Sep14ThuTwo Words I thought I'd Never Say September 14, 2017
When we were accepted by TWR, we had a crash course on how to raise our support. It was simple: contact everyone you knew, get into churches to present the ministry and challenge everyone to be part of your team. In my mind, this shouldn’t take any time at all. We would get this done and be off to the field.
I took everything they told me very seriously, and all our calls and letters got us some meetings and some support. Our church made a commitment, but it took them almost seven months. Things were not going as planned, and I was getting more tired every day. I was working 50 to 60 hours a week and trying to raise support at the same time. We were accepted in November 1985, and by July 1986, we only had 30% of our support.
While I was excited about being a missionary, I didn’t want it to cost me anything monetarily. But we’d come to a crisis point. Sandy realized I was trying to serve God, but I didn’t want to fully commit. I was proud; I had done something most people take a lifetime to do: bought a house, a car, a boat, a trailer, new furniture, had money in the bank, and I was 29 years old.
When I accepted that something had to change, I knew we had to put all we had on the line. Everything: our finances, my job, everything. We realized if we’d sell our possessions, we’d have funds to support ourselves for quite awhile. We put the house up for sale, and it sold in three days for full asking price. This was 1986, and nobody got full asking price. But now with no house, what were we going to do?
My sister-in-law’s house had room for a basement apartment where we could live, so I started renovating. I had already started when my closest friend said to me, “You should move to Toronto to raise the rest of your support; there are more people, more churches and your rep is in Barrie; he can really help you there. He can do the majority of the speaking; you can come on stage with a pipe wrench and tell people you are a mechanic and that TWR needs you on Bonaire!” As crazy as it seems, the idea appealed to us.
Sandy and I asked each other, Is God in this suggestion? Should we do this? We decided that we needed two things to make the move: a part-time job for me and an affordable place to live. The job came easily. A mission asked me to do maintenance on their buildings, and I could work as much or as little as I liked. For our housing, our rep Phil got to work. He knew a church in King City, near Toronto, with an empty manse. Phil called me one night and told me his plan. He was going to call his contact and ask about the house. Sandy was at a ladies’ meeting at church that night. Phil told me to call and tell them to pray for a favourable answer. I did, and the group stopped and prayed. Phil made his call, and 30 minutes later, we had a house until June the following year! It was God’s confirmation.
So we packed up a U-haul and headed to Toronto. We knew no one. For the first time, I totally trusted my life into God’s hands. This was the unknown. How was this going to work? It soon became evident that God finally had Ray Alary right where he wanted him, where he had to totally trust him for everything: support, finances, a place to live, a good school for the children, friends…everything.
So many things came together when we arrived in King City. When we got to the church, the pastor was waiting to take us to our new home. The Van Essen family was at the house waiting for us. (We had been accepted together as TWR missionaries in 1985; they already had a date set to leave for Bonaire.) A neighbour lady came to meet us the moment we arrived; she told us to unpack, and she’d take the kids. This was the big city! People were not supposed to be friendly here! The church had even put food in the fridge for us. We were overwhelmed by the love that was shown to us.
God also showed up in the details of our kids’ lives. Ryan was outgoing, full of mischief and outspoken. His teacher in Kenora hadn’t appreciated his personality. When we arrived in King City, Ryan was delighted to have a new teacher; it turned out she loved Ryan, and he loved her. Erin had struggled in school in Kenora and was held back. She thought she was dumb, and her self-esteem was low. In the new school, they took an active role in trying to figure out why Erin was struggling, and they soon discovered she was dyslexic. Her attitude changed, the school got her help, and while she was still behind academically, there was a glimmer of hope in her eye that she would overcome this. We could see God was doing something here. This was not a human plan; this was God at work.
Now we were settled in King City, but we didn’t have many contacts. We slowly started filling our schedule, but full support was still a long way off. Phil had been a life insurance salesman before joining TWR and was used to making cold calls. He applied the same strategy to raising support; we began making cold calls to churches. We would just stop at churches, ask them if I could share my testimony and then ask the pastor if we could book a meeting. This was not the way they had taught us to do it when we were accepted! But if Phil was willing to work with me, I was game.
It actually worked really well. Surprisingly, this is how I got many of our meetings. Phil was a great salesman and was hard to say no to. We started the process in October, and by the end of the year, our schedule was basically full. Now we needed churches and people to respond. Because I had such trouble doing a presentation, Phil suggested I focus on sharing our testimony: how we came to Christ, how we got into missions and how we ended up in King City. By sharing from my heart, all of sudden I had a voice; I was comfortable.
The most amazing thing happened! We started getting calls from people we didn’t know asking us to come and share. Suddenly we were at 50%, then 60%. Soon we could see the end in sight. It was really going to happen! For first generation Christians to see God work this way was an eye opener. We had seen him supply, but up until we went to King City, we had seen God supply with my assistance. Now it was God saying, “Trust me; I am going to remove all the obstacles.”
At one of our final speaking engagements, Sandy and I shared our testimony, and the church loved it! They told us it was like a comedy act! Phil got up to close the service and told them, “I don’t care how long we have to stay here tonight; we aren’t going home until this family is fully supported.” That night we raised the final amount. Thirty years later these people still support TWR.
The church family in King City became dear friends, and they continue to walk the journey with us to this day. The crazy idea of going to a city where we didn’t know anyone wasn’t a crazy idea at all. It built our faith; it showed us that this we would not make this alone, but we’d make it with God.
What’s our next move? From Canada to Bonaire!