Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Across the vast plains and towering mountain ranges of Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, Insight for Living Canada broadcasts words of hope day after day. Whose heart will be touched by today’s message?
Perhaps someone like the young Canadian father-to-be who had just received the horrifying news of his wife’s miscarriage. Immediately, all visions of future joy, laughter, and love faded into grey. He sat in his car and turned the radio dial—hoping to find some tune that might numb the pain. Instead, he “chanced” upon a sermon from Insight for Living. In that sacred moment, the young man encountered God. Colour re-entered his vision as God’s Word shined its light. That small act of God’s grace anchored itself in him as a faith-fuelling memory which he could turn to anytime.
Like the Israelites who put God’s deeds into songs of praise, we celebrate the great things God did in this man’s life as well as the lives of countless others throughout Canada. Insight for Living Ministries International has taken God’s message around the world for more than 35 years, and this amazing global outreach all started with Canada. We never expected it to happen that way, much less planned for it. But He has done it, and, because He has done it, we will sing of it!
How did it all begin? With a small group of Canadian men and women who gathered in a living room to study God’s Word and apply it to their lives. Here’s how God began His great work through Insight for Living Canada.
A Great Beginning
Even as newlyweds, Canadians Bob and Renae Kuhn devoted themselves to the Word of God. They received their love of God’s Word from faithful family members, like Renae’s mother, and shared their love of God’s Word with others by hosting Bible studies in their home.
About five or six years into their marriage, they started a routine of visiting Renae’s family in and around the Portland, Oregon area. During every visit, Renae’s mom would have them listen with her to her favorite programs on Portland’s Christian radio station, 93.9 KPDQ. She was especially excited to share with them a newer program initially called New Standard for Living, Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s Bible-teaching broadcast. Through that program, God sparked inspiration into Bob and Renae’s hearts.
Renae’s mom gave them some of Pastor Chuck’s sermon series cassette tapes to take across the border to listen to at home. For months, they used these tapes in their home Bible-study group.
“It was GREAT!” writes Renae. Bob describes how “our small Bible-study group began studying, praying through, and applying the biblical truth that God brought to us when we needed it most.” They especially loved that “Chuck would not preach if he could not laugh, sharing his joy and wonderful sense of humour in a way that makes the Scriptures winsome.”
When the group realized Pastor Chuck’s sermons were broadcast only in the United States, the same question crossed each member’s mind: Why not Canada? They would not let that thought evaporate into nothing. So, they nominated Bob, who practiced law, to write a letter to the newly minted Insight for Living Ministries in Fullerton, California. Bob offered to help incorporate a Canadian “outpost” of the ministry.
Impatient for a response, he placed a call shortly after he sent his letter and was connected to one of Insight for Living Ministries’ vice presidents, who seemed very enthusiastic but did not know anything about Canadian law, demographics, or ministry potential. Bob and the others in the small group offered to help by enlisting the support of several individuals who would serve as founding members of Insight for Living Canada’s board of directors.
By the end of 1984, God had done a great thing. Insight for Living Canada was a Canadian-registered charity committed to spreading God’s Word through several US border stations beaming into Canada. Soon after, with the support of Insight for Living Ministries’ main office, Bob and the other founders witnessed Insight for Living Canada take root and make an impact in Canadian culture. From the first day until now, Bob has served as the chairman of the board.
Each time God starts a great thing, He does not turn His face from it to let it run on its own steam. God tends to that work because He has the heart of a shepherd. You have probably experienced the same. The Great Shepherd raises up faithful leaders to keep a great work going, and that is exactly what He did with Insight for Living Canada.
As pastor of First Baptist Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, Carson Pue’s love for Canadian people began expanding beyond the walls of his church. He wanted to reach Canadians all across the vast country to help them thrive in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Carson had not been aware of Pastor Chuck’s radio ministry, but he had read one of Pastor Chuck’s books and deeply appreciated his solid, biblical approach to relevant topics. Casual conversations led Carson to discover that many pastors across Canada enjoyed listening to the Insight for Living broadcasts during their personal quiet times. So, he gave it a listen, knowing he would gain the added benefit of getting some great ideas for sermon illustrations.
Little did Carson know that Bob and Renae Kuhn were parishioners at his church. Not long after listening to the Insight for Living broadcast, he learned how the Kuhns had helped start Insight for Living Canada. Then the Kuhns invited Carson and his family to join them at the annual summer Insight for Living Ministries Mount Hermon family camp in California.
Carson and his wife Brenda met Pastor Chuck and Cynthia for the first time at that camp. During a morning devotional, Pastor Chuck invited pastors and ministers to go on a walk and eat ice cream later that afternoon as a thank you for their kingdom labours.
Reflecting on the walk, Carson writes,
That walk changed something in me. There were about 12 of us, as I remember. Just so casually, over ice cream, Chuck mentioned that pastoral work is a hard but high calling. He said a prayer over us and then we laughed and enjoyed our ice cream together. My wife, Brenda, and I were able to walk with Chuck and Cynthia back to the camp and had such a meaningful and encouraging conversation about ministry. It was like a drink of refreshing water to our parched souls.
Time at that camp turned out to be a formative moment in Carson’s development as a Christian leader. As only God could orchestrate it, He put Carson’s leadership skills and gifts to use at Insight for Living Canada, just a few years after his time at Mount Hermon, when he joyfully accepted the invitation to serve as Insight for Living Canada’s executive director. Now, he had the opportunity to reach all Canadians.
In 1993, when he stepped into leadership, Carson had two goals. First, he wanted to decrease the office’s financial dependence upon the main office in the US so Insight for Living Canada could function as a self-sustaining ministry. Second, he wanted to expand the ministry into new territories, new radio stations, new homes. To accomplish these goals, he cut a 40-inch x 84-inch piece of brown wrapping paper and mounted it on the wall in his office. On it, he wrote 10 questions including “What needs in Canada do we feel deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to meet?” “What three roadblocks are keeping us from reaching our full potential?” and “What could we accomplish in the next two to five years?”
Under Carson’s leadership, God performed a great work through Insight for Living Canada. The ministry inched closer and closer to financial independence. They expanded their ministry efforts to churches and pastors while additional Canadian radio stations broadcast Pastor Chuck’s sermons into new areas. By the end of Carson’s tenure five years later, God had grown Insight for Living Canada into a vital presence of reliable Bible teaching throughout the country.
The baton of leadership passed from Carson Pue to Michael Clarke to Ben Lowell to the current executive director, Steve Johnson. Before joining Insight for Living Canada, Steve trained as a pastor just as Carson had done. When Steve attended Bible college, a guest speaker for chapel challenged him and his classmates to consider overseas mission work. Steve, however, sensed the Holy Spirit leading him on a different path, “But you need to stay here. The need in Canada is so great.”
As a student, Steve never imagined how God would use his commitment to serve at home in Canada. Then, as a young pastor using Insight for Living Ministries resources, Steve never imagined he would one day meet Pastor Chuck and Cynthia much less serve with and partner with them in God’s work of reaching the Canadian people. He joined Insight for Living Canada in 2004 on October 18, Pastor Chuck’s birthday! Steve began by serving ministry donors which allowed him to learn the ins and outs of Insight for Living Canada. Then the leadership baton fell into his hand in 2011.
Steve leads with a deep awareness of the culture and mission of IFLM. He knows that from the beginning of IFLM—when the very first office was in the Swindoll’s garage and listener’s donations were put into a shoebox every night beneath the Swindolls’ bed to be safe until they could move into three empty offices in a bank. Pastor Chuck and Cynthia have sought to operate every facet of the ministry with the highest standards of excellence and integrity. “I have a strong sense that my staff and I are building on the work of boards of directors and former staff members and executive directors who worked at Insight for Living Canada before us,” Steve said. “People have invested years of their lives building this ministry.”
For more than 35 years, Insight for Living Canada has broadcast Pastor Chuck’s sermons with his characteristic clarity, accuracy, and practicality. God’s Word has transformed thousands of lives in Canada.
I remember speaking to one supporter who shared with me the story of when, years ago, he had received word that his wife had miscarried. He was devastated. As he sat in his car, he turned the dial on the radio and heard Chuck’s voice. The message ministered to him so significantly that he became a major supporter of Insight for Living Canada and he remains so to this day. Many financial partners have told me similar stories of how their spiritual adventures with Chuck and Insight for Living Canada began by simply flipping through stations on the radio and stopping when they heard Chuck’s unique voice...or laugh! God’s Word spoken with conviction and compassion touched their hearts, and they’ve been with us ever since.
God has also used Insight for Living Canada to reach thousands of lives beyond the borders of Canada. Canada and Cuba have shared an uninterrupted diplomatic relationship since the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Through this affinity, God opened doors in 2004 for Insight for Living Canada to begin a fruitful ministry in Cuba.
In 2008, they partnered with the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) to send 10,000 five-volume sets of Pastor Chuck’s God’s Masterwork series that surveys every book of the Bible. Churches and seminaries received this series so well, that Insight for Living Canada sent another 10,000 sets in 2010. In all, Insight for Living Canada has sent more than 165,000 resources to equip Cuban church leaders.
Then came the leadership conferences. Partnering with the CCC, Carlos Zazueta, the “voice” of Pastor Chuck in Spanish on Visión Para Vivir, has spoken at four series of leadership conferences in Cuba, which have been fantastic conferences with more than 4,000 church leaders attending. Just stop reading and think about the impact on that tiny country. Most walked many miles from their homes to attend.
While Insight for Living Canada still supplies print resources to Cuba, they have handed the baton of ministry to Vision Para Vivir’s main office headquarters in Frisco, Texas, who now spreads the fragrance of God’s grace to the people of Cuba knowing that they are building on a strong foundation.
Insight for Living Canada has reached and still reaches thousands and thousands of people with God’s truth by broadcasting four English-language programs more than 2,000 times per week from 100 facilities across Canada. God is performing countless acts of grace. We take none of these acts for granted. Every spark of spiritual insight, every flicker of sustaining hope, every fortified marriage, every awakening of a new Christian bears the marks of God’s great deeds through the voices and efforts of diligent Insight for Living Ministries staff worldwide. Yet, even with all the great things God has done through Insight for Living Canada, many still live without the power of God’s truth and Spirit.
For that reason, Canada remains an integral part of our vision at Insight for Living Ministries, which we call Vision 195. We seek to spread the fragrance of God’s grace offered through Jesus Christ into all 195 countries. We celebrate with you what God has done for the people of Canada through Insight for Living Canada because you have been such an important part of our story. Thank you.
When the Israelites of old sang celebratory songs of God’s deeds, they did so not only with an eye on the past but also with an eye on the future. Singing of God’s past works inspires us to press forward with trust. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. With full confidence in our great Redeemer and Leader, we will carry on the vision knowing that He has great things remaining ahead of us.
Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
Shout to God with joyful praise!
For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.