Ontario is a huge province. There are over 50 churches that we partner with in Northern and Eastern Ontario alone. The region is not as densely populated as Southern Ontario. This expansive territory, with greater distances between clubs, provides many unique challenges, particularly in organizing regional events. We also work as team members with the Advocates in the Greater Toronto Area and Southwestern Ontario.
My wife Joyce and I came to Canada in 1982 specifically to work with Awana. This is now home, although not our native land. Before coming to Canada, we worked with veteran Awana missionary Leo Spencer in the comparatively small area of Western New York. But going back even further, Joyce attended Awana in the Chicagoland area where she heard the Gospel and received Christ as her Saviour. I trusted in Christ as a boy of five years old and from an early age I knew that I wanted to serve the Lord in full-time ministry when I grew up.
Joyce and I have four grown children. They have all moved west—Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Asia (so far west that it is east). Both our daughters married goalies. (How Canadian can you get, eh?) Only our youngest was born in Canada. All of us, except one, are now dual citizens. But all of us are citizens of a heavenly home that we are longing to see.
We started working with Awana as volunteers in Western New York. We put together special events for children and youth such as Sparks-a-Ramas and AwanaGames, and for leaders we did Leadership Training Conferences. When we heard of the need for an Awana missionary in Ontario, Canada, I (Dave) said, “If I was Canadian, I’d volunteer.” The response was, “I don’t think that would be a problem.” So, here we are three-plus decades later, still excited about Sparks-a-Rama, AwanaGames, Bible Quizzing, Grand Prix events, Sparks Camp-a-Rama and Scholarship Camp. And we are still training leaders hoping to multiply the impact for the Kingdom of God and change the world for Christ.
Fun Fact—I was born on the Fourth of July in the city of Chicago. Growing up I always thought that the fireworks were for my birthday. Moving to Canada I thought I should change my birthday to July 1st in order to still have fireworks on my special day!
To learn more about me or the Awana International Canada ministry, please contact me anytime.