David was born in India. Before his birth, his parents made a vow to the Lord to dedicate him to the Lord’s service. Whatever he did, from a young age, serving the Lord was never far from his mind.
David grew up in New Delhi, India, the second oldest of 4 siblings. His father was a pastor and both parents were actively involved in ministry at the church, at a Christian School they ran, and in the community. When he was about 12, he recalls his sister going forward at a Gospel Crusade and with tears in her eyes giving her life to the Lord Jesus.
“In 1971, India and Pakistan were engaged in a brief war, and because of the threat of air raids, trenches were dug up in the park across our home and no one was permitted to turn on the lights after dark. Sitting together as a family one evening with the fear of an attack, my mother said that if it was God’s will that her life be taken that night that she would be in heaven in the presence of Jesus.” At a subsequent Gospel Crusade David felt the Lord’s nudge and went forward. “I remember it well. I had this assurance that I was now a Christian.” His understanding continued to grow from that simple beginning.
Set Aside to Serve God
At 17, he felt no particular direction but entered a science program at university. “I always had a sense of being set aside to serve God,” says David, and before long he decided he was in the wrong place. “I am wasting time here. Jesus is coming soon,” he thought. He quit university and boarded a train, intent to do ministry in the kingdom of Bhutan. Two months later he was back in India, feeling like a failure. “I was ill-prepared for the uniqueness of ministry in a place where there is high persecution and demonic activity. I had no idea what I would be facing. I had taken matters into my own hands, like Moses.”
David had been was serving the Lord through ministries such as Youth for Christ and Far East Broadcasting Associates (FEBA-India) for two years, yet he knew he needed further Christian training. He enrolled at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in India; however, a number of factors led him to remove himself from his immediate situation and relocate. Shortly after that, the Lord opened the way to attend Bible College in Canada.
In 1982, when he was 19, he left India and moved to Three Hills, Alberta to begin studies at Prairie Bible Institute. He regarded this as part of his journey – he was going to serve God and he needed this training. It was a bit of a shock leaving everyone he knew and moving from cosmopolitan New Delhi with a population of 9 million to a town of 3,000 people. But these were formative years at Prairie and his studies opened his eyes to global mission as he saw God’s heart for the world. When he graduated from the 3-year program with a Bachelor of Biblical Studies, he returned to India and began looking for ministry opportunities with Christian organizations where he had previously volunteered. He was hurt when time and again it was suggested to him that he needed more education. “I took it as a personal rejection and felt that I was stuck again.”
Attempting to put the disappointments behind him, he returned to Canada in 1985 and entered an Audio-Visual program at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton. During this year he met Anita while leading a youth Bible study. Soon he knew she was the one. After a short courtship they were married in 1986.
Whatever you want us to do
David finished one year at the College and then began looking for work in Edmonton. A series of jobs spanned 1986-1992. Josh and Michael were born to David and Anita during these years. A work promotion in 1992 meant a move to Grande Prairie. The years rolled by and David was doing well in his retail management career with London Drugs, and even won their ‘Manager of the Year’ award. But alone in prayer, David asked, “God, what happened to me serving You? God answered me, and said, ‘You are doing exactly what I want you to do.’ This changed me as I realized I could serve God wherever I worked and now it was not about ‘I’ but ‘us’ as a family. We started praying as a family with our young boys, ‘Whatever you want us to do, that we will do, wherever you take us, we will go.’”
Begining Pastoral Ministry
In 1997 God opened the door for a move to Calgary. The family began attending International Friendship Church and in 2000 David came on as part time pastor. The church merged with Bridgeland EMC and became Gateway International Church, led by a new pastoral team of four. When one pastor left in 2002 David resigned his sales position and became full-time at Gateway. He went through EMCC’s credentialling process and was licensed in 2002 and ordained in 2004. Always interested in new training for more effective ministry, he enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary’s online Masters in Global Leadership degree program and chipped away at the requirements from 2008 until he graduated in 2016. He learned a great deal with a cohort of individuals from all over the world.
At Gateway, the pastors left one by one until David was alone, and by 2009 Gateway was no longer viable. “I had no option but to resign. I was devasted. I thought I was finally serving the Lord; now what’s happening?” He was back working in the electronics industry in photo printing and video editing, and later as a manager of a Starbucks in 2011.
He joined the Centre Street Church staff as part-time Community pastor in 2009 and a Bible study group he led became a house church. His learnings during his studies in the Global Leadership program ignited a passion to help believers who wanted to do humanitarian/compassionate and educational work in the countries they had emigrated from. To make this a reality David launched UTurn Project Inc. in 2009, which was an effective vehicle for international ministries that continues to run today, although steered by a board since 2013. The people first involved in UTurn Project were from the house church.
Between 2009-2013 David had begun three house churches including a Nepali house church, and they were all associated with a network of house churches under the umbrella of Centre Street Church, called EastEdge, overseen by John Pritchard.
In 2012 he left Starbucks and was now on staff full-time with Centre Street Church, serving as Pastor of Multicultural Ministries, and as Pastor of the New Canadian Friendship Centre.
One of the house churches decided they wanted to define themselves differently and in 2015 they became Yeshu Mandli, which, in English means Jesus Gathering. The church is comprised primarily of people from the Indian subcontinent, and has been a full member EMCC Church since 2018. David is their pastor and together it is their vision to “celebrate Jesus as a community of grace and inspiration.”
More about David
In his spare time David enjoys both music production and composition, and he plays the guitar and accordion. David and Anita continue to live in Calgary and their grown sons, Josh and Michael also live in the City.
Although David’s father was a pastor his whole life, he counselled David to expand his understanding of what ministry means and to remember that ministry should extend beyond the profession of a pastor. David’s parents always reached out to people who were not of the same background and culture. Friends like Marlowe Janke (Men for Missions) were passionate to bring the gospel to least-reached parts of the world, and David knew that this would be his focus as well.
David works and collaborates with people of different cultures and beliefs and finds biblical principles and common ground that transcends culture. “It is important to see people beyond their labels. First, we must learn to listen to each other, to give people the opportunity to hear one another’s stories. Simultaneously we can begin to follow God’s story in the hearts of people and watch for God’s promptings in their life to hear His voice.” He helps people discover their gifting and passions and brings people together in an atmosphere of mutual learning and discipleship.
David is passionate about serving the Lord and watching Him at work. “I have no greater joy than seeing people say ‘yes’ to Jesus and then following Him in baptism. And then to see their growth – watching people moving forward in their gifting. And to see people disciple others, who disciple others.”
David is available as an Enrichment Facilitator to provide coaching in multi-cultural ministry and cross-cultural discipleship
To learn more and connect with David visit emccenrich.ca