Jan 18, 2012

Feature Interview: A Conversation with John Almey

The ANVIL Newsletter Feature Interview:

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John…!!!   (John 1:6)

We asked GCF’s own John Almey to share a synopsis of his “life’s story” with us at one of our ANVIL meetings one recent Thursday evening.  It is reprinted here with his permission.  At 81 years of age John is an encouragement to us, and a testimony of God’s faithfulness!  He  reminds us of Caleb, of the Old Testament!

The ANVIL: John, please give us a sense of your family background.

John Almey: I was raised just west of Trenton, Ontario, the ninth child of ten (6 boys & 4 girls).  Four were born in military camps in England and one in Ireland prior to Dad immigrating to Canada in 1920.  Dad was a Regimental Sergeant-Major in both the British and Canadian armies.

The ANVIL: Tell us about some early influences in your life and your journey to faith in Christ.

John Almey: We did not attend church though Mom professed to be Anglican.  One brother, Maurice, who had been in the Airforce accepted Christ as his personal Saviour and became a Pentecostal minister.  He prayed much for the family.

In high school, the sciences were my favourite subjects and I believed in a divine Creator but didn’t give a lot of thought about God.  After graduating in 1948 from high school, I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in working in a lab testing food products for a food company called Crosse & Blackwell.  Since I couldn’t afford university at that time, I accepted.  Four months later the plant was sold, as Crosse & Blackwell were consolidating their companies in the USA and I was out of work.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

My brother Maurice, whom I hardly knew, showed up at the house for a visit.  He was pastoring a church in Haileybury in northern Ontario, and he asked if I would like to come to visit.  My younger brother, who had been up there with Maurice, said “Don’t go!  He will preach at you!”

I went.  He did preach but I didn’t make a commitment to serve Christ.  I did meet some of the kindest and friendliest people I had ever known.  There was definitely something different about them. 

Then one Sunday afternoon, a missionary from China was speaking.  She related that though many of her colleagues perished as the Communist troops swept across China, she and a number of others survived.  The Communist troops had broken through the Nationalist lines, & entered the city where the missionaries had taken refuge in a building on a hill, and proceeded to approach the building firing their weapons.  Suddenly the Communist troops fled!  The Chinese Nationalist’s recaptured the city and she had a chance to question a captured Communist soldier.  She wanted to know why they ran from the building they were in.  The soldier’s reply was unforgettable!  He said “…you had people dressed in white with flaming swords protecting you!”  By the end of the service I knew I had to ask Christ to forgive my sins. 
The ANVIL: How did accepting Christ at age 18 affect your life direction?

John Almey: After staying four months with my brother Maurice and his family, I headed for Toronto to find work. I stayed with my brother’s in-laws and attended theStone Church (a downtown Toronto Pentecostal church).  I got a job in an office of a company building construction machinery and again the Lord provided three other Christians to help me in my growth spiritually and the four of us had devotions at lunch time.  From the Stone Church, I joined a group witnessing on the streets of Toronto.

I didn’t particularly like Toronto, in part because of riding on crowded street cars and the weather was extremely hot that summer. I received a letter from an Inspector of Schools.  His territory took in Cobalt, Haileybury & Kirkland Lake area.  He wanted to know if I would consider taking a rural school as I could teach on a permit with my Grade 13 certificate.  I laughed at the thought and declined.  He kept writing and the summer kept getting hotter!  The company I worked for even sent us home early one day because of the heat.  Finally, I agreed to take a school.  I had already fallen in love with the North Country.  Thus began my teaching career.  It would take me to Wawa for four years where the Lord helped two missionary ladies and I establish a church there.  We began by simply holding street meetings and Sunday Services in the school gym.  The school, Sir James Dunn Public School had 16 teachers at that time, teaching grades 1 to 12.  To get grade 13, they had to go to Sault Ste. Marie.  Most went to work in the Iron mine.

To further my career (I now had a wife and daughter). I accepted a position with the Etobicoke Board of Education.  So here I am back in Toronto.  The Lord led me to attend the Lakeshore Gospel Temple with Pastor Alex Ness, the Senior Pastor.  Two years later the Lord performed a miracle for the growing church and we were able to purchase almost six acres of land on the Queensway for $75,000 that amazed real estate developers who had been trying for years to get the two owners to patch up a quarrel and sell them the land they owned. Thus began 30 years of my life at Queensway Cathedral.  It also led to the creation of a Christian school there from kindergarten to Grade 13.  I was asked to help start-up and run the school for Queensway and serve as chairman of the board. 

Upon retirement, I moved with my wife to Peterborough to help assist with her parents.  There we chose Calvary Church to attend.  My wife had been a Sunday School teacher when Calvary was just getting started in the south end of Peterborough.  Twenty-five years later, Calvary has grown, thanks to the Lord to over 1,000 people!

The PAOC Bible College (EPBC) eventually moved to Toronto. Trent University rented its buildings for 5 years.  Further efforts to sell it failed.  God had a purpose for those buildings.  Today it has reopened again as a Bible
College with 125 students enrolled.

My wife’s health has failed and so my children wanted us to live closer to them to assist us.  So now we are in Georgetown watching and waiting for the Lord’s return.  Praise His wonderful name!

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