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Need a Spiritual Retreat?  Here's How - Article


Les Galicinski, B. Sc., M. Div., D. Min.

My family emigrated from a displaced person's camp in Germany in 1950 when I was two years old.  My parents were Polish Catholics who settled in Kingston, Ontario and brought me up in their faith.  As a boy I recall being transfixed by the fact that God himself would become a human being only to suffer and die for the sins of the world.  However, as I entered my teenage years, faith became less and less a part of my parents life and I also began to distance myself from Christ, embracing rather the ways of the world around me.  Scholastics and the Military (Princess of Wales Own Regiment, Militia) became my life and I graduated from grade 13 with an Ontario Scholarship and credits in French, Latin, Math and Science. I had also served as an Instructor of Army Cadets at summer camps in Ipperwash, ON.  I enrolled at Queen's University in Electrical Engineering on a full scholarship and I succeeded in graduating at the top of my class four years later.   I was also awarded an Athlone Fellowship to study in England.   However, during these years, I had become involved in the university scene of drinking and drugs and had begun to sow the seeds of a depraved lifestyle.  I decided to forgo the opportunity to study in England and took instead a high paying job with IBM Manufacturing in Toronto, embarking on a life as a free-swinging bachelor.    Over the next few years, my professional life flourished, while my personal life deteriorated.  Looking for answers, I eventually joined a New Age group and bought into much deception.  God began to press in on me in many ways.  One night while driving home from Kitchener after a weekend seminar with a close friend John, I fell asleep while driving and the car went off the road at 110 kph and rolled over many times.  By God's grace, I walked away unscratched, but my friend John was thrown from the car and died the next day of severe head injuries.     That day, overwhelmed by grief, remorse and responsibility, I fell on my knees before God, acknowledged my sin and gave my life to the God that I had know as a child.    I turned from my life of sin and was overwhelmed with a new attitude of gratefulness and humility.   He began to rebuild my life.  One of my best friends during this time was the woman who was soon to become my wife.  Judi and I married in 1976 and moved to Barrie, where I took a job as Quality Control Manager at Canadian General Electric.    My son Jason was born in 1977 and my daughter Jennifer in 1980.   It was at a worship service in Ottawa that I committed my life to Jesus Christ, fully embracing him and Savior and Lord.  We began to attend Collier Street United Church.  We also decided to send our children to Timothy Christian School in Barrie, which also became part of our life in those years

During my work at GE
I began to develop a keen interest in the relationship between management practices and Quality.  I had the opportunity to lead a department of thirty people made up of engineers, technologists, inspectors and auditors in the quest to continually improve the quality of our products and the quality of work life.  I became fascinated by what the Japanese were doing under the leadership of Dr. W. Edwards Deming to make gigantic leaps in the quality of their products.  Borrowing from their approach and Deming's Fourteen Points for Management, I began to explore the Quality Circle phenomenon and was involved in the first Quality Circle pilot project in GE's plant in Louisville.  This led to many professional lectures at American Society for Quality conferences and eventually led me to launch my own consulting service Qualitran Professional Services, Inc. in 1980.    It was under the banner of "Qualitran" that I began what was to be a 25 year career as an evangelist for quality.   My consultancy led me to countries all over the world, speaking to senior managers and engineers, awakening them to their responsibility to set the course of the organization by using management principles that would transform their organizations.    "Transformation Through Quality" became the company's trademark.  During that time, I wrote and published training curriculum, software and videos on a variety of topics but focusing on the use of Statistical Methods to control and improve the quality of all work activity.    Many of these are still in use to day and available on the market. 

During this time, I was also growing greatly in my Christian walk.  My wife and I had taken The Bethel Series, a two year intense Bible Study and I had become a certified instructor.  We were involved in developing the Collier School of Lay Ministry which saw 150 students come through it's doors each week for a variety of Bible Studies and courses.  My wife served a Sunday School Superintendent, our children were fully involved and I became an Elder.  I also served as Spiritual Emphasis for our redevelopment campaign, which raised 1.5 Million in the early eighties to completely redevelop our Christian Education facilities.  The church was well respected in the community and doing well.

As a result of a decicion by the United Church to proceed with the ordination of practicing homosexuals,  a group of about 80 members of the congregation decided to withdraw from the United Church and founded Bethel Community.  I served on the board of this church for 10 years, and as chairman for several of them.  During this time, I continued to teach and preach occasionally.    In 1996, we felt God calling us to entrust the ministry at Bethel to others and we began worshipping at Willow Creek Baptist church in Midhurst. 

In our years at Willow Creek, I served as a Worship Leader, Adult Sunday School teacher and as a Deacon.   It was while there on a missions trip to Brazil that my son heard a call from God to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL.    Taking my son to college was an emotional experience for me.  We had spent much time together, sailing, skiing, building computers and he was so much a part of my life.    It was while dropping him off at Moody in 1996, that I felt God nudging me on my shoulder and saying "This is great for your son, now what about YOU!"  Slowly, I was feeling drawn towards a change on career.  I had been very successful in engineering, yet God was the most important person in my life and it seemed that the two worlds of church life and professional life were disconnected.    As God wrestled with me, I decided to enroll in the M. Div. Program at Tyndale.  I  continued to do engineering work, but my heart was no longer fully engaged there.   I threw myself into my seminary studies with great relish and passion.   Slowly God was moving me in a new direction.  It was in my final class while reading Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers From Prison that I received God's unmistakable call to serve Him full time as a pastor. 

During that time, we continued to visit my son who was living in Chicago, and we became aware of James MacDonald's church Harvest Bible Chapel.   My son eventually came on staff there and we were always inspired by the tremendous growth that they were experiencing.  God had also given them a vision to plant ten churches in ten years and so through a set of circumstances that could only be the work of God, we were led to head up a new Harvest Bible Chapel church plant in Barrie.   The years 2001-2003 were extremely busy years for us.  Not only was I working hard to finish seminary, but we were working 20-30 hours a week at the church and I was still consulting.   A year after I had earned my M. Div., the church had grown to the point where I was able to come on staff as the fourth full time pastor. 

In my role of Pastor of Spiritual Formation, I took on a rather large portfolio.   I was responsible for all assimilation, membership classes, new believer classes, baptism orientation, discipleship classes, adult bible studies, adult small groups, men's and woman's ministries and leadership training.  As the church was growing quickly, administration became critical.  My wife Judi worked hard alongside me and was perfectly suited as a Pastor's wife. 

One aspect of my work at Harvest was the launching of Veritas Bible Institute.   The vision behind this was to provide Bible College/Seminary quality courses and theological training to people at a very low cost.   This also allowed my to use my gift of course development and teaching to pour into the next generation of Christian leaders and teachers.   I was able to personally develop and delver a complete Systematic Theology Program, Old Testament Theology and History course and several specialty courses. Especially gratifying was watching young people called into full time ministry through these studies. I was also able to spend some time in India teaching at the ACTS Institute, a Bible College and seminary that trains leaders for the Christian Church in India.  It was during this work that I began to experience again a thirst for deeper theological study for myself.    I had consistently come up against "deficits of understanding" among Christians, especially pastors and leaders, that needed to be addressed.    In order for me to do so, I myself needed to have a more profound understanding of biblical and historical theology.   This led me into the decision in 2007, to pursue Th.M studies at Tyndale and enter into the community of academics and research.   In the summer of 2008, I applied to and was accepted into the Doctor of Ministry program where I am currently a part of the first cohort scheuled to graduate in 2012.

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