The related pages below are the personal testimonies and stories of people who have been, are, or visited Fair Havens Community Church. The stories are listed alphabetically below. Click on a name to read their story.
My relationship with Christ started in earnest when I moved to Kirkfield. I met a lovely Christian woman who reached out to me and invited me to Fair Havens Church. I was a mother with a newborn and a toddler. I was working full-time and life was relatively peaceful. My husband and I were struggling, but nothing, I thought, we couldn’t overcome, in time. Life was busy. When the children entered school, I began seriously looking for a church family. Life got busier and my marriage started to fall apart. I needed a full-time permanent position but was in a part-time permanent position with contract work that I had to seek out each year to fill the rest of the week. I began praying and talking to the Lord more often as I sought guidance and support and strength. I filled the void in my life with work and more work. It helped to gain me a full-time permanent position but not without some mountains to climb. I turned to Christ more and more as I realized I was not enough to manage my busy, stressful, strife-filled life. He was always there and provided me with much peace and comfort. I decided to leave my marriage. That year was filled with anxiety, grief, worry, and turmoil. It was a tough year. I had support from loving friends and family. I was not alone and I believe that the love being poured out to me was a gift from Heaven. Without any real thought, one night over the Christmas holidays, I accepted Jesus into my heart and proclaimed by belief that He is the Son of God, who died on the cross for my sins. I professed my sins and asked for forgiveness. That night gave me peace in my heart and the strength to move forward with my life. To make decisions that I was previously too overcome with self-doubt to make. I began to understand the need to trust and allow myself to be led by the Lord. I returned to Kirkfield and my church family at Fair Havens. The understanding and desire to allow the Lord to lead me was something I still struggled with. I prayed and sought mentorship from other Christians, and tried not to rely on my own control. My ability to truly let Him lead me did not fully begin until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once I gave up the need for control and gave it to God, I have noticed he has made Himself known every step of the way of this crisis. From the medical team he has gathered the outpouring of support, prayers, and resources from family, friends, neighbours, and my church community. I am still growing in the Lord. He is my healer, my father. He is the One who sees my magnificence and on whom I rely. He is making me new and my life in Christ begins fresh each day as I turn to Him for ultimate direction. I am learning to see myself through His eyes. I am learning to love myself the way He loves me and forgive myself the way He forgives me. I am learning to let go of preconceived outcomes and trust myself. Since coming out of treatment and experiencing healing – spiritually, emotionally, and physically, I am now learning to see others through this same lens. To see them as God sees them. As beacons of bright light who are also loved and forgiven. It is not a struggle to do this. It just feels right. Through the Lord, my children and I are safe and loved in His hands, no matter what.
I Was Lost
Running along a beach in the Arabian Gulf, feeling lost and alone, I picked up speed, as if pursued by a devil. Running, running, as fast as I could, sweat poured down my face, my feet sinking into the soft sand. I couldn’t run fast enough. Faster, faster, faster…
It must have been 48 degrees Celsius. Feeling faint, feeling sorry for myself, feeling depressed…I just couldn’t shake off these horrible feelings, no matter how fast I ran.
What was I doing? Where was I going? My mind raced as I ran. No matter how fast I ran, no matter how I went over and over the recent events in my life, I could find no reprieve.
I was at the end of myself.
On the outside, my life looked amazing. I had a great teaching job in an all-girls school in Kuwait, in the Middle East, with wonderful high school students eager to learn. One of my grade twelve girls had organized a weekend retreat at her family’s chalet on the Arabian Gulf. A wealthy family, their chauffeur had driven twelve of us in their van out to the chalet, with enough food to feed an army.
Leaving the girls watching a movie, I donned my running gear and headed out for a jog along the beach. Yes, I was ok on the outside: healthy, fit, good income…but I was a mess on the inside. All my adult life I had been searching for the perfect man, the perfect man for me. I had married at 17, had three beautiful children; but that relationship ended in divorce as we each grew in different directions, having married too young. On through my 30’s and 40’s I had dated different men, always searching for that perfect man.
At the age of 50 I decided to travel and teach. And here, in Kuwait, in the Middle East, I thought I had finally met the man of my life. I had fallen in love with a Chief Warrant Officer in the United States Marine Corp. Here’s the perfect man for me, I thought: responsible, a divorcee with grown children, a world traveller, dedicated to his country. But after a year of hiding his true self from me, I discovered he was a very sick person, addicted to…well…to many things: alcohol (recovered), gambling, coffee, smoking, pornography.
And yet —and yet — he told me he believed in Christ, that he was a Christian! As a child I had been baptized and confirmed a Protestant. I knew about God, I knew about Jesus, but I was not a Christian…and besides, who wanted to be a Christian like this officer, living the toxic life of an addict? I wanted none of it.
And that was my dilemma. That was my conflict. He kept wanting me to believe in Jesus; he kept insisting I become a Christian. He kept talking about how God wanted me to believe. His belief was like another obsession for him. The last thing I wanted to do was to become like him. His insistence was driving me crazy. His beliefs and lifestyle just did not fit; he said one thing and did another. He talked of Jesus being the Truth, the Light and the Way…yet here he was, after work, day after day on the computer, delving into things that made me feel sick.
I had to get away; I had to distance myself from this madness, this insanity. And so I accepted the invitation to go out to the Arabian Gulf with my students.
The day was March 29 2002… a day that was to change my life forever.
As I picked up speed along the beach, feeling totally lost and hopeless, running faster with each negative thought that flew through my mind, I suddenly yelled out to God: “Why? Why do you want me to believe in Jesus?”
Running into the water, and falling to the sand on my knees, I cried out again, “Why God? Why do you want me to believe?” And suddenly, and clearly, He answered me.
”BECAUSE HE IS MY SON.”
Those words, that moment, changed my life.
Here, in a Muslim country, in the Arabian Gulf, I became a follower of Christ.
For years I had been seeking the perfect man in my life; the perfect man for me. And here He was, right in front of me. Jesus Christ. The perfect Man. The Son of God. A man who represents all that is good and decent and right.
It was for me an awakening, a rebirth of my spirit, a restoring of my soul, an act of faith, and I cried tears of joy and splashed salt water on my face and felt cleansed.
And you know, when I walked back to shore, I felt different. I felt beautiful, light yet filled with the Holy Spirit…not ugly and ashamed and tormented.
I no longer felt lost. I was found. Found by the Son of God. I no longer was blind, but I could see, truly see that He loved me, that He wanted me to follow Him, that He wanted me to believe in Him, to have not only a life in eternity, but a new life in Him. Born again, I accepted His invitation, an invitation full of the most amazing love and grace.
I would love to say my life with the officer worked out; that my newfound beliefs encouraged him to truly live the life Christ wants us to live, free of the chains of addiction. But that did not happen. We sought counselling, and in the end, when asked to choose a wife or his addictions, he chose the latter. But I do feel thankful that indirectly he led me on a journey to Christ in the Arabian Gulf.
I was lost…but now I’m found…
God truly works in mysterious ways.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your path smooth.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
Dawn Elizabeth Doyle
The Song of a Soul Set Free
My name is Abe Stouffer. As of the date of this writing I am 78 1/2 years old. I am
a retired farmer, herd manager and school bus driver, happily married, father of
3, grandfather of 2, and rejoicing daily, because I have eternal life in Jesus Christ.
I have been a member of Fair Havens community Church for 40 years.
My parents were farmers in the Stouffville /Markham area. I have 4 siblings, 2 brothers and 2 sisters, all alive today and all of us are over 70.
We all attended a one room school, all grades taught by one teacher. Many of the students were related to us, as both parents and grandparents came from large families. Those were largely carefree years, fishing with friends, playing baseball against a school on the next concession. We attended a local church, Sunday School, Sunday AM &PM and mid-week.
I attended Stouffville district High School but was not particularily enthused about nor was I encouraged to go on to further education. One event in my High School days still affects my comfort today. I broke my left leg in 3 places and missed some school time with a full length plaster cast and I learned all about crutches!
However during this “down time” I began to read and this has been a lifelong joy.
But God was beginning to stir the Stouffer family. My parents were faithful Christians and would never have admitted, even probably to themselves, any discontent or unhappiness. My parents began to listen on radio to the message of grace as taught by Dr. M.R. Dehaan, on the Radio Bible Class program. My parents had been brought up in a performance-based teaching, meaning us trying hard, to be righteous and to please God. Ephesians 2:8-9 opened their eyes- for by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.
My father was a man, very private as to inner emotions, but one day he came to understand grace, God giving us what we don’t deserve, a free gift of salvation, and not by trying hard to perform righteously. This changed his life completely and soon Mother and all five children received the free gift of salvation by grace alone, not by works. Eventually under our father’s leadership we left the church of our youth. We connected with a group who held weekly bible studies in Markham. This eventually led to the formation of Markham gospel Chapel, now relocated as Markham Bible Chapel, a Brethren assembly. During my years there, I learned to appreciate their adherence to the word of God and their Bible teaching ministry. However until maybe 12 years ago, I must admit that my Christian walk and beliefs were very performance based.
In my personal life, I left school and began to farm with my father and in anticipation of the future, he bought a farm near Woodville and for some years we farmed both properties. At the age of 18 or 19, I began to get restless and took a job with Ratcliff Lumber at Gormley, Ontario. Wouldn’t you know it after 2 years there, I broke my right leg, more casts, more crutches, more time to read and reflect.
After recovery, I went back to farming with my father and S A Stouffer and Sons, partners in farming was born. I liked farming because I like animals and the satisfaction of planting seed and seeing it grow.
On the corner of the farm, Dad had purchased, was a 50 acre farm with a set of buildings, including a large brick house came up for sale. I had been praying about an opportunity to start on my own. Here it was! I bought the 50 acre farm and the next year bought the 150 acres farm from my father. On New Years day, 1965 I moved into the brick house and thus began my life in the Woodville district.
Neighbours and friends(?) were quick to point out that there was something missing – a wife! There was no wife and no interesting prospects, but after 5 years as a bachelor farmer, I met and married a teacher in Markham named Elaine. We were married in 1970 and began our lives together in the large brick house.
The 1970’s brought our 3 children, 2 daughters and a son into our lives. They remain a joy to us. Today they are all in their 40’s and established in their own lives.
In the late 1960’s I discontinued my own livestock farming and joined in partnership with my Father in Elmar Farm Landrace, a business of raising purebred pigs with the mission of producing fast growing stock on less feed and to result in a pork chop that was not fat but was modulated with just enough fat to be tasty! That great tasting pork chop that you ate recently was in part due to the strict improvement program in which we excelled!
The 70’s were extremely prosperous for us as we exported breeding stock to Cuba, Nicaraugua, Singapore, Korea, and especially to the USA. The Agriculture Department of the University of Tennesee, in one of their courses made mention of the contribution to the American Swine Industry by the Stouffers of Canada.
In our personal lives we attended a local church, where I was Captain of Battalion in Christian Service Brigade and Elaine served in Pioneer Girls. However in 1975 we left that church and settled on Fair Havens Community Church the in its second year. We served in the mid week Bible classes until this was replaced by AWANA, where I eventually became Commander, and served as Elder and Chairman of the Board. Elaine was also active in AWANA.
Things were changing however on the farm front, Dad passed away in 1977. An economic down-turn was on the horizon, however, like many of my generation, my thought was – this probably won’t last long, because I was used to prosperous times! I chose the wrong time to improve and modernize the buildings which housed our livestock. I built a new barn, a new shed and generally upgraded all around. But the downturn continued. Input costs rose sharply there were poor crop years, the export market was no more, business was bad and every borrowed dollar was on a “floating” interest rate. My debt load doubled, banks became concerned and began to threaten foreclosure! I endured many tough interviews with the bank. I probably was on the verge of a nervous break down. Through all of this, Elaine was a rock, trusting that God in His timing would deliver us. I remember, in a time of prayer, I pleaded with God to turn things around for us. From deep in my innermost being, a voice seemed to say – the answer is on the way! I rejoiced in what I felt would be a speedy deliverance, but to-day I realize that the answer was a journey to bring me to the cross, to learn of Jesus, to experience Him. That answer/ journey is still ongoing.
We sold one of the farms and tried to continue on a smaller scale but could not survive. Finally, in 1996 we sold our second farm and closed down Elmar Farm Landrace.
I took a job in 1996 as herd manager on a hog farm near Pefferlaw. We spent 10 enjoyable years there. In 2001 we purchased a new house being built in Western Trent. In 2005 as I was beginning to discuss retirement, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Just before the operation we moved to Western Trent. I was operated on in Orillia with the operation being a complete success. P.T.L.!
After recovery from the operation, I took training as a School bus driver, eventually being given the route right through Western Trent! Driving the bus was a great experience. They say when the driver takes the wheel, all your troubles are behind you! There were some incidents, but the greatest joy of driving was the 5 boys, who came to Awana, heard the gospel and received Christ as Saviour. They stood for truth in their classroom and rejoiced in Jesus on the bus. Four of these boys came to our home once a week for bible teaching, prayer, and fellowship together. These boys and their families remain very precious to me.
But God was still at work in my life, and a significant happening at church was a turning point in my life. In the annual election of elders, I was defeated, my friends had turned against me. I was hurt and embarrassed, but the greatest wound was to my monster ego!
A dear brother came alongside me and as we talked, he pointed me to Romans 5:17. As I read the words “the free gift of righteousness” they bored sharply into my soul! FREE GIFT all my life I had tried diligently to live a good life and to please God, Now I am discovering that the righteousness of Jesus was given to me as a free gift! I cried!
This illumination showed me that God was doing a work in my inner self (ongoing today) I discovered in 1 Thess. 5:23, that we are made up of spirit (our God relationship) soul(our mind, will, and emotions) and body (our earth suit. Understandingly this is essential to understanding the Christian life. I discovered that God wanted an intimate relationship with me. I had always thought of God up there, me down here. I understand now that God has given me a new identity – I am “in Christ”.
I came to understand that when Jesus went to the cross, He shed His blood to “take away”my sins. But He also died to deal with “sin” the power and nature of which we inherited from Adam. When death was pronounced on Adam, he lost his relationship with God, he was separated from God. Romans 5:12
Adam was given a choice in the Garden of Eden. He could have chosen Life, but he chose to live out of his own resources and strengths. Had he chosen the Tree
Of Life, he would have been given “eternal life” the very life of God!
But God sent another One to represent us, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to give us Life, John 10:10 Abundant life is Jesus Life! God’s work in Christ is clearly laid out in Ezekiel 36:25-27
Scripture speaks of our union with God and Christ. John 17 introduces us to our “oneness” with God and Christ.
. Romans 6 speaks of our “oneness and unity and identity” in Christ,
clearly defined in our death, burial and resurrection with Christ and in Christ,
In verse 11 , we are told to consider or reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. But who was put to death with Christ on the cross?
Verse 6 says our “old man’ or “old self” or who I was in Adam, was crucified with Christ and a “new creation in Christ” arose together with Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17)
A new creation in Christ that had never existed before. I had always had an “on my guard” attitude toward sin in my life. But verse 11 says the power of sin is dead, so now be alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:27 describes our resurrected life in Christ. This verse describes a mystery, now revealed, Christ in you the hope of glory. This new creation in Christ contains the very life of Jesus. I Corinthians 6:17- we are one spirit with Jesus. So, the Christian life is not me trying hard, doing my best in His service, see again Ezekiel 36:27 “I will cause you to walk in My ways, “ It is the indwelling Christ living in us and through us. The Holy Spirit’s work is to conform us to the image of Christ. Romans 8:29
Does this mean I am sinlessly perfect? No! There is a remnant of Adam’s life within our bodies called the self life or the flesh. The warfare between flesh and Spirit is described in Romans 8 and Galatians 5: 16-25 In these truths I rejoice that the “do “and “don’ts” of the Law can no longer condemn me .Romans 8:1
In my personal life, I began to pray that God would do a special work in my life. In 2015, I had a heart operation to replace the Aoertic valve, with a “pig valve”
All is still working well today in 2019. In 2016 I contracted a Blood Bacterial infection. This meant 3 weeks in Hospital and 7 weeks in total , on medication.
Two verses now emblazoned on our church sanctuary walls,
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I now live in the body, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.
Philippians3:10 I want to know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death and somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Today Elaine and I are retired and enjoying life together. This is one of the best times in our marriage. We depend on each other. We rejoice in Christ together. We rejoice in His continuing work in our lives. We rejoice in what God is doing in F.H.C.C. drawing people to “Know Him” We are greatly blessed in our family.
Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing.