Over the past 25 years, thousands of men have gathered to hear from inspirational speakers, see God move in their lives, and experience strongholds being pulled down. All to unleash their God-given destiny into the world.
Behind the scenes, volunteers and staff have worked to make sure each event was memorable and life-changing, but what many don’t see is the fun and goofy moments that stay burned in our brains. We thought it was only fitting to share some of the best behind-the-scenes moments as we look back and reflect on 25 years of Promise Keepers Canada.
Rick Verkerk, Director, Conferences
Promise Keepers conferences produced many memories over the years for me. Some great God moments, some poignant memories, some funny memories.
Here are a few top 3 lists of memories overseeing conferences for the last 15 years:
Why I Do What I Do
- Because of the attendees
Nothing gets better than hearing so many men worship, seeing so many men making a commitment to the challenges from speakers, seeing dads and sons together, seeing the same guys attending year after year, and receiving emails of how they had an encounter with God at the event that changed their lives.
- Because of the speakers
Every one of the speakers has been passionate about teaching men how to be a godly man. Each speaker has unique presentation talent to accomplish this, but all have been committed to presenting the content assigned to them with one objective in mind – help men grow in their faith.
- Because of the volunteers
I look forward to serving with the people who sign up to serve the attendees, many who return year after year. I especially enjoy working with the local leadership teams at each event. Without them, we cannot host conferences.
There are many others, too, who created great memories for me at conferences — musicians, production people, host facility staff. All of them have been a blessing to attendees, Promise Keepers Canada, and especially me.
Expect The Unexpected
Being prepared for the unexpected at an event is part of good planning. Some experiences seem funny now but certainly weren’t when they occurred.
Here are the top 3 in reverse order for me:
3. Scheduled to lead two sessions at an event in two days’ time, a speaker informed me that he was too sick to travel. This happened just before I boarded a plane to travel to the location. With no time to replace him, I had to write both sessions beforehand — one on the flight and another at the hotel. Since then, I always have messages ready to go for every event, just in case.
2. A speaker arriving at airport border security didn’t like the questions he was being asked about why he was entering Canada and became hostile. Not a good idea, as he ended up in a detention room. Allowed one phone call, he called me. I told him to ask the officer if I could speak to him. I heard what the officer needed for proof, I faxed the appropriate paperwork, and the speaker was granted entry. I always take speaker contracts with me, especially for the non-Canadian ones!
1. An attendee, who afterwards claimed that the Holy Spirit encouraged him to “worship bare” during a music set, walked to the front of the auditorium and started taking his clothes off. Clad only in briefs and socks, he proceeded to worship, arms raised, right in Andrew’s line of sight. When the set ended, he calmly put on his clothes and walked away. Despite the disruption, Andrew never missed a note or word. He and I still joke about this experience many years later.
Ian Nairn, Community Relations Manager, Special Projects
Unquestionably the most memorable God moment for me over the past 23 years occurred at a God’s Design for Manhood Seminar with over 100 men led by Steve Masterson. Throughout the many years of that seminar presentation, men were given the opportunity to publicly bless their sons, grandsons, and sons-in-law with a blessing that echoed God, our heavenly Father’s blessing of his son, Jesus, as recorded in Matt 3:17 and Luke 9:35.
As I remember it, one man stood alone at the end of a long line of fathers, sons, and grandsons clustered together along the sidewall of the church. He had been there for well over half an hour. Tall, broad-shouldered, and with a slight tinge of grey in his hair, he stepped to the mic:
“I suppose you’re wondering why I’m standing here by myself. I have been watching you, men, proudly introduce your boys, telling them and the rest of us how much you love them. Your stories and powerful words of blessing have pierced my heart.
“I want to respond to Steve’s challenge this weekend to be a godly man and take responsibility for my sin. I am embarrassed to admit to all of you that I have had sex with more women than there are men in this room today. However, more embarrassing than that is that twenty years ago, I had an affair with a woman in this community and fathered a son. I am ashamed to admit that over all these years, I have never had the courage to tell him or anyone else that he is my son. That young man is here in this room today. I want to make things right between us.
“Brian, I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to tell you that I am your Father. Please forgive me. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult this is for you to hear right now. I know it may take many years before you would even want to speak to me. However, I would like to make a promise to you in front of all these men. If you would let me, I want to do everything I can to make it up to you. To be the kind of Father you should have from this day forward. I know it is a lot to ask, but if you would be willing to give me that chance, I am wondering if you would join me on this stage.”
At the back of the sanctuary, a young man hesitantly rose from the two seats he needed to adequately support his obesity. Head hung low and visibly shaken, he hesitantly began the journey up the centre aisle to meet his dad for the very first time. As he came up to the platform, my stomach turned a knot as he awkwardly stumbled, attempting to negotiate the three small steps that would lead him to his Father.
Thankfully, the unfamiliar man who said he was his Father quickly reached out a helping hand. Standing before him now, as 110 men watched, Brian struggled to keep his head from dropping and his eyes from averting those of his Father. Once again, this previously unknown Father confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness.
Above barely a whisper, Brian said, “I forgive you”.
Those three words took my breath away. As I glanced around the room, many men were wiping tears from their eyes with the back of their hands or the sleeves of their shirts. It was an incredible sight! My eyes then returned to the platform to see tears flowing as Brian buried his head into his dad’s chest upon receiving a huge bear hug.
I must admit, I can’t recall the exact words his dad spoke after that, but it was evident to all of us that this Father wanted everyone to know that this was his son and that he was absolutely committed to healing the brokenness he had caused!
One thing I do remember, and which is indelibly etched in my mind, is the sight of Brian grinning from ear to ear as, with heads held high and arms tightly wrapped around each other, he and his dad walked shoulder to shoulder off the platform to a standing ovation. At that moment, it seemed to me that the heavens had opened, and, frankly, part of me wished it would never end.
Marc Brûlé, former Promise Keepers Canada Worship Leader and Board Member
I have had the great privilege of serving Promise Keepers Canada in various capacities over the last 25 years. I was the National Worship Leader for twelve years (the early years), served on the Advisory Board, was on the Board of Directors for four years, and currently serve as Pastor to the President.
It’s been quite a journey, with twists and turns, highs and lows. Yet the greatest joy has been seeing men commit their lives to Christ and themselves to Christlikeness. Then there are the embarrassing moments. We all have them. Here’s mine.
We were in Kamloops, BC, and I was tasked with not only leading worship at the event but also speaking a session on worship. I was excited and nervous, given it was the first time I was speaking at the conference and not just leading worship and emceeing.
So off I went, leading the worship set with about 1,100 guys there. Then we moved into the message time. I spoke with heart and passion, all the while not being aware that something was off. I finished my message. We finished the evening.
As I walked off stage, the video producer said to me, “You have no idea how hard you made my job tonight. I had to do all my video from the waist up since your zipper was down!” Yep, I led worship, with no instrument to hide behind, and preached a message with “great openness”!
I opened the next morning session with statements like, “When I said I was being open with you, I didn’t realize how much!” And, “This was not the version of hanging out together I had in mind.” We all had a good laugh, as we can all relate. I’m thankful it was a men’s conference!
I pray the PK Canada will have many more great years with good fruit, and a few humorous moments to remind us all that we are human.