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Next generation of leaders ready to win Canada to Christ

COCHRANE, Alberta (BP)–In order to see the vision of 1,000 churches in Canada by 2020 fulfilled, Canadian Southern Baptists must pass the mantle of leadership to the next generation of Christian leaders in Canada.

This year at Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, three of those future leaders are responding to God’s call into the ministry.

They are Mike Blackaby, son of Richard Blackaby, seminary president; Laura Cruikshank, daughter of Mel Cruikshank, Baptist Student Ministries leader at the University of Calgary; and Anita Taillon, daughter of Gerry Taillon, the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists’ National Ministry Leader.

“It’s important for the next generation to build upon and surpass what this generation did in ministry,” seminary president Richard Blackaby said. Mike Blackaby says ministry can be a tough thing to consider being that his last name is “Blackaby.” Since his infancy, Mike has been surrounded by Southern Baptist ministers. His father, uncles and aunts, cousins and grandparents are all in ministry, and many of them are renowned for the ways God has used them.

While he’ll acknowledge the blessing of being in such a family, he also admits it can be an obstacle to finding a direction in life. As a result, he’s found himself listening closely to God’s call on his life, but instead of just figuring it out by taking a year off from school, he decided to seek God’s will while participating in the seminary’s SAMUEL program, which allows high school graduates to take courses at the seminary, preparing them for college and future Christian training.

“One big reason I haven’t jumped into ministry yet is because I don’t want to do things just because of my name or who I’m related to,” he said. “Part of the reason I’m in the SAMUEL program is to take this year and get my bearings.”

Though he has a love for music, and always thought God would lead him in that direction, Mike is now wrestling and praying through a call to the pastorate. He hopes his time in SAMUEL will guide him in that decision.

“It’s funny that the things that attract me to being a pastor aren’t things like preaching,” he said. “I’m really attracted to the behind-the-scenes things like visiting people and helping them. Basically it’s loving people as a job. You get to live out your Christian life and you get paid for it.”

Laura Cruikshank has been a Southern Baptist all of her life. She and her family usually have been one of the first families at a particular church because they were helping to plant it, and Laura would remain long enough to make quite a few friends. Her family would then move on to another plant when the opportunity arose.

“It was really the calling of my parents,” she said. “Sometimes I wanted to be with friends, but I found that it was neat to be one of the first people at a church. I enjoyed that.”

Laura is the second student enrolled in the seminary’s SAMUEL program this year, and she, too, says she is presently listening for God’s call on her life. She hopes to hear from God more clearly as she attends classes, learning about the Bible and how to apply it in her life.

“I know God’s called me into missions,” she said. “I’m just looking for direction there. I really plan on going to the University of Calgary to become a teacher so that I can be useful on the mission field. Then I hope to go back to seminary.”

As she ponders missions, Laura says her parents have instilled a desire to be in ministry where she is. Even though the unsettled life of church planters may have become tiresome to a young girl at times, Laura says it has made her rethink how she will be function in ministry later in life.

“When I’m older I won’t just go to the biggest church,” she said. “I might be more comfortable being in something new.”

Gerry Taillon, national ministry leader for the Convention of Canadian Southern Baptists, had a great hand in helping the convention develop its God-sized task of planting 1,000 churches in Canada in the next 20 years. He has since planted the vision in his daughter, Anita, who is attending the seminary this fall and who hopes to work with one of the 1,000 plants in Canada.

“The entire church-planting vision is an incredible vision,” she said. “When you look across the country you can see the need. I can’t wait to see what it’s like when God plants these churches in Canada and begins to work in this country.”

Growing up with a marriage connection to the Blackaby family made ministry a constant in her life as well, and although she says she understood the essential nature of ministry, and the necessity of it — even participating in it on a regular basis — she never “bought it” until recently, after a tragedy made her take stock of what was important in life.

“What we fill our lives with is what falls out when bad things happen,” she said. “I was filling my life with things that were useless.”

After a tough reevaluation process, Anita sensed God leading her into the ministry, burning the vision of planting churches in Canada into her heart as He had done in her father. She is enrolled in the bachelor’s program and is presently involved with The Tapestry in Tuscany, a church plant led by seminary students Jim Boyd, John Groot, Guido Stenske and others. Being a part of that, and knowing the vision of the convention in Canada, has pulled her heart in that direction. She says she looks forward to the day when the 1,000th church is planted.

“It’s going to be an amazing day,” she said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: NEXT GENERATION.

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