He hath Enabled Me - Missionary Story of Dave and Joyce Kinsey
The story of a missionary is always a story of God’s preparation, guidance, and faithfulness. It is a story of someone willing to follow and a God able to provide.
That is Dave and Joyce Kinsey’s story. They have been serving God through the ministry of Awana for over 30 years, seeing evidence of God’s grace and provision over and over again. Though they are “full-fledged” Canadian citizens today, God actually brought Dave and Joyce into Canada from the United States in 1982.
The couple grew up in the Chicagoland area. As a child Joyce attended one of the very first Awana clubs and became a believer through the proclamation of the Gospel there. Ever since, Awana has been near and dear to her heart. Later after Dave and Joyce were married and living in Western New York, Dave was working as a Christian Education Director and they found themselves getting involved in the Awana ministry in one of the churches he served. Soon they began organizing regional events with churches in the area and became area coordinators under Leo Spencer, one of the first two Awana missionaries. They organized leadership conferences, Awana Olympics, Sparks-a-Ramas and Grand Prix events and continued to get more involved. They found themselves basically doing, in a small area, what a missionary would do in a larger region.
Dave admits that around that time the idea of becoming an Awana missionary had crossed his mind. He had considered going into pastoral ministry in the past but now several people were suggesting his gifting might lay with Awana’s ministry. Both Dave and Joyce enjoyed their work with Awana and they were having success in their ministry efforts. God was nudging them along and opening their hearts to full-time missions.
Crossing the Border
Living close to the Canadian border Dave and Joyce became acquainted with the staff at the Canadian Awana Headquarters in Fonthill, Ontario (former location of Awana Canada). During a visit with Ron Payson, the Canadian Director at the time, Dave heard that Canada was in need of more Awana missionaries. Without much hesitation, Dave volunteered, not knowing if immigrating would even be a viable option for them. As they became better acquainted with Awana in Canada, Dave felt certain that he really wanted to work with Ron Payson.
“I was really impressed with Ron’s attitude that Awana was there to serve the churches, not the other way around.”
And Ron was eager to have Dave and Joyce on the team, so they started the application process with Awana. They had to be accepted by both the American and Canadian boards as well as Canadian immigration. The process should have taken much longer but through God’s work, everything went smoothly and quickly for Dave and his family. They became official Awana Canada missionaries in September of 1982.
When they arrived, there were around 30 clubs in their region, and those numbers grew rapidly in the first 6-7 years. Dave looks back and believes God has really directed him to his perfect niche. Even though he had wanted to be a pastor since he was very young, God’s guidance into Christian Education, children’s ministry, and eventually missionary work has clearly been the right path for him. He has opportunities to preach, teach, direct, organize and also join in the fun of kids’ ministry.
He admits that children’s ministry wasn’t always his passion, but through his involvement he has come to see the vital importance of it. He sees an appalling lack of concern for children’s ministry in many churches and believes that even if Awana doesn’t work in every situation, some sort of children’s ministry needs to be occurring.
It is through good children’s ministry that kids begin to understand and comprehend the Scripture. In many homes and churches, children are being overlooked and their spiritual growth is neglected. Through ministries like Awana, children – and through them, their parents – are given the opportunity
to learn and grow in faith and discipleship to come to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Lasting Ministry
For over 30 years Dave has watched this ministry grow and change. He has realized that Awana needs to be flexible and relevant for different situations and different times yet he believes that the only reason Awana is still thriving is because it has kept the Gospel and Scripture central.
“If Awana ever veers away from that, I think God will just pull the plug on it and it will collapse.”
Relevance and flexibility should never change
the emphasis or the message. Dave says, “Relevance is a tricky thing. What some may think is relevant may not actually be important. There is a need to balance what people need to hear and know with what they will listen to because they see that it applies to their life in the present. Relevance also has to do with how something is presented and not simply what is presented.” Dave knows that Christians must be careful in their ministries to allow flexibility within their methodology and yet not in their doctrine.
Crossing More Borders
And Dave knows first hand what it really means to be flexible, because of his work with Awana. It was not long after he started ministering in Ontario that he also began to help with the ministry in Québec. Having no skill or experience with the French language this task was difficult for him and yet God continued to guide and bless. Because of his Québec experience, the regional director for West Africa asked Dave to put together a team of French-speaking leaders who could go and teach the West African leaders (who also speak French). Dave believes his trip to Africa with this team was one of the most impactful experiences of his life.
“I had an overwhelming sense of the grace of God poured out on me. God took this little guy from Chicago and gave him a ministry in Canada, and then allowed him to go overseas to help others with their ministry.”
He says he has never looked at God’s grace in the same way since. It was incredible for him to see that God chose him, and allowed him to take part in the ministry. And he realized that all along, it wasn’t about him – it was about God and His power.
Dave is sensitive to and so thankful for God’s provision. The verse he chose for their first prayer card really reflects his heart:
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
Dave and Joyce have seen God work faithfully in their lives and their ministry. They still seek to do His work and to spread His Word. They hope to continue to teach and lead others to take a more active role in Awana. They have seen the importance and value of this ministry and they believe God is in the business of changing lives through it. They pray that the ministry of Awana will continue to serve churches across Canada by placing the highest value on knowing God’s Word and living our lives in accordance with it.