The dream of raising up Mercy Ministries of Canada was first birthed in the heart of Helen Burns, more than 7 years ago. She heard Nancy Alcorn speak at a conference and they became friends. Then, at a 2003 conference while hearing Nancy speak again, she turned to her husband with tears in her eyes and she said, “We need to do this in Canada.” John, ever supportive, assured her that, of course, they would participate and help out. She put her hand on his arm, tears falling freely and said, “No, John. Not help. We need to do this.” And together, they put their hands up and said “yes” to what they felt God asking them to do.
Eventually, Mercy Ministries was standing on its own feet, completely independent and now supported by more than 40 diverse churches and thousands of people across Canada. John and Helen are the first to tell you that they might have been the ones to get things started but it has been a joint effort by the entire body of Christ. Now serving in an official capacity on the Mercy Ministries of Canada Board of Directors alongside other leaders, they continue to pastor their thriving multi-site church, Relate Church, in Surrey, Abbotsford and Vancouver, B.C. as well as hosting Relate with John and Helen and speaking around the world. And of course, they are also devoted grandparents. (Helen might just be the coolest Oma we’ve ever met!)
They are very special to us here at Mercy and so we were thrilled to welcome them as one of our very first guest speakers! This was their first time to meet with the Canadian Mercy girls that they have been praying for all of these years, to see with their own eyes what a dream come true looks like.
- Pastor John and Helen Burns
We asked Pastor Helen to share her thoughts:
While I was in Africa, I had been receiving news from the staff at Mercy about the lovely young women who were arriving at the Mercy home and I could hardly wait to meet them. Though I was many thousands of miles away, my heart and mind were overwhelmed that this day had finally arrived.
Upon arriving home in Vancouver, I made my way to the home at the first opportunity and met all these lovely treasures for the first time. I thought they were the most beautiful and courageous young ladies I had ever met. I held it together emotionally while I was being introduced to them, but as left the home and drove away, the tears would not stop. I was so cognizant of the ‘moment’ I had just experience …it was holy, it was pure, it was perfect and I felt the smile of Heaven… I felt the strength of so many who believed in a dream and invested their heart, their finances, their prayers, their loving support in so many tangible ways. It was a humbling God-moment that I shall never forget.
On Monday, John and I went to Mercy to spend the first morning in a time of worship and teaching with them. It was so very special… Ashley Rogers (note: one of their lovely daughters) led them in worship and it felt like such a beginning – like a tight bud on a rose, I saw them slowly open their beautiful hearts with cautious trust toward God and others. Then John taught some of his thoughts on the Miracle in A Daddy’s hug… encouraging these lovely ones to put their trust in a perfect Father – God. Lots and lots of tears fell as the Kleenex box made its way around the group several times. It was a sacred time.
So later on Monday I left on another trip – to New Zealand, but feeling so full and blessed. I have a complete confidence in the staff who is there leading the charge and taking care of every detail – they are awesome and those precious lives are being cared for in the most loving and professional way. I am grateful beyond what words could say…to God who cares about these young women and allowed us to do something for Him… to the young women at Mercy…to the team, the partners, the prayer warriors, and so many more. My cup truly overflows with a heart of praise.
The best is yet to come and I am so very glad you are on the journey with us.