Kingswood University (KU) in Sussex, New Brunswick, focuses on preparing ministers for a lifetime of effective global ministry. For new Canadian citizens Isai and Andrea Calderon, global ministry started in their own backyard.
The Calderons applied for a Canadian work permit in 2014. Once approved, they moved from their native Mexico to Shediac, New Brunswick, and began attending Moncton Wesleyan Church’s Spanish small group.
“Just before we moved, Andrea and I started talking about feeling a call to proclaim the gospel,” reflected Isai. “As we got involved in the Spanish small group, the leaders mentioned Kingswood University was close by, and mentioned that they would help us grow in our knowledge of the Scripture, and stretch our ability to learn English, so we reached out.”
The KU community embraced Isai and Andrea, helping them overcome language barriers and providing pathways toward a financially sustainable approach to their education. After fully placing roots into on-campus life, the Calderons found mentors that embraced, developed and encouraged them.
“My journey at Kingswood thus far has been exciting, challenging and refreshing. We have met people who support us, listen to us, nourish us, and make us feel like a great big family,” reflected Isai. “Dr. Elliott (my advisor) has been like a family for us; on Christmas, they invite us to their house, and we stayed with them— and that has been very encouraging because we don't have family in Canada, and sometimes you feel lonely— but (thank God) we don't feel lonely because we have people who love us.”
As the Calderons consider their future after graduation, they find themselves drawn toward helping “new Canadians”— those in the process of migrating to Canada— find a church community that embraces them as the family of God.
The capstone of the KU experience is a time of “supervised ministry,” a four-month, full-time commitment to serve in a local church under a qualified mentor-pastor.
“We try to tailor these experiences toward the kind of ministry students will be doing after they graduate,” said Dr. Stephen Elliott, professor of Pastoral Ministry and Church Planting at Kingswood University. “Students’ passion may be immigrants, or persons experiencing homelessness; we try to align their passion with their specialization ... in this case, with Isai and Andrea’s call toward Spanish-speaking new Canadians, we've tried to prepare them for global ministry rooted in a local community.”
As the Calderons searched for an opportunity to engage in global ministry, they connected with Cornwall Wesleyan Church (CWC) in Ontario, an English-speaking church that has recently become a hub for new Canadians.
Cornwall is a central city to the immigration process in Canada, with hundreds of migrant families cycling through Cornwall every year; but CWC’s engagement began several months ago when a Haitian couple began attending CWC and shared their basic household needs as they acclimated to their new home. One family in the church set up kitchen items, helped the new Canadians secure an apartment and checked in on the family to ensure they were adjusting smoothly.
“Dr. Elliott (my advisor) has been like a family for us; on Christmas, they invite us to their house, and we stayed with them — and that has been very encouraging because we don't have family in Canada, and sometimes you feel lonely — but (thank God) we don't feel lonely because we have people who love us.”
As they continued to do this, the word soon spread. “We now have people from Colombia, El Salvador and Ecuador attending our church regularly; I am as English as you can possibly be and am struggling in my attempt to pronounce names,” said Reverend Larry Blaikie, senior pastor of CWC. “And yet I'm doing bulletins in four languages. We have Spanish and English on the screen, and we have people who are looking into doing live translation during the sermon.”
When Isai and Andrea heard about CWC’s role as a global hub in their community, they thought it might be a great fit for an internship. And for Rev. Blaikie, partnership with the Calderons seemed like God’s gift for continued global service in their own backyard.
The Calderons launch into this CWC internship in spring 2024, and request prayer as they begin preparations for a move to Cornwall. For more information about how WE schools are preparing students for lifelong local and global service, visit wearewesleyan.com.