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Community & Alumni Blog

Award winner carries on 'shoulder-tapping impulse'

On Saturday, September 24, CMU President Cheryl Pauls will present one of four Distinguished Alumni Awards to Ron Toews (MBBC '84) as part of CMU's 2016 Fall Festival events. We spoke with Ron recently about his life and work.

In the Saskatchewan farming community in which Ron Toews grew up, a godly farmer tapped him on the shoulder and said, "I believe God is calling you to leave the farm and study to become a pastor." Hearing and responding to God, even when it feels risky, has defined Toews's journey.

"That shoulder-tapping impulse is something that I've carried on," says Toews, who currently lives in BC's Fraser Valley, where he works as Director of Leadership Development for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

 

Toews oversees Leaders2Learners (L2L), which connects leaders across Canada to learn together, share and pray together, and exchange resources that they have found helpful in their ministry settings.

Toews's main focus is to serve pastors and churches by making tools available to leaders that are based upon their needs and ministry contexts.

"Through coaching we help leaders become attentive to the Holy Spirit's promptings so that their lives can have maximum ministry impact," he says.

For Toews, who holds an MDiv from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, CA and a DMin from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, his role with L2L is the latest in a life spent serving the church.

From 1987 to 2002, Toews and his wife, Dianne, pastored two churches: Kitchener Mennonite Brethren Church in Kitchener, ON, and Dalhousie Community Church in Calgary, AB.

When Toews was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, he began to look closely at his life and calling. He realized one of the things he valued deeply was helping young people in their journeys to become pastors.

In 2002, he accepted a faculty position at the MBBS-ACTS seminary in Langley, BC where he spent five years as Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies.

He eventually ended up in the corner office at ACTS as interim principal, a role he accepted after going away to Africa for a month with Dianne to think and pray about the decision.

They returned to Canada to the news that their 24-year-old son, Nathan, had been killed in a car accident. The experience, Toews later told the MB Herald, "made cancer look like a cakewalk."

Toews left ACTS after 21 months, and eventually accepted a leadership development role with the BC Mennonite Brethren conference, where he served from 2009 to September 2012.

Toews began working in the current role he's in shortly thereafter. He enjoys the job.

"No two days are ever the same," he says. "Helping leaders and churches be on mission with Jesus is a privilege."

In spite of personal challenges, Toews has remained steadfast in his faith, trusting in God and serving others so that he might "make a kingdom difference."

He views receiving a CMU Distinguished Alumni Award as a tribute to the faithful farmer who tapped him on the shoulder, and many others who have invested in him and contributed to who he is today.

"Dianne and I give thanks to God for his faithfulness over a life that has taken some twists and turns," he says. "We give God thanks for his ongoing journey with us."