Left to right: George Jakeway, Deanna Kalles, Lauren Hébert, Nora & Wendell James, Gay Gering, Betty Kavuma
I have wanted to be a missionary doctor since high school. When we came to Edmonton and settled at St Paul’s we were involved in a mission prayer group. Eventually this led to a committee overseeing the missions at St Paul’s. I was on this committee and then became its chairperson for a number of years. My wife and I had been in Bolivia for 2 1/2 years and later went on seven 2- week medical mission trips, mostly in the Caribbean. We always supported missionaries in various areas of the world. We have been active supporters of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) for our whole married life since Elizabeth’s family were diligent prayers with CIM (the precursor of OMF).
It is always interesting to keep in touch with missionaries in many parts of the world and hearing their adventures and stories. I would hope more people would desire to share with the missionaries that St. Paul’s supports.
Originally from Ontario, I have traveled to many northern areas of Canada to work as a teacher. I am employed with Edmonton Public Schools, and I am proud to have recently completed my Masters in Educational Studies. I met my husband in the Yukon Territory and eventually we made our way to Edmonton, Alberta. I have a son named Douglas. I have been a member of St. Paul’s congregation for about 15 years. My husband and I explored a number of Christian denominations here in Edmonton before feeling comfortable and finding a home at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. I have been part of the vestry at St. Paul’s, and I am a member of the altar guild. I am happy to be a member of the Focus on Missions Committee here at St. Paul’s. I joined this committee because I was interested in knowing the greater purpose of missions that St. Paul’s was part of and how they evolved. I have also learned and become a believer in the power of prayer.
I grew up in the church, but missions was not on my radar until I spent a year at a bible college in Quebec. There, I learned about God's heart for the nations and the incredible opportunities for work overseas. I spent the next year on a practicum in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia, where my life was changed by a shift in perspective about the world. God was already at work on the far side of the sea, preparing His children there to witness to His goodness to the many who have yet to hear. My heart was moved to return to Canada and work to support those ongoing ministries. Part of that work has been joining the Mission's Committee at St. Paul's, where I have been serving since 2018. I am continually amazed by the generosity of our congregation, and by the incredible ministries God allows us to partner with. I am particularly excited by the training of Indigenous leaders in the Arctic and by the housing projects ongoing in Rwanda.
I joined Focus on Missions and Wholeness Prayer Ministry after I came to St. Paul’s in 2007. Living the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) has always seemed natural to me. I came to follow Jesus when I was 17, after others shared Jesus with me and I read through the New Testament twice. I have been active in churches involved with local, national and international missions and attended a YWAM Discipleship Training program. I support friends in ministry all over the globe. I have been involved in cross-cultural ministry with international students by teaching ESL and by participating in short-term missions. I spent a summer in China studying Mandarin and assisted in a Medical Mission to Mexico. Since coming to St. Paul’s, I’ve gone with a church team to help at an orphanage in Haiti and I’ve been to Rwanda four times.
St. Paul’s has been involved in Rwanda for many years since the 1994 genocide, helping youth and adults to heal. The Microfinance program enables families to support themselves, Youth Education helps students return to classes to complete primary and secondary school and Housing provides homes for widows and families living in extreme poverty. It has been a privilege to serve, and I would encourage those interested in missions to consider getting involved locally or around the world. God has brought the nations to North America.
Wendell James (current chairperson)
I grew up in rural, small-town Alberta where I was taken to church and introduced to the Gospel message when I was very young. I have been exposed to biblical, evangelical teaching for most of my life and have supported disciple-making and missional efforts. I studied engineering at the University of Alberta and have been employed in various roles, mostly related to water treatment. I married Nora in 2002 and joined St. Paul’s about 12 years ago. I have been involved with Focus on Missions most of the time since then and have participated in several short-term missions, including three trips to Rwanda and two to The Pas, Manitoba. It has been interesting, rewarding and educational working with team members representing diverse backgrounds, interests and experiences. By keeping prayer central in all our deliberations and activities, we have witnessed God at work among us and around the world.
My involvement with the FOM committee began with a discussion. Nora J. talked to me about finding a way of fund-raising for missions that would engage many people in our church community and also be fun! When the committee decided the purpose of the fund-raising would be education for some young people in Rwanda, whose families could not afford to send them to school, I was hooked. I had been working closely with the Committee during this project and was asked to join afterwards. Truth be told, I do not see myself as worthy, or equal to the tasks of evangelism and/or missions. Nevertheless, I moved out of my comfort zone and accompanied Wendell J. and George J. on two short missions to The Pas in Manitoba. For several years St. Paul’s FOM Committee helped fund an Indigenous Chaplain, Lorraine Packo, who served a marginalized group in The Pas, struggling with addictions, mental health issues, and food security. Since I worked at the Christian Care Center for several years, with a group of people in the west-end struggling with similar issues; it seemed appropriate for me to go.
During my time on this Committee, I have been in awe of and inspired by the ongoing efforts of the long-standing members of FOM: Pat Halligan-Baker, Wendell and Nora James, George Jakeway and Lauren Hebert. Together, they have raised countless prayers on behalf of St. Paul’s missions and missionaries in the field. They work hard and they have traveled thousands of miles at their own expense to oversee special programs in Rwanda (micro-loans, housing, education) and to bring special programming to families and youth there. For millions of children, women, and men barely surviving grinding poverty around the world; we North Americans must be the privileged 1%. For us Christians, they may be the contemporary equivalent of the widows and orphans our sacred texts exhort us to support.
Betty Kavuma (regular guest)
I am from Uganda, East Africa, and I grew up in rural Uganda…what we call the village back home. My parents were “Anglican” and my mother in particular was a born again Christian in the Anglican Church, and she motivated my siblings and I to have a deep relationship with Christ. When I moved to Canada, I first lived in Toronto, Ontario before I moved to Edmonton. For a long time, I needed to find an Anglican Church near me but I didn’t find one….then later one summer when my daughter came to visit…she joined a Sunday service and when she came back home…she announced to me that she had found me a Church that was “SO ME” in her words. She told me that St. Paul was, or reminded her so much of my former Church in Kampala, Uganda, which is called St. Andrew’s Church, Bukoto. I was super excited and the best part is that when I came to my first Sunday service…I was certain that it was the Lord’s doing. This is the Church I had longed for since I arrived in Canada, and then in Edmonton.
I enjoy all the different activities at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, and Gay who is my sweet friend is the one that introduced and encouraged me to join the “Focus On Missions” committee. This meant a lot me and I gladly joined because I am intentional when it comes to serving people. I also like to learn from the different members of the group. As much as I am new to missions, I have always wanted to go out, and serve in every way I can. I have learned so much, especially of the different needs in our communities. I know that COVID 19 has limited us in many ways, but I thank God that we have not stopped to look out for the different needs, and also implemented them. One of the missions that is so close to my heart, is the “Rwanda” mission. Rwanda is home to me, and we call it a district that is a part of Uganda.