They say Vancouver Island is Canada's best kept secret, and I can see why. Set apart by ferry and geography, this gorgeous island is a must see on anybodies destination list. It was my most western point, and the end of a epic journey from sea to sea. I intended to stay two weeks, but ended up staying a month. I didn't want to leave, and sure hope I'll be back. With a climate that boasts the warmest in the country, I was very happy to set up camp here.
It was here in Victoria that I also experienced the gift of having an international YWAM family. Welcomed into the home of a wonderful couple, whose brother had been one of the administrators of the YWAM Texas campus I had served at many years before, I was loved and fed and introduced to a very unique ministry and invention, called the AJ Peddler.
This special couple took me bike riding, for a cod fishing experience out at sea passed the sea lions, and signed me up for an introduction to the BC Legislative parliament through a guided tour and tea. How interesting to find out that the road for women in parliament happened through covert tea parties and conversations.
I dream of the day when the only running women do is for office
That my daughters will know a world where the only glass ceilings are in green houses
In 2017, BC celebrated 100 years of women and the vote. As a woman, I can never take for granted or underestimate what it took for these ladies to be heard, and will be ever grateful that in countries like Canada, I have a voice. As Sean Feucht says - Be a Voice, not an echo.
I really do hope that the Canadian statement of faith holds true today. "I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think is right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."
Meeting a pastor in parliament was also a real treat. From intriguing conversations about Canadian government, to sitting in at question period, to a look into the common prayer room, I was thankful to learn and pray with a man who has a big heart for all the people represented on all sides of the political spectrum. He introduced me to one of the BC MLA's, whose son married a Zimbabwean and who asked for prayer for wisdom and protection from evil.
My look behind the scenes was due to the humility of men, who have sought to build relationship with those in office for many years, through servant leadership and a ministry called Leading Influence. I was even gifted with a pair of parliamentary socks to remember the occasion and felt right at home in the space where prayer and parliament converge.
I also got a taste of the local military, in a parade marking Nov 11, and the end of WWI. There was even a group of Australian men who had come out to commemorate the occasion. As the historic poem, In Flanders Fields, had been written by a Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel, the tradition of wearing red poppies on this day of remembrance seemed only fitting.
Visiting the Canadian L'Abri fellowship on the island was also very special for me. Having heard of the community in my YWAM days, I was delighted to join in their shared experience.
Begun in Switzerland in 1955 when Francis and Edith Schaeffer decided in faith to open their home to be a place where people, whether Christian or not, might find satisfying answers to their questions and practical demonstration of Christian care.
A wide variety of people come to stay with us, for many different reasons, from a variety of backgrounds, world-views, ages and occupations. Some do not see themselves as Christians, and come looking for a place where their questions will be taken seriously.
I joined a couple of Canadian girls who were visiting for a few weeks, and a Swiss girl who was travelling through part of North America. As L'Abri is a place to ask honest questions, we had many a lively conversation. Joining in the reflective prayer, movie nights and community dinners, there was always room to bring hard and meaningful questions to the table. I was so thankful that a friend had told me about the Canadian community when I first arrived in country. Having served at the Boston branch, she had contacts out west, and I was delighted to be on site when her friend was in town to host an interesting discussion on the Biblical theology of women and the Me Too movement. Never a boring conversation at L'Abri!
L'Abri is a place where we try to take all genuine questions seriously. Our foundational belief is that Christianity as found in the Bible is true. This means that a commitment to the God of the Bible is rational and that faith is never divorced from reason. Moreover, because Christianity is true, not only can it be discussed intellectually, it can also be passionately imagined and practically lived out as the Truth.
Always a lover of truth, I was delighted to find a home away from home in the midst of this intellectual community of Christian thinkers. Finding out about the Canadian political philosopher, George Grant made for another interesting discussion. After learning of this Canadian philosopher and political commentator, who is often seen as one of Canada's most original thinkers, I will always remember the question asked by one of the guests at hand -
Is there not a courageous Canadian prophet in this hour of our history?
Having graciously been introduced to the prophetic destiny of Canada through the prayer gatherings and houses of prayer I had been part of, I pondered the question thoughtfully.
Having come to the end of my exploration from sea to sea, I was posed with my own personal question. What next? Although I did not get any specifics to my question, I found peace in a morning reflection on Quietness: Waiting doesn’t mean nothing is happening; it just means I am not the author of the happening.
Vancouver Island is beautiful, and what a place to be as I processed my next steps. Although I didn't get to experience the giant waves of Tofino beach or ski Mount Washington, it was fascinating to find out about the West Coast Trail, and all the outdoor opportunities on the island. Surely, I just had to come back in the summer one day?!
I took time to enjoy the woods, and watch the Salmon run at Goldstream, where I followed the seagulls down the river and observed the eagles as they scouted their fishy prey. These fish are quite incredible to watch, as they struggle upstream against the flow.
Ever on a revival quest, I was intrigued by the 1923 revival which came to the West Coast. A British evangelist, named Charles Price was invited to the island to preach and many were converted and many healed. This happened in a time when racism was rampant, and Victoria's Chinatown was deeply impacted, with at least 600 Chinese giving their lives to the Lord. As many did in the 1923 Revival, there are local "Victorians" who still hunger and thirst for righteousness, and the supernatural. Connecting with Trinity Church proved part of this discovery and was a huge relational blessing for me. The thoughts of a Hawaiian revival historian and YWAM father, were truly a gift on my treasure hunt across the nation.
Attending the Glad Tidings Church which was birthed out of this revival was also enlightening. It is a place where they hunger for a move of God, and I will never forget these words of exhortation - We want a movement, not a memorial! So true! It is so important to remember what God has done, but not remain satisfied with the memory of the "glory days."
The pastors of Trinity Church, shared their thoughts with me on revival. Adopted into their community, I felt very loved and at home with those who yearned and hungered for more.
A South African, married to a Canadian, I felt right at home with their warm hospitality. Introduced through a friend from Bethel, I was amazed to find that his church was part of the same group that my local church in Zimbabwe was part of. Although I missed joining them watch South Africa win the rugby world cup for the first time since 2007, I had my first taste of biltong in Canada, and enjoyed hearing more of their personal story - Why Canada?
They also connected me with a local islander, who hosted me a couple of nights and shared her love for God, children and creativity. The fact that she had married an African was equally
affirming and below are some of her thoughts on prophetic art with kids.
Joining the "Run to the Battle Vancouver Island" was a meaningful moment for the history of the island. It had been almost a year since I had been at my first Battle For Canada repentance gathering in North Battleford. As I sat in seat 37, I took to heart the words spoken:
We’ve got a voice, we’re waking up.
We’re dealing with the sins of the land now.
During this gathering I heard the heart wrenching story of what happened to First Nations people at Nanaimo hospital. It was a blessing to meet with Joni, and hear her first hand account. After treating me to lunch, she told me some of the horrific things that have happened on both sides of the ethnic divide. Here are some of her thoughts...
Meeting a local Blanket facilitator was also very interesting. Like many nations, Canada is on a journey of reconciliation, and it was fascinating to see how history is being re-told in an attempt to form a less biased narrative for the nation. I really like how active education can be.
Chatting with a local artist about an art installation he built to memorialize the tragedies of Residential Schools was also very enlightening. Carey Newman brought the stories of those affected to life through his piece, The Witness Blanket. Canada still has a long way to go when it comes to true inner healing, but I am so blessed to have been privy to some of the amazing work that Christians are doing to bring about restoration in the land. It really gives one hope.
Butchart Gardens is one of the islands great highlights and although I missed the garden in all its glory, arriving in time for the end of the fall leaves, with a little help from my imagination, I was able to envision a little of what this grand landscape might look like in the summertime. Originally an abandoned limestone quarry, it is amazing to see what one woman with a vision could do, transforming it into a sunken garden, in the style of the great estates of the time.
It was an exceptional achievement for Canadian gardening and a reflection of the 20th century beautification movement. Although I didn't get to experience much in the way of natural beauty, I did find an ascetic refuge in the Japanese garden, which boasted beautiful red maple leaves and still waters, and as I walked through the rose garden after pruning, I took some time to appreciate the diversity of names that flowers can have. Who would have thought "naming" could be so creative and specific, or that so many rose varieties existed?
Victoria also has its very own Christian Bookstore! Finding this community space was a real gift, and a testimony to God's faithfulness. With delicious food and a welcoming staff to assist, it wasn't hard to get lost browsing amidst all the literary treasures. One of the books I was drawn to ended up being a story written by a lovely lady I met while in Victoria. The Hand that Writes the Love Song also Holds a Gun, was about her late husband Dave, who is in the Canadian song writers hall of fame, and brother to the famous missionary, Don Richardson.
Not every bookstore hosts a prayer room, and I was delighted to join David’s House of Prayer for a few of their intercession hours. I was so grateful to find my first House of Prayer in BC, and the welcoming love of kindred spirits. Not only did this house of prayer have a huge love for Israel, but it had been birthed in connection to a special prayer room I loved, in Jerusalem.
I gained and welcomed increased revelation on my journey of praying Malachi 4:6. Maybe this significant passage has multiple layers to it, including the turning of the hearts of the gentiles back to our fathers, the patriarchs, and our Jewish roots. With words on reformation and revival in the land, maybe a deeper understanding of these age old roots is part of the necessary reformation needed in the church today?
As someone said, a chord of three (Jew, Gentile and First Nations) is not easily broken. We are one new
man in Messiah, and He is a Jewish Messiah, "the
glory of Zion and a Light unto the nations." Isaiah 49
Meeting another prophetic artist in the area was also very encouraging as we traded stories on the creative process. I loved the piece he did with the children titled, The Lion of Judah.
As I ended my journey across Canada, I celebrated what a "homecoming journey" it had been. Reading a weekly parashah during my time in Victoria titled, Journeys that take us Home, only confirmed the hand of Providence that had been the light unto my path all these months of exploring the epic tale of Canadian history. I didn't have a map for the future, but I definitely had a guide, and as I sat by the sea and finished a book that had taken a journey of over a thousand miles with me, I took to heart it's charge: to REMEMBER.
Had I really traveled from sea to sea?
I couldn't help smiling when I thought of how at the end of my journey of a thousand miles, I had ended at mile 0.
A friend encouraged me, as I pondered my next steps, that maybe this was symbolic? One journey may have just come to and end, but another was only beginning.
I would remember what God had done, and share with the next generation.
I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
As I sat in Victoria’s oldest Anglican church, in a city boasting the oldest Chinatown in the nation and the longest continuous synagogue in Canada, the words from their history spoke straight to my heart: The heritage of the past is the seed that brings the harvest of the future.
May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth. Psalm 72:8