A calling from God is what Thorold mechanic turned pastor Terrence Schilstra said inspired him to write a book he hopes will serve as a hands-on guide to help communities meeting their spiritual needs.
Born and raised in Smithville, Schilstra said he grew up in a churchgoing family, but faith “never really resonated” with him until later in life. At 25, Schilstra had an accident that he said changed things for him.
“I was in a car accident that almost cost me my life, and after the car accident, I started to become aware of the way that God was working in my life,” Schilstra said. “I started to read my Bible, and I started to pray and respond to God's nudging on my life, and in that season, I gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. So that's how I became a Christian.”
The accident, Schilstra said, led to him becoming more outwardly religious. His calling, however, didn’t come until later in life.
Schilstra said his path to becoming a pastor was a two-part journey. The first, an internal reflection on “how the divine is speaking into our life.” For Schilstra this materialized in his feeling the need to put aside a 15-year-long industrial mechanic career and devote his life to service.
The second part is what he refers to as the “external call,” the part in which he speaks to others about his beliefs and works toward community improvement. It's a path that Schilstra said he and his wife gave up a six-figure lifestyle to follow.
Now 40 and a pastor at The Table, a Christian faith community group in Thorold, Schilstra said that it was his calling and his desire to share his story that inspired him to pen "Peace of the City: A handbook for Missional Communities", a book that he describes as part story and part practical community-based ministry explainer.
Schilstra said his hope with the book is to “cultivate” the imagination of his readers, in a missional sense. Whatever their mission is, he said, the hope is "that they would read it, and it would cultivate their imagination toward loving God, loving each other and loving their community.”
He said that helping any community goes beyond just helping the poor in the area. “I think the first place that we need to start is with a posture of learning and come to a community and ask the question: what are the assets and gifts in this community? And what can I learn from, from my neighbours?”
“God is the ultimate source of peace,” Schilstra said. “And he ushers in peace into our lives, into our community through the power of His Son Jesus Christ. And then, when we have the peace of Christ, we have the ability to share that peace with our city.”
"Peace of the City" is available for purchase on Amazon as well as at peaceofthecity.ca.
Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News