Why I'm Leaving Canada

April 19, 2019

Yes, my dear friends and family; in case the news has yet to reach you, I will be leaving my hometown of Cornwall as well as my home and native land of Canada this upcoming August, and moving to Redding, California for about 9 months to go to Bethel Church’s “School of Supernatural Ministry.”


Yep. I know it’s a little crazy.


So I figured I’d throw up a blog post explaining some of the thoughts and reasons behind this crazy adventure I’m embarking on. But first, I thought I’d start with some things that are not reasons I’m doing this. So, let’s get started:


I’m not leaving because I hate Cornwall.


I hear a lot of people talk badly about Cornwall. I recognize it’s not the Garden of Eden or the epicentre of all things bright and beautiful in the world (I’d argue Redding is probably pretty close to that 😉), but I actually really like Cornwall. Honestly. Maybe it’s because I was born here and am, by nature, a loyal person, but I also think that people tend to always think the grass is greener on the other side, rather than focusing on watering their side of the fence. Life after Bethel is very much a mysterious black box to me, but my current plan is to move right back to Cornwall and throw myself into whatever role I have of continuing to see the city transformed. I am not leaving because I hate Cornwall.


I’m not leaving because I hate Canada or have gotten tired of it’s winters. 


I’m guessing most people reading this know this about me, but the fact that I will miss out a Canadian winter because of this move is 100% a sacrifice, not a perk. I absolutely love Canada, and everything it is. I love snowboarding down a long, meandering slope, or playing ice hockey with neighbour kids at the local rink. I love sipping on a hot cup of something delicious while watching the snow gently fall outside. I love that feeling you get when the snow first starts to fall and you know you can finally listen to Christmas music without feeling weird about it. I love bundling up and tromping around some snow-covered winter wonderland with a group of friends, and then following it up by piling inside, starting a fire in a wood stove, mixing up some hot chocolate, and sitting down to a long afternoon of board games. I am not leaving because I’ve grown tired of Canada or its winters.


I’m not moving because of relational issues.


To start with, let me state plainly that this past year has been the most challenging of my life. Period. Full stop. The primary reason for this is because of some really hard relational circumstances. I have never felt more hurt, frustrated, or downright confused when it comes to relationships than this past year.


But that’s still not the reason I’m leaving. There’s no one I’m running away from, no situation I’m trying to hide from. And it’s not because all of these issues have been totally resolved and wrapped up. They are definitely better than they have been, but not to the extent where I could confidently say that everything will be smooth sailing from here. I will admit that I tend to shy away from conflict, but I absolutely do not believe running from these things is going to solve anything. If anything, I would be more inclined to try to force some sort of resolution of these situations before I leave, but I also don’t think that’s the best approach. 


All that to say, I am trusting God with these relationships. I don’t know what they are supposed to look like by the time I leave in August, and I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like when I come back, or three years after that. But I’m not running away from them. I am simply placing them in God’s hands, and trusting that He will take care of what it’s supposed to look like before, during, and after my time in Redding. I’m not moving because of relational issues.


I’m not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.


No church is perfect. If you go to church, I guarantee it’s not perfect because, spoiler alert, you aren’t perfect. My church isn’t perfect either. There are things about it I wish were different or better, and even some non-core beliefs that I still have a hard time getting totally on board with.


But all of those things are small and pretty insignificant when compared to how much I absolutely love my church and what it’s doing. I believe in Harvest Christian Fellowship perhaps more than I ever have before. It actually feels a bit frustrating that I can’t responsibly get much more involved than I am, seeing as I will be leaving relatively soon. I love the people, and the direction we’re going.


On a related note, I’d like to believe I have always valued the opportunity to play drums as part of worship for the church, but having the context of leaving in a few months makes me treasure the opportunities I have to lead my friends in worship that much more. Smashing animal skins and metal disks as we build into a crescendoing chorus of worship and being able to look out a group of family and friends all connecting with Jesus, is something I hope I will never take for granted.


I plan on auditioning for the worship team for Bethel’s school, and I really hope I get in. It would be an incredible privilege and opportunity to help lead worship for hundreds of my fellow students in an atmosphere I am sure will be charged with excitement and passion. I think it's safe to say there will be more people in a larger auditorium that will be, on average, more engaged with the worship when compared to my home church. If I do end up getting to drum for worship during school, it would be incredibly exciting.


But it won't be the same. Nothing could possibly replace knowing the people you are helping to lead in worship. And I know the people in my church. 


He used to be an atheist. They are still trying to figure out if they believe in this Jesus stuff. She lost her dad. They’ve known me and my family since before I could talk. They had a miscarriage. He’s been trying to find a job. They are holding their miracle baby. I teach him drums every week.


That might end up being the thing I miss the most when I'm gone. Again, drumming in larger contexts always brings with it a measure of extra excitement, but I know it won’t be able to replace looking at faces that I know the stories behind while I help lead them in worship. I’m not going to Bethel because I’m looking for a more grandiose worship drumming experience.


And, of course, my church is far from just a place I get to help lead worship at. It is moving. It's expanding. People in my hometown of Cornwall are encountering Jesus like never before in my church.

People who were staunch atheists a couple of years ago are helping greet people at the door. Broken and insecure people are finding community and real relationships in small groups. Lives are being changed and transformed. And I truly believe it's just the beginning.

Like I said, I think I may believe in my church more now than I ever have, which makes it that much harder to think about leaving. I am not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.


I’m not going because I dislike my job.


Ok, so I don’t really like commuting from Cornwall to Ottawa every workday, but that is, by far, the worst part of my job. I enjoy the kind of work I do, I enjoy my coworkers, and the company certainly provides more benefits than I could reasonably expect at most other places. I’m aware of that. Nav Canada is a pretty awesome place to work.


They are even cool enough to give me a sabbatical for this crazy schooling in California, so I might just keep on working at Nav Canada when I’m done my year of schooling. Or I might find a different software development job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to an entirely different type of job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to somewhere else entirely. Like I said, I actually have no idea what comes after Bethel, but I’m not leaving because I’m try to escape my job.


And, no, I’m not going to find a wife.


Ok, so I want to get married. Duh. Most people do. And if you’ve been around the Christian world long enough you have probably heard some jokes about “Bible College” being more like “Bridal College.” It kinda makes sense, really. Logically speaking, most people attending a Bible school are going to be absolutely sold-out for Jesus, and almost certainly looking for a spouse with the same passion. I know I am. So it actually makes a lot of sense that people would find their eventual spouses in a Bible College-like setting.


All that to say, there is a better overall probability of me finding a wife hanging out at Bethel’s school for 9 months than staying in Cornwall. That’s just statistics for you, just straight math. And, obviously, it would be an amazing bonus if that was part of the result. It would be way worth the cost of tuition and living expenses and not working full time for 9 months if it ended with me meeting my eventual wife. But I (mostly) trust God’s timing with this area, and I know that God isn’t limited by any sort of setting. Maybe He will use Bethel’s school as a context for me meeting my wife, but He could also make it happen at my home church this weekend if He wanted. 


So finding a wife isn’t the reason I’m going to California. Put another way, I would still be going if Bethel’s school separated the genders, such that there wasn’t any interaction between guys and girls and thus no chance of me finding a wife there. I am not going to Bethel’s school to find a wife. 


So why am I going?


Well, that's a reasonable question, but it looks like I've already used up the acceptable word count for one of my blog posts, so I think I'll leave you hanging and make this a two-parter. I promise next time I'll give you the list of things that are reasons I'm going!