Finding a Good Church Family
The testimony of Terry and Denyse Rapsey
Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
Terry and Denyse Rapsey had just received some special counseling from a group of business people that they had joined and come to admire. "Yes, we should start going to church again," they told each other as they discussed the three-point advice. "Where will we look?"
The very next Sunday afternoon there was a knock on the door in their small suburban community near Regina. There was someone named Murray, inviting them to a new church that was starting up nearby. They accepted the invitation and were soon part of a small group that varied from five to 15 attenders.
The leaders of the business group they had joined just prior, were Christians and they had such a peace of God woven into the fabric of their beings that the Rapseys yearned for such a relationship with God too. They had grown up in families that attended church, and church-run schools. All that seemed pale compared to what these new Christian friends had.
Terry had been born into a Christian family, and thought it was something like being Canadian; you were born that way. He always believed in God, and considered God the center of the universe. Sometimes, like when he was nine and in a children's choir, he thought God was speaking. Some songs gave him a thrilling sense that God was reaching out towards him.
His parents sent Terry to a private school for five years. It was a school founded in the 1800s to raise spiritually strong Christians. Here he attended a beautiful, stained-glass chapel twice a day, and sang in the choir. Religious studies was part of the curriculum. Aside from moments when, especially in music, Terry had a sense of the moving of God, he never felt he fully heard what God was trying to say to him.
Right after high school he drifted away from God, and got caught up in marriage, divorce, and partying. Terry had lonely spells, especially late at night, when he would be watching TV, chasing channels, but pausing when he came to a Biblical movie, or a Billy Graham program. Again he would sometimes have this sense that God was there and reaching out to him. Yet, why wasn't he hearing Him?
In 1981 he met Denyse, who grew up in a Catholic family, and also attended church regularly and even went to a convent school. However, she dropped all that when she began to work. She concentrated on having fun to cover up an inner sense of something lacking. Terry and Denyse found each other to be a stabilizing influence, and so they married in 1982.
Both of them worked in banks, but it was in the early 1990s when they also became involved with that group of business people and they saw there was something different about them. The lead couple especially, had a quality of peace and integrity and principle woven right into their beings. That was when they began to yearn for more of God in their lives.
Denyse attended a conference for women in 1992 and responded publically to an invitation to accept Christ into her personal life. She had always had a desire to serve and help others, but now life had more meaning, and she felt more fulfilled.
The following year at a business conference in Regina, that had a Sunday morning service too, Terry felt a strong pull to go forward when invited after the speaker was finished. He too deliberately invited Jesus Christ into his life. That strange void in his life was finally filled.
As Terry was counseled, he and Denyse were told they should do three things as soon as possible; 1. Find a good Bible-based church, 2. Get into the Word (Bible) daily, and 3. Get baptized.
This was when they began to look around for a church, and went to the new one just starting near them in White City.
But within months of going to this new church, they moved to Saskatoon. Their search for a new church did not take long, because they had several invitations to go to Circle Drive Alliance Church. They kept hearing about a very special Christmas Tree program there. Being fed up with unpacking at their new home, they decided to go and check it out. When they pulled up, they were met in the parking lot by someone on horseback in a western outfit. They joked about this being a sign, as they were both interested in things western. They made the decision that this was the church they would attend. Shortly after, they were invited to lunch by the senior pastor and his wife. They asked how they could help us them grow in their new faith.
This pastor recommended they get started by reading the One-Year Bible and with the help they were given at this church the Bible began to come alive to them. Each of them was discipled individually. Denyse met weekly with a woman, who taught her many basics about the Christian.
After a while Terry met with a good Christian brother too, for discipleship. It was in the midst of this, in 1995, that Terry was diagnosed with prostate cancer, an incidental finding, yet, the fact that he was being discipled made this a time of great peace and blessing. Terry testifies that he grew spiritually through this experience.
The doctors and friends who came to visit and pray for them, could not get over the positive outlook both Terry and Denyse had at this time. They had learned that by Jesus' stripes they were healed, and even if he should not survive the cancer surgeries, he knew he had been healed spiritually. He enjoyed a wonderful peace as he was wheeled into surgery on November 11, and again on January 2. Radiation followed in the fall.
His cure was 13 years ago, yet, in Terry's mind that was when he finally learned what all those early hints were all about, and he understood and experienced a living awareness of the presence of God.
Terry and Denyse had put baptism off during the cancer crisis, but took that step in 1997.
Their bank jobs transferred them often enough so that they had lived in many places, and when they were ready to retire they had to consider where they would choose to live. They had enjoyed a stay in Alberta, and at first thought they would go there, however, God had other plans. A phone call, out of the blue, steered them to a property north of Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. They went to investigate and instantly knew they were home. An invitation to the local church by the previous owners cemented their decision. They found themselves in a small, intimate church, with a real sense of family.
They have become active in their Blaine Lake Mennonite Brethren church, and in the community, using the gifts God has given them with great relish.
They enjoy gourmet cooking, and are preparing special dinners for limited numbers as church fund-raisers. Denyse has a special gift as a fund-raiser and has an ability to delegate well. She is now on the Board for the Redberry Bible Camp, and keeps coming up with plans to raise funds for this ministry.
Another couple was running a horse ranch for certain weeks for the camp. Last year, Denyse and Terry helped out, and this year they will take over the cooking for Ranch Camp.
They love their Lord, and the exciting things they get to do as they serve Him. They enjoy their Christian brothers and sisters, and would not trade their very fulfilled life for all the money in every bank in Canada.
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