Milly & Steve Jones are just weeks away from moving to Vancouver Canada. Here Milly shares how their journey began…
In May 2013 Steve and I received a very exciting email – it was from the Canadian Immigration authorities, telling us that they were happy to allow us permanent residency in Canada. It was a pivotal moment – a culmination of four years waiting through the visa process.
But while we may have first applied for our visas back in 2009, our journey to Canada doesn’t start there. We have to go back a little further to see God lining up all the pieces… In February 2008 Steve & I moved to Swindon from Devizes. We bought a house, started coming to Gateway Church (known then as Swindon Family Church), I started a job in Swindon, we got ourselves a couple of kittens… in general we settled down. Life was good, God was blessing us, we felt like we had ‘arrived home’ and to be honest, while we wouldn’t have vocalised it, we probably felt like Swindon was where we would be staying indefinitely. We certainly had no plans for future moves, and had never once considered living abroad.
At that time, our good friends Bruce & Susie Gamble felt a stirring from God, following a family holiday to Canada, with a growing passion for the country and they started talking about going back there permanently and planting a church! We were sad that they would be leaving us, while pleased that God was working out His purposes; we believed that God sends people to the nations, but we thought that that was only for other people – not us!
In July 2008, I went to the Brighton Leaders’ conference Together on A Mission (Steve wasn’t able to get to come due to accountants not being allowed holiday in July… or something like that). There I experienced a wonderful healing from our God of a depression which had held me back for years. And part of the healing process was a revelation from God about Canada. He showed me that he had given me skills and gifts and a purpose, and he had work for me and Steve to do – in Canada. Gulp!
The next few days were a mix of emotions – rejoicing in my freedom from depression, but hanging over me was this call to Canada, come from nowhere. Was I really hearing from God? Or had I just ‘created’ a calling? And how on Earth was I going to tell Steve? I remember speaking quite plainly with God – ‘God, if this is you, then you’re gonna have to speak to Steve, cos he’s never gonna believe me!’
When I got back home for the conference, I sat Steve down on the sofa and started:
‘I’ve got something to say, but, please, just don’t freak out, ok?’
After probably scaring him with that introduction, I shared what I thought God might be saying – and he just smiled.
‘I know,’ he said, ‘God’s told me too. We’re supposed to go to Canada.’
A call to up sticks and move to the other side of the world isn’t something you take lightly. Even with the confirmation of our separate conversations with God, we still needed to test if we were hearing correctly. We spent the next few months praying about it, talking with Bruce and Susie and other friends, and exploring options. In January 2009 we made a short trip to Toronto, for a weekend conference of Canadian New Frontiers churches, using the time to test what we thought God was asking of us. During that visit a leader from one of the Canadian churches prophesied over us that he could see us surrounded by question marks – but he could see them gradually straightening out into exclamation marks!
In the weeks and months that followed God spoke to us many times, in many ways. As a result, in February 2009 we sent off an application for Permanent Residence visas under the Federal Skilled Workers scheme, as – praise God! – accountants were on the list of skilled workers the Canadian government were currently looking for. (Not a moment too soon, as just a month later the list was revised, and accountants no longer featured!)
And so began the long journey to Canada…