BURNABY, British Columbia (BP) -- Victor and Candice Thomas landed in Vancouver, British Columbia, promising they'd never stay. Five years later, they're still in town.
The South African entrepreneurs arrived in 2007, allowing Victor Thomas to start a four-month stint as a researcher at Simon Fraser University, an adventure he called an extended honeymoon for the newlyweds. His study focused on environmental science and poverty, but the couple found a new calling in Burnaby, a quick train-ride from downtown Vancouver.
Photo by Susan Whitley
Three weeks before they were to return to Cape Town, Thomas walked the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser, his eyes seeming to open for the first time.
"I saw these students with blank looks on their faces, and I started to tear up. For a South African male that's not cool," Thomas said. "It was as if God was saying, 'Isn't this the poverty I've called you to?'"
From a family with seven generations of pastors, Thomas told his friends he'd never follow suit. And indeed he'd stayed true to his proclamation for more than two decades, though he always served the poor alongside his dad. He also started a company consulting on construction projects in environmentally sensitive areas.
"Life was good back in Africa," Thomas said. "I'd just hired a friend and we had several big contracts. We'd never intended to stay in Canada."
As God began to draw the Thomases to the work of The Point Church, a long drive with then-planter of The Point, Kelly Manire, sealed the decision.
"He told us he was moving on," Thomas said, "and that he wanted me and Candice to take over."
The Point, a Canadian National Baptist Convention church, had started years earlier, but had dwindled to a small Bible study. Taking over The Point would amount to relaunching the church. As Thomas saw it, this also meant launching additional campuses in suburban Coquitlam and
Victor Thomas is just one of several church planters serving in the greater Vancouver area, and is helping to achieve the vision of Send North America: Vancouver. ... Read More