Good afternoon friends! Today I am happy to share with you a new interview, one I got to conduct with a good friend of mine and missionary Fran Purvis. I met Fran back in high school years (good ol EYCI) in a ‘World Religions’ class. From there I had the pleasure of getting to know her more through mutual friends and the schools Christian fellowship. Over the years I’ve been blessed to support Fran in her mission with InterVarsity, and she was kind enough to take some time and answer some questions. Hope you enjoy my friends.
Can you share a bit about your testimony?
F: When I was 7 years old I asked Jesus to come into my heart- a sincere and heartfelt decision. Children can and do hear from their Creator, and they can make genuine decisions to know and follow him! While I grew up in a spiritually nourishing household, there were also relational tensions within our home, and I struggled with anxiety and insecurity as a result, and between ages 12-18 I didn’t know how to grow in my faith without the presence of spiritual community outside my home.
In university I encountered the IVCF community of believers on my campus which really helped my own my faith, and heal from my identity issues and to see that I could be leader and an agent for the kingdom. I learned so much from them and really fell in love with Jesus at this time.
When did you feel the call missions?
F: My university community was really what helped me see that Jesus was about reaching out world and healing all things, people, relationships and creation! I was very captivated by this vision and was experiencing the goodness of mission in my own context. I felt a call to do full time missions at Urbana 09, but at that point I didn’t know what it meant. In my graduating year I decided to do an intern year with InterVarsity, and was placed In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That year was deeply formative for me, in providing me with a supervisor and mentor, Lisa Laird, who would encourage me to learn about the bigger story of Canada’s history, and to put myself in places where I could listen to and learn under Indigenous leadership- both Christian and non-Christian.
After that year, I was invited to join full time staff with IVCF, as a campus minister at the University of Regina. These past 5 years that I have served on staff I have grown in immeasurable ways as a follower of Jesus and a leader of others. It has stretched me and forced me to see my own brokenness and need for healing; these years of learning to love and students have also challenged me to learn to offer this healing to them, through prayer ministry, community and scripture study. In these years God has also widened my perspective of the gospel, in particular, God’s heart for reconciliation
What can you tell us about InterVarsity?
F: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, who loved Jesus with a sincerity and devotion I hadn’t seen before- they let their whole lives be impacted by the gospel, but they also had room for my questions. This community introduced me to a Jesus whose heart is to connect with women, the sick, the poor and the outcast, a Jesus whose kingdom is about reconciling, bridge-building, and restoring all things.
One of IVCF’s gifts is in helping people encounter Jesus in scripture, as well as creating authentic spaces for people to ask questions and wrestle through complexities. Also in creating genuine, loving community. IVCF is also trying to hold vision for multi ethnicity and ethnic justice which is quite unique for an Evangelical organization.
You’ve been on staff with InterVarsity with for a number of years. What roles have you had and what has your experience been like?
F: I have been a mentor, scripture teacher, led prayer meetings, led retreats, and have done admin tasks. I have done missions work in China, Bangladesh and with Indigenous students here in Regina. Probably my favourite roles are leading prayer meetings, and helping students encounter the healing love of Jesus though prayer ministry. I also love doing any kind of cross cultural relating! These relationships teach me so much!
What can you tell us about Urbana?
F: Thousands of students, including myself, receive a call to missions at Urbana. Urbana is an amazing chance to have your worldview and view of God’s global kingdom expanded. I have learned so much about God’s heart for the nations, and multicultural worship, from Urbana.
What have been some of your favourite experiences as a missionary?
F: I love seeing students experience Jesus, and to see them get caught up in the mission- to see that he is truly good and worth spending their lives on. Seeing students love their friends more and be more clear about why they follow Jesus, is awesome! I love a good, honest chat about faith and I love a solid Bible study that leaves people more in love with the Kingdom!
What would you say is a challenge facing missions?
Apathy and busyness. Students are so busy and it’s easy to be distracted! Keeping Jesus at the centre, and having the mission be integrated into their lives (and my life) is essential.
Helping student grow roots in God through spiritual disciplines, like prayer, is a big issue too. Students need to learn to exercise these muscles, and there is alot that gets in the way (phones; socializing, not knowing how to spend time with God…)
Are there any resources (pastors, authors, theologians, etc) you learn from that you’d recommend to people to check out?
F: C.S Lewis; Henri Nouewen, Thomas Merton, and Belden Lane.
How do you see the church at work in Saskatchewan?
F: The church here is visible, but seems separate from the rest of life. The church is sincere and wants to make a difference, but struggles to make an actually difference to peoples’ lives. There is a heart for revival though, and there is a growing desire to pray and worship and see God move.
Do you see any differences in church culture in Western Canada compared to the East?
F: The church here is more conservative. Other than that, I’m not sure how to comment, such a big question!
And finally – what would you say to someone thinking of pursuing missions?
F: Pray and ask God to open doors; pray for partners in ministry (friends with similar vision and values). Work on developing skills and character growth, and spiritual growth, rather than fixating on what specific place you are called to. God will clarify location, but when we’re starting out its good to think about our first ministry assignments as “training ground.” Listen to where Jesus might be calling you and even if it doesn’t make sense or its costly- say yes! Jesus is worth saying yes to every time!
Thanks for reading, I hope that the Lord somehow speaks to you through these interviews and through Fran today. God bless my friends.