This is the story of how Cassandra Irving (MTS Modular '03) discerned God's call to a radically different lifestyle.
What is the good life? Cars, money or good health? Cassandra Irving was a stay at home mother with a big house and two cars in a new GTA subdivision. Although North American culture may suggest that she had "the good life", Irving would sit in her living room thinking "is this all life is about?"
While attending Tyndale, she began to discover some answers. She gained a new perspective as she studied the ancient Church. Irving states, "Over my four years at Tyndale, God made it clear to me that in order to truly lead people I must serve them, and in order to truly serve them, I must live amongst them. This idea she learned, "from my readings in scripture, Dennis Ngien and his teaching on the suffering of God, Donald Goertz teaching on early church history, reading autobiographies of the missionary Rosalind Goforth and being a part of a family."
Her decision to try a radically different lifestyle was not an easy one. Giving up her "white picket fence" world felt like relinquishing control. Still, she felt that God was calling her to a communal lifestyle, with her husband Mike (high school teacher and basketball coach), their three young children and friend Anna Gould (elementary school teacher). She comments, "I think, for me, God had to free me of certain expectations that I had for what it means to be a Christian or live a 'good Christian life'".
Irving says that this is simply part of her own faith journey. "We had to answer the prophetic call of Haggai to forsake building our house in order to build the Lord's. Letting go of all the things that our culture defines as the "good life" was like a slow death. We found out fast that we had bought into our world's definition of freedom and fulfillment more than we realized." Says Irving. She continues, In the end, we were so enamored with who God was showing us He is and what the good life way back in Genesis was really all about, that all the stuff we would have to risk -- jobs, lifestyle, goals, relationships, reputations, RRSPs, nice schools and safe neighborhoods for our kids -- it all stopped feeling like a sacrifice and started feeling more like an adventure, a surreal act of consecration that was a secret escape route to freedom."
Irving now considers herself a missionary, and finds her life more fulfilling. She has experienced joy and spiritual growth. Her opportunities for evangelism include "the conversations they start with me at the local coffee shop".
She speaks of "this one bench in our village where mountain bikers rest, homeless people sit, mothers chat, and business owners make deals on cell phones". It is a space that hosts a whole spectrum of people". She says, "It's the kind of place I think Jesus would be, because on any given day, he would encounter the really rich or the down-and-out in the same spot".
Irving's husband and their friend Anna both work with the youth in their community and in their local church.
Being an academic and a Type A personality, Cassandra had trouble letting go of her independence and her desire to control. She had to learn to rely on the authority of God's word and to let God completely control every aspect of her life, even finding a house to live in.
She says that with three young children, it's easy for our culture to voice concerns and see irresponsibleness in their new lifestyle. She is quick to point out that her children are involved in every decision they make and have insights beyond their years. They have passionate faith. They've learned the power of sharing, loving and asking God to provide.
Irving has also seen that God surprises the doubters, those who are critical of her lifestyle, by providing what they need just in time. She says that, meeting together at least once a week to read scripture and have discerning prayer, they have experienced God's voice in very inspiring ways, even in dreams and visions. Irving says, "If you are willing, the Spirit will lead you in many new and exciting ways".
This is Cassandra Irving's sense of God's call, and she does not hold up her lifestyle change as suitable for everyone. From Irvings story we glean that our common goal as a Christian community is being faithful to God's call, as we discern it through prayer and an attitude of humble obedience. This is part of Cassandra's journey toward faithful obedience.