find more for leadership events resources, etc, spear-headed VMC’s national er ter “Moving the Mission Forward” Ahead, regis nces, find plenty of oth re . fe rg n o s. co ie tr and is in effort, bringing fifteen thriving m n ww.visio etc, etc, at w


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VMC churches into a collaborative partnership that has led to starting ten new churches and missional initiatives. The VMC family is a diverse network of 180+ congregations from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island. We’re as varied as the Baskin and Robbins ice cream menu with its 31 flavours. But we share a common mission—more and better churches— starting new churches, and helping existing churches fulfil their mandate more effectively. This kingdom mission comes to us whitehot from God’s heart. The same One who led Moses and Joshua is still leading us today. We’re confident that God brought Mike to us. And that God has given him the heart and mind, the vigor and capacity to lead VMC by God’s grace into his future for us as a mission for his Kingdom. Over the next four months, Mike will conclude his pastoral duties at ForestView Church in Oakville where he has served for the past 19 years. Between now and the new year, he will meet periodically with the VMC staff. Alongside Gord and Jay, Mike will attend some key national leaders’ meetings. Gord will continue to work full-time with VMC. In addition to helping Mike to transition into his role as Executive Director, Gord will focus on our ministry to new Canadians and on international activities. Please pray for Mike and Sharon as they transition to this new role within the Vision Ministries network. Pray also for Gord as he mentors Mike to take over leadership. And please join the board of Vision Ministries in thanking God for this exciting new stage in our work together. Yours in Christ, David Knight Acting Board Chair, VMC

Profile for Vision Ministries Canada

Thinking Ahead 19-1 Fall 2015  

The newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada: More and Better Churches.

Thinking Ahead 19-1 Fall 2015  

The newsletter of Vision Ministries Canada: More and Better Churches.