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a note from Pastor James
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Christmas is a season full of expectations and often some surprises! This year we are so excited
to have all three of our kids home for Christmas. What is it that you are anticipating most of all?
My prayer is that all of us will find the space to be amazed by Emmanuel, God’s wonderful gift of
Himself to us. Our six Christmas Eve services are going to be a great opportunity to invite family
and friends to hear the story of God’s unexpected arrival. There’s plenty of room so please be
generous with your invitations!
Finding your way in a large community like FAC can be daunting. I know, I’ve had to do it! That’s
why we have Next Steps, an event designed just for you. God’s plan for each of us is that we will
Connect, Grow, Serve, and Share. If you’re unsure of your next step, would like to know more
about following Jesus, are trying to find community, or would just like to meet some people who
would love to meet you – this is just what you’ve been looking for. I’d love to meet with you for a
fun-filled interactive experience and some good food, too, on January 14.
I love this time of year and I love being your pastor!
Pastor James Paton
Connect with Pastor James!
Editor in Chief Heather Wile
Art Director & Assistant Editor Briana Southerland
Graphic Design Deon Watson, Julie McPhail, & Peggy
Editor Cheryl Siebring
Photography (unless otherwise noted)
Jill Hopkins Daron Young
Terry Schmidt unsplash.com
Writers (unless otherwise noted)
Josephine Tse Terry Schmidt
James Paton Peace Oyetunji
Jill Hopkins Jeremy Dyck
Samuel Campo & Janina Resus
Print Production Humphries Printing Inc.
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A quarterly publication of First Alliance Church, Calgary, Alberta of the
Did you know there
is a new FAC blog?!
to check it out
y wife and I decided to forego the
traditional Advent calendar for our
kids this year. At first, we thought that
it would be a letdown for the children to
not have something to open up every
day. It was an easier decision once we saw that our
children don’t need daily reminders of a Christmas
You know how with your children, you count “sleeps”
until the big day?
“18 more sleeps until Christmas time!” I would say.
My middle child rolls his eyes. “It’s actually 445 hours,
6 minutes, and 11 seconds, Dad.”
They do NOT need reminders of how long it is until
But we sometimes do need reminders of what
Christmas is about. That’s why the church holds
this “Advent” tradition. Advent, in the Latin, means
“coming.” And it’s a shame we don’t use that word
Before the movie: “Advent soon to a theatre near
If your Mom calls you for dinner: “OK, Mom, advent!”
And who could forget great songs like “She’ll Be
Advent ‘Round the Mountain”; “Santa Claus is
Advent to Town”; or that classic Stevie Wonder
album, “Where I’m Advent From.”
OK, maybe it’s wise that we don’t use that word
so often. But we do tend to forget why we use it.
Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas,
reminds us that Jesus is coming. We don’t light
these fancy candles every week to remind us that
Christmas is coming. I have my kids for that. “It’s
now 445 hours, 4 minutes, and 30 seconds, Dad!”
We’re reminded of three things: His first coming
as a little baby into the world; His current coming
into our lives; and the future when He’s coming
back again. That was the first intention of Advent.
Now, we use Advent as a way to remind us that,
in spite of the growing excitement of Christmas,
we celebrate a different reality altogether. We can
celebrate the past events in a tiny animal shed
2000 years ago. We can celebrate the present
(Get it? Present? The double meaning of “gift” and
“now”? See what I did there?) of Jesus coming into
our hearts. And we can also celebrate the certain
future of His Second Coming.
I’m certain that when I’m old and grey, I’ll be talking
with my kids about the lead-up to Christmas,
about how, in my day, we didn’t see Christmas
supplies in Costco until October. Unlike now,
when they're up as early as February 26.
So, maybe as a suggestion for next year, should
we start our Advent a little earlier? Can we bump
it into an 8-week thing? 12 weeks? That would
be a lot of candles by the time Christmas rolls
around, but I’ve seen fire extinguishers around
the church. I’m sure we can manage it.
At any rate, I like the tradition of remembering
Christ’s Advent, or coming into this world at
this time of year. If only we had a chocolate
calendar to remember this part of Christmas.
• Written by Jeremy Dyck
Written by JEREMY DYcK
Christmas giving can be so much more than the stores make it out to be. You
can still be a giving person, but it shouldn’t have to be stressful. This year, I’m
giving you permission to sit back and enjoy the holiday times.
Illustrations in this article by Michaela
Thiessen, FAC Grade 10 Student
It was eight o’clock on a Sunday night, and I
found myself sitting in a car next to a hysterical,
pregnant, fifteen-year-old girl crouched over in
the passenger’s seat sobbing uncontrollably.
e were stationed outside her father’s house, which had just been
raided by the police after the neighbors saw a man dragging
a woman across the floor onto the front steps of the house.
Inside the residence the police had found a myriad of drugs, alcohol, and
tobacco. After investigating the situation, the officer on duty stated that
the house was not a safe place to live in and suggested that the young girl
find a shelter to stay. As I sat in the car, reflecting on the past few months
that this girl had spent at Emma House and the definitive decision she
had made to go back to her old lifestyle, I began to genuinely question my
ability to help and enable a long-lasting impact in her life and the lives of
the women I encountered daily. It was stories like this one that opened
my eyes to the dangers and obstacles of being homeless and pregnant.
Over the past two years, my time at Emma House has been filled with
a range of various emotions. I have had the privilege of embarking on
a journey with 27 different women from various cultures, families, and
circumstances, each with their own life stories. As each of these women
entered Emma House with the purpose of finding healing and making
a change, I realized I was part of an organization that was focused on
equipping women who were once lost and broken and leading them
into a life of wholeness. In many aspects, Emma House is like a glass
mosaic with each woman as a different piece of the puzzle. Each piece is
essential to the final product; alone, the picture wouldn’t be complete, but
together they make up the body, the community, the family that is Emma
House. It is difficult to understand how such a vulnerable
demographic could be looked down upon for their life
choices and circumstances when in reality these women
are some of the most persistent, resourceful, and resilient
people I have ever met. Though not all of them succeed
in making a change, the ones that do have overcome
adversities and built a better life for themselves and their
As I’ve watched these women become bold, empowered,
and independent, I am truly honoured to have been a
part of such a monumental period in their lives. So, as my
time at Emma House comes to a close, I leave learning …
knowing … believing that these women are not accidents
waiting to happen, but destinies being fulfilled.
• Written by an Emma House Staff
Emma House Beginnings
In 1992 Emma House welcomed
its first resident in a rented
church manse. Initiated by two
police officers and a group of
individuals concerned about
the lack of support and shelters
available for pregnant homeless
women, Emma House became the
only shelter dedicated to reaching
out to women who were vulnerable to
homelessness while pregnant.
In years since, Emma House has provided
shelter and support to over 140 expectant mothers from
across Canada, encouraging women to build new lives away
from violence, poverty, or addiction.
In response to a growing waiting list for long-term housing,
Emma House has lengthened the stay for women and
newborn babies, allowing them to stay up to six months
while securing long term housing.
"At first I was angry, I was pregnant and felt abandoned by
everyone. It didn’t take me long, however, to warm up to
the house parents. They made me feel right at home ... I felt
like I could breathe for the first time in three years. It was so
refreshing to have someone who really cared just listen to me."
– Shawna placed her baby for adoption and returned to school.
She is now married and a mother again.
Emma House is a community
partner of FAC. Interested in
volunteer at the Emma House
Contact Michelle Peters,
Community Impact Admin
WHAT IS YOUR
for me, god?
Written by TERRY SCHMIDT
“Everyone needs a good laugh
now and then and I hope my
comics will do that for others.”
Story of Global Impact
“Jesus said, 'Go and do the same!'” Luke 10:37
Upon first meeting Heather Hair, you will find a humble individual with an impressive 30-year career as an emergency
nurse, a developed businesswoman, and a leader in the health care industry. But digging deeper, you will discover
the biggest passion in her life is serving Jesus.
Heather has participated in several missions trips to the Philippines, Central America, and most recently the Middle
East. Admittedly, when Heather first heard about the missions trip from Pastor Craig, she wasn’t certain. However, as
it stewed in her heart, Jesus pressed upon her that the Middle East was the place He wanted her to be. Obedient in
her faith, she packed her bags and joined the team in April.
Heather was part of the first response medical team and upon arriving was quickly exposed to the brokenness of the
health care system, the lack of rules, and deficiency in regulations. There were an abundance of people who were
sick and hurting and her heart broke for them. “Jesus loves these people; what can I do to serve?” was a question she
would often ask herself.
As Christ-followers it doesn’t matter where we are in the world; we continue to be His faithful servants
everywhere we go.
One day during the trip Heather was called to see
a man who was suffering from diabetes. Without
much examination Heather knew the patient had not
received the proper treatment. As a result of improper
care for his diabetes, the patient suffered from one
of the worst cases of gangrene she had ever seen.
Quickly, she recognized this would lead to amputation
and she needed to provide him with better care
immediately. Without hesitation and despite the
language barrier, she took the initiative to transfer
him to her personal car and drove a long distance to
another health care site where she knew she had the
proper tools and medical colleagues to aid him. This
unexplainable act was overwhelmingly confusing for
this man; it’s almost unheard of for medical personnel
to go above and beyond to help the sick in his country.
Throughout the car ride he kept on saying, “You are
sent by Allah”; her response was, “It’s Jesus who led
After just a few days of basic health care provided at
this site, his foot was substantially better with reduced
pain. This man and his family were so overwhelmed
by this act of kindness. Through this act of service, this
man felt and experienced something different – God’s
relentless love. Despite the language barrier Heather
was able to communicate God’s love for this man as if
she were the hands and feet of Christ.
A couple of months after she returned home from the
missions trip, Heather received a call from a doctor
at the health care site where Heather took this man.
The doctor told Heather, “This man would like your email.” As
it’s abnormal for a health care professional to divulge personal
contact information to patients – and especially since they didn’t
share a common language – she didn’t respond. A short time
later, Heather received another call from a surgeon sharing that
this man was adamant to get her email. Heather finally decided
to pass her contact information along and is now awaiting those
words this man would like to share with her.
"It's Jesus who led
Regardless of if and when Heather receives an email from him,
she continuously prays for this man. And as much as God has
moved in this man’s life Heather shares that crossing paths
with this man on this trip has greatly changed her life. She was
a witness to how God’s love can penetrate even without
spoken words, and became a vessel to be a means to an
end for God’s purpose. God’s love is so amazing and even in
times of brokenness He provides hope. God calls on us in many
different ways, sometimes even in difficult situations, but it is
up to us to respond and take that leap of faith just like Heather
did last April. • Written By Josephine Tse
"Light to the Darkness" Illustration by Slavik Lykhosherstov
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel …”
This is a mandate given to every believer to reach the unreached and share the love of Jesus. “The world”
may mean different things to different individuals. It could mean your local community, work place, school,
coffee shop, bus stop … or yours may be a call to take the gospel overseas like Harvey and Selma Bolt.
Being on mission is not new to Harvey and Selma;
they were missionaries in Germany for 25 years. This
past summer Harvey and Selma, with another couple
from Calgary, had an opportunity to go on a two-week
mission trip to Interlaken, Switzerland. They were part
of one of the missions under the Arabian Peninsula
Partnership, called “Salamu Aleikum” which means
“peace be unto you.” This mission is led by a Swiss
missionary who has the vision to reach the holidaying
Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula. They had an amazing
experience but not without meticulous preparations
Each morning began with a devotional and prayer.
The daily training sessions oriented them on how to
approach and understand the Arab culture and how to
direct a conversation from weather talk to introducing
In the afternoon, they dispersed into town in groups
of four. Two people would approach Arabs and talk to
them about Christ, while two others prayed in a less
obvious place. Harvey explained, “We had little Arabic
Bibles and New Testaments – since the Muslims have
great respect for holy books.” Also, they were given a
small folder welcoming them to Interlaken. Inside the
folder was a small chip containing the Arabic Bible,
nearly six months, the pain was still there. At this point
people advised her not to go on the mission trip because
she would be handicapped and hinder the whole team.
But Selma says, “We were so convinced that we needed
to go and we wanted to go.”
Two days before their trip she had a bee sting on her
knee, which resulted in swollenness and aggravated
pain. They saw this as temptation and discouragement
to hinder them from going to preach the gospel, but
they were relentless in their decision to make the trip.
the Jesus film, and testimonies of those who became
Christians through dreams and visions. These materials
gave possibilities for long or short conversations.
Several evenings the outreach included showing the
Jesus film in the park. Four Alphorn players started the
evenings with a half-hour concert, with the purpose of
Selma remarked, “The Arabs are very polite and they like
to talk about religion. Personally we also had a higher
advantage because they have respect for older people,
so most people we approached gave us audience.” They
knew they couldn’t talk to everyone on the street but
they prayed that the Lord would lead them to the right
In Arab culture men are only allowed to talk to men,
and women to women. Harvey approacheda man, while
Selma spoke with his wife and five daughters. Selma
shared a personal experience that led her to Christ
which ministered to them in a way that made them want
to hear more about Christ. After a lengthy conversation,
Harvey offered the dad a Bible, but before he even had a
chance to accept it, one of the daughters grabbed it and
hugged it tightly. Harvey and Selma used the openness
to pray God’s blessing over the family and they believe
God is at work in their family.
Last March Selma damaged a nerve in her back and
leg (sciatic nerve), resulting in many months of severe
pain and disability. She visited a chiropractor, went for
acupuncture, massage, and physiotherapy, but nothing
helped. The doctor told her it would take about three
months to heal. After three months, she started feeling
better but then suddenly relapsed. They prayed and
tried all kinds of treatment but the pain persisted. After
On the day of the trip, Selma recalls, “As we arrived at
the airport, I felt a stabbing pain in my leg and I was
wondering how I could make a 10-hour flight with this
pain.” Lo and behold, that was her last pain!
“I personally believe God waited to answer the prayers
to make it an “over the top” miracle. That was what God
gave me at the last minute.”
Selma used this experience to show God’s love to the
Sometimes obedience to God’s command unlocks the
supernatural. Living on mission is a stretching experience
that exposes us to how broken the world is. What would
our holidays look like if we saw them as opportunities to
tell others about Jesus?
• Written by Peace Oyetunji
Interested in going on a short-term
missions trip this summer?
Contact Pastor Craig
Before We Came Here
Book by Emily Foreman
Review by Jill Hopkins
Book available in
"I feel that it is only fair that you understand my level of commmitment
to God and His call on my life to take the gospel to the ends of the
earth. No matter the cost" (p. 5).
With that, Stephen Foreman laid out his life plan to
his then girlfriend, Emily. If she married him, what
would she be willing to sacrifice for Christ? Could she
leave the comforts and freedoms of her American
home, raise children in a culture not their own? She
struggled, then said ‘yes.’
When they were sent to an undisclosed North African,
100% Muslim country in the midst of the horror of
9-11, she struggled, then surrendered. As she tried to
make a home for her children in a country that lacked
the rudiments of education and facilities, and, as she
tried to build relationships and understand women
at the mercy of sharia law, she struggled. As each
challenge rose up, Emily struggled, weighed the costs,
then surrendered to the voice of God in her life.
In her book, “We Died Before We Came Here,” Emily
tells the true story of her family’s journey of faith
and sacrifice as they chose to follow God’s call. Her
stated purpose in recounting the often difficult,
sometimes rewarding, sometimes staggeringly tragic
and heartbreaking experiences in North Africa, is
to tell the story of God’s faithfulness through it all.
And, as she records His faithfulness, she also shows
her faithfulness in humbly seeking His direction, His
wisdom, His peace, even in the face of heartbreak and
loss. It is Emily’s own journey of faith that seeps out
of every decision and circumstance as she wrestles
with her mind and heart, but, in the end, trusts and
follows. It is Emily’s and Stephen’s faithfulness in
seeking the face of God in every circumstance but
ultimately, His faithfulness in walking beside them
every step of the way, as they follow His will and His
purpose for them to bring light into the darkness. At
As the reader is brought into the day-to-day moments
of Stephen’s and Emily’s life, a third theme becomes
evident. As they ministered to the very great needs
of the local people, relationships, friendships, filled
with mutual respect, are built. As Emily meets with
women in prison, she helps to teach them skills that
give them purpose and self-worth. Love grows. As
Stephen openly lives out his Christian beliefs amidst
the Muslim community, people take notice, lives
are affected. Some even secretly come to faith and
join in his work. One convert, not unlike Timothy to
Stephen’s Paul, picks up the cross when Stephen
tragically dies. The whole community mourns. God
Into the western cultural perception that often views
those of the Islamic faith with fear and suspicion,
seeds of compassion, understanding, and admiration
are sown. Light flickers in the darkness.
Through the story of the Foremans’ seven years in
Africa, the reader is transported on a journey driven
by God’s complete and utter faithfulness. “We Died
Before We Came Here” is a testament for all who
want to be inspired anew, by one couple dying to
themselves and surrendering to the will of God for His
purposes and for His glory. No matter the cost.
And He said to all, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny
himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would
save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save
it." (Luke 9:23-24)
Building lives that
honour God ...
all for Jesus!
What if up was down?
New series beginning January 6/7 2018