“The Holy Spirit is at work all around us. Our job is to look and see what the Lord is doing and then ask the Holy Spirit how we are to partner with Him. There won’t be any lack of opportunities.”
Sara Curdie serves as the missions pastor at First Assembly Church in Calgary, Alberta. She encourages us to consider how we can be a part of God’s quest to reach souls for Christ in our communities, our nation, and the rest of the world—not as a one-time event, but as a lifestyle. t: How was your passion for missions ignited? SC:
Youth group mission trips were the launching pad. Once I started, I couldn’t get enough. After doing various short-term trips, I served with Next Level International in Europe for three years. I thought the next logical step would be to become a long-term missionary. So I asked God, “Where do You want me to go? I am a perfect candidate—single and ready to travel!” As usual, God had different plans. I found myself in Calgary working at First Assembly, supporting the global missions program, local outreaches, and mobilizing others into a life on mission. Twelve years later, I am still here. I have come to the realization that missions is a lifestyle, not a destination. t: What are some key lessons you’ve learned as a missions pastor? SC:
There is an enormous need for the church to reach out locally and around the world—there is no lack of opportunity. However, we have to find out what our focus should be and pour our resources into that. With the overwhelming amount of brokenness in our world, it’s important to find out what the true needs of people are instead of forcing a church program on them. The challenge is to not go for the easy answer, like providing dinner for a homeless person, but doing the hard work to find out what the root issue is and to provide long-term solutions. Sometimes we think we know what the person wants when we haven’t asked them. t: How has First Assembly accomplished that—uncovering what the true needs are? SC:
I have had to really slow down and do my research. I am a person of action, so when I see a problem I want to jump right in and fix it. The problem with rushing in is that sometimes we create more problems than solutions. I have been wanting to help single homeless mothers in Calgary for a few years now, and I thought the easy way was to buy an apartment building and house them. But I am finding that people need community, not just a bed. The hard work is to open up our lives, love people in the midst of their mess, and walk alongside them on their journey. My primary concern is that we try to provide Band-Aid®
solutions instead of engaging in the process of transformation. My job as a missions pastor is not to create more programs, but to encourage people with opportunities to love. My favourite verse is James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV). The church needs to guard against being polluted by apathy. Love is an action word. t: What is a constant obstacle? What role does faith play? SC:
A constant obstacle is a lack of money to fund all my brilliant ideas! The Holy Spirit has taught me that it is not my job to make people give—it’s His job to move their hearts. I have learned that when I listen to God’s direction and step out in faith, the money follows. My administrative mind wants to have the plan in place before I start. However, if God has given me the green light to step out in faith, I then have to trust that He will provide. Whenever someone says, “I don’t know if I should go on that mission trip or give to this project because I don’t have the money,” I always say to them, “Why don’t you ask God if He wants you to go? If He says, ‘Yes, you should,’ then He will provide everything you need.” t: What are some specific current projects that First Assembly is working on now? SC:
We are a church that loves planting churches, so we focus primarily on identifying and supporting new church planters and church planting movements. We also believe that God has placed us in Calgary to be a transforming body within our city. We are currently working with Emma Maternity House to provide a bridge of hope to longer-term solutions for single homeless mothers. The plan is to provide rental assistance, a social worker to help them with a strategy for a sustainable, settled lifestyle, and a mentor group from a church. Our goal is to help them be healthy parents that have safe housing, a sustainable income, and a loving and supportive community. Eventually, we would like to get an apartment building or hotel, which we will call Hope House, so we can centralize services and be able to help more vulnerable women and children in Calgary.
t: How would you encourage the average Canadian Christian to become missional? SC:
God has planted all of us in specific places for a reason. The Holy Spirit is at work all around us. Our job is to look and see what the Lord is doing and then ask the Holy Spirit how we are to partner with Him. There won’t be any lack of opportunities. Too often we respond like Moses, listing all the reasons why we can’t do what God asks us to do. A better way is to start the day with the question, “What can I do with the Holy Spirit today?” You will be amazed at the journey you go on with the Holy Spirit in your own city and around the world. We all have something to offer because the Holy Spirit is alive in us. t: Any final inspiration? SC:
Yes. Spend more time in conversation with God. In that intimacy of relationship, God will always tell you that you have been made good enough through His Son, Jesus Christ, and you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. My challenge to you today is to do something you are uncomfortable with. It might begin just by knocking on our neighbour’s door. Sara Curdie has travelled to over 44 countries and spends too much time staring at a map wondering where she should go next. For more information, please visit www.fachurch.com and www.emmahouse.ca.