Updated: Jan 14, 2021
"Between British Columbia and the Red River lay what an officially sponsored traveler, Captain William Butler, called “The Great Lone Land,” peopled by Indians, a few Metis, and even fewer white trappers, traders and missionaries" (A Short History of Canada, p105).
It was across this "Great Lone Land" that I drove, for miles and miles without much else but the fields and vast expanse of open grassland. Welcomed into a province by a sign boasting three golden sheaves of wheat, I knew the pioneering Protestant farmers of the past had left their mark for posterity. My first stop, a town with a billboard boasting - "It feels like home."
Wolseley, the place where I stopped only long enough for a stretch break, and a taste of small town hospitality. Drawn in by the inviting Dr Seus, I bought a cup of soda from three friendly Canadian kids who were putting their entrepreneurial skills to work over the summer. My next stop? An iconic photographic moment at Indian Head, on route to Regina.
Arriving in the capital after many hours on the transcanada highway, I settled into an artsy, historic part of town called Cathedral Neighbourhood, where I was blessed with a home away from home through the hospitality of the son of long-time friends of my mom. Getting in just in time to get the keys before he headed out on a family roadtrip, I was introduced to the city from a unique lakeside perspective.
It's not everyday that you get to canoe in a provincial capital! My trip may not compare to the Canadian voyageurs who portaged across miles of the wild west in search of beaver pelts, or the interesting excursion Andrew himself had been on, but I loved the fact that I was canoeing in the biggest city in the province - this had to be a truly Canadian experience?!
Connecting with two evangelists at the River House of Prayer gave me a glimpse at how both prayer and action can compliment each other so well. Sharing a hearty conversation over lunch, I heard many testimonies about students, healings and the work of God amidst the muslims in their midst. They were living up to their mandate of loving God and their neighbor.
As I was on a mission to discover as much as I could of the revival history of Canada, I was delighted to meet a few individuals from the Canadian Revival Fellowship, and hear how the revival, characterized by prayer and restitution, had impacted multiple generations.
And what a treat to talk to a man who had faithfully archived the Saskatoon Revival in a huge
Revival history book. It's not everyday you get to talk to someone with such a deep knowledge and background of what God has done in the area and a recent revival.
I also got to taste some Bison jerky, wild berries and fried bread, while listening to testimonies of family miracles, local outreaches and the ongoing work of the Revival Fellowship . After a delightful conversation and an invitation to stay in Saskatchewan, my hosts were off on an evening excursion to continue their regular "Lentil ministry" to the Syrian refugees in the city. With a good relationship with some of the local Hutterite community in the area, they would share any donated vegetables with some of the most vulnerable in their community. If only I could have stayed longer. I walked away thinking, "When I'm 80, I want to be just like him!"
I decided to take a visit to the Baptist church from which the revival had come. Known as
The Saskatoon Revival, it "was marked by deep repentance, widespread restitution, and restoration of relationships... It was common for the meetings to contain hours of testimonies, full of transparent humility and confessions of hidden sin." (p107 Canadian Mantles of Revival)
How timely that I should arrive for testimony Sunday month. I was deeply touched by three very vulnerable stories by congregants whose lives had been radically changed by the love of God. From divorce to homosexuality, each gave an honest account of their wrestle with truth and acceptance, in living according to an uncompromising conviction of faith. A faith that I shared, and that had lead me on this "faith" journey across Canada. This stop was just another answer to prayer to another step of faith that I took on this epic journey across the nation.
As Prince Albert was a fare distance from Regina, I had decided to take a risk and headed north without a housing plan, hoping that one of the church members would open their home. Little did my host know that day as she was going to hand some honey to her pastor that she would be picking up a couch-crasher for the night. It was the perfect fit.
Her dad had flown for The First Nations ministry I was planning to visit the following day, and her room-mate had been interviewed on the show. I got a taste of her local honey and a window into the life of someone who practices what she preaches. She had spent so much time "Making friends, not money" and had a wonderful relationship with those in her community.
After a brief walk through part of Saskatoon and a view of the seven bridges, we decided to cross one, leading to this shot - a prairie dog in the "Paris of the Prairies".
Prince Albert has the largest percentage of First Nations people in any Canadian city, and it was in this city that I stopped for gas at a fuel station run completely by First Nations, and connected with a reputable ministry who have been reaching out to the first peoples of Canada for many years - proof that God is working in the most remote parts of this nation.
With an invitation to stay, I said my farewells and headed south before the sun set. If the prairies are renowned as the flat lands, this glorious drive back was marked by rolling hills and yellow canola flower fields. This province may be one of the less visited places by tourists and Canadians alike, but it is definitely not forgotten by God. There have been two very significant revivals in this province, and I was thankful to have learned a little about both.
Next stop - cowboy country...
I ended my time in Saskatchewan with a couple I had met at the First Battle for Canada gathering in North Battleford. Working on a small ranch just outside Regina, I was blessed to see firsthand the heart and soul of horse and owner in a special ministry to children in the local area. After hearing stories of how their ancestors had moved Longhorn cattle from Texas to Canada, I could not underestimate the days and difficulties faced by those hearty pioneers.
Although my time was short, I was able to join in on their weekly faith meeting, listen to revival tent worship in the evenings and meditate on having a heart that is free from unbelief.
“Have faith in God,”Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
This couple had truly stepped out in faith to start this ministry and were living testimony to "hearts that believed."
They had actually been missionaries to South Africa for a season, and although fewer people knew of Zimbabwe, almost everyone in Canada I had met knew of a South African doctor living in their neighborhood. I was happily introduced to the wives of two South African doctors from the Moose Jaw area, and had a great chat around a cup of tea. Interesting to note, Canadian healthcare was actually the brainchild of a Baptist Minister from this province!
Another claim to fame that the province holds is three NHL players from the recent 2019 Stanley Cup winning team, including Jaden Swhartz, a college contemporary of mine. It's not every day that you get to cheer for an NHL team where you've actually met one of the players.
And it seems that competition doesn't stop on the ice rink. Saskatchewan is full of surprises, and memorable monuments, including a giant moose with no antlers.
According to the locals, the Norwegians had built a bigger moose to compete with the Canadians, and so the Canadians were in the process of enlarging the antlers of this iconic Moose Jaw statue. With rumors of an underground whiskey trade route, the local history is more than meets the eye. I guess you never can really judge a book by it's cover, or in this case a province. I met some of the friendliest Canadians I know from Saskatchewan, and will always be marked by the fact that this humble province was the birthplace of two Canadian revivals.