A bit over thirty years ago, I sat in a course in linguistics in which the professor frequently reminded us that, “there is no such thing as a true synonym.” By the time we had finished the course, we were convinced as well. However, there are times when a good synonym (or related word) is the only thing that helps someone “get the picture.”
The theme for Missionfest Manitoba 2023 is Holy Ambition. I have been asked by more than one person to explain the choice. Let me walk you through how the theme developed in my head.
I was reading in Romans and came to chapter 15 and verse 20 where Paul uses the phrase, “thus I make it my ambition.” In the next phrase, he explains the focus of that ambition: “to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named…” Of course, anyone who has kicked around in the missionary world knows that verse well. But what I found interesting on that day was the use of the word “ambition.” Let me explain.
If you grab your concordance off the shelf you will find that, when the word ambition shows up in English translations, it is almost always a bad thing. The underlying word in the N.T. documents leans heavily that way. That is why most translators add the word “selfish” to qualify it. In Walter Elwell’s Topical Analysis of the Bible, he puts “ambition” at the top of his long list of Sins of Self-Indulgence. One commentator of another era infers that “ambition” was the original sin (Gen. 3:4-6).
But the English word “ambition” is used as a translation for two different Greek words in the New Testament text. One is without exception something God wants us to avoid. That is why the word “selfish” often tags along with it (Php 1:3; 2:3; Jas 3:14; 3:16). The other is what Paul uses in Romans 15 (and two other times in his letters). That kind of ambition is a good thing. It shows up in the Romans passage attached to Paul and preaching to the UUPGs (unengaged, unreached people groups). It appears in 2 Corinthians 5:9 and speaks of Paul’s personal aim to please Christ (knowing that he will someday appear before the judgment seat of Christ). And again, it shows up in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 where he urges the Thessalonian believers to aspire to live quiet lives as they wait for the second coming of Jesus. Open a parallel New Testament and you will see that translators have used a variety of words to express this more positive idea of ambition: to aim, to set as one intent, to aspire, to intend, to labour, to strive restlessly. In one translation, Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians reads, “do everything you can do.”
No one will argue that there aren’t bad ambitions. Sometimes, even missionaries can come down with a case of those. However, holy ambition, animated by a desire for God’s glory, is honorable, noble, admirable – and energizing. These good ambitions are not only important, but without them, nothing much happens.
This holy ambition, this zeal, led Paul to fasten his sandals and head into a storm (2 Cor. 11:24-28), to risk prison, to be willing to expose his back to the rod, to spend sleepless nights so people might know about Jesus. And he did not choose a simple task. “To go where Christ has not been named” meant that he intended to go where the Gentiles were. His driving aspiration, his restless longing, his strong ambition, was to find the people who were unfamiliar with Christ, the Messiah and share good news -THE Good News.
Ambition: to aim, to set as one intent, to aspire, to intend,
a goal to which one’s passion is attached.
The synonyms all hint at something soulish. But there is more, and we must not miss it. Embedded in this word ambition is action. When I am infected with this strain of ambition, I am not satisfied to rest with the emotion that such a thing may stir up within me. True ambition will lead me to do something, to act. I will learn, plan, strategize, prepare, and eventually, I will strap on my boots, pick up a map, sling a backpack over my shoulders, and do something. This holy ambition may attach itself to a people group, or a place, or a problem. But, if it is the ambition Paul describes, it will faithfully pursue its objective until, with God’s help, it has made a difference.
Written by Tom Castor,
Executive Director of Missionfest Manitoba Inc.
Missionfest Manitoba is looking for a new Executive Director to lead following the 2023 Missionfest event. The current Executive Director and Board of Directors have put together a job description and application that is available here:
Executive Director Job Description
Please submit your résumé and other requested documents to the attention of:
Shannon Silvestri, Missionfest Manitoba Board Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, please be praying along with us that God will bring us the right person to lead Missionfest Manitoba into the future.
As many of you in Manitoba may know, the province instituted new Public Health Orders on Friday, December 17. These new health measures were in response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant. These new measures are quite extensive, and they impose significant limitations on religious gatherings in the province. The imposition of these new Public Health Orders has required us to make some critical decisions regarding Missionfest Manitoba.
While we have purchased the technology and are confident in our capacity to present Missionfest Manitoba as a virtual event, we do not feel that is the best option for our exhibitors or those who have attended and supported the event for the past 30 years. We had announced previously that we would be hosting a Hybrid Event, holding the in-person event, while also utilizing the value-added capabilities of our Virtual Event technology. We still feel that this decision best serves the interests of our exhibitors and puts us in the best position to accomplish our purposes.
With these considerations in mind, we are announcing a change of date for Missionfest Manitoba 2022. Missionfest Manitoba 2022 will be held on April 29, 30 and May 1, 2022. We will still be meeting at Church of the Rock in Winnipeg. Our plenary speakers have not
changed. Nor has our intention to accommodate in-person exhibitor displays.
Though changing the date is not ideal, we do hope it allow us to proceed in the best way possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
This year’s Missionfest Manitoba 2022 is set for April 29 - May 1. With some of the restrictions to gatherings like ours because of the Covid pandemic, we have taken several measures to expand our reach and share Missionfest Manitoba 2022 as widely as possible. Therefore, we have chosen not only to hold the in-person event in our Winnipeg venue, but also to produce a virtual event along with the live event. To do this, we have created a virtual event app through which we will live-stream not only all the plenary sessions, but the app will give virtual participants access to all of the breakout sessions and allow them to visit all of our exhibitors virtually as well.
This virtual format also gives us another opportunity. We will be able to live-stream the event to other venues in locations where access to the event is normally not available. With this in mind, Missionfest Manitoba is looking for churches in NW Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan that would be willing to serve as satellite sites. As a satellite site host, a church would agree to do at least three things.
The satellite site locations would:
You may, of course, wish to participate in more than just the opening session. Some satellite sites may wish to live-stream both the Friday opening session, as well as the Sunday afternoon closing session. Some sites may wish to host all the plenary sessions - the opening and closing sessions and the three plenary sessions on Saturday. All our satellite sites, regardless of the level at which they chose to participate, will be helping to expose people to the need to share the gospel around the world and opportunities that we all have to participate in that endeavor.
If you and your church are interested in promoting world missions and are willing to serve as a satellite site for Missionfest Manitoba, please fill out the form below:
Save the Date!
We are pleased to announce that our Missionfest Manitoba Conference 2022, Compelled by the Love of Christ, will take place on February 4-6, 2022!
We are committed to following all Manitoba Government regulations regarding Covid -19 Health and Safety Protocols. As it is impossible to predict exactly how these regulations will look in February of 2022, our Missionfest Executive Team is actively developing three possible event scenarios:
(1) A full in person event with Speakers, Exhibits, Seminars and Children’s Programming at Church of the Rock in Winnipeg.
(2) A hybrid event (offering part in person, part online).
(3) An online event with live Speaker Presentations, Online Exhibits, and Online Seminars
We will share details as we get closer to the date, but for now Save the Date, and share this post with those who may be interested.
Let me introduce myself and the other members of the Missionfest Manitoba Executive Team:
Tom Castor is familiar a name to many who have been involved in Missionfest Manitoba through the years. From 1998 to 2013, Tom served the Grant Memorial Church in Winnipeg. After 10 years as the Lead Pastor there, he and his wife Lee moved to Vietnam, where he lead a team which planted The Well International Church in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to being the Executive Director of Missionfest Manitoba, Tom leads Clear and Simple Media, a ministry dedicated to providing material to grass-roots church planters that is linguistically simple, theologically clear, and biblically faithful.
Alison Wells-Dyck is well known to many for her work with the CarePortal Canada and as an instructor at the University of Manitoba. Alisonwill serve as Missionfest Volunteer Coordinator. She has significant training and background that will help you have a meaningful volunteer experience. Alison will also be responsible for building the Mini-Missionfest Team.
Gord Gilbey who has served in multiple leadership roles with Missionfest MB over the years, has agreed to join the team to look after Missionfest Exhibitor Care. If you are an exhibitor, Gord will be managing the details to provide you, as best we can, a stress-free and effective exhibitor experience. Gord is currently serving as a LAMP missionary to Northern Manitoba’s First Nations communities.
Krista Heide is a visual artist, graduate theology student, and part of the preaching team at Winnipeg Center Vineyard. Krista will be giving oversight to our website and, as Missionfest Media Coordinator, will work to increase our social media presence. She will be working to make our communication clear and to expand the reach of our exhibitors through our online tools.
Cheryl Magyar has been involved, mostly behind the scenes, with these events for a number of years. Cheryl will be attending to many of the administrative and accounting task for Missionfest Manitoba. She is now our Missionfest Administrator.
Collin Nickel is an audio technician and videographer, with experience with virtual event platforms. He will serve as Missionfest Production Coordinator. Adding this kind of expertise allows us to prepare for various contingencies, for the live event, a hybrid event, or should circumstances necessitate it, a virtual event as well.
Bethany Stephens is an ESL instructor, working with many immigrants and refugees who call Winnipeg home. She has been involved in church ministry for many years, helping plan and implementing events for all ages. Bethany will serve as Missionfest Logistical Support as well as coordinating the Youth/Young Adult components for the 2022 event.
The Board of Missionfest Manitoba is pleased to announce the appointment of Tom Castor as Executive Director, effective June 1, 2021.
Tom is well known to the community in Southern Manitoba, as he served on the pastoral staff of Grant Memorial Church from 1998 to 2012, for the last ten years there as the Senior Pastor. Tom and his wife Lee, partially because of the impact of Missionfest Manitoba, moved to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where Tom led a team, whose work resulted in the planting of The Well International Church. He returned to Canada in 2015 to establish Clear and Simple Media, under the oversight of the Baptist General Conference of Canada.
“Tom will make an incredible contribution to the mission and vision of Missionfest Manitoba," says Shannon Silvestri, Chair of the Missionfest Manitoba Board of Directors. “We are confident that Tom will continue to pursue the growth of Missionfest and extend its impact in Southern
Manitoba and beyond.”
The Board of Missionfest Manitoba is asking that the Christian community pray for Tom, his team, and the Board as we seek to make an impact for Christ through Missionfest Manitoba.
“I am thrilled to be joining the team at Missionfest Manitoba,” says Tom Castor. “My wife, Lee,and I began our ministry life serving in Tadoule Lake, Manitoba. To be able to work with a team of people who are excited to bring their gifts and experience to help Missionfest work through the decisions that will assure the ministry’s long-term success is an exciting “full-circle” moment for me.”
For more information, please contact: Shannon Silvestri
Chair, Missionfest Manitoba Board of Directors