“I believe God gave us the name [Faith Mission.] Faith was to be the principle of the Mission–faith in God, and in Him alone; absolute dependence upon Him for everything necessary, for guidance, for health, and strength besides food and clothing; faith for the future as well as faith for the present. Faith lives on distinct promises such as–’They who preach the Gospel shall live by the Gospel’ and ‘They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.’ And the word ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’ covers all contingencies…We want those who will forswear all the comforts of home, all the ambitions of life and the pleasures of the world to go out as ‘pilgrims’ and strangers on the earth,’ and live entirely for God”-John George Govan (Sept-Oct, 2011 First! Magazine)
How did the Faith Mission begin? By God taking the founder, John George Govan, on a journey…
John was born in Scotland in 1861. He was strongly influenced by his Christian parents and he gave his life to Christ at the age of 12. As a young man, he was greatly influenced by D.L. Moody and General Booth. John’s older brothers were actively involved in evangelism and this influenced him to have a deep desire for evangelism as well.
More and more John George was “supremely conscious of the love of God and of the darkness and dire need of men and women who were separated from that love by sin.” (Spirit of Revival page 36)
John George experienced a heart cleansing which brought him to live a “separated life”. His desire to be a successful businessman diminished, and his energy was given to sharing the gospel full time. On October 14 1886, he wrote in his diary: “The Faith Mission started”.
The name Faith Mission reflected the fact that the mission “had no committee, no financial backing, no influential supporters, but was simply dependent upon God.” (Spirit of Revival page 36)
As we look back, it’s clear that God worked through the ministry of the Faith Mission. Govan and his fellow workers sought to bring the gospel to the most spiritually neglected, and hard, villages. They would stay in these villages, pray, and visit – inviting people to attend their meetings. Although this was hard, with many challenges, people came and met with Christ, surrendering all to Him. At the end of the first year, the young missionaries could testify that God had supplied all their need and two thousand people had professed salvation.
Through the years, the Faith Mission has kept the same goal of evangelizing the rural areas. Faith Mission workers have gotten to and from meetings using all types of transportation. Many times, workers had to walk miles, to reach a few houses on a remote island. Sometimes they rented a hall and held meetings in communities without a church to share the gospel. As people were saved, the next keystone of Faith Mission work began: teaching conferences. Communities were affected as many people were came to Christ, but had no experience of the Christian life. Conferences were organized to bring converts from the different areas and give basic Bible training. Out of these conferences, people felt the call of God to leave their existing work and join in the ministry of the Faith Mission. The work spread wider in Scotland and then throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.Another keystone of Faith Mission work has been regular prayer meetings. These prayer Unions were set up locally so that small groups of people could pray for the work. Today there are about three hundred prayer groups that regularly support the work of the Faith Mission.
Then in 1927, a call was received from Canada, asking for help. A Pastor in Toronto had a burden to reach the surrounding rural areas. Three ladies, (Helen Gibb, Phebe Rowdon and Agnes Waugh) were sent over from the existing ministry of the Faith Mission in the United Kingdom. Soon they were engaged in evangelism crusades in and around Markham, Thornhill and Maple. These areas are far from rural now, but those ladies braved the elements to share the gospel with many. As you read the reports, they talk of facing challenges with muddy roads, so muddy that a pianist lost a shoe on the way to one of the meetings! They also had to deal with Canadian winters. They talk of visiting the local farms on foot and after arriving, would warm up their feet by putting them in the ovens in the kitchens of their hosts.
God blessed these ladies as they shared the gospel and people were saved from their sin. In Victoria Square United Church, thirty people are recorded as accepting Christ as Saviour. These ladies followed the same pattern as the work in the United Kingdom, after people were saved, discipleship followed, through conferences setup for fellowship and teaching.
Part of this discipleship included setting up Prayer Unions, where the new Christians learnt how to pray and support current outreach that was going on.
Canada was an ideal setting for the work of Faith Mission. There were huge expanses of rural land with many scattered villages and small towns. Soon the work had spread into Hamilton, Wasaga Beach, and Woodstock areas. By 1928 there were five workers, seven hundred meetings had been conducted and five Prayer Unions had been set up. Leadership came from the first director appointed, Mr J.G. Eberstein. By 1933 Mr John Wallace was the director and the work in Canada was beginning its transition to independence, apart from Faith Mission work in the United Kingdom.
The work not only expanded in Ontario, but also into other provinces.
In 1941 it was decided to send Mr and Mrs William Macfarlane west. The work began around Crescent Beach but over the years the work has concentrated on Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and the Okanagan Valley area. Over the years, there were many opportunities to share Christ in this rustic sparse province. Many of the early workers moved around with a car and lived in camping trailers. They would stop in these remote places and rent a hall in order to share the gospel.
In 1951 Mr and Mrs Ken Buchanan headed to Nova Scotia to begin the work there. Although the work was hard with opposition to the gospel, God was faithful and people were came to know Jesus as their personal Savior. They spent nine years in the Maritimes before serving in other areas. Sadly the work closed in Nova Scotia after the Buchanan’s left.
Now ninety years later, the headquarters for Canada is based out of a conference centre in Campbellville Ontario.
Ontario is divided up into six districts, each district having a house that serves as accommodation and local office.
Recently new areas for work include the provinces of Quebec and Alberta. The work in British Columbia also continues on with the work being based out of two locations, Falkland and Vernon.