Year in Review
has been a rollercoaster ride for me
personally, with some health challenges
that seemed very complex early in the year,
and then as we prayed God opened doors
and new possibilities emerged. I still face
challenges but have more hope than ever.
Even in our struggles God is with us. Here at
FAC the bold decision to follow God’s leading
to ‘go off the map’ and launch a second
campus certainly increased our stress
levels, but also emboldened our faith as we
witnessed dozens of new families becoming
part of our extended family. FAC Southwest
is flourishing and is widening our gospel
footprint in SW Calgary. Even in our stress
God is with us.
I’m sure you have your own stories. Everyone has a story. And we’d love
to hear them and share them with others. We’ve just been reminded
in our Beyond series: “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as
to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11, NIV) Your testimony, your story
matters. It’s the story of God with us.
At the turn of the year we often look back at the stories we can tell and
look forward, anticipating or perhaps terrified at the year ahead. Even
in our fears God is with us. Our new teaching series in January is called
Transformed. It’s about more than resolutions. We are going to discover
afresh God’s promises that can transform our lives from the inside out.
Together we’re going to learn about spiritual health, physical health,
emotional health, mental health, relational health, financial health, and
even vocational health. It will be an opportunity not only for us, but for
friends we can bring with us, to truly be transformed. Weekend teaching
will be supplemented with seminars and resources to help you take steps
forward. Maybe already you want to think about your own goals knowing
that God is with you.
Christmas is such a special time. Not always an easy time, but certainly
special. It’s when we purposefully remind ourselves of the wonderful
truth: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call
Him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:23, NIV)
And so let me wish you a very Merry Christmas! I love being your pastor.
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 quarterly publication of First Alliance
Church in Calgary, Alberta, of the Christian
& Missionary Alliance in Canada.
Editor In Chief
Suzanne Van Herk
04 Flashback to FAC International
06 Desire III: the Power Of Hope,
Unity, and Intertwining Forgiveness
by Erik Freiburger
08 Justice Semester – Updates
by Tori Duncan and
11 Celebrate Recovery
by Adam DeMont
12 Reflections of 2019
by Terry Schmidt
14 I Have Decided: Baptism Stories
18 By the Word of their Testimony
19 Our Hope
20 Your Story Matters
by Heather Wile
21 Pink Shoes
by Lisa LeBlanc
23 New Year's Queso Recipe
by Sterling Hunter
13 Life Change
by Andres Bentancur
Volunteer with Storyline firstname.lastname@example.org
Share your story faccalgary.com/storyline-magazine
(November 2018) raised $17,771
towards Alliance Justice &
Raised $2,280 for international
Total Raised: $24,676
Raised $4,625 for refugee sponsorship
Check out more photos of what's happening at FAC.
Follow on social media: @faccalgary
The Power of Hope, Unity, and Intertwining Forgiveness
b y erik freiburger
In the Summer and Fall Issues of Storyline this year, we met Desire (Des) Muhindo
from FAC and read about the calling of God on his life and the persecution he faced
as a young man from a Rwandan family living in Burundi and his return to Rwanda to
preach the Gospel. His story concludes here.
Tears were forming in his eyes and trickling
down his cheeks as he reached for some nearby
napkins to wipe them away. This was my third
time sitting down with Des and he was telling me the
horrific story of how he was forced to watch as his
mother was brutally killed with machetes in front of
him. While we had both resonated lost our mothers
in our mid-teenage years, I could not fathom how he
could find forgiveness out of the experiences he had
been describing to me. And yet, it was this power
to forgive that would set him free with hope for
Des has been through much in his younger life but
he shares freely that it was in God’s deliverance
through those experiences that he found hope in his
future. Years would pass and Des would eventually
bring his family to Canada, returning often to
Rwanda and the ministry he continues to work in
with his people. His wife, a gifted gospel singer from
Africa, would also return to perform in concerts and
Pointing towards the lessons of unity he learned
from his mother as a boy, he spoke of his deep
convictions to humanity’s oneness. Des recalls
questioning as a child, asking her, “What is a Hutu
and a Tutsi?” Surprised by his inquisitiveness, she
responded, “Who told you about this?” “It was our
aunt.” Des explained.
“You are not either,” his mom would say. Taking
water and some earth she mixed them together to
make a mud-like substance. Then, while telling her
children to take a handful of the mud, she explained
to them, “When the Hutu and the Tutsi came to live
together, they became Rwandan. This is what you
are; you are Rwandan. This is all that should matter
Des’ words brought to mind Jesus’ prayer in the
Garden of Gethsemane. “I ask not only on behalf of
these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in
me through their word,” Jesus cried over the stone,
“that they may all be one.” In a world deeply divided
by labels and the tensions of us and them, I pray we
too fall to our knees in the spoken and sought-out
actions of finding unity with all people. Humanity’s
amazing beauty shines brightest in our unique
recognition of all being children of God.
Des’ lasts thoughts in our time together spoke to the power of forgiveness. “The people who killed my family
are not followers of Jesus. Should I be like them?” Des shared rhetorically. “No! I am a Christian and Jesus says
we are to forgive.” The faith that Des embraces has brought radical transformation not only to himself, but to
those who are in relationship with him. I am deeply inspired by his passion for God’s love for all people and the
sharing of his faith despite the great tragedies he has been through. Looking to the future he expresses great
gratitude for his wife and kids as he serves God always both here in Canada and in Africa.
Several years ago I read Desmond Tutu’s book No Future Without Forgiveness. It was a very difficult read as he
described many of the atrocities prior to the fall of Apartheid in South Africa. Des’ stories seemed that much
more vivid as he experienced them firsthand in Rwanda. Yet Tutu would refer to the significance of the African
term “ubuntu” when searching for humanity’s healing from these atrocities. He describes it this way:
“Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being
human … It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a
bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.” It is not, “I think therefore I am.”
It says rather: “I am human because I belong. I participate, I share.” A person with ubuntu is open and
available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he
or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole
and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or
treated as if the were less than who they are.”
How much more should that be for us who dwell in the Holy Spirit?! Ubuntu is not just an African term. It has
significance and meaning for all humanity. If we are willing to openly share all our stories as equals, we might
together find a future in insurmountable hope, transcendent unity, and intertwining radical forgiveness.
(Below: Writer Erik Freiburger with Desire Muhundu) •
“Bear with each other and forgive one
another if any of you has a grievance
against someone. Forgive as
the Lord forgave you.”
READ PART 1 READ PART 2
This is story is a republication from the Summer
Issue with an update on Tori and a new Justice
Semester student, Nicole Amsing ...
I never felt called to missions in general, and I especially never felt called
to missions overseas.
pictured my life in a specific way: college, career,
marriage, children; nothing particularly exceptional.
I watched those around me pursue short-term mission
trips, or going to be international workers, and I could
never picture myself being one of those people. Then in
October 2015, I was attending a Bible study here at FAC,
and I remember hearing a testimony from a young adult
who had recently returned from a short-term missions
trip to Cambodia. The International Worker was going to
buy a T-shirt from a street vendor, and the vendor said
to him, “For an extra $10 you can have her,” pointing to a
young girl sitting on a stool beside him. Hearing that story
that night broke me, and I felt God stir something within
me. Definitely a desire to work with the oppressed, and
maybe in Southeast Asia. I didn’t think much of it beyond
that, but a seed had definitely been planted.
Over the next two years, I attended university and it was
going great. Come May 2018, I was only one semester
away from graduating, and my clinical practicum was
going very well. I attended a Sunday morning service at
The Exchange Church and heard from a short-term
missions team that had just returned from a twoweek
trip in Phuket, Thailand. I heard about the work
being done by For Freedom International (FFI), an
anti-exploitation ministry in the region. I was
intrigued, and when it was announced that
FFI was offering a gap semester, a Justice
Semester (JSEM) program, that would involve
living in Thailand for three months and
getting hands-on experience serving
in anti-exploitation ministry, I
felt God drop that weight on my heart like a boulder.
But I wasn’t sure how it would work timing-wise, so I
prayed for God to show me what He wanted of me.
He commanded me to enroll in the Justice Semester,
and pushed aside everything in my life that could have
prevented me from following His calling to Thailand. So
I surrendered to His will and was accepted into JSEM.
I moved to Thailand in early January 2019, barely knowing
anything about Thai culture or the language and not
knowing any of the 6 other people I would be sharing this
experience with. My first few weeks in Thailand involved
learning about Thai culture and customs, including how
sexual exploitation is a part of the culture and the roles
that factor into that: poverty, religion, women’s roles,
etc. We learned about how to share the gospel with a
Thai person who has a honour/shame mindset that is
unlike our own guilt/innocence culture in Canada. The
gospel became new to me when I learned to share it
with a different perspective. In Thailand, the monarchy
is highly revered; speaking against the Royal Family is
punishable by incarceration. Thai people also consider
feet to be a very unclean part of the body that should
never be touched by others. Sharing the story of Jesus
washing the feet of His disciples from the book of John
is revolutionary to a Thai – to hear about a King of
kings who is higher than the Royal Family, the most
honourable man to ever walk the earth, who willingly
washed the feet of His followers and willingly took on
their shame and suffered its consequences by death.
We had the chance to share the gospel with locals and tourists
weekly on our outreach trips to Patong Beach, on the edge of
the Red Light District. For Valentine’s Day, we walked down
the Red Light District and went into the bars to talk to the girls
and share Jesus’ love with free gifts of cookies made by FFI’s
own vocational baking students. During our exposure trip
to Pattaya (the sex tourism capital of the world) we had the
chance to minister to women there by distributing packages
the JSEM team had assembled containing condoms and a card
with contact information for the local anti-trafficking ministry
that we had the chance to visit and learn from.
For me, my entire Thailand experience was an
exercise in practicing complete trust in God.
I had no idea why God had called me to be in Thailand for the
time I was, but I continued walking forward as He directed me;
it felt as though I was walking forward with eyes closed and
hands outstretched, relying on His guidance as I moved forward.
It took Him sending me to Thailand for me to finally start
hearing Him; it was like going from a loud concert hall into
a quiet hallway.
An update from
“Coming down from an emotional mountaintop
experience like the Justice Semester in
Thailand has given me a greater hunger for
an intellectual understanding of the Word,
and a need for community and fellowship.
As for the future, I’m currently pursuing
my career in health care and prayerfully
considering each next step. Whatever plan
He has for me, in health care or missions or
something in between, I will follow His call
ABOUT FOR FREEDOM INTERNATIONAL
LEARN MORE ABOUT ENVISION
Nicole joined a team of 9 from FAC on a short-term mission trip to Phuket, Thailand this past November with
the plan to stay for a 5-month internship with For Freedom International through Envision Canada, similar to
Tori Duncan. Here's a recent update from one of her newsletters.
oday, I find myself in the midst of transitions and
"Tadjustments. Each day I join the team at For Freedom
International (FFI) to tackle tasks and projects preparing for
Vocational Training and Justice Semester. The first week after the
First Alliance Church (FAC) team left for Calgary, I faced the common
doubts interns have coming in: "What is my place and why am I
here?" But through prayer, team-building, and story-sharing the
Lord disclosed a doorway that was deeply rooted in my early years.
'Home is where the heart is. So, I should build homes.' This was
my inner child's dream imprinted on my heart, only that door
never opened. Instead, God opened my eyes to His depiction of my
dream, not as I thought it would look like but as He designed it. This
discovery felt like a puzzle piece clicking into place, overwhelming
joy, and peaceful release. 'Your heart is My home. Home is not
a place. Home is where you and I are. You are building hearts into homes. You'll carry home with you, until I return.'
(Photo: Intern FFI team Sam, Nicole, Kaura-Lea (Long Term Worker), Maddie, and Josh.) •
To subscribe to Nicole's e-newsletter updates, email: email@example.com. Have an interest in global missions? Get
involved by praying, financially giving, or applying to go! To learn more visit faccalgary.com/give-back/global-impact
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is
God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 THESSALONIANS 5:18
- Adam DeMont
After hitting my rock bottom as a result of
an addiction to pornography during the
summer of 2013, I attended Alpha in autumn of
2013. My wife (I affectionately refer to Mavis as
my “better half”) had become a follower of Jesus
the day after we were married, 5 years ago. To be
honest, I didn’t think our marriage would be able
withstand this kind of stress, but God had a plan.
Both Mavis and I attended After Alpha during
the winter of 2014 here at FAC. I was fortunate
enough to have the same table leaders for both
sessions. I still believe this is a total
God thing as I reflect back on it.
Mavis and I were invited to
the Alpha leaders’ home for
supper on Friday, March 28.
They have been involved
in Alpha for some time
and we made an amazing
connection with them through
some common experiences
(a divine appointment to say the
least, I believe as well). They gave
me a pamphlet from previous Alpha sessions
to take home and read at my leisure. I woke
up and read it cover to cover – yes, another
God moment. To this day, the most profound
thing from reading the pamphlet is a quote
from Nicky Gumbel (a former atheist and the
founder of Alpha): “It’s all about relationships.”
Then, after sharing with my wife that I’d been
sexually abused as a child by a former babysitter
and neighbourhood boy (the beginning of my
addiction to pornography), I read the prayer of
salvation in the pamphlet and accepted Jesus
Christ as the only Lord and Saviour in my life on
Saturday, March 29, 2014, and it was the best
decision of my life. I was baptized April 12, 2014.
wife in November, 2017. However, both Mavis
and I agreed to meet with a pastor, the one who
baptized me 3 years earlier and a close friend. 4
days after the discussion, God showed up on a
business trip to Edmonton and revealed to me I
needed to stay with my better half and not leave.
“God-fearing” took on a whole new meaning after
that night, let me tell you.
I started coming to Celebrate Recovery the next
week. The first night was like being a teenager
again, getting nervous and not sure if I was
going to share or not. The Holy Spirit
showed up and I shared with all the
guys there that I had an addiction
to pornography; I broke the
chain that bound me. I was able
to have Mavis attend with me
2 weeks later and she agreed
she would continue to come
as well after that night. We both
completed the 12-Step Study that
accompanies Celebrate Recovery and
it turned things around for us. Now, 2
years later, we still attend and made the choice
to give back and serve at CR. Celebrate Recovery
has been the second best decision of my life,
second only to accepting Jesus Christ into my life
and that will never change.
If I could offer some words of encouragement
to anyone who reads this, it would be this quote
from the former Lead Pastor Scott Weatherford
that I have held onto since before I became a
believer, which says, “It’s not how you start, but
how you finish.” •
ABOUT CELEBRATE RECOVERY
Jumping ahead 3 years … I had succumbed to
the temptation of my addiction to pornography
3 times after becoming a believer. During the
third time my mind was made up to leave my
INTERVIEWS BY TERRY SCHMIDT
We recently asked people on Main Street what was their highlights of 2019 at FAC. Here's what some of you had to say ...
Russell: “Short-term missions have increased how many
people are getting involved and raised awareness. It's
affected many lives including mine as I hear the stories
that come back with the people that have gone.”
Debbie: “The [Life on Life] discipleship program has been
effective for me. I'm a discipler and it’s amazing just to
pour into someone’s life a little bit and (see) the effect it
Owen: “I'm amazed at how FAC has grown and [I'm] happy
that it's grown. As many things around the city have been
collapsing, it seems people have found a place to be
excited about growth and God.”
Christie: “The best thing I see at FAC and what keeps me
here is community – through small groups, socially with
friends, and volunteering. There’s been a lot of challenging
circumstances in my own life, in the church community,
but God has showed up!”
Warren: “I attend choir and I just see people in love with
Jesus and I'm learning that God is doing amazing things
in their lives, because they've decided to engage in this
community. They're the people I know the most here and
it’s very encouraging.”
Maya (age 13): “Youth is so good and I love it when I go!”
Miriam (age 12): “The community that's been built here
for youth has been awesome. The friendships are the
Matthew (age 9): “DiscoveryLand has been really good
this year. I like the teaching because it’s interesting and
like a show every week.”
Debbie: “Everywhere you look there are smiling faces.
It’s so welcoming. I really like connecting at the Seniors’
Wellness Mornings and at Women2Women.”
Sonya: “First I came with my daughter and then on my
own. I really like the courses here. I've been to Alpha
twice, and the Bible study at Women2Women on John that
Arlene wrote herself is amazing. I'm learning so much!”
Ruth: “I really like Pastor James … He just talks to us, not
preaching at us. It’s so interesting and you don’t go to
sleep!! He just speaks right out of his heart. I love it.”
Marilyn: “We see such a diversity in our congregation
on a Sunday – young families, seniors, many cultural
backgrounds. Everyone has a story and they'e sharing
them. It’s so encouraging!”
Allan: “I like the preaching. It comes right out of the Bible.
And I like to see the church grow and hearing the stories at
the baptism services.”
Erika: “I like how the church leadership is always
challenging us to be and do more … That we're not just at
church but we're a part of the church. A moving part!”
Izaak (age 16): “I've served in the Café and Bistro for a
year and a half and it’s the best thing. I get to meet a lot of
new people and have good conversations. I feel like I really
Share your 2019 highlights from FAC
By Andres Bentancur
Iwas raised in a Catholic family and although I have believed in Jesus since I was a child, my faith and Christian values
were not solid enough. As a result, my commitment and the importance I gave to Jesus was not what He deserved.
Although I felt satisfied with my family and professional development, there was something missing in my life. When I
came to Calgary in April 2018 with my partner, Lizeth, and our daughter, Antonella, with no family and no friends in this
city, one of Lizeth’s acquaintances told us about First Alliance Church. We made a few visits to the church and in October
2018, one of the pastors invited me to have lunch with him. That day, for the first time, I understood the good news
about Jesus. I asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins and to live in my life. That evening, I shared with Lizeth what I had
experienced and she too placed her faith in Jesus. We decided to get baptized in March, 2019. Also, I asked Lizeth to marry
me and we were married at First Alliance Church in May, 2019.
Now I am able to face whatever comes with faith, knowing that Jesus is with me. Now my life is different and I pay more
attention to improve my Christian values at home and in general anywhere I am. Also, I understood that as Christians we
have a huge responsibility for our communities; for that reason, I try to serve others. Although I have to learn more about
Christ, just based on my life experience I take advantage of any opportunity I have to tell others about the good news of
Jesus and how He changed my life. •
COMUNIDAD HISPANA A FAC
Crecí en una familia católica y aunque desde niño he creído en
Cristo, mi fe y valores cristianos no eran lo suficientemente sólidos.
Como resultado de esto el compromiso y valor que le daba a
Cristo en mi vida no era el que el merecía. Aunque me sentía muy satisfecho con
mi mi familia y desarrollo professional, algo faltaba en mi vida. En Abril de 2018 llegué a
Calgary en compañía de mi pareja, Lizeth, y mi hija, Anthonella, sin familia ni amigos en la
ciudad. Meses después una persona que Lizeth conoció le habló de First Alliance Church
y después de haber asistido a varios servicios, me reuní a almorzar con uno de los pastores en Octubre de
2018. Ese fué un día transcendental en mi busqueda espiritual ya que después de una larga conversación entre
ambos entendí las buenas noticias que Cristo traía para la humanidad. Paso siguiente pedí a
Cristo perdón por todos mis pecados. Esa misma noche, le compartí a Lizeth
mi experiencia y ella también decidió seguir a Cristo. Más adelante, en Marzo del 2019 decidimos bautizarnos.
Paso siguiente le pedí a Lizeth que fuera mi esposa. Nos casamos en Mayo del 2019 en First Alliance Church.
Ahora, soy capaz de enfrentar cualquier reto pues sé que Cristo está acompañándome.
Mi vida es realmente diferente. Presto atención a mejorar mis valores Cristianos en casa y
en general en cualquier lugar donde me encuentre. Además, entendí que como Cristianos tenemos
una gran responsabilidad en nuestras comunidades. Por esta razón, mi esposa y yo siempre
buscamos servir a otros. Aunque aún tengo mucho por aprender y mejorar en mi fe Cristiana. Basado
en mi experiencia de vida, busco siempre hablar con otros acerca de las buenas noticias que
Cristo trae para todos y como el pudo cambiar mi vida para bien. •
I HAVE DECIDED
I have been introduced to Jesus a few times in my life but
have always drifted away. I experienced some change
several years ago during a difficult period in my marriage.
It was then I was convinced that God was real. Recently, I
have had many challenges but I have begun reading the
Bible frequently and attending church. I feel I have been
given some strength through daily prayer. (Pictured below)
Tegan Spencer (baptized May 2019)
(Pictured above) Before I knew Jesus, life was hard; I was
resentful and full of anger. I grew up in a home with a drugaddicted
parent. My siblings and I moved between homes
in foster care. We encountered many abusive foster homes
especially towards my younger siblings. At the age of 9, I
stopped going to school to care for my siblings. I was angry
and troubled; I took to using drugs when I was 15 to escape
my life. I would often steal from family and friends.
My life was a downward spiral until I saw forgiveness
and love in the eyes and arms of one family. I saw
Jesus in them I thank God every day for the new family
He has blessed me with. If it weren’t for them and their
loving, understanding care for others I would not be where
I am today. Sometimes I still feel angry and resentful but
the word of God is helping me to be better. Coming to
this church and meeting wonderful people, hearing praise
and God’s Word, seeing the effect He has on people, and
feeling His light in each moment have helped me to come
to know Jesus and helped me decide to live for Him. He
showed me how God truly loves me, and how to love
each and every one and to be thankful to be alive to learn
on this journey to find peace within. My favourite Bible
verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for
you,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are plans to prosper you
and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Gregory Paterson (baptized May 2019)
Karen King (baptized March 2019)
“I felt I was missing something always … lost, wandering
aimlessly but never getting anywhere. I was disconnected,
felt misunderstood, lonely, unhappy, chasing the elusive
dream and wondering what purpose there was to my life.
The difference is unbelievable. I feel more at peace and not
so anxious about the future. I’m still a work in progress,
but I can’t describe the excitement I have about
learning to be more like Him [Jesus] and seeing how
that change affects those around me in my life.
My story … I’m just an average person, living an average
life filled with trials and tribulations. To some, I have it all:
two beautiful daughters, the most amazing grandchildren,
a great relationship with my mother, my health, amazing
friends, own my own home, have traveled and generally
am ‘living the dream.’
But I felt like I was missing something. I felt disconnected,
misunderstood by many, lonely, unhappy, and
completely discontented with my life. I was chasing all
the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. I was like the
mouse on the wheel. Running, but not getting anywhere.
Last year was when I fell apart. I combusted.
I realized that I needed to (had to) change. And I was
lucky to have someone show me, through example,
what it could be like to have peace, contentment,
love, and acceptance. And I know I wanted to be a
part of that! Through this friendship, I have come to
know what it means to have Jesus in my life. He has
spoken to me in many ways over this last year, and let
me tell you – I’m listening! I’m still a work in progress, but
already I feel so much more at peace!
"He grants the desires
of those who fear Him;
He hears their cries for
help and rescues them."
So, thank you, Laura, for being the bright light and
showing me there is a better way! I’ve found a reason
to start new.
A favourite poem reminds me: ‘During your times of trial
and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it
was then that I carried you.'”
"Whoever believes and is
baptized will be saved, but
whoever does not believe
will be condemned."
"Jesus answered, “Very
truly I tell you, no one can
enter the kingdom of God
unless they are born of
water and the Spirit."
"And now what are you
waiting for? Get up, be
baptized and wash your
sins away, calling on his
"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of His Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down. They triumphed over him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...'"
During the "Beyond" 2019 Christmas advent series, we invited you to share your testimonies ...
"Jesus met me alone, afraid, trapped in fear as my
shame and guilt was revealed. I was at the end of my
life here on earth and he led me out of the river. He
placed many people in my path to help me with my
addictions. Today, Jesus lives in me and I'm working
with others through Him as they face their own
addictions. I can't. God has the power. All I need to do
is ask Him for help." - Erik
my happiness. On turning to God I have been cured of
desires for sensual pleasures that have been replaced
by a desire for Him, and for sharing life at an emotional
and spiritual level with others."- Brett
"When all was lost and I didn't know where to turn
there was one constant that saved me. That constant is
Jesus." - John
"Jesus saved me from myself. He continues to
transform my heart. Taking my eyes off me and onto
Jesus and His people. Helping me learn and grow in and
through mental illness, I am learning that I'm wired in
a different way than others and with Him I am enough
even in all my broken pieces. Praise the Lord for the
work He continues to do in me so I may serve Him."
"I was angered and unsatisfied. Jesus gave me purpose
in life, I have hope. I am a child of God." - Marisol
"Jesus saved me from death, fear, and so many lies the
enemy had spoken over my life about my worth and
identity. I truly learned how God's truth makes us free.
His truth frees me to be who He has called me to be."
"Jesus saved me from an empty and meaningless life.
He captured me with His love – a love I was seeking
and didn't understand. My precious Saviour & Lover of
my soul has given me meaning and purpose. He has
brought me love , peace, and hope. Thank you Jesus!"
"Jesus saved me from a life of mediocrity, a life devoid
of passion and purpose. He saved me from wasting
away and not making a difference in my world. I owe
Him everything! All I am, I am because of Him. He has
given me a hope and a future in Him!" - Brian
"Jesus saved me from a life of filling holes with worldly
pleasures, a life of misery always looking to others for
OUR HOPE ...
… is that the stories you read in this issue of Storyline help you find hope
regardless of your situation.
"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." (Jeremiah 29:11)
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 connect with you. Contact Pastor
Cory Harasym firstname.lastname@example.org/403-258-4364. •
y Heather Wile
"Your story matters because you matter
to God and to us. "
SHARE YOUR STORY
love story and the power of story to change lives. There’s something even more powerful about a story based on true
events and real people. There’s greater emotional connection with a true story.
On a recent vacation with my husband, we checked into a hotel in Anaheim late enough that the night manager was on
duty to receive us. You know how Norman Rockwell used to represent people with such interesting character, not just
on their faces and expressions but so many details depicted through his paintings? Well, this older, rounded-shouldered
man was just one of those kinds of “characters” that Rockwell would have loved to depict. Meeting him piqued my
interest … What was his story? A stout, barreled-chested fellow, missing more than a couple teeth, and jet black hair
(no judgement, but he was definitely in his 70’s) … I would guess because of his dark olive skin that his ethnicity was
Mediterranean – Italian or Greek. Though the aging process had obviously taken a toll on his body, he was sharply
dressed in a tailored grey pin-striped suit, crisp white shirt, and snappy red silk tie. What was his story? Where was he
from? What were the details, the events, the relationships that led to the sum total of the gentleman standing in front of
We each have a story … a story that answers these questions and more. Our stories may begin from our earliest
memories – or maybe you tell your story from the day you were born. Perhaps your story has great significance to you
because of your lineage and family history. God knows your story from the beginning of eternity …
He knew and loved you before you were born. He knew the struggles you would face; He knew the family
you’d be born into, the parent(s) that would raise you, the school choices and friend choices you would make, the other
choices you’ve made along the way. He knew and gave you your gifts, your passions, your temperament. He has always
been there even if you didn’t know it.
The part of your story we love to write about, hear about, and share about here at FAC is where God intersects with your
life. What was your life like before you knew He loved you? What people or events did He use to draw you to Himself?
Are you experiencing abundant life since you met Jesus? What are your struggles and how do you keep pressing forward
and holding on to Christ?
Without a doubt it’s these stories that continue to spur us on, encourage us, and strengthen our faith as people just like
you tell your stories of the goodness and faithfulness of God. When we tell our stories we truly do help each other be
“overcomers.” Your story matters … It matters to others who are struggling and need to know they’re not alone in their
journey. It matters because your story brings hope! It matters because we are responsible for one another.
Our very first edition of Storyline was published April 2012 and since then hundreds of stories have been told. Thanks to
so many of you who have been vulnerable and bravely testified. We are richer for it. •
y Lisa LeBlanc
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you
thought your heart would break if you didn’t get it? My
5-year-old daughter did.
1996. We were living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. My husband and
I had recently separated. I was trying to balance a broken
marriage, two little girls, a dayhome, and more stress than I
had ever experienced.
I was shopping at Superstore with my girls. Brittany was
5, Adrianna was 6 months. While I was grabbing diapers,
Brittany saw the pink shoes. Canvas, Mary Jane-style runners.
Adorable. Only $12, but it was $12 more than I had to spend
I was trying to be the good Christian
mommy by encouraging my
daughters to pray.
While it broke my
heart a little to say,
“I’m sorry, we can’t
buy those today,” I added, “But you can ask Jesus for
Yikes! Did I just promise her that Jesus would give her the
shoes?? What if I just set God up to fail and my daughter’s
faith to crumble? “Really?” God challenged. “I can make
the universe but I can’t come up with a pair of shoes? And
by the way, Brittany’s faith is way stronger than yours
right now, so maybe you should just stand back and
watch Me go!”
Flashback to December, 1994. Brittany was 2 months
shy of 4 years old. One last check-in during bath time to
make sure we had her Christmas list covered. Along with
a Barney stuffie and a few other things, she added, “And I
want a baby sister.”
“Um, sweetie, we’ve talked about this. You know you
grew in Richelle’s tummy before you were born and we
adopted you and that’s how we became a family. You
know Mommy’s tummy doesn’t work to make babies.”
“What about Daddy’s tummy?”
“Daddy’s tummy doesn’t work to make babies either.” The look on
her face said it all. We were complete and utter losers. “In our family
when we want a baby we ask Jesus. He gives us our family. That’s
how we got you.” She didn’t know we had reactivated our adoption
file the previous year and had already had 2 failed potential matches.
She gave me a look I had become all too familiar with — the “I’ll Do This
Myself” look. She hopped out of the tub, wrapped up in her hooded
bath towel, and said, “I’ll ask Him,” and went to her room to kneel by her
bed and pray.
Oh, Lord, what have I just done?
She came back exactly 1 minute later with a smug grin on her face.
“He said yes. I can have one.”
“Honey, it’s only a couple more weeks until Christmas. You know there
won’t be a baby sister under the tree when you come downstairs on
Christmas morning, right?”
“I know that! It takes lots longer to grow a baby!” Accompanied by the
first of countless eye-rolls.
My conversation with Steve later that evening was an interesting one!
And 9 months later, nearly to the day, we welcomed our new daughter
and her birth mom Alison into our family.
Flash forward to 1996, a couple weeks later.
A large box was unexpectedly delivered to
my door. I opened it up and it was filled with
clothes for both our girls. Enough to last them
for the fall and winter season to come. And
sitting right on top? The pink shoes.
Explain to me again that God doesn’t care about little things. Tell me
about how it is just a coincidence that the exact shoes my daughter
asked for in a Canadian store were purchased in the US and sent to her
from an aunt who had no idea Brittany had asked for them. Had no clue
what her shoe size was. They fit perfectly, by the way. Brittany wore
those shoes until they were literally falling off her feet.
What’s your pink shoes? I’ve had a few throughout 2019. And I prayed
with faith believing that God cares about me, and He faithfully and
completely provided everything I needed. You can do that, too. Make
2020 the year of asking for your pink shoes. Then stand back and watch
God go! •
VISIT LISA'S BLOG
• 1/4 cup butter
• 3/4 cup yellow onion, diced small
• 2 habanero peppers, diced with seeds and pith (the white stuff)
• 2 jalapeno peppers, no seeds, no pith, diced small (if you like it really hot add
seeds and pith from these as well; maybe start with just 1 at a time)
• 3 garlic cloves pressed/mince/chewed and spit back out … #MasatoJoke
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. smoked paprika
• 3 tbsp. cornstarch
• 2 cups 10% cream (half and half)
• 2 cups 35% whipping cream
• 1 block (250 gm) cream cheese
• 200 gm Red Leicester Cheese the more aged the better
• 200 gm aged Gouda (Noord Hollander would be my recommendation)
VIEW MORE RECIPES
How to Make It
Be prepared to spend some money on cheese … or just melt some Cheez Whiz with Tapatio hot
sauce in it, because that works as well.
1. Get a big pot, bigger than you think you need.
2. Make sure you have tortilla chips, lots of tortilla chips.
3. Crack open a Jarritos cola or a Cerveza, whatever your Christian liberties allow.
4. Saute onion in butter with the salt for about a minute, then add the peppers and sauté
for an additional 2 minutes, and finally the garlic for an additional 1.
5. Add cumin and paprika and stir in while sauteing for another minute.
6. Add cornstarch to make a paste, then add the creams.
7. At this point you want to take it slow, turn your heat down and baby this pot. Keep
stirring, especially scraping the bottom of the pot; as the cream heats the starch will
thicken it making it easy to burn to the bottom of the pot … Don’t. Let. That. Happen!
8. Once the liquid is simmering and thick, add the cheese and stir while it melts. Remember,
leave no inch of the pot bottom unscraped!
9. Once the cheese is melted you can be done; I take an immersion blender to it and puree
it, but it’s not necessary.
10. Abandon moderation, taste, and see that God is good.
Photo Source: https://www.thecookierookie.com/
new series starting January 4/5
Transformed Winter Semester Group
Get connected! Let God change you from the inside out.
Sundays, 6:00-8:00 pm. January 12-February 23, Grade 5/6 Room,
FAC Deerfoot (upstairs, south end).
No cost, register online faccalgary.com/registrations.
To learn more, contact Cory Harasym email@example.com.
REGISTER FOR GROUP
12345 40 Street SE Calgary
403-252-7572 | faccalgary.com
Building lives that honour God