Michael brought his planned and reasoned approach to life to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC in 2017. Taking a post-bacc in supply chain management, he reasoned, was the most efficient route from Ukraine to permanent resident status in Canada.
His introduction to FOCUS Club was equally measured. Michael had made a decision to socialize more, so he attended TRU’s Clubs Day. “I was specifically looking for a club where I could meet some local people,” said Michael, “not only international students.” He accepted a friend’s invitation to FOCUS Club.
The first meeting included pizza, games, and socializing with other international students and volunteers. “I was surprised at the amount of Canadians who were not otherwise connected to the university,” said Michael. He became a regular at the Friday night meetings.
FOCUS Club included discussions about a faith that differed sharply from what Michael was familiar with. “Before I came to Canada,” he says, “I knew faith as something mandatory, unless you came from a specifically atheist family. In my community, not many people will dare to say something bad about God, but very few follow the way of Jesus.” In Ukraine, Michael was not exposed to much religion, but he was taught to stay away from all but the orthodox churches. Little wonder he was cautious.
But Michael was also curious. After attending several FOCUS Club sessions, he decided to see what a Canadian church looks like, so ISMC Kamloops City Director Jeff Torrans helped him find one to suit his personality.
Compared to Ukraine, church in Canada reminded Michael more of a performance than a religious service, with a stage, rows of seats, music, and “public speaking”. But he liked it and appreciated the church’s academic approach to the Bible, so different from what he was exposed to in Ukraine.
Michael explored faith just like he approached life: rationally and logically. He began to study the Bible and have discussions with the Pastor, which led to researching Christian apologetics. God met Michael where he was at, and through the process, Michael became convinced of the solid arguments behind Jesus.
Michael still has his life completely planned out. At the FOCUS Club grad celebration, he talked about his future plans—right through to retirement and grandkids! After graduation, Michael became a follower of Christ. Now those plans also include growing his faith.