Over 50 years ago, at the age of 20, I immigrated to Canada from Greece. After spending almost ten days at sea and two days in a train from Halifax, I arrived in Montreal tired, sick and penniless. Well, not quite I had five dollars. Two days later, some friends introduced me to the people at the church around the corner from my home and there I found a lot of love, made many new friends, and found opportunities to serve God. The leaders and members gave me more than just friendship. They gave me (and, later, my family) love, trust, compassion and moral support. I am grateful to them all.
I would like to mention one couple in particular that had a great influence in my life and that of my family: Paul and Gail Stevens. Paul was the pastor of Temple from 1961 to 1966. He and his wife were young, energetic and full of great ideas and dreams and they still are today! They set a good example of working hard and helped Temple enter a new era, giving the church a new outlook and vision. Paul was my pastor and mentor, but he was also my friend… and the Stevens are still family friends even though they live far away in British Columbia.
I was born in a Christian (Evangelical) family and trained by godly teachers and leaders. From a young age I had the opportunity to serve as a young leader in Athens with the Evangelical camps and youth.
Because of my experience, I was asked to help at Temple, too. I first served as the chairman of the maintenance committee and as a deacon, and later as the church treasurer. I was also asked to teach and occasionally to preach and eventually to fill in as lay pastor whenever Temple was without a Pastor.
In 1984, the members asked me to become the pastor of the Church and I was inducted into the service. After two years of preaching and going through the proper requirements of the Baptist Convention and the Quebec Association, I was ordained as a servant of God. Only God and those who are members or friends of this ministry can know and judge my performance and service, but I know that God has blessed me and my family while we have served and ministered to those we have had the privilege to work with.
God has blessed us with many wonderful and exciting experiences. We have planted or played a part in the start of several churches, both English-speaking and ethnic. I have had the privilege of leading many searching souls to Jesus and baptizing 165 people (as of the printing of this book). Many of these people came from non-Christian backgrounds and faiths. People from all walks of life, colour, race and religion have come to Temple seeking peace, joy and relief from heavy burdens they were carrying.
In the past quarter-century, we have initiated missions and services that have brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people around the world. We have supported missionaries in North and South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We have printed and made available more than three million pieces of literatures in 12 languages. We have been on the radio every day for the past 10 years. We have helped people by providing food to those in real need. We have volunteers who serve in many capacities in other ministries and organization whenever and wherever the need arises.
However, while we celebrate and thank God for our past, looking back and learning from our mistakes (and there were many) and not repeating them, we also look ahead and ask God to help us achieve the humanly impossible for what is impossible with men is possible with God. If we aim beyond the stars, we may reach at least the stars. We thank God for His help and protection.
I thank God for the honour He has given me to be a servant in His vineyard, for those who have had a part in the work here at Temple, and for those who have supported us from all around the world. I would like to say a special “thank you” to my wife, who has stood by me no matter what and served the church for over 45 years. I would also like to thank my daughters, Ruth and Ann-Margret, for their tremendous help and their commitment to God and this ministry.
“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)