The first time we met Pastor Donnie Persaud of the East Scarborough Pentecostal Worship Centre in Toronto, JacanaBooks was literally thrown off her feet. You may want to ask how why? This is why. He created a video in the Inspiring Faith series, Episode 19 titled Choices. It was about the power of our decisions and the courage to rebuild again. Some of us need to rebuild again after a loss, disappointment, relationship breakdown, divorce, heartbreak, time spent behind bars, drugs, sex and alcohol addictions. The video was shot in the background of a construction site. Needless to say, it spoke volumes. We can rebuild, brick by brick, layer by layer till we are moulded in the image of our Father.
Pastor Donnie spoke about the "Omnipotent God who can turn any mess into a message. He can take any pain and turn it into purpose. He can take your trouble and turn it into triumph. God is in the business of rebuilding lives and to do this, we need to sometimes, let it go. The choice to rebuild is more than the pain of staying the same".
Pastor Donnie is impacting lives through his Facebook Video Ministry. The inspiration to make the first video came on earlier this year when he distinctively heard God tell him to make his first video. This was on the eleventh of May. He launched his first video on May twelveth, the very next day. He has been creating inspirational and motivational videos since. He told us “I share what God deposits in me." His theology is seasoned and sound. He delivers the Word of God in a way that provokes his viewers to deep thought. The link to Episode 19 can be found here. JacanaBooks is grateful to Pastor D – as he is popularly called- for his time.
JacanaBooks: Sir, we found your video Inspiring Faith Episode 19 inspiring, may we ask what inspired that video? What is the backstory to that episode? You are a motivational speaker, what led you into this industry?
We all go through difficult experiences in life. Sometimes we feel that our past mistakes and failures disqualify us from the future we desire. Episode 19 was meant to offer hope to those that are hurting and on the verge of giving up. God didn’t consult us when He determined His plan for our lives and so, our mistakes do not change His plan. We can choose to rebuild and reconnect to His plan. He can turn our mess into a message. It will cost us something to rebuild but it may cost us everything to remain in a place that’s falling apart.
My mind is just open to what God is saying. A lot of us go through life, we make mistakes, we are so far away, we feel what we have done disqualified us. When God made you and I, he didn't ask us who we wanted our parents to be. What that tells me is that even though I make mistakes, it does not change God's plan for my life. Nothing I do can change God's plan for my life. I feel that is a message for us all. God's plan never changes. He still loves me and he still loves you.
JacanaBooks: Do you find that more and more people need to hear messages like this video?
Yes, absolutely. We live in a broken world with broken people. Behind the smiles and moments of laughter, there are genuine hurts, fears and uncertainties about the future. Jesus came to share the good news of the gospel and to heal the broken-hearted. We are bombarded with various messages on our social media feeds each day. Our lives at times don’t seem to measure up to the filtered images and strategic posts that we see and read. More people need to be reminded that they have been created to make a unique impact in this world. We need to push past our own hurts and speak to a hurting world.
JacanaBooks: Many people need to be mentored. How can people who are not Christians find wholistic mentoring in Canada today?
Mentorship is critical to success.
I believe that living life without mentors is like riding a bike with two flat tires – you might eventually get where you want to go but you’ll waste a lot of time and energy in the process, and you might just be too tired to enjoy it when you arrive. There are many formal mentorship programs/life coach services broadly available today. These programs can be invaluable in helping people move forward. But I believe that informal mentorship can in some cases be more effective. Seek out people that you admire, those already doing what you aspire to do. Ask for their help and you might be surprised how quickly they say yes. I’ve had several people approach me in the last few months for this kind of informational mentorship. I have also been involved in mentorship programs for students offered at universities as well as job seekers at employment agencies. These are other avenues to find mentorship support.
JacanaBooks: Christianity and especially pastors endure on a daily basis a lot of negative press. How do you defend God in such a hostile environment?
The faith community must do our best to demonstrate integrity at all times. Sometimes we invite negative press when we make poor decisions and compromise basic ethical and biblical principles. Daniel in the Bible functioned at high levels of government but always operated with integrity. When they tried to accuse him, his track record was his defence. As they say, the best defence is a good offence. When you live right and operate with integrity and excellence, your actions will speak for themselves. The issue is not so much about defending God, it’s more about representing Him well.
JacanaBooks: Faith is a personal experience. It can be subjective. Sir, how can you explain a loving God to a generation of people who are angry? Angry at what they have lost, angry at death, angry at poverty and so on.
Dealing with hostility and anger can be challenging, regardless of the underlying issue. It’s never advisable to be confrontational. I’ve found that the best approach to sharing about God and faith, particularly in hostile situations, is to share about my experience. Let others know what God has done for you and how your life has been changed. Avoid arguments and discussing meaningless details for the sake of proving a point. What changes people? It is the unconditional love of God. People won't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Our first response and consistent response must always be love.
JacanaBooks: ‘Faith is not about what you see, it is about what God says’… I took this quote from your Instagram page. We are in multicultural Alberta where there are a diversity of religions. What are practical ways we can spread the gospel in Canada in 2018?
We’ve been given the corporate mandate to go into all the world and preach the gospel. To preach simply means to proclaim. Jesus told us what to do [proclaim], but he never told us how to do it. Every generation must navigate their culture and environment to maximize their impact. The method is subject to change as long as the message is not compromised. Use every and all means necessary to share your faith. Use all social media channels, media outlets, TV, radio, YouTube and street preaching. Get involved in local community outreach (e.g. food shelters, youth agencies, clubs, etc.) and be His voice when the opportunities present themselves. Assess the needs in your community and develop programs that meet those needs. These programs do not need to be faith-based, but by developing relationships with participants, you will create opportunities for sharing your faith. Be strategic, be creative but whatever you do, be consistent.
JacanaBooks: Finally, negativity pervades the news, our conversations, our lives… how do we keep negativity out and find balance in a world where the noise never stops?
Noise cancelling headphones reduce unwanted sounds by using active noise control. This technique involves emitting a second sound wave to cancel the first. The point is simple; an active step is required to cancel unwanted noise. In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus had to put a noisy and negative crowd outside the house of a young girl, who He then raised from the dead. That’s a picture of active noise control! Amidst a world of constant noise, some of which is directly opposed to our faith, we must exercise active noise control. How? Faith comes by hearing the Word but faith goes by hearing the world. We must be intentional as to what we allow to resonate in our ears. The noise that brings doubt and confusion, put it out. You do this by reading the Word, listening to uplifting worship music or getting godly advice. What’s happening in the process? The second sound strengthens your faith and cancels the noise. We all need good noise-cancelling headphones – spiritually speaking! Watch and share Episode 26 (video posted above).
For more about Pastor Donnie, please visit ESP Worship Centre