Kumari, born and raised as a Buddhist, recalls mocking Christians at the university she attended. She was confident in her future and in her faith. But at the climax of thirty years of war in Sri Lanka the universities were closed and final exams were postponed for two years. Kumari was in despair.
In her words: “I realized that heartless bombs were stronger than religious statues. What was the truth of life? I was confused, but still too stubborn to listen to the facts about God.”
One day in 1987, a young boy gave her a leaflet about Jesus. Disillusioned with life, she went to a church, an AG church. It was a bit confusing: There were no statues there, but there was a song they were singing, that went something like this: many things about tomorrow / I can’t seem to understand / but I know who holds tomorrow / and I know who holds my hand.
Kumari took his hand.
In response to a call to ministry, Kumari began theological training when she came to Canada. On the advice of Dr. Lyman Kulathungham, she began with us, doing the 2 year program in 18 months. Which is a major accomplishment. She did this while pastoring a small church in the west end of Toronto, and raising her family.
Nothing has been easy, but as she told me: the seminary “turned a new page in my life.”
While at a PAOC Bible Camp in Manitoba – Manhattan Beach, while daydreaming and nodding off during the sermon, the evening speaker said something along the lines of, ‘You may have known for a long time that Jesus loves you and died for you but have not yet made a conscious decision to accept him as Lord and Savior, maybe tonight is your night to do so.’
I went forward and made my confession of faith in Christ and still vividly recall the joy that flooded my soul and the incredible sense of being inwardly clean. I was a fairly good kid but the palpable vivid contrast in my soul between pre-decision and post-decision still strikes me with joy and moves me to tears over four decades later.
Three years after my conversion I again was in an evening service at Manahttan Beach Family Camp, paying more attention to pretty girls in the congregation than anything else. At the end of the message an invitation was given for people who had not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit to make their way to the front and seek God for the baptism. I went, I sought — after what seemed to me like maybe fifteen minutes of praising God in tongues I thought I would just take a break and look around to see what was going on. There was no one left in the building, other than me and my mother, patiently, joyfully waiting and sharing the experience with me.
John gave his heart to Jesus as a boy at the front of Spring Bay Pentecostal Camp.
When he was 12, John was in a service at the church his dad pastored in Oakville. A missionary was preaching. The missionary concluded by suggesting that there might be some in the audience that God was calling to be full-time missionaries. John prayed “Oh God, I don’t want to be a missionary,” (you are not the only one to pray that prayer). Then he sensed God say to him, “you don’t have to be a missionary, but I am calling you to ministry.”
John has ministered. As youth pastor in Oakville, Winnipeg, Agincourt, Sarnia and Edmonton, and then as lead pastor in Barrhead, Alberta for 4 years, Leamington, Ontario for 10 years, and now in Kitchener for 4 years.
When he applied for the MTS program at Tyndale, he applied as a mature student, because, as John said, there was no “immature student” category.
And now after 13 years, of doing what many pastors do, taking courses while they minister, in some years 1 course, in others, two, the end of this chapter has finally come. Meanwhile, John has been a great supporter of the seminary, in every church he has pastored.