Don Reeve had wanted a career in medicine. Instead, he followed his high school sweetheart Linda to Bible school. That move changed Don’s life in a number of ways.
It didn’t take long for Don to realize that God was calling him to ministry. To test the waters, Don spent a year as a full-time volunteer at Parksville Fellowship Baptist church in Parksville, B.C.
“After that I knew ministry would be the path I would follow,” he said, adding that it was a path that included Linda.
Don and Linda tied the knot in Surrey, B.C in 1994, and will celebrate their 20-year anniversary this spring.
“We are privileged to have two fantastic kids, Marissa who is in Grade 11 and Isaac who is in Grade 9.
“Our ministry started in Sparwood, B.C. Imagine a 23-year-old senior pastor. We had a great time there. We learned lots about life and ministry, particularly in a unique coal mining community. Isaac was one of the last children born at the Sparwood Hospital before it closed.”
Don and Linda and the kids then moved to Armstrong where Don pastored at the First Baptist church.
“We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Armstrong and had the joy of being part of a vibrant church family.”
Then Don and Linda felt called to Woodstock, Ont. While Don was born in Campbell River, he spent his elementary school years in Barrie, Ont., before his family moved back to Surrey in senior high.
“It is encouraging to know that there is such a large Christian community right across the country, whether in Vernon or central Canada. We experienced five years of God’s blessings in Woodstock.”
This past summer Don received a phone call from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Vernon asking if the family would be willing to consider a move back to B.C. Over the course of two months they reached the decision to accept the invitation to join the staff team and church family at Emmanuel. They moved in December of this past year and Don started ministry as the senior pastor in January.
“We are happy to be part of Emmanuel’s vision, following Jesus and sharing His love. A big part of that vision is the focus on the community,” said Don. “We count it an honour to be able to participate in events like the Winter Carnival Parade and Canada Day at Polson Park.
“We also are blessed to be able to offer a variety of events and programs that are very much intended to be a part of our local community, such as Bethlehem Star, Breakfast club at Mission Hill elementary, summer soccer camp and day camp, weekly moms and tots, youth groups and more.”
Don said what he likes about Emmanuel is it is big enough to offer a diversity of programs for people to participate in but small enough that people who are not accustomed to attending church can feel comfortable and easily make friends.
“For us, we knew Emmanuel was a church where my kids would be encouraged and engaged in their faith, where we all as a family would be challenged to put our faith into practice, and where we would constantly be surrounded by people who genuinely loved Jesus and us.
“We have a great church family, amazing leaders, and fantastic volunteers throughout all the ministries of the church so I am very excited about the future for Emmanuel.”
Don grew up near the beach in Campbell River and his fond memories of camping and spending time outdoors as a kid.
“I prefer Vernon’s hot and dry climate over the hot and humid climate of Ontario.”
Don loves dogs and bought his first dog, a boxer, when he was in Grade 8. He went on to compete in CKC dog shows and raised a number of litters of pups.
“I also love sports both playing and watching. And I read a lot.”
His parents used to let the kids stay up later if they were reading, so they developed an enjoyment of reading from a young age.
Don counts his parents as a big influence in his life, followed by several key youth leaders, a retired pastor and some great friends.
“My dad was a pastor, so there has been a role model both as a father and husband, but also in ministry. Some of my youth leaders made a real impact on my life, just watching how they took their faith seriously. These people, along with friends who have offered encouragement and support along the way, have made ministry a joy and privilege.”
Don planned his first sermon series to be about the Book of Mark.
“It is all about Jesus, how he came to offer us forgiveness from sin and freedom from the power of sin, but also how he calls us to follow. We aren’t just forgiven to then go live however we please, but rather to serve Jesus by serving others.”
While his life has had some interesting twists and turns along the way, Don said he and his family feel fortunate to be part of the community here in Vernon and are even more thankful for the kind reception they received at Emmanuel.
“I hope others who are new to Vernon will consider joining us on a Sunday and meeting some great people who believe that faith in God is the greatest thing in life and a great way to live.”