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Visit this room to learn how to advance Christ's mission in Canada and abroad

The Local Church—a Doorway to Missions
Here is the story of one couple's commitment to missions, and their son's insights into the importance of the local church's involvement with their calling.


It was March 1990 and I returned from a task force trip to Seychelles with a group from our home church—Mississauga Gospel Temple (MGT). I had a burning question for Rev. Cornelius in head office: "Why doesn't somebody stay with the larger projects to see them through to completion?" He immediately turned the question back to me, asking, "Have you ever thought of being that somebody?"

Gerry Laing in Africa

We already knew that God was shaking our nest. We were in our mid-50s, living very comfortably. Our two children had finished their university studies and were enjoying good jobs. Our contracting company was doing very well.

Within a few weeks, we were challenged with a six-month opportunity in Kenya to assist Pastor Dennis White at Nairobi Pentecostal Church.

Then came another question: What to do with the company? Should we close it or sell it?

Because we had always been givers, I thought it would be helpful to sell, which would give us a lifetime of resources to get involved in missions anywhere we pleased.

On the next Sunday morning as I stood among the choir in MGT, God and I had a conversation. His first question to me was, "Who owns the business?" I had forgotten the Men's Fellowship weekend when Stanley Tamm had challenged us to put God in place as CEO. Then another question: "Do you have the right to sell what you do not own?" God plainly said, "Give it away and I will take care of you."

The altar time at the end of the service found me with Pastor Gary Empey. He counselled me to not look left or right, but to go forward at God's command.

A few weeks later we were visiting in Kelowna with our former pastor Rev. Fred Fulford speaking. He changed his message that morning, without knowing that we were in attendance. The title was "The Nature of Ministry." He began with a definition: ministry is God finding a way, through ordinary people whose hearts are right, to do what He wants to do.

His message? "God needs only our humility, obedience and willingness to do what He asks. Humble obedience releases God's power. Leave the rest to Him." This became our confirmation of God's leading us.

We should not have been surprised to see our business steadily declining that year, but should have seen it as part of God's mission plan for us. When we finally gave away what was left, we were free to leave for our first short-term assignment January 1991.

Since then, God has allowed us to use our skills to complete several projects in Kenya under the direction of our former MGT pastor, Rev. Ken Birch. Many of these were two- to three-year short-term appointments.

Gerry and Grace Laing, with the blessing of their home church—The Portico (formerly named MGT)—are currently working with Elmer and Sherry Komant in Kigali, Rwanda.

Surprise! It's God's strategic planning


You have just read an account of remarkable obedience to God's call, a story of my parents. Although it was an unsettled time, the idea of their giving away the business and moving to Africa struck me as cool. This was the stuff of real faith, like my hero Hudson Taylor. Perhaps I should have been more concerned about my depleted inheritance! No, looking back, I can see how God gently uprooted them and then unleashed a lifetime of accumulated skills to build buildings and train workers for Christ overseas. In many ways it was a surprise calling that made perfect sense.

Greg Laing

After my parents moved to Kenya, I felt God's call to relocate from Oakville to Vancouver for graduate studies at Regent College. Thanks to my parents' encouragement, I had traveled several times to Asia for mission trips by then, including a year of language study living with a local family in China. I remember as I departed for my first trip in 1983 that my parents appeared anxious, as though they might never see me again. China was then quite closed and mysterious. I had not felt any personal interest in overseas missions until Dr. Frank Obien presented the idea during a university chapel service. I was gripped and knew I was supposed to go. It was a surprise that made sense, and my life was forever reoriented.

As my parents were discerning their calling in the early 1990s, I too was in flux. I was frustrated and often cried out to God for direction about how to integrate the many overseas experiences with my life back at home. In Vancouver in 1994 I quickly became active in a young Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada church plant called Point Grey Community Church (PGCC). I began part-time graduate studies and worked in commerce. After several months the Lord surprised me with the personal call and community affirmation to join the church staff. Eleven years later, I am continually overwhelmed with the honour that I have to serve Christ in this role.

PGCC has always been significantly involved in local and foreign missions. Why was this so? Robb Powell, the planter, and the lead team established a missional DNA. As with Robb, our passion remains to disciple people into a whole-life, biblical world view of mission. Locally, our primary ministry extensions have been on the UBC campus, within our neighbourhood, as well as extension out into the art and culture world of Vancouver. Globally, our church has a proportionally large number of people travelling abroad for short-or long-term missions. We presently have 17 "sent-ones" (including children) serving long term in six different countries—from a church of only about 400 adults who are mostly under 40.

Point Grey Church

I would easily identify our first-hand involvement with mission activity to be one of the most inspiring catalysts for passionate spirituality and sacrificial giving here at home. Missions exposure helps transform lives for Christ. For example, we have sent out Peter and Cavelle Dove to Thailand from our leadership team. Peter was our UABC campus minister and an elder; Cavelle chaired our Missions Support Group. Both had previous experience in missions—together they are helping to transform Thailand for Christ.

How has missions changed our church? One specific example is the relationship that the Lord arranged for us with a network of churches in and around Mexico City. The Lord surprised us several years ago by bringing pastors Raul and Nayara to us while they were in Vancouver on a study leave. Our church quickly fell in love with them. After they returned home, our church board decided to send Andrea, my wife, and me to Mexico City to meet their church plants and to prayerfully ponder if there might be more to the relationship. The answer was a resounding "yes." We have since linked each of our small groups with their church plants for mutual prayer support, sent resources, teams and individuals down to assist their ministry and have flown several Mexican pastoral couples here to Vancouver to provide them much needed vacation time. I can not imagine PGCC without the partnership to Mexico City. I cannot imagine my own life without the transformation that has come from having their delightful and godly influence.

Greg Laing is associate pastor at Point Grey Community Church and Vancouver section pastor for the B.C. and Yukon District of the PAOC. He is married to Andrea; they had two young children, Parker and Alicia.

Mission hints

Greg Laing shares these hints for keeping missions on the front burner …

• establish direction for ministry with prayer and good process, but always expect to be surprised by God's strategic plans along the way
• get people, especially leaders, onto the field: budget for pastors to go on mission trips
• tell the stories of missions often—and passionately—to the church: don't assume people have heard it or are tired of it (especially in the city where transience is a significant factor)
• meet with returning missionaries (short and long term) soon after they return: listen will to their experiences and then be close by to help them settle back into life locally (these are often the best people to bring into leadership roles)
• maintain and build ongoing relational development with partners abroad
• work hard to connect the local church to local mission: discern the missional opportunities that already exist at your doorstep, always asking "How can we help?"

Mission opportunities

Have you thought of working in a cross-cultural setting? Here are some current mission opportunities:

• ESL teacher at School of Missions in Sao Paulo
• Spanish speaking dental hygiene teacher in Guatemala
• two-year assignment for teachers and a school administrator in a Christian school in Bokarao, India
• enthusiastic medical doctor needed to join Lifeline Malawi, an established and growing primary health care work on the short of Lake Malawi
• administrator at Pan Africa Christian College, Kenya, overseeing all administrative duties
• Watoto Children's Choir team leaders in Uganda. Married couple with musical and technical experience ChildCARE Plus administrators and assistants in Thailand, Haiti and Tanzania

If you are interested in any of the above positions, please contact Kathy Kozsukan, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, 2450 Milltower Court, Mississauga, ON L5N 5Z6. (905) 542-7400 or e-mail: kkoszukan@paoc.org. Under the shared funding model, applicants will be required to raise their own financial support. For more opportunities, visit our web site: www.paoc.org and click on Missions.

Originally published in Testimony, March 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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