Pastor Ray Narula
Christ found me in a Cosmopolitan sea of people in the largest city in Canada, Toronto. It was there that God used an unlikely candidate to witness Christ to me. His family of Irish descent, mine of East Indian. His family, non-practicing nominal Christians, mine devoted Sikhs with daily prayers and weekly attendance at the local Temple.
To think, the light of Christ in him shone bright enough to catch my attention! There were no cultural, or family similarities that one could point to as a drawing-point of common ground. We were just in the same high school. After my conversion at his local church, Flemingdon Park Pentecostal, I received the call and pursued ministry training at Eastern Pentecostal Bible in Peterborough. Many years after my graduation and working in ministry, I was invited to speak and later to join on staff at a Italian Pentecostal Church in Brantford Ontario. Again, I was an unlikely candidate, with no background or similarities with European origins, however, this is where God would have us.
I watched the once predominantly European church transition into a multicultural one. The City of Brantford was heavily an Anglo-European community with a large Christian congregation from the reformed background. While things were changing, the church I now pastored had a reputation of being Italian in the community.
Lay Ev. Pardo DiStaulo (seated), Pst. Joseph DiStaulo (right)
The Lord moved powerfully saving, healing, delivering and baptizing in the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly a prophetic utterance came forth, which someone was led by the Lord to transcribe for the succeeding generations. The prophetic word spoke of the day when the Spirit would bring into the church other nationalities, people groups who did not speak Italian, and that the church would be like a tree with many branches. Each branch represents a different language group.
The first General Conference ( Council ) took place in 1944 and the churches organized under the name THE ITALIAN PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF CANADA. The Italian churches multiplied in Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver.
Fabre Street Sunday School - Montreal 1942
The history of the First Italian Pentecostals began in the North Avenue Church in Chicago where congregants were baptized in the Spirit. The pastor, William Durham, had returned from the Azusa street revival,where he received a powerful in filling of the Holy Spirit. The first Canadian Italians were baptized in the Spirit in 1912 and in 1918 the Toronto church began. Three years later believers from Toronto travelled to Montreal in search of Italian protestants. The first church in 1921 started in the home of the grandfather of our present General Superintendent, Rev. David DiStaulo.
In 2004, I witnessed the church go from Italian Pentecostal Church to Canadian Assemblies of God. Five years into the pastorate, I was the first visible minority elected to the executive team at a national level. What an honour, not only to be in this position, but to watch the transition of the movement in embracing multi-nationals. The season for a prophetic word given decades before was now clearly coming to fruition. In 2005 Tom Trask, serving as General Superintendent of the AOG USA, agreed with our desire to adopt a new name: The General Conference of the CANADIAN ASSEMBLIES OF GOD. Today our fellowship consists of churches from several nationalities including French, Haitian, Hispanics, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Portuguese, Burundi, and Messianic believer churches. There are powerful internet congregations in sensitive Middle Eastern countries as well as a thriving CAOG mission in Israel.
We are very grateful to witness all that the Lord has fulfilled thus far. May our Lord God continue to take us (all) to new heights as we believe for the soon coming of our Saviour and King!