I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Janet Hitchcock, one of our New Life Missions team members. Since November is “Missions Month” here, I was interested to meet someone from the team that guides our missions process. I found Janet to be an extremely interesting person. What you will read in this blog is only part of our conversation – this lady carries so many amazing stories that it would take pages to write everything we discussed. She is also full of much wisdom and insight. In the end, I came away with a new appreciation for the diversity that God has brought to our community.
So give us a brief overview of your life.
I grew up in North London, England in a Christian home. When I was a young girl, we went to church a lot, sometimes three or four times on a Sunday. We attended a very missions minded Baptist church and so at an early age, I gained a perspective of missions and the world. My high school was located right in the middle of London, close to Westminster Abby. During my teen years, I developed a love for the outdoors and did a lot of hiking and backpacking with my family and friends. When I got a little older, my friends and I would do “hosteling” – hiking and travelling from one youth hostel to the other. Once I finished high school, I attended Royal Holloway College at Windsor which was part of London University. There I studied math and eventually became a teacher. I then taught math in London for a period of time.
How did you happen to come to Canada from England?
I recall studying “Canada” in high school and from that time on, the idea of Canada always held kind of a romantic notion for me. Years later, when a couple that I was friends with came to Canada, I decided to come and visit them. That was in 1975. They moved here to pastor a church on the Sumas Prairie. At it turned out, at the same time Abbotsford Christian School happened to be looking for a math teacher. They had been posting the job for quite a while with no applications so I applied, got the job, miraculously met all the immigration requirements, and stayed in Canada. I was the only non Dutch person working at the school back then.
How did you come to New Life – was it right after you moved?
When I first came to Canada, I attended Prairie Chapel where my friends were pastoring. Then, in 2006 I changed churches and found a church home at New Life.
Help us understand the heart behind what motivates you?
I am motivated by Jesus’ love as shown for me on the cross. Knowing that Christ has died for me makes me want to serve Him in whatever way I can.
What is the greatest joy in your personal life?
My relationship with Jesus is my greatest joy in life. It kind of overshadows every other part of life. Apart from that, joy is found is in other people, my friends, and my family.
What are your greatest struggles, the things that make you sad when you see them?
I am saddened when I see people who are isolated, lonely, and struggling with things such as mental health issues. As you might know, one of my passions is volunteering for Telecare. I do their books and some random office work, but the thing I love most is to be on their lines, listening and letting callers know that they are not alone.
Tell us about your relationship with God. What is it like?
I come to Him daily, every morning, and ask Him for help and strength. I also pray consistently for the needs of others.
From your personal experience, if you could suggest one thing to another person when it comes to the pursuit of God, what would it be?
Realize that at any time you can bring anything and everything to God. He will never reject you, only accept you.
Tell us about your connection to Esperanza.
I started going to Esperanza 8 or 9 years ago with New Life. Since that time, I don’t think I have missed a year. Most of the time, I take care of the cooking for the group but I have also spent more extended periods of time there. One time, I was there for 6 weeks working and teaching the First Nations children. I have also been there to cook for 2 family camps and have gotten to know certain members of the staff quite well. I am good friends with Tim and Cindy and their children – they run the programs there. I also have special connections with some of the First Nations people there like, for instance, the lady who runs the fuel docks. Once the First nations people accept you, they really take you into their hearts and you become a part of their family.
You are on our New Life Missions committee. Tell us about your heart for missions.
I have been part of the Missions committee for 4 years now. Because I grew up in a missions minded church, I have always had an awareness of missions. I love the triple pronged vision of New Life Missions – local, regional, and global. All three of these areas are important in order for a church to be well balanced. I also love the idea that our New Life missionaries are home grown. At one point in time, they all came from our own congregation.
How many missions trips have you taken?
I have been on many missions trips including trips to Mexico, Hungary, and Esperanza.
What is one stand-out memory from your time spent in missions work?
One time when I was in Mexicali we had a terrible wind storm that blew down part of our camp. The following day we had a worship service that included us taking communion with our church group teens. We were standing in the middle of a dirt field. The communion juice was in a styrofoam cup and someone set it on the end of a broken 2×4 board. Then, someone mistakenly kicked the board and the juice spilled, running all the way down that old board and dripping onto the black dirt. I had been part of communion services all my life but this time it wasn’t clinical. The death of Christ was somehow so much more real. There we were face to face with the crimson stained wood, the dirt, the heat, and the dark drops of what looked like blood on the ground. It was a profound moment of realization and thankfulness for the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
If there were one thing you could say to New Life church if regards to missions – what would it be?
Being a part of what God is doing in our community, country, and world is very exciting. Although individually we are only a very small part, never underestimate the rewards of being obedient to what God might be asking you to do. I, personally, never want to miss out on the opportunity to be involved and the blessing that it brings!