In 2007, the Restricted Access Network (RAN) leadership coached a PAOC congregation in Edmonton to adopt an unreached people group in China, known as the Hui people. They wanted to plant a church among them. At that time there were about 100 known Christ-followers in a Hui population of over 15 million. These believers never gathered for worship and were only being discipled one-on-one. The Canadian church made an investment to ensure Scripture was translated and made available to each disciple. Congregants from Canada traveled to the region to pray, and made investments to start business ventures to provide employment so “national Chinese evangelists” could live among the Hui people and support themselves while witnessing of Christ.
God added to their numbers and, by 2014, there were over 2000 Hui believers gathering in different places around the country. These new converts recognized the importance to “GO” and make disciples. They asked a global partner to train them in cross-cultural missions, and the church in Edmonton invested in missionary training for them. By November 2015, a Hui couple were commissioned and sent to Iran as church planters to reach the Hui people living there.
Twenty years ago, a young man came to faith through the witness of PAOC global workers. Jay was discipled by Greg and others in China. They recognized God’s calling on Jay’s life and knew he would be an effective leader of the unregistered church. Jay recognized the need to exercise wisdom and to look for creative ways to gather believers together for discipleship and prayer.
The main campus of the church he planted meets in a darkened industrial building, anyone wishing to attend uses the flashlight on their mobile phone to navigate the steps to a room seating approximately 300 followers of Christ. Small groups meet regularly for prayer and worship.
New congregations start when graduates of a local college relocate to find employment in other communities. During their post-secondary years, Jay disciples and prepares them to become church planters. Many congregations meet in homes for encouragement and teaching. Jay uses a social media app to lead and encourage 80 leaders in morning prayer every day. What began with ‘one’ has become many, and a whole country is being changed by the Gospel.
Pseudonyms have been used to protect the identity of our global workers.
Pastor Anton Ratnaraja is one of the pastors who the PAOC supported in Sri Lanka. He planted a church in a town south of Colombo.
In the early years, he and his family faced a lot of opposition. On two occasions the church building (which at that time also served as the family’s home) was bombed. Though they were home at the time, they were miraculously protected. They suffered no injuries of any kind. For several years, neighbours threw stones on the roof of the church building during the Sunday services.
On another occasion, a mob led by extremists came to assault them. Anton stood in the yard with his head bowed, quietly awaiting his fate. Suddenly, they began to run. Later he found out that they had fled because they saw a group of two-metre-tall men standing behind Anton. Once again, the Lord had marshalled his angelic hosts to protect his people.
The church is now a thriving congregation which has outgrown its current premises and is looking to expand its borders.
Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Approximately 245 million Christians are suffering from “extreme” levels of persecution, (opendoorsca.org)
Remember those who suffer (Hebrews 13:3)
Pray for those who are persecuted but also for the persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
“Siberia [needs] the prayers of the [church in Canada], that she may be able to meet the needs of the people seeking deliverance” (The Pentecostal Testimony, September 1921).
PAOC was not directly involved in Siberia until 1993, when newly-weds Ilya and Janet Bantseev sought to fulfill the vision God gave them for Russia.
Ilya was born and raised in Novokuznetsk, in the heart of Siberia. Despite the hardships wrought by the political turmoil in his youth, his godly parents faithfully taught their nine children about God. At an early age Ilya surrendered his life to Christ.
In the late 1980s, God called Ilya’s parents to Canada. On route, the family spent six months in Austria, in a refugee camp for Eastern Europeans. Janet Yast, a young American missionary, offered to teach the family English. Despite not speaking each other’s language, Ilya and Janet became close friends. The Bantseevs continued to Canada in May 1989, and the young couple married two years later.
After Ilya became a Canadian citizen, he and Janet returned to Russia as global workers in Novokuznetsk. Twenty-five years later, their congregation numbers 1000+, and 20 churches have been planted.
Janet offers this praise report: “The greatest miracle is how the Lord has transformed the lives of so many people that had no hope in life. We humbly give Him all the glory, for He alone is worthy.”
Ilya and Janet have four children: Joshua, Jessica, Joanna, and Joseph.
In 1981 Jim Cantelon approached PAOC Overseas Missions about a Kibbutz Shalom ministry aimed at bringing much-needed reconciliation between Christian and Jews. The Cantelons settled in Jerusalem, studied Hebrew, prioritized enculturation, and gave oversight to visiting Kibbutz Shalom teams. During a seven-year period, over 1.5 million volunteer hours were invested in Israel.
Cantelon approached Wayne and Ann Hilsden to plant a new church in Jerusalem, in response to an invitation from the Israeli government. The Hilsdens moved to Israel in 1983 and started a weekly church service in a tiny Jerusalem apartment. A year later, 50 people were attending the Jerusalem Christian Assembly (JCA) in a small room at the YMCA.
The YMCA’s 600 seat-auditorium was its next home, the site of Sunday evening meetings almost 20 years. Praise and worship became a major signature of the ministry, eventually yielding the first two studio-produced albums released from Israel, with Ann Hilsden directing the church’s worship team. Later, two live worship celebrations at the YMCA were released by major Christian labels.
By 1998, the Cantelons sensed they had fulfilled God’s plans for them in Israel and returned to Canada.
Wayne became convinced that JCA should identify more closely with the Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. This led to a new name for the church, the King of Kings Assembly, and the incorporating of messianic leaders. In 1989 Chuck Cohen became associate pastor; formerly the pastor of a US messianic congregation, Cohen played a key role in helping the King of Kings congregation explore the Jewish roots of their faith.
King of Kings gave birth to two new congregations that continue to thrive with Israeli leadership.
In 2001, with financial and physical help from local and overseas believers, the old movie theater in the Clal Building was completely renovated and The Pavilion became the new home for the growing congregation.
In 2015, and in keeping with the Hilsden’s succession plan to national leadership, Chad and Rebecca Holland were appointed as pastors. Holland, an Israeli, was formerly the Senior Leader of a Messianic Synagogue in Memphis.
King of Kings continues to thrive as it hosts multiple congregations, worshiping in various languages including English, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, and Russian.
Kathy Bousquet spent eight years as a global worker in Romania. Her passion for missions continues as she ministers prayer, counsel and encouragement to our global workers at home, and worldwide. Kathy has three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren