Almost twenty years ago, John and Abigail (Abi) Elshaw were newlyweds living in England. Early in their marriage, the two were part of a ministry outreach team that had been invited to Abi's high school alma mater to perform for the Christian Lunch Club. While the team waited for the student audience to gather, John and Abi looked at some books about famous Christian missionaries. John picked up a book about a man named, Sir Wilfred Grenfell. Because John’s birth name is Grenfell, he was curious about the man's story. John found that Sir Wilfred was a missionary to Canada, and his motto was, “Preach the word: Heal the sick!” John looked at Abi and said, “I think the Lord is telling me that I am related to this man, and that I will succeed his ministry; where he healed naturally (Sir Wilfred was a doctor) I will heal supernaturally!” The two agreed, knowing that if that were true, God would have to open the necessary doors for them. Then, John put the book back on the shelf.
Based on the peek into the Elshaw's life in the paragraph above, it would appear that their lives and marriage were beautiful and harmonious as they travelled the countryside serving the King of Kings in the United Kingdom—unfortunately, that was not always the case. In the late 1990s, John and Abi's marriage was on the rocks, and they were struggling financially.
As the couple began to feel the squeeze of their financial situation they made necessary cutbacks, and cable TV was one of the first things to go. Without cable, Abi missed the programs she was used to watching on GOD TV, so Abi's friend would recorded six hours of GOD TV on a VHS tape, and give it to her. Abi would watch the tape, and give it back to her friend to record another six hours.
One day, Abi's friend gave her the tape cued up to Andrew's Gospel Truth broadcast and asked her to let him know what she thought of the message. On the tape, Andrew's opening words were, "Do you know it’s always God’s will to heal‽” Abi, having questioned why some people in church received healing and some didn't, was hooked, and she watched the whole program. John also viewed some of the program, but he was convinced that Andrew was a stereotypical American preacher—just after money, and he wasn't interested.
After Abi watched the program, she found that Andrew's products were available for free, and she ordered his teaching series Christian Survival Kit, followed by Harnessing Your Emotions. "God suddenly showed me that contrary to my belief, I was the problem in our marriage! I started to change and John noticed. After that, John began to listen to Andrew too. Listening to Andrew’s teaching saved our marriage," Abi said.
Eventually, the Elshaws attended one of Andrew's annual Grace and Faith Conferences in the UK. Abi came away feeling as though they were to attend Charis Bible College, but at the time John felt differently. John said, “Jesus never went to Bible school, so I’m not going."
As the couple continued to listen to Andrew's teaching, they realized that the call to ministry they once shared had been reawakened. They knew that CBC was the stepping stone, or necessary door, they needed to prepare to walk in their calling. Although the Elshaws originally thought they would attend CBC-Walsall (now called CBC-West Midlands) the two ended up leaving the UK to study in Colorado.
John and Abi moved to the United States in 2004 and graduated from CBC's two-year program in 2006. After graduation they returned to the UK, where they completed their third-year ministry training at CBC-West Midlands. After completing the program, John and Abi took positions on staff with Andrew Wommack Ministries Europe and CBC.
In 2007, the Elshaws were ordained by Andrew while visiting the Colorado campus. Immediately following the ordination ceremony, David Hardesty, the General Manager and COO of Andrew Wommack Ministries, approached John and Abi and said, “We’re looking to start a work in Canada, and I can’t stop thinking about you two. Is that something you would be interested in?” The Elshaws were excited by the thought of being a part of AWM's efforts in Canada, and memories of the day back in Abi's old high school began to flood their minds.
The process and preparation for the launch of CBC-Toronto has been six years in the making, during which time they remained under the ministry's leadership in the UK. "We worked at CBC and AWME doing a variety of different jobs. Between us, we’ve worked in most departments in the ministry: on the helpline, GTR team, Worship teams, CBC Third-Year program, Pastoral Relations UK, Production, Audio Dept., Media/Graphics, and Finances," said Abi. She went on to say that they have also had the privilege of teaching at the school in Belfast, Ireland and at the campus in South Africa.
The Elshaws have had an awesome response to the announcement of the school's opening. Abi and John left England in March of 2013, and they are on the ground in Canada now with plans in place to open the Toronto area campus this fall. "We still had several years to wait, but in June last year, when we attended the first Canadian Gospel Truth Rally, we saw things beginning to come together and here we are!" Abi said excitedly. At this year's Gospel Truth Rally, held on July 25, 40 people requested applications, and 80 more requested more information about the school.
Getting a hold of Andrew's teaching, and the revelation of God's unconditional love and grace, has changed everything for John and Abi. They both have a deeper relationship with the Lord and their marriage is intact. "We are more in love with each other today than when we first met— I never thought we’d make it past the first 5 years. We’ve been debt free and prospering since 2004, and we have seen so many miracles happen through Christ in us. We’ve left our country twice (that’s something I would never have done before) and we feel that we are just beginning to see the fulfillment of a calling that was initiated long ago," said Abi.
For more information about CBC-Toronto visit the AWM-Canada website or contact the Elshaws via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.