Conferences: A Family Affair

In Articles, Discipleship & Mentoring, Family, Father, Men’s Ministry, Stories by Steven Sukkau

Witness to Three Generations of Faith

Over the past 25 years, a unique phenomenon has quietly been occurring at Promise Keepers Canada conferences: sons, fathers and grandfathers have been meeting God together as three generations of faith. Men say it’s been an incredible return on their eternal investment, even if their spiritual enemy caught on and put up a doomed opposition.

The tangible evidence of a heritage of faith was clear for Larry Dyck, a long-time attendee and supporter of Promise Keepers Canada going back to the beginning.

He recalls bringing his two sons and son-in-law together with his late father to the Canadian conferences.

“I’ve seen so many people touched by the glorious gospel of our Lord and Saviour through these events: lives changed, and men encouraged to lead their families in paths of righteous living.”

Not only has the inter-generational bond grown, but he’s seen his children’s marriages blessed and strengthened at PK seminars.

“I am a strong believer that if we invest in the right things and lay a good foundation, we will reap the rewards that come from it. This is a real ROI.”

Among the many stories of sons and fathers worshiping and witnessing faith transformations, former staffer, Jeff Stearns, shares his faith journey that pulled together three generations:

“When my oldest child, Ray, was about 10 or 11, he wanted to come to a conference. He had begun hearing stories for years and wanted to do what dad was doing. The problem was I was working at the events, and there was no way I could watch over him as well. I wasn’t convinced he would be able to make it all the way through — that he would want to go home. I asked my dad if he would be willing to take Ray. That way, they could leave early or go for walks if Ray was bored. That started an annual tradition. Every year, Ray and my dad attend the conference together.

“10 or 11 is young for the conferences, so it was good Ray and my dad could go for a walk when Ray got bored. But I was surprised how much Ray did take in and how quickly he started sitting through all the speakers. I would get the run-down after and hear what they liked about the different speakers. They loved Lennett Anderson’s energy and passion, The Skit Guys’ ability to blend humour and emotion with profound truth, and the way so many of the speakers were down-to-earth and able to present ideas in an engaging and practical manner.”

“I’ve always been excited to go to Promise Keepers, especially when I was younger because my dad and grandpa would always go, and I looked up to them,” Ray Stearns explains. “They were my role models… examples of what a man should be.”

He recalls one conference where an altar call was given to anyone who wanted to go deeper with God, giving Him their all. Ray took the opportunity, and he says it became a pivotal moment in shaping his faith.

Now in university, Ray brings friends to the conferences together with his grandfather.

“I love that they have this shared experience,” Jeff says. “They worship together, talk about the speakers, have meals together and hang out. It has been a blessing to both of them and helped them be closer to each other.”

He explains, “As a dad, I want to see my kids walking in Jesus’ footsteps. Having my dad model that for them, as he modeled it for me, just further helps that goal. There are so many negative role models online. It is good to see kids shown real examples of being a godly man.”

While our culture seems content to keep generations isolated from each other, attendees say there’s something special about men from different age brackets united in worship of their Heavenly Father.

“Each generation has their own strengths and weaknesses. The same goes for each stage of life. When we isolate from each other, we miss out on helping each other grow and put ourselves at risk of an unbalanced, weaker faith. But when you are able to bring multiple generations together, you benefit from the combined experience and wisdom. That goes both ways. Spending the conference weekends together has helped both my dad and Ray grow as Christians, to benefit from the insights they both bring,” Jeff says.

Dyck adds the events themselves have been a drawing card for many of the employees at their Manitoba-based trucking company as well.

“Traditionally, we invite as many as are interested to come along with us. We’ve also created awareness of the ministry at our workplace so that if people are interested, they can take advantage of the resources available there and or at home.”

However, where PK events have been a light in the darkness, the darkness has sometimes pushed back.

Sometimes the opposition has shown up as increased temptation, or challenges and mistakes meant to steal joy. “It seems the enemy will go to extreme lengths to take our focus off of God and preparing to receive his blessings. And instead, we get caught up in the cares of this life, consequently robbing us of our time with God and creating negativity in our lives, possibly even compromising our witness.

He recalls one conference (Men of Purity) where the Lord showed up in a spectacular way, but the spiritual warfare seemingly pushed through into the natural realm.

First, one of his company trucks was having issues during loading. Then one of their best drivers had a wreck. And then he hit a fence at Home Depot (a skilled big rig driver with an immaculate record driving into a fence with his daughter’s tiny VW Jetta, no less!).

Yet, whether evidence of the enemy’s work to keep his family from attending the PK Conference or not, he says they didn’t let the consecutive setbacks phase them.

“I can say, “Praise God!” that this conference alone was a chain-breaker for many and a huge encouragement to myself and all involved.”

The PK daily devotionals have also been a constant source of encouragement.

“They focus on many different themes that deal with the day- to-day challenges men in Canada and around the world are facing. I’ve had the privilege of sharing many of these with people I think would be encouraged in their faith walk. It seems that the Lord often has themes that the Holy Spirit emphasizes to either call us back to worship or holy living.”

In Proverbs 14:34 it says that righteous living exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people. “I believe that God speaks to us through His word, the Bible. Promise Keepers is dedicated to following the teachings of Christ and leading men to a rewarding, fulfilled life,” Dyck says.

“Let us do our part to exalt our Lord and consequently our nation.”

Steven Sukkau
Steven Sukkau is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster living on the Canadian prairies with his wife, two daughters and hyperactive terrier.
Steven Sukkau
Steven Sukkau is a writer, journalist and radio broadcaster living on the Canadian prairies with his wife, two daughters and hyperactive terrier.