“I was inspired to join the Sanctuary team based on their commitment to support faith communities in fostering participation and belonging, for people and their families going through mental health recovery.
The idea of being helpful has been central to my life. As a seven year old, I remember making the Brownie Promise: I promise on my honour to do my best, to do my duty to God, the Queen and my country. I promise to help other people every day, especially those at home. Many years later, I am still working on this.
I am a social worker supporting people with developmental disabilities, a hospice volunteer, and now a Coach with Sanctuary Ministries. Having seen what L’Arche, a faith-based organization, has contributed to supports for people with developmental disabilities, I have been imagining that social supports for people living with a mental health issues might be similarly transformed by building them on the foundation of faith."
"What inspires me is Sanctuary’s vision of helping churches and parishes to develop as communities of support for all people. Walking alongside of friends with mental health conditions has demonstrated to me the great need for this ministry: to help our faith communities move towards more understanding of how to be supportive and welcoming environments of care, faith and hope to increase people’s mental health recovery, resiliency, and flourishing.
When I went through burn out from ministry causing a deep depression, I came to see what was helpful to me and what was not. I was also part of the Regent College Community and went through one of the hardest times in my inner world when I witnessed a friend go through suicide. Years later, I came to hear about and have watched the work of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. I have been a witness of how Jesus has brought profound and miraculous redemption to that very painful journey, to how all that God has taught is being shared with others through the empowering healing work of the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the work of Sanctuary because it comes from a personal sowing of tears, of deep inner journeying with Jesus through dark nights into the dawning of a new day of hope and the reaping of a labour of God’s Love.
In addition to my own lived experience and journeying alongside of friends, I am completing the Soul Stream Ministries 18-month training program ASD (in addition to the 9 month prerequisite spiritual formation training LFTH) to become a Spiritual Director. I have had years of training and experience in Inner Healing Prayer Ministry and have been the grateful recipient of this ministry. Along with a variety of ministry experiences over many years, I have a Bachelors of Psychology from UBC, a Masters of Spiritual Theology from Regent College, training in Missional Church Leadership Formation and preaching, and have been an ESL Teacher and Tutor for over 25 years."
"I once walked alongside a friend who experienced early trauma and battled with depression and suicidal thoughts. Together with a small community, we journeyed with her and gradually saw her uplifted and gain the strength in Christ to continue her walk towards mental, emotional and psychological healing. This brought me such joy. I was 14 at the time. Since witnessing the power of such transformation, I have also seen the pain of those who are marginalized for their mental health issues and struggle to be understood, even amongst those who boldly proclaim the love of Jesus Christ.
I firmly believe that a spiritual community can provide much-needed mental health support, open avenues of communication and help remove barriers that prevent potentially healing relationships from developing. My motivation for joining Sanctuary’s mental health coach program is driven by a desire to see church and parish communities work together towards healing transformation, beginning with the church and parish family and eventually extending beyond that, possibly stirring waves outside the walls and into the larger community."
Fiona has an educational background in psychology, mental health and addictions research. She is currently working on her post-doctorate training with the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction to understand and improve treatment and health outcomes of substance abuse and co-morbid psychiatric conditions.
“I grew up attending a Catholic school, but it was not until university that I owned my Christian faith through a Christian fellowship. In my experience however, I have seen the church marginalize others when it is supposed to be a place of healing. I think those with mental health issues are often the ones marginalized - and from my understanding of Christ, this should not be the case.
With my own narrative, I came to Christ because of a homeless woman; and naturally this has drawn me towards principles of liberation theology and has directed me towards inclusiveness instead of exclusivity. Sanctuary represents preparing faith communities to support mental health recovery within their communities. Under this mission, I hope to be able to work collaboratively and transformatively with churches and parishes towards acceptance, not only for those with mental health issues, but for other marginalized groups as well.
I recently completed my Master’s in Counselling Psychology from Trinity Western University. I have worked with homeless youth and have had the privilege to journey with individuals who have suffered from severe trauma. Currently, I am coordinating a youth-led initiative, focused on mental health literacy and suicide prevention."
"I am a pastor’s kid, have worked in pastoral ministry and through the years, I have participated in many different Christian communities -- from Catholic to Anglican to Pentecostal to Mennonite/Mennonite Brethren and non-denominational churches and parishes. Within these environments, I have experienced the powerful ways God works in community to bring support, care, healing, wholeness and transformation. Also at times, through a lack of mental health awareness and understanding, I have witnessed further marginalization of persons living with mental health issues.
A couple of years ago, I attended a Sanctuary seminar and was impacted by the stories of people with lived-experience and their insights into how churches and parishes could better support their recovery journeys. I wanted to be part of an organization that elevates these voices and their life-wisdom."
Kate is married to Nate, and she has worked as a teacher, pastor and writer. She finds the common thread of community development woven through the many roles she has filled and is inspired by the ways church communities can become even more loving places of belonging and hope.
"I got to know about Sanctuary through Sharon Smith, when she spoke at a clubhouse training workshop. I feel touched by the philosophy and spirit of compassion within Sanctuary, for those with mental health issues. Stigma exists within all walks of life; between genders, cultures, jobs, faith practices and especially in environments where mental health issues are present. Sanctuary has been a part of my spiritual journey in Christ.
Compassionate love is deep inside human beings, and it is because of a lack of knowledge and understanding that the dynamic of compassion is blocked. Without understanding, compassionate energy exists as a defensive dynamic. Under the defensive coping stance, everything shuts down but self-protection and this may present itself in an attacking manner, by causing stereotyping, blackmail, or making a negative story. Jesus and his followers experienced the attacks of others. In our world today, Christians with mental health issues can expect to deal with this same dynamic.
In Christian community, we can respond differently. We can listen, as we know that God is listening. I have the vision that by listening, we will better understand and practice a deeper compassionate love. One of the spirits of Sanctuary is listening to the story of those with mental health issues. We are stepping up to break the cycle of stigma."
Louis is a practicing Catholic, with a Masters in Theology. He worked as a Chaplain in hospital and hospice in Hong Kong from 1988 until moving to Canada in 2006. He is clinically trained in family therapy via the Virginia Satir Model and supervises in Clinical Pastoral Education. After receiving Health Care Support Worker training in Canada in 2008, Louis has applied what he’s learned with a Psychosocial Rehabilitation approach to mental health support work. From once being a new immigrant to Canada, Louis has grown as an individual who continues to steward and practice compassionate love from Christ.
Sarah found Sanctuary through a series of divine appointments and feels honoured to serve as a coach, while deeply appreciating the culture of support and safety Sanctuary extends with open arms and tender hearts.
She is well acquainted with mental health issues both from a personal, familial and professional realm. Her hope for all of us is that we can continue to share our stories with courage, vulnerability and strength and by doing so, change our culture and the conversation around mental illness from stigmatizing to supportive, from fearful to friendly.
Sarah is a writer, facilitator, podcaster and mother with a history of front line mental health and community support work both in secular and faith based communities. She also comes from an extended family that has dealt with and is dealing with many mental health challenges.
“I have been a part of Sanctuary since 2012; “a habit hard to break”. Sanctuary’s creative and passionate approach to including ALL in the Father’s House, with its many rooms, is simply irresistible.”
Growing up in post-holocaust Germany with an avant-garde artist father, a politically minded mother and an engaged Lutheran minister for a grandfather are the influences that made Isabella the unashamed pacifist she is today. Professionally, she has worked with the Mennonite Central Committee and First United Church, has run a resource center in the Downtown Eastside, counselled prisoners and helped an organization recuperate from long-term bullying. She was Sanctuary’s Director of Programs from 2013 to 2015 and currently works as the Family Support and Involvement Coordinator, Acute Mental Health and Addiction, at Vancouver Coastal Health.
“Before joining Sanctuary, I was active in pastoral ministries, serving the Lord in Baptist and Mennonite Brethren churches in both Asian and multiethnic contexts. In recent years, I've moved out of pastoral roles and have taken on the calling of counselling.
As a pastor who served in Youth and Lead Pastor roles, I have come across many who have struggled bravely and tragically as they searched for hope in the midst of their mental illness and recovery. Within the church, I have seen the harmfulness of stigma, and also the beauty of the body of Christ reaching out in love and support. Often, I have wondered how the church can help and support our loved ones, who bear the burden of mental illness, and offer a community of hope.
As a counsellor, I work with those who need support and help in the difficult moments of their lives and who are seeking hope and change. I have the honor of working from both a psychological and theological perspective of offering support and intervention. My passions are to see the Christian community grow by helping to support, prepare and strengthen marriages, working with individuals in spiritual and emotional crisis, walking with people through loss and grief, and helping to support and keep pastors and ministry leaders emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically healthy.
I knew Sanctuary existed during my pastoral ministry, but it wasn’t until I got involved in counselling work that I truly discovered Sanctuary. I was drawn to their desire to equip churches to become communities of support and places of safety and love. What resonates with me is Sanctuary’s goal to help churches to BE LOVE, and to be communities of hope and support, and to create space for all who need a community to understand them and walk with them. I am reminded of Hebrews 10:24-25 as an exhortation to churches, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
“I love that Sanctuary is all about integration of faith and lived experience. It is about inclusivity and acceptance, recovery and transformation, caring and encouragement. It is and also provides a working model of how we might live out our Christian faith by living in relationship with all peoples. I was thrilled to have found this Christian organization devoted to preparing faith communities to support their members in becoming one body through coaching and encouragement of mental health recovery and transformation.
In my late forties, I responded to God’s call, moved from my life as an environmentalist and parent volunteer, and entered the Counselling Psychology Program at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC. I have worked as a counsellor in two independent high schools, in community mental health settings, and now see clients in my own private practice. Both in my personal and professional life, as a wife and a mother of two adult children, I am forever reminded of the need for healing and support in relationships."
“I answered YES to all three questions presented by Sanctuary on their Coach invitation. ‘Working in Mental Health Services? Having a Christian Faith? And an Interest in facilitating community action and change?’ My continuous YES answers lead me to endless possibilities of encountering the Lord and experiencing joy. Two worlds collided; a fusion - my Faith and my Work, both of which I am so passionate about. So what must I do? Where else should I go? I believe that Sanctuary is another place where God wants me to be."
Since 1994 in the Philippines, Edwin has been actively involved in CFC, a Catholic Christian Family Renewal Movement. When his family moved to Vancouver in 2000, they were integrated to the Global Family of CFC in Canada. It has been his passion to evangelize people through a life of love and service. Also in 2000, he began working as a Mental Health Worker for a non-profit society in Vancouver. His exposure to the field of Mental Health made him truly realize that Recovery is achievable.
“As a Christian, I truly believe that spirituality and faith can play a significant and powerful role in the therapeutic and recovery process of someone who has a mental health concern. However, having been involved in a Chinese Christian community for so many years, I notice that there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding within the Chinese church toward mental health issues.
Although over the years, I’d initiated and done things within my own church to raise awareness and increase understanding, I still hoped that I could do more both within and beyond my own church. It had been my prayer for a long while that God would guide my path and give me the opportunity to help the Christian community. When I first learned about Sanctuary Ministries, I was thrilled, and it seemed like God had answered my prayer. This is exactly what I’d been longing for.
I thank God so much for leading me into the mental health field 17 years ago. Working in mental health rehabilitation therapy, I found my passion in helping people who have mental health experiences. I feel so honored to be able to work alongside individuals who face a variety of challenges because of their mental health conditions and to be able to provide the best care, support and professional guidance in their recovery journeys so that they can fully integrate into society and live a life in which they find hope, meaning and purpose."