Justin Armstrong Testimony & Call to Eldership
I was 11 years old, sitting in the chapel at Round Lake Bible Camp. We had just finished watching The Jesus Film, and just before dismissal, the camp Director, Mark Arnold, prayed and then asked if anyone wanted to stay and pray after with their counsellor. I was glued to my chair, and I felt the weight of my sin. It wasn’t the first time he had asked that question, but this time was different. I had just watched Jesus be whipped and beaten, carry his cross to Calvary, saw nails driven through his hands and feet, and hung on that cross to die. It was done for me, for anyone who accepts the name of Christ, so that we no longer need to feel the guilt and shame of sin. I knew that I needed to pray that day to Jesus. I needed Jesus to take my guilt and shame away. So I prayed with Derek, my counsellor, and I was given a new life that day. The clouds didn’t open up, and there wasn’t a beam of sunshine that shone down on me. But I knew that God had called me to Him that day and that I had to follow.
I am so thankful today for that day when I look back on my life. My family started to attend Fort William Baptist when I was around 10 years old. It wasn’t the place that I wanted to be on Sunday mornings, but we came to be here through my mom and my soon-to-be stepdad’s decision. Anytime a marriage is broken, it is never easy for anyone involved, and I struggled with the many changes. This included accepting that my parents were no longer together, later accepting a new father figure into my life, and other changes, like going to church. But, when I look back now, the divorce between my parents was really all part of a bigger plan, a plan that included the salvation of many of my family members. God’s plan, though sometimes covered in a fog in our own eyes, is perfectly clear to Him.
I was blessed to have good friends and a good youth group throughout my teen years. I was baptized at the age of 14 here at Fort William Baptist Church, and I was lucky enough to be discipled by Kevin Dibbley, who was a mentor and friend to me. He showed me how to have a prayer life and read the Bible. One of the things I remember most was during a study on the book of James, Kevin talked about asking God for wisdom, as it says in James 1:5. He pressed me to ask God to make me wiser than my friends. So that when I was tempted to sway towards the things my friends were doing, I would be able to see the bigger picture in it all. I believe that God was faithful and was able to keep me from many of the snares that often entangle young people.
Through some of the men who led our youth group, I was inspired to pursue Bible college to one day help other young people meet Jesus at an early age. I enrolled at Heritage Bible College right out of high school in 2003 and completed a degree in Religious Education with a Youth Ministry Minor. My time at Heritage was really great. I met many great friends and have many great memories. I was able to be part of the Student Cabinet and be a Resident Assistant in my final year. There was nothing like being surrounded by Christian people who were also looking to join a church and do ministry once they graduated. My faith was challenged and shaped through many of my classes and professors. One of my favourite classes was on the book of Romans. Through that class, God really shaped my theology and my faith. I graduated from Heritage in 2007. Among the many
blessings I received while attending Bible College, the biggest was meeting my wife, Jess. We were married in the fall of 2007.
In the summer of 2008, Jess decided to return to school for a teaching degree, and this led us to Thunder Bay. We envisioned Jess going to school for teaching and me doing an internship with the youth at Fort William Baptist Church under Kevin Dibbley and Pete Lindeman, and then heading back to Southern Ontario. God is sovereign in all these things, and in those 3 years, I settled back into Thunder Bay life, and Jess started to like it as well. We now have three boys and continue to serve our church family as best we can here at Fort William Baptist Church. God has remained faithful, and there are so many things that could be talked about in someone’s testimony, so many stories, big and small. Still, without God’s amazing plan of redemption through his Son Jesus, without His great mercy, without the amazing grace that He has extended to me, there would be no testimony from me today.
Call to Eldership:
When I was in my teens, I witnessed men in my life who led, men who were dedicated to Jesus Christ and to making disciples of Him. I was drawn to that, and I always wanted to be someone who would serve in that way. As a member of the body of the church, I want to serve God’s people and point them to Jesus in any way that I can. It is in my heart to help lead and shepherd God’s flock, and I want to serve the church body with love and humility. Through prayer and conversations with others I believe that God is leading me to serve as an Elder at Fort William Baptist Church.
One of the great things about God is that His kingdom cannot be stopped, and he is able to use anyone. I have been blessed to serve in and lead various youth programs for the last 16 years, as a deacon for 6 years, and lead small groups for 3 years. I have learned a lot about myself, God, and the people at Fort William through these experiences. As an Elder, I hope to continue to grow in my relationship with Jesus as I continue to serve Him and my brothers and sisters in Christ.