Upheld by His Hand
God's Park Bench
SW Campus Launch
a note from
As we approach the Easter
season, we start a series called
Looking through the Cross. Like
a lens, the cross helps us to
look at some huge questions
we struggle to make sense of
in life. Each week leading up
to Easter, a snippet from Jesus’
journey to the cross will open
up a window onto our journey
of following Jesus as we take up
our own cross. In 4 weeks, FAC
will journey through ...
The Cross & Identity: The cross and what it represents serves as a lens
that brings focus to the big questions of life — the seen and unseen
wrestlings of all our lives. What does it show us about who we truly are?
The Cross & Ambition: What does ambition look like through the lens of
the cross? What can we learn from all Jesus accomplished on the cross
and throughout His journey toward it?
The Cross & Failure: Failure is, in some measure, part of life ... If we’re
not failing, we’re not learning. So how do we frame failure in a way that’s
not so much a dead end as a launch pad?
The Cross & Evil: In the light of the gap between our imperfection — our
selfishness, our weakness, our humanness — and God’s perfection, how
do we make amends? How can we even begin to?
April 19 (Good Friday) – The Cross: How does this brutal structure of
death become a symbol of redemption and life? Today we shift our focus
from looking through the cross to intentionally looking at it.
April 20/21 The Cross & Life (Easter Weekend): The cross ... An
inescapable symbol of Easter and the approach to Jesus’ sacrificial death
... and a lens that brings focus to the big questions of life — the seen
and unseen wrestlings of our individual lives. What does the victory of
the resurrected Jesus mean for our daily lives? Our nitty-gritty, messy,
complicated, often painful lives? He is risen ... Now what?
Will you join us on this journey to the cross? See you at FAC on the
weekend or join us online at faccalgary.com/watch.
Have a great Easter!
- Pastor James
Connect with me!
A platform for stories to be shared here
at FAC: stories to make us smile, cry,
laugh - and ultimately guide us towards a
transcendent hope in Jesus in the midst of
a broken world. This quarterly publication
uses the talent of volunteer photographers,
graphic designers, and writers. Storyline
is a publication of First Alliance Church,
Calgary, Alberta of the C&MA in Canada.
Editor In Chief
06 Upheld by His Hand
by Terry Schmidt
08 Meet an SHS Student
by Rachel Curle
10 God's Park Bench
by Jenine Stel
14 Heart for Ghana
by Janice Wong
16 Discovering a Loved Identity
by Erik Freiburger
18 This is My Story
by Rod Carpan
20 Southwest Campus Launch
by Jeff Marshall
24 Christians in Iran
page 18 page 14
25 Building Relationships Through Serve
by Andrea Salamon
26 The Value of Serving
by Briana Southerland
28 Artist in the Spotlight: Rebecca
by Marlis Sabo
30 Our Hope ...
Hard Copies are available at Cornerstone
Marketplace or faccalgary.com/storyline-magazine
Check out more photos of what's happening at FAC!
Find us on social media: @faccalgary.com
Upheld by His Hand
Written by Terry Schmidt
The long and winding road to God’s purpose
and plan often goes through dark valleys
until the light of a new day is visible. So
Cassandra Neild would testify as she’s walked
through trial and triumph for over half of her 19
Raised in a Christian home and heavily influenced by a
maternal grandmother who lived by faith, and the only child
of an educator and a librarian, Cass knew what it was like
to be loved and cared for by family and Jesus. But her world
was rocked when her grandmother fell seriously ill when
Cass was 10.
“My parents bought a house across the street from my
grandparents so we could be close,” Cass said. “Our lives
became focused around Grandma’s illness. I would hear an
ambulance in the night, and I would know she was going to
the hospital again.”
Cass’ grandmother was in and out of hospital for 3 years,
creating such an anxiety in Cass that she rarely left home,
afraid something tragic would happen. In the midst of
family trials that resulted in other broken relationships, in
the fall of 2012, Grandma was moved to hospice care.
“I was afraid,” Cass shared. “I prayed, ‘God, if You are real,
Grandma isn’t going to die.’” When she passed away in
November 2012, it shook Cass’ faith critically. “Her death
changed my personality. I was so angry. I thought if I
believed in God, only good things would happen. I felt so
vulnerable and afraid that everyone would leave me.”
Cass’ anger and frustration lead to depression and anxiety,
poor decision-making, and bad behaviour. In her fear of
abandonment, she distanced herself from friends and
family, experiencing constant guilt which perpetuated the
Cass’ grandfather attended a grief counseling class at FAC a
year after his wife’s death and began attending services. He
invited Cass and her family to the Mother’s Day service in
the spring of 2014. Cass was reluctant.
“Church reminded me of Grandma and it was so painful. I
thought, ‘I don’t want to go to a place where they worship
a god that has taken so many people away from me,’” Cass
admits. She was pretty grumpy sitting in the auditorium
that day, but acknowledges she admired the people leading
worship and thought it was pretty cool they could be on
stage showing their talents.
Cass picked up a guitar for the first time when she was 6
and has had no formal lessons. She learned to read music
in junior high and became advanced enough to give private
guitar lessons in high school. Her parents encouraged her to
begin attending FAC youth services and even mentioned her
musical ability to Senior High Student pastor Dave Conrad.
He invited her to SHS worship team auditions that fall and
she became part of the worship team.
“I didn’t participate in worship for the right reasons,” Cass
confesses. “It felt nice to do something I was good at and I
liked the compliments, but I often left the youth service as
soon as I had finished playing.” But God began to pull Cass
closer to where He wanted her.
“(2 acquaintances) I served on worship teams with …
encouraged me to come to the fall youth retreat. I didn’t
want to, but prayed for the first time in a long time, and
gave God another chance,” Cass reveals. “I prayed to have
a friend, and He brought me one. It was a turning point.”
Cass became friends with Madison, now a close confidant,
when God orchestrated them learning that they shared
the same middle name. Cass started attending SHS more
regularly, engaging with the community and enjoying the
support and encouragement of her new friend. Later that
fall came another turning point.
“I was sitting in a baptism service with my parents, and
heard the voice of the Holy Spirit for the first time,” Cass
recalls. “He said, ‘Go, get baptized.’ I refused, but He
wouldn’t let up. My heart was pounding, I fought it, but
eventually told my parents I was going to get baptized.” She
laughs. “They were shocked, because that was so unlike
It was the beginning of the road to a deeper and more
mature faith. Cass blossomed in Christ and in her grade 12
year, God called her to Ambrose University. But a crucial
experience that summer led her to her vocation.
“I was a junior high counselor that summer at Camp
Harmattan,” Cass said, “and during the final night
celebration, another counselor asked me to pray for a
boy who had hurt his hand badly in a game earlier that
day. It was bruised, swollen … I felt so unqualified, but a
friend, Ethan, and I took the boy to a quiet place to pray.”
At first, the 2 felt nothing was getting through, and when
questioned, the boy admitted he was not a Christian but
was riddled with guilt. The walls came down and they
“As we prayed, there was this shooting heat down my
arms, to my hands that were on the boy. It was like the
Holy Spirit threw a blanket over me and on a dark night,
I was surrounded by a ray of sunshine,” Cass shared in
awe. “I have no idea what we said in that half hour of prayer,
but the boy’s hand was healed. No swelling, no bruising, no
pain. He gave his life to Jesus and the whole camp prayed
over Ethan and me. It was life-changing.”Cass is in her
second year at Ambrose, and believes God is leading her to
be a counselor, to help others through trials similar to hers.
Cass wants others to know that “… even though we can’t
see God, He’s as close as our very breath. Everything in life
is meant for a season – and seasons are temporary and
always changing, changing us. But God is constant … so real.
I may not be glad for the things I went through, but I am
thankful for His presence through the trial.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Meet a SHS Student
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all
believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your
1 Timothy 4:12
Written by Rachel Curle
Teens are so often overlooked
because society sees/describes
them as “awkward,” “uncertain,”
… A word I rarely ever hear used
to describe a teen is “leader.” In
my years of experience working with teens I can tell you
that’s one of the first words I would use. It sounds cheesy
but teens are our future. They are our future doctors,
nurses, government officials, and yes, even pastors.
Rachel: What’s your favourite thing about SHS?
Marinda: SHS has a lot of great qualities to offer.
For me personally, my favourite thing about SHS would
have to be the great community of people. All the people
that attend each week have such great personalities, and
there’s something to be learned from everyone involved.
There’s something so inspiring about joining with a group
of people who have the same interest, hunger, or desire
to know Jesus. It’s powerful to all be gathered together in
fellowship for the same common reason.
I want to show you what I mean here. I want to
introduce you to one of our Grade 12 students, Marinda
Kleinsasser. I’ve had the opportunity to know this student
for 3 years! I can tell you personally this young lady is
going places! She has a heart for God, is a leader among
her peers, and she is just one of the raddest teens I have
had the pleasure to meet.
Rachel: So, Marinda, how long have you been
Marinda: I’m in grade 12 right now, and I’ve been
attending SHS since the end of grade 10.
Rachel: Tell us a bit about your journey with God.
Marinda: I would say I was around 5 years old
when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. As a young
girl growing up, my parents had a huge impact on my
faith. I grew up learning the goodness of God by the
example they set. As I grew older, I started to see God
working in my life and in the lives of the people around
me; I just knew I wanted to devote my life to Him. God
has truly gotten me through the hardest parts of my life
and has not forsaken me. Right now, I’m volunteering in
DiscoveryLand in the Grade 2 classroom. I’ve learned so
much more than I ever expected to learn. I’ve learned
what it means to have childlike faith, and to view God
through the eyes of a child. Being a mentor and a good
role model to the younger kids is one of my passions, and
something I feel God has called me to.
Rachel: How has SHS helped shaped your
relationship with God?
Marinda: Through SHS I have gained some very
influential mentors. I have been able to cultivate
relationships with some older women who have been
amazing examples of who God is and what God is
capable of. I have made some incredible friends that I’m
able to share my love and passion for Christ with. We
can have intimate conversations about our faith and be
good supporters of each other. Not only this but SHS
has supplied me with plenty of different opportunities to
dive even deeper in my faith. One opportunity I’ve gotten
to be a part of is a small group known as the Servant
Leadership Team (SLT). SLT is a place where we learn
what it means to become a strong leader, and what it
takes to take on this role. It’s another great opportunity
to meet up with teenagers who have the same desire
to lead people for the glory of God. It’s a place where
we can connect, talk about Jesus, and learn more about
who He is and what the Bible teaches. In a world where
devoting your life to God is not necessarily popular, it’s
encouraging to be surrounded by a group of people who
have the same desire as you.
Rachel: What is your favourite verse and why?
Marinda: Well, I actually have 2 favourite Bible verses
but here’s 1 of them … I remember memorizing it as a
young girl. “In this way, let your light shine before men
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your
Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) To me this verse has a
very significant meaning. It represents a part of my past,
present, and future. As a young girl I’d always listen to a
song and the lyrics were the words from this verse. Then
as I grow older, and started having
to make my own decisions in life,
my mom would often remind me,
“Let your light shine.” It was such
a simple statement, and yet it had
a huge impact on my life, and the
decisions I’ve made. Now I hear this
verse, and am reminded of my goal in
life. No matter where God leads me, or the
plan He has for me, I always want to let my light shine in
everything that I do. My goal in life is for people to look
at me and say, “Yep, that girl’s got Jesus.” I strive to have
people be able to recognize the Holy Spirit within me.
Rachel: Tell us one funny thing people might not
know about you.
Marinda: Well. I’m going to tell you one of the most
silly stories I can think of. When I was really young, I had
open heart surgery (which is a whole other story) and
because of this I now have a small cross shaped scar
on my stomach. So, when I was in preschool, we did
this thing called show and tell. I’m sure most of you are
familiar with this activity. It turns out one day it was my
turn to bring in something that held special value, and I
had to show it to the class. My teacher had approached
me and asked me if I’d remembered to bring in my
special something. (Let’s be honest. I 100% forgot that it
was show and tell, and that it was my turn.) Super eagerly
I exclaimed “Yep, I’ve got something.” (Nope. Nope, I did
not.) When it came time for me to share my priceless
object I stood at the front of the class, pulled up my shirt
and pointed to the little scar and exclaimed “This is my
Well, there’s Marinda … and there are so many more students like Marinda both at JHS
and SHS. So, I urge you – go ahead and talk to one of them. I guarantee you will be
pleasantly surprised and so glad you did! I know I am on the daily! Cheers!
Click here to learn more about SHS.
Written by Jenine Stel
Close your eyes. Breathe in and out ...
Where is God?
Where do you meet Him?
Click here to
I meet Him on a park bench.
here’s green grass, blue sky, no bugs, and just God and me talking
on a park bench. Sometimes we laugh together, while other
times I’m crying on His lap. There have been many years when
we actually just sat still together and not a word was spoken. But God
always has a warm expression and His peaceful arms wrapped around
me. I talk to Him about all things, good and bad, and ugly and beautiful
moments happen on that bench. This is where I meet Jesus. I know I’m
loved and cherished no matter how I feel at the moment. Here on this bench I
can just be me and sit authentically with Jesus.
I first must explain how my beautiful ADHD mind that I’ve been blessed with works. A good analogy God
provided me was to picture my mind as a heated helium balloon. When the balloon is blown up all the
molecules are moving around a mile a minute and everywhere. It’s pure chaos. These crazy, chaotic
molecules are my thoughts. There’s no rhyme or reason as to where these thoughts go or come from,
they just come and go. The only thing that keeps these molecules in one place is the balloon, the rubber.
This is God in my life … He has used science and technology and many different trial and error strategies
to helped shape and form the “balloon” to harness these thoughts and provide a focal point (the place
where air goes in or out) for these thoughts. That’s where the bench with Jesus came from … God knew I
needed a place without distraction – He knew this is how I needed Him to meet me. This place allows me
to be able to focus my thoughts on meeting with Jesus and to be completely in the moment with Him, but
also allows me to be me – my never-stop-moving, scatter-brained, loveable, beautiful, messy self.
"Little did I know that God would turn my place of haven
into a literal park bench."
Little did I know that God would turn my place of haven into a literal park bench. He wanted to turn my
“park bench” into His bench. It started off with a bench at a park close to 13 years ago when my oldest
was a toddler, and has stretched to include many different benches.
One of the ways I’ve always connected to God is music. When I sing all the chains of brokenness fall off
and I can just be free. This is how I first learnt how to connect with God. He used music as my safety vest
when times grew very wavy and unpredictable. I began to completely rely on this one way to connect
with God. I’ve been singing in the choir for the past 11 years or so, and I absolutely love it. But God is an
unpredictable, mighty, and wonderful teacher and wanted to
teach me another way to connect with Him.
So, He made it so I was literally unable to sing everywhere (other
than my house). He ended all the areas of ministry that I was
volunteering in through the church, and even closed a postsecondary
school I was attending to get a degree! The only thing
that remained was a bench.
I have a huge passion to help others see the beauty they have
and to find the love of Jesus and the freedom through Jesus that
I have found. I want them to experience and live in God’s joy and
hope and love. So, every day I walk to pick my kiddos up from
school and sit on the park bench, and chat with whoever sits
next to me. It was through this dry time that God showed me
this ministry … God needed to close every other door for me to
hear His message.
“This bench is my quiet calm peaceful place that is
always available. All I do is close my eyes… Breathe
in… and breathe out… and when I look for Jesus, he
is always right there on this bench. “
I intentionally started trying to be God’s arms. I prayed every day
for God to speak through me and help me hear what He wanted
me to hear … that it would be His words I say, not my own.
On this bench I’ve encountered many different people from
many different walks of life. He strategically seats broken
children beside me for just the right season. God has gifted
me with His ability to help and love the broken and unlovable.
On this bench God loves them through me and provides His
words and encouragement that His children need. I have seen countless miracles happen on this bench
– marriages restored, God’s true empowerment, physical healing, emotional and mental healing – just to
name a few.
Whoever sits next to me I know God has placed there and there’s a reason they’re sitting on the bench –
and I’m supposed to find out. How do I do this? I simply say, “Hi, how are you doing?” I
get to know them, I encourage them, and I know and trust that God will provide
me with His words and guidance. Really, just like Jesus does, I simply just
Then the LORD reached out
his hand and touched my
mouth and said to me,
“I have put my words in
listen to them. Through God’s discernment I share parts of my story that
He wants me to share. My motto, I guess you could say, is if I’m authentic and
real then whoever I’m sitting next to will be authentic and real. What do we talk about?
To be quite honest I really can’t tell you as it’s not me who’s doing the talking, but rather Jesus speaking
God opened my eyes this year and helped my crazy thoughts connect and see that He had turned our
bench into His bench this fall. What was my spiritual safe haven, God has turned into His safe haven
with His arms now stretched over who is placed beside me. Sometimes He speaks words of wisdom and
encouragement; sometimes He laughs; sometimes He cries; and other times we simply just sit with His
warm, peaceful arms wrapped around us.
God has used the many different ministries FAC offers – the choir, serving in DiscoveryLand, leading and
being led in different small groups throughout the years – to build me up and strengthen me spiritually,
emotionally, and physically so I’ll have His strength to be His vessel on the park bench.
y heart for missions began during my first short-term missions trip to
M Ghana, West Africa in 2009. I experienced the transformative power
of the gospel message amidst human brokenness and suffering. God began
stirring a deep desire in my heart for the people in this community in Northern
Ghana to know His transformative and life-changing presence. As the
years went by, I continued to take part in short-term missions trips, visiting
the same communities in Ghana, all the while seeking God’s direction for my
life. I had a deep sense that He was preparing the way for a move into fulltime
ministry in Ghana with the local church.
During this time, God ever-so-graciously prepared me as I wrestled with Him
about what the cost of discipleship for the sake of the gospel truly meant
in my life. Each year, as I returned to Canada from Ghana, I left more of my
heart with the people there as God continued to overwhelm me with His
incomprehensible love for me.
‘As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him
and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked,
“what must I do to inherit eternal life?”’
Last year, I took part in the CRAVE discipleship program at FAC, during which I
clearly heard God speak to me through Mark 10:17-31. God captivated my heart
with this statement:
There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake
and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold
now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and
mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and
in the age to come eternal life.
I prayed for the Spirit to help me understand this truth with a faith and
conviction like I’d never known before. I prayed that God would use this
scripture and give this word to others to speak this truth into my life because
I still had so many fears, despite all the ways God had been calling me into
obedience. One week after praying this, Pastor James spoke about “Money
Matters” as part of The Simple Life sermon series. As God would have it, he
preached from Mark 10. My heart couldn’t believe God’s love for me – how He
would choose to speak to me in such a personal way, despite His clear calling
over my life for all these years.
I am excited about this journey God has me on as I transition from being a fulltime
teacher here in Calgary to a full-time ministry worker in Ghana later this
year. Although there often seem to be more questions than answers about each
step along the way, I am encouraged and assured that my abiding relationship
with Christ is all the strength I need to do what God has called me to.
‘I can do all things through Him
who strengthens me.’
Click here to learn about missions opportunities through FAC.
Patrick Rothfuss said, “It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story
makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” The quote came to mind during my conversation with Ethan
Ethan has been a leader with FAC’s youth community since last September. “Back when I was in high school,” he recalls, “I would
come here on Saturday nights to hang out with friends. My dad (is) a pastor … We never had very many high school or junior
high kids (at our church). My siblings and I would make the trek to FAC to have some Christian community that was our age.”
“I grew up with this understanding,” Ethan says, “that Jesus is real, God is real. I was taught that. When I was maybe 4 1/2 years old
I remember my grandma telling me what it means to follow Jesus; praying that prayer of accepting Jesus into my heart.” Looking
back, it was a genuine act of childlike faith. But growing up a church kid, never mind a pastor’s kid, can have a numbing effect …
Sometimes you can be surrounded by all the right knowledge, go through all the right motions – going to church, serving – and
still never take that childhood faith to a relational level. In Ethan’s words, “It never sunk in. The older I got, the more my internal
world failed to line up with everything I was taught.”
While high school missions trips piqued some spiritual self-awareness, his first year as a student at Ambrose University
awakened him to the reality of who God is and what it means to be a person of faith. For the first time, Ethan connected with
peers – fellow Christians his own age – who, like him, were wrestling with questions and doubts. For him, Ambrose was a
new environment where others freely shared their stories and their struggles – and accepted him in spite of his own. Their
acceptance hit home in a way he didn’t expect.
“I really never had a doubt that God existed. It was more a doubt of (whether) He could love me or want to be part of my
life. Growing up a pastor’s kid, I felt this expectation I had to live up to, (which) 6 days of the week I wasn’t living up to.” His
perception that people expected him to be just like his dad, to never question or doubt or struggle in understanding his faith
– to be perfect – had the effect of slowly and gradually hardening his heart. Through these new friends and their willingness to
be vulnerable, Ethan says, “Jesus broke my hard heart, softened me, made me more vulnerable.” He knew he wasn’t alone. He
knew he was loved. He knew there was more, a greater depth to his relationship with Jesus than he’d previously experienced,
and a purpose he was being called to.
The last 2 1/2 years have brought a deeper personal understanding of the depth of the Gospel, a heart for the Church,
international growth and ministry experiences with YWAM – just a few of many steps toward full surrender to a life lived for
Jesus Christ. Reflecting on the transformation and what he’s seen God revealing in him, Ethan says, “Whether it’s just helping
someone or praying for someone, I think it’s just being bold in my faith in everyday life.”
Looking at what’s yet to come as he continues to pursue the calling on his life, he continues, “I think my heart and passion is
really for young people, those who are my age. I would really love to see people in my generation really awakened and able to
see the reality of the love of Jesus and see how that truth starts to transform their lives. I think it will even inspire parents as
they see their children wanting to pray and read their Bibles more.” Ethan can only imagine what that might look like. “I think
that’s part of the mystery of God and how He works! The way it would happen is if we as Christians just start bringing alongside
anyone who has a similar passion and vision while asking, ‘How can (each of us), in our sphere of influence, impact where we
In some ways, Ethan’s story has just begun. I am inspired and thankful that Ethan Strangway has found himself brought into
the sphere of FAC to share the story of God’s love – for himself and the youth of our community. As reflected in the words of
Rothfuss quoted at the beginning of this article, each of us struggles with an internal story. As Ethan has discovered, beginning
that story in God’s love reveals an eternal call and acceptance that transcends our own false expectations. It is an inspiration
that just as Ethan desires to be a spirit of love for today’s youth, we too can be a storyteller & Spirit of love for all people.
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and
experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God
is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
Like many at FAC, I grew
up here in Calgary in a
Christian home; my family
prayed together, read
the Word together, and
equipped me and my 3
younger siblings with
good, strong foundations
for our faith.
One experience that really stuck out was praying for my uncle
who had a lot of health problems when I was younger. I
remember asking God to heal him almost every night, and my
joy when God listened.
Growing up I struggled with fighting deep-rooted insecurities
about who I was as a person, my ability to make and keep
friends, and constantly comparing myself to others and
seeking their validation. That led me to isolate myself from
others or do things at “shock-value” to attract unnecessary
attention to myself. I spent a lot of time believing I was an
outsider and didn’t have what it took to fit in. Always a positive
thinker, I didn’t let those things get my spirit down, but really
struggled with self-confidence.
I had a few close friends who pushed me in my walk with Christ,
encouraged me, and gave me hope that the Lord wanted
to shape me for His purpose and His Kingdom. I really took
hold of my faith in twelfth grade, started pursuing a deeper
relationship with God, and made Him a big priority in my life.
The summer following graduation I dedicated my life to Christ
and was baptized at the church my family and I attended in
Texas. That summer was truly an exciting time for me, and
I told myself that I ready to learn and grow, but I was still
immature and arrogant. I got accepted into the engineering
program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and
moved there that August.
Shortly after starting classes, I got plugged in with a small
group, and was mentored by an older friend, Nate – a huge
blessing. I was pursuing Christ and was curious to learn
about Him, but my heart wasn’t in the right place yet. I still
had a lot of insecurities and part of me still really desired that
acceptance and validation from others. Because of that and
peer pressure, I started drinking, smoking weed, and going to clubs and parties – all things I’d told myself I’d never do. I wasn’t
applying myself in school and fell behind. This went on for months and I remember feeling empty and misled. In second semester I
received news about my brother that crushed me about the example I was being and led to my parents finding out about what was
happening. I’d broken a lot of trust and upset the people who cared about me the most. I realized my huge mistake and began to
make a lot of moral changes, but I fell further and further behind academically. I received mostly Cs and Ds first semester and failed
all my classes but one in second semester. I was placed on academic probation and felt ashamed and discouraged that I would have
to retake most of my first-year courses.
Through all this, my small group community pushed me and helped me grow, and over the summer I moved into a house with 4
incredible men and women of God. I experienced so much healing and growth, and had a lot of time to reflect. My biggest mistake
had been choosing to let the wrong people influence me, and the biggest lesson I learned was the importance of a strong Christian
community to sharpen you and support you no matter what’s going on.
I was in a state of hope and healing for a few months, but my financial situation finally dawned on me at the end of the summer. The
only way I could stay at Queen’s was to take out tens of thousands in student loans. I spent a lot of time in prayer and decided that
for a program I had failed most of, I wasn’t prepared to do that. Within a week and a half, God brought together everything necessary
for me to return to Texas for a gap year to find some direction.
Leaving the community that had gone through everything with me that year is up there as one of the hardest decisions I have made.
In Texas, I worked, saved up for school, and paid my parents back a large amount of it to reconcile some of my mistake. I received
unbelievable direction, and God continued to bring amazing community into my life. I found another small group, another mentor
figure named Matt, and was diving into my faith more than ever. Being home with my family allowed me to have a lot of needed
conversations and was foundational for the next season.
Everything that happened that year ended up pointing me towards moving back to Calgary. Having been accepted into the Welding
Engineering Technology program at SAIT, which I’m about to finish, I’ve been in Calgary for a year and a half, and God has been
doing incredible work in my life. Some situations have cause me to grow and some to slip up and fall, but I have an assurance that
the Lord has been with me through it all, using me and working through me for good. I have been continually learning how to
surrender my insecurities to Christ, and through Him have experienced a radical transformation in my faith, my character, and my
ability to connect with people. This season especially has me filled with hope, and many things are forcing me to put my complete
trust in God. My faith feels more real than ever and I know that no matter what happens, it’s going to be an incredible journey
experiencing it with Christ.
WRITTEN BY PASTOR JEFF MARSHALL
For over 80 years FAC has been called by God to venture
off the map into unchartered territory. We’ve stepped out
into unique opportunities, never sure where they would take
us. But God has always been faithful, and we believe this to be
true of our latest initiative to become a multi-campus church.
Although multi-campus isn’t a new concept, it’s new to FAC.
And we believe God isn’t just calling us into uncharted territory
but also calling us to draw the map as we step forward into
what He has for us.
So, what is multi-campus? To best answer that question let’s
talk about what it’s not. Multi-campus is not starting a new
church. Although FAC has done this many times in the past,
creating unique, independent churches, and although we may
do it again in the future, multi-campus is much different. God
is calling us to expand our reach into our city and beyond but
through unified and passionate campuses who share
the same mission of “Building lives that honour God.” Each
campus location will be connected and similar-minded,
bringing the strength of a bigger church – the expertise
and resources – to each new community He calls us to. FAC
already meets at different times for weekend gatherings;
now we also get to meet in different geographical locations!
We already know Calgary is the fastest-growing city in Canada.
The suburbs are exploding with growth, and the option of
starting a second campus is a game-changer way to get closer
to these families. It allows for a faster launch and easier
alignment at a lower cost. A multi-campus strategy allows us
to extend our missional reach … to take all of the great things
that are happening here in southeast Calgary and to duplicate
them in the southwest.
And every new campus needs a Campus Pastor to lead the
charge; that’s where I come in. I joined the staff team in
September of 2018 to help bring leadership to this new
initiative. Multi-campus is not a new concept to me.
Before becoming a pastor I worked for the YMCA, which is a
multi-campus organization. Then God moved me into full-time
ministry as the Executive Pastor for SunWest church which
began multi-campus 15 years ago. As I met with Pastor James,
God rekindled my passion for the opportunities multi-campus
brings to reach out to more areas of our city and world. My
passion is to see people come to know Jesus and realize how
different and freeing it can be when they know they’re saved
and God has a purpose for their lives. I also see the benefits
of working together to accomplish that. Multi-campus shares
a church’s knowledge and expertise and spreads it out across
campuses. I truly believe multi-campus, although a bit more
work, is a way more effective and sustainable way of sharing
the love of Jesus – reaching out to new communities, going
and telling about Jesus, rather than just waiting for people to
come and see.
The southwest of Calgary is a very large area, but we’ll be
setting our sights on the area south of Fish Creek Park
and west of Macleod Trail. This area has 7 established
communities with a combined population currently of 67,893.
There are also plans for 5 new communities that will see the
current population double to 138,000. Our hope is to reach
out to all these new families and invite them to learn more
about Jesus with us. Nestled into one of these pre-existing
communities is Glenmore Christian Academy. This school,
founded by FAC in 1980, will make the perfect location for our
weekend gathering in this area of the city. The school is a K-9
school with plenty of gathering space and parking. The school
theatre seats 535 … This space will allow us to grow an 11:15
am service on Sunday mornings beginning in September of
Sunday mornings at the Southwest Campus will offer a
gathering very similar to what takes place at our current
Deerfoot Campus on any given weekend. The worship will
be live each Sunday led by one of our competent music
teams. The preaching will be a combination of live and video
speaking. Pastor James will speak live at the SW Campus 1
Sunday a month. DiscoveryLand will be available for Infants
through Grade 4 as will Grade 5 & 6 programming. Members
of the Junior High (JHS) and Senior High (SHS) teams will be
available on Sunday mornings at the Southwest Campus to
connect with the students in these age groups and invite them
to youth events Wednesday nights at the Deerfoot Campus.
Midweek events, programs, and courses will continue to
happen out of the Deerfoot Campus, bringing members
from both campuses together in a one church / one family
existing communities who may not know Jesus? Will you pray
for the families who will move into the new communities
being developed? Will you pray for the team that will go out
to meet these people and invite them to check out FAC? Will
you pray for God’s favour as we reach out and serve this part
of the city? Maybe you already live in southwest Calgary and
attending the new campus would be closer to home for you.
Maybe you have a heart to reach out to your friends and
neighbours and invite them to check out and become part
of God’s family at FAC. Or maybe God is nudging you to get
involved even though you don’t live in this part of the city.
There are so many ways to get involved and serve as we
launch the Southwest Campus. Our plan is to develop two
teams. One team will serve Sunday mornings – setting up,
greeting guests, serving coffee, signing children in or teaching
them in DiscoveryLand, being part of the worship team, and
more. Another team will plan outreach events, service
projects, and prayer walks in these communities leading
up to the launch of the campus in September.
There really are so many ways to be part of what God is doing
with multi-campus at FAC! I’d sure love to meet with you to
pray and talk about how you could be involved in what God
is doing in southwest Calgary!
In order to launch this new campus in September we
need everyone’s help. Whether you feel called to join the
Southwest Campus or not, we’re asking everyone to pray for
this initiative. Will you pray for the families who live in the
We all have a part to play
This new initiative includes all of us! Whether you feel called to join the
Southwest campus or not, we’re asking everyone to pray for this initiative.
We’re developing a team of people who feel called to reach out and serve those in
the Southwest. Maybe you already live in this area and have a heart for your friends
... Maybe another FAC campus will allow you to more easily invite others
... Maybe God is stirring your heart to step out into something new
Let’s spend time praying together and discerning what or how God is asking you to
Click here to learn more
Contact Jeff Marshall, Southwest Campus Pastor
firstname.lastname@example.org / 403-723-6392
Jesus said to His disciples,
“ The harvest is great,
but the workers are few.
So pray to the Lord
who is in charge of the harvest;
ask Him to send more workers
into His fields.”
Reports of tribulations
WRITTEN BY AN IRANIAN PASTOR, KEPT ANONYMOUS FOR HIS SAFETY
Iran is blessed with a fast growing evangelical church, which as well affects other nations of the region for Christ. The
occurrence of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 had backfire on the totalitarian Islamic regime reminding us of the narratives of
the Bible in which God is always victorious, regardless of the nature and appearance of the oppression. Closure of churches,
arresting the Christ-lovers worshiping the Lord in underground church masses, and banning the Bible in Persian have
The glorified path to Christ has been harsh and painful for many who have had their underground church leaders killed and
their houses confiscated. Yet there is another wave of Christian awakening happening in Iran. We should all pray for Iranian
Christians as they continue to be arbitrarily arrested and interrogated because of their faith-related activities. They continue to
be treated harshly, with some facing severe physical and psychological torture during periods of detention. The government
continues to try and forbid Christian activities (such as meeting in private homes for prayer meetings and Bible studies, or
contacting Christians outside of Iran). Christian converts (and their family members in a number of occasions are facing
physical attack on a regular basis.
The introduction of Jesus Christ as our Saviour to Muslims is an ultimate goal for many Christians. However, true that for new
converts with Muslim background, the early steps of growth into the Light are the toughest of all time right now in Iran; they’re
considered apostates – a criminal offense in Iran according to Islamic law, Sharia. There are frequent reports of harassment,
threats, surveillance, arrest, detention, as well as torture and ill-treatment in detention.
The great news – in the middle of all these adversities- is that the war is already won in heaven (Matthew 28:18). It’s crucially
important to remember that “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
Continuous renewal of our mind is essential (Romans 12:2). Be prepared for the battle and taking the sword of the Spirit which
is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).
And finally, may this be our prayer for the oppressed Church of Iran: “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our
shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our
hope in You.” (Psalm 33:20-22)
By Andrea Salamon
I have volunteered at FAC for 3 years and counting. It is one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had the privilege to
be a part of.
often volunteer with my brothers, Ryan, David, and Jacob. You may have seen us in various
areas—Harvest Ministries, DiscoveryLand, choirs, SHS, JHS, technical arts, and the drama
team. It’s a fun variety! Before I volunteered, I was nervous. I didn’t know if I would like it, and
was afraid I would make too many mistakes, and forget how to do things. That’s exactly what
happened. I kept asking where things were or where I was supposed to go! Even when I made
mistakes, those teaching me didn’t give up on me; they helped me get it right and kept asking
Volunteering with Harvest is lots of fun. It’s a ministry packed with loving, patient staff with a
passion for God and serving others. I meet many people I wouldn’t have any other way. I’ve
made friendships and learned lessons—all while serving others. I can socialize and connect
and show God’s love through things as simple as a cup of coffee, and enjoy investing my time
in an awesome ministry.
Last summer, Ryan, David, and I volunteered in the café for General Assembly. For 12 hours a
day for 5 days, we served coffee and cookies to pastors. (Lots and lots of coffee. And cookies.
And pastors.). At night, we had stories to share at home. Each of us met different people, and
could all relate to the excitement of working in the café. Together, we put our gifts and talents
toward helping. It was an experience we will never forget.
“You, my brothers
and sisters, were
called to be free.
But do not use your
freedom to indulge
the FLesh; rather,
serve one another
humbly in love.”
DiscoveryLand is a warm, fun environment that benefits kids and volunteers. I help with grade school and preschool, and every
Tuesday morning, my brothers and I help with kids from the women’s Bible study. I’ve been able to spend time with my 10-yearold
brother Jacob and see him grow and become better at one of the things he does best: entertaining and helping. David and
Ryan help in another age group, and between us, we often care for siblings, so we get to know entire families better. As we play
with kids and each other, our relationships benefit. Watching kids become more like Christ makes it worth the time we invest.
I participate in choir with Ryan every Wednesday night. Rehearsal starts by praising God and getting into the Bible. We’re welcomed
at the door, and if we’ve had to skip a rehearsal, someone asks with a smile how we are and tells us we were missed. Rehearsals,
without fail, leave us refreshed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Ryan is a tenor and I’m alto, so we can practice our parts together
at home. That’s fun. Volunteering with my brothers has added such a cool element to my volunteer experience! My relationship
with each has grown closer and I love sharing unique experiences with those who are so close to me.
Because of the kind, loving people here at FAC who took time to show, help, and teach us, we can help and
encourage others to help the best way they can. All for Jesus and others!
Thank you volunteers!
Thank you to all of the volunteers that generously give their time to serve. Volunteer appreciation is March 30/31
volunteers please stop by the balloon installation on Main Street.
ndy is the first person I met when my husband and I decided to check out FAC in August 2014. I had moved to Canada after
getting married – unable to work, but eager to get into a community through serving. So I reached out to Cindy Bartlett, Serve
Director, to see if she could help me find a place to serve. She asked me to meet her for coffee to talk about
possibilities. It was a great conversation and she asked me about my gifts and talents. She got to know me and my passions
before she was able to suggest a few volunteer opportunities. It was a great time and I was serving before I knew it!
Now, over 4 years later, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cindy to learn about her and her passion for serving. Cindy is
originally from Regina and moved to Calgary to attend SAIT. She met her husband Mike at Bethany Chapel and has been in
Calgary ever since. Mike and Cindy have 5 grown children, 4 grandchildren … soon to be 5! It is evident that Cindy serves her
family as a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Looking back on her first experience serving, she remembers singing in the
church choir as a child. She would head to the Catholic Church every Friday for the rehearsal. That’s a big commitment!
We chuckled as she told me of a later “volunteer fail.” Cindy was the children’s ministry secretary for awhile and one of her
responsibilities was taking attendance for children’s church. Unfortunately, Cindy forgot about daylight savings time (I think we’ve
all done this a time or two) and arrived just as all the kids were wrapping up. She recalls saying, “Ohhhhhh … everyone’s done.”
Needless to say, there was no attendance that week and there was one embarrassed volunteer. It’s refreshing to know that even
a Serve Director has had learning and growing experiences while serving. I think it’s so important to remember when we get
eady to commit to serving that we don’t have to be perfect at the role … we just have to be willing to learn.
Cindy has worked at FAC for 9 years and although her job title has changed a few times, her role has always been to help
people serve God through serving others. “I feel grateful that I get to help people. I’m blessed to get to know new people that I
wouldn’t have gotten to know if it wasn’t for serving.” As Cindy talked about serving she kept saying the words, “I get to” … This
is profound. Serving isn’t about a list of “have tos” and chores. It’s a privilege God invites us into. We get to serve God with the
talents we’ve been given and it brings joy into our lives as we work with purpose.
Cindy reflects on the joy she found in serving as she volunteered in roles that confirmed her gifts and talents. She finds joy when
she works in areas of service, helps, and administration because this is how she is wired. To Cindy, serving is a daily task and
she keeps a little reminder taped to her desk so each morning her purpose is right before her: “Serving God by Serving Others …
serving staff to equip and support volunteers ... I am here to serve, support, encourage, and equip people towards effective and
sustainable ministry.” Cindy is inspired and encouraged by Jesus who came to serve others and not to be served.
We’re all designed with a unique purpose to build into our communities as Jesus did. “Imagine if everyone could catch the vision
of serving and be blessed as they serve. We would have fruitful ministry.”
Cindy posed the question, “Is it better to give a gift or receive?”
I guess that’s the question we’re left with as a church ... Personally, I want us to be on the giving end.
Written by Briana Southerland
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:45 NIV)
Click here for
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in visual arts.
Personally, I have very creative kids and a husband who support my ongoing
development as an artist. Professionally, I’m an artist-in-residence with the
Calgary Board of Education working with students from Kindergarten to Grade 9.
I was very keen to do any kind of art even as a kindergartner, but when I was in high school, it was a really large focus. I was also
strongly interested in biology and the human body and ended up wanting to do something where my profession could help
people. So I began gearing toward Occupational Therapy. That was where I got my degree and worked as an OT for 13 years. I
loved working with children and began to transition into an educational setting and have now been working as a private contractor
with the CBE for 5 years. God has taken me on quite a journey to this place.
What artistic medium do you prefer most?
Because I work with students, I need to be a generalist and do it all. But I love applying watercolour and ink to wood canvas.
What subjects inspire you and how do you create your ideas?
Often it’s just something in nature or daily life that just sparks ideas. I’ll maybe make a small sketch of that and then a more
complicated sketch, or use an iPad and do it digitally. I add in colour or elements I want to see and then I’ll transfer that onto a
canvas. My favourite style is a combination of nature with fantasy elements. It’s taking what some of nature represents to me
and how that links to my emotions or other people’s emotions. I integrate elements that maybe people wouldn’t expect, sort of
How do your art and your faith reinforce each other? What’s the relationship?
I think this is the most honest expression of me in the way I feel God has created me. I’ve done a lot of things with my life that
feel like not quite me. So this is truly where I feel like I’m on my knees before Him.
‘So God created mankind in
his own image...’
He knows I love this; He knows He created me this way and He’s given me
opportunities to share [art] with other people that I could have never come up
with myself. So I know He’s using it. Doing it, I feel very, very connected with God.
Do you find your creative process is different in sacred art versus secular
It’s not a separation. I think what I want to get across through art is that we have
very real, deep, intense, and sometimes dark emotions and if we just ignore that
we have them, we do ourselves a disservice. If I can somehow show that in a way
that’s helpful for someone else to understand better who they really are, what
they’re really feeling, and if they can connect with the Lord and be honest before
Him … Sometimes we need things to remind us of our need for Him.
Tell us about a favourite piece.
I struggled with severe vertigo for a year and in the process of having it
diagnosed, there were days I just literally felt like I was swimming underwater no
matter what position I was in. So I painted that, how I felt, knowing in all of that
there is a little anchor coming out of the boat. I know where my anchor is in
Jesus. There’s always that element of hopefulness. I don’t want to paint
things that don’t have some element of redemption out of it. It’s not blackness
and darkness. Even tiny dots of light communicate hope.
Have you been involved in any projects or activities at FAC?
I started out contributing to an exhibit called “Ashes to Ashes” leading up to Easter
last year. I’d had an idea already that God had put in my brain a long time ago and
this opportunity gave me the impetus to do it. I realized there was a real desire
for visual artists to come together. Out of that came an artist collective where we
meet together monthly for “Faith and the Arts.” We have time for learning of an
art medium, then look at scripture and some art history, and bring it all together
in a way that’s very meditative; meditating on the scripture and then expressing
it through art as we go. I’ve been doing some of the volunteer instructing in that
group. I’m excited to see where it goes from here and hope many more people
will join us.
What role would you want to see visual arts play in the church?
What should people be excited about?
It doesn’t have to be visual art. Some people say, “Oh I can’t draw, I can’t do
this…” We’re made in His image so how can any of us not have that [creativity]
in some way? It’s a matter of finding out what that is. If I can excite and provoke
people who have this bent towards visual art, or who just appreciate it and that
draws them into worship, that’s important. We don’t all enter into worship in the
same way. I hope the more we bring the visual arts into the church as a way of
facilitating worship, the more it can spark emotion, thoughts, and prayers that
help to draw us in. It’s a way of expressing things without words. I see a lot of
roles for visual arts, even in the services. I’m really drawn to that; it really makes
me think. I hope to share what I love with other people and enable them to
explore their interest in the arts. I truly hope I can do that through my own art
and through the Faith and the Arts group.
I believe we’re
created to be creative beings
who produce and not just
Faith & The Arts
Rebecca's artwork will be featured in"Being Human," starting after Easter.
OUR HOPE ...
… is that the stories you’ve read in this issue of Storyline help you
find hope regardless of your situation. Our life stories can encourage
others in times of desperation and the unknown. But the truth is
that each of us has been made with a purpose and a plan.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Our hope is that you discover God, the true Author of your story. His
Son Jesus represents the greatest gift of hope and love the world will
ever know. God paid the ultimate sacrifice by sending his Son, Jesus
Christ, to die in our place on a cross; to pay the penalty for all the
ways we’ve fallen short of His justice and perfection. He rose again
to prove His victory over death, pain, and suffering. Through Jesus'
death and resurrection from the grave He has restored our ability to
be reconciled and have a relationship with God ... All we have to do is
believe in Him and ask Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Saviour. This is
as easy as praying a prayer to invite Jesus into your life – and you can
do this right where you are. If you feel ready to invite Jesus into your
life, we'd encourage you to pray this prayer today:
Thank You, Jesus, for dying on the cross for me and thank You for Your
unconditional love. I confess my sins; I choose to re-direct my life to
follow You; and I thank You for forgiving me. Please come into my life
and teach me to live for You. Thank You for a new beginning. I accept You
as my Lord and Saviour; I'm now a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ –
and You live in me. Help me to live my life for You from now on. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, or have questions about what it means to
follow Jesus Christ, we'd love to talk with you! Contact Pastor Cory
Easter Services April 20 & 21 | Saturday 6:30 pm | Sunday 9:15 am & 11:15 am
Join us for dinner and discussion here at
First Alliance Church in the Harvest Rooms
Starting Fall 2019
Thursdays, 6:30-9:00 pm (FREE)
Register online: faccalgary.com
What's your next step?
Come to a Next Steps night where you can learn more about connecting, growing,
serving, or sharing! Everyone is welcome.
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Discovery Theatre | No cost
12345 40 Street SE Calgary
403-252-7572 | faccalgary.com
connect. grow. serve. share.