by my dad, Les Grove - June, 1999
Leslie Grove's life story
Carolyn and I plan to be at the Seniors Quest in July. As I was filling out the registration form I noticed that I should send you a brief record of my last 50 years:
After graduation from Prairie High School in 1949, I studied at Prairie for another four years to complete the Bible School course. My studies at Prairie took me toward the goal the Lord had given me when I was fourteen years of age- to be an overseas missionary. While still at Prairie I got acquainted with the Japan Evangelical Mission, especially through the enthusiastic representation of JEM by Don Bruck.
Having graduated from the Bible School course in April, 1953, I returned to my home area, a farming district northwest of Edmonton, to help in the little local church there for eight months. In the winter of 1994 I worked for a while at Prairie bush camp in the foothills of the Rockies, taking out logs to be made into lumber for the ongoing construction projects at Prairie. For the rest of the winter and spring I worked at a hospital in Red Deer.
The Board of the Japan Evangelical Mission thought I should get more experience in ministry and preaching before going to Japan, so in July of 1954 I went to Deadwood, 50 miles north of Grimshaw, in northern Alberta, to work under the banner of the Canadian Sunday School Mission.
As the result of nearly three years of ministry there, strongly supported by the effective prayers of Godly people, a church was started, the Deadwood Gospel Fellowship. To make ends meet I worked at various jobs- taking advantage of the good wages at harvest time, the convenience of working part time in the little village grocery store right next to my little house, and the fun of driving a school bus. I enjoyed going to visit farm homes, helping the men with the chores or field work, then sitting down to the table loaded with delicious food like I could never cook myself. Many young people came to saving faith in Jesus as Lord that resulted in lifelong transformation to the glory of God. About a dozen of these later studied in Bible Schools.
On October 4th, 1957, I arrived in Japan to begin language study in preparation for church development ministry. Though learning a difficult language like Japanese could become tedious, there were different ways to add variety and interest to the work so that the goals were accomplished. The most effective of all was to read the New Testament out loud in that language. To this day I still benefit from this practice, reading the text in Japanese or Portuguese while listening to tapes of the New Testament with my Walkman player.
In 1958 I met Carolyn Ahlstrand at the Deeper Life conference up in the mountains of Central Japan. She was in Japan with a commitment to teach music at the Christian Academy of Japan, in Tokyo, for two years.
Carolyn and I worked in west Japan for three five-years terms. Besides home responsibilities with our three children, Carolyn usually found music teaching opportunities, in the Bible school or with children of missionaries. And she helped me in the ministries with churches too. Because Carolyn has the credential for general education as well as for teaching music she was able to fill in when teachers were incapacitated, one time for a 6 month period.
We lived in five different cities in Japan, and worked with five different churches, starting one church from zero, and helped the others with construction projects and through the process to full Japanese leadership under a Japanese pastor. I have always enjoyed construction. It was rewarding to be able to design and build, with help from others as needed, four churches, four houses, and one school building.
After JEM decided to begin missionary church planting work in Brazil, and there was a need for personnel to work there, we volunteered to go when God pointed us in that direction through a number of different signs. Our work in Brazil was only with Japanese initially, but through the Japanese pastors we were introduced to the leaders of the Christian Evangelical Church of Brazil, with whom we became more and more involved through the years.
On January 1, 1983, the Japan Evangelical Mission merged into The Evangelical Alliance Mission so we became TEAM members.
Carolyn and I retired from regular missionary work in October of 1995, settling in Abbotsford, B.C. We became involved in many ways in our local church and in the local community. In 1997 we returned to Brazil for 6 months of ministry, to Japan in 1998 for a similar period, and are planning to go back to Brazil in October of this year for another half year of service to the Lord and to His work there.