Not sure what happened this Christmas Season but it caught us by surprise, spun us around and left us without any time to send Christmas cards or write a family letter. We thought we might just skip the tradition this year until we were kindly asked for one. Now that we have written it, we are glad we did. It has been an amazing year for both of us. Just writing this letter has made us very thankful.
In reviewing this past year I’m awed by the many small and major new things that have transpired in my life. I guess that’s why it’s a good thing we do these things. Otherwise, we miss out on a renewed appreciation of how God brings growth, guidance and goodness into our lives.
St. Aidan’s Christian School
Let’s begin with my art. I believe I’m in my eighth-year teaching art at St. Aidan’s Christian School. I just love introducing spiritual truths and principles teaching prophetic kind of art to the students. This Christmas I became aware of the high number of times angels were referenced in the Christmas story and so we talked about and drew angel scenes.
One of these significant first-time events of 2018 happened on June 18th. After about two years of following me around with his camera Andrew Wall of Refuge31 Films scheduled a premier showing of a documentary entitled, Suspended and the Art of Forgiveness - film of me doing my art thing, teaching, making and showing my art. To see a description, awards and trailer go to www.refuge31.com. You can view the documentary by going to your “on demand” TV channel, then go to “search” and type in “Suspended”. I am so honored and blown away with how God arranged for all this to happen. It has even won five awards.
Pop Up Gallery
Another significant event that happened this summer was what we called a “Pop Up Gallery” of my art in the city of Winnipeg! We got a call from Algonquin College in Ottawa and their “Victimology Program” asking if they could create a short film of our story that could continue to be used as a learning tool for their students and survivors of crime. How could we say no? So, we found ourselves running around the city to find locations for 17 or so pieces of my art. On July 29 two wonderful young photographers arrived from Ottawa and we spent the day driving around the city with a moving truck taking pictures of my art all over the city. We finished with interviews at the scenic St. Norbert monastery. The Lord gave us wonderful weather; it was an amazing experience. We are looking forward in anticipation as to how God is going to use this film.
So much has happened. The year began in a panic. The trial was over and I wanted to pack it up and put it away forever - but it’s not that easy.
First of all, I had to write a book. It was my way of processing what had happened, organizing it and packing it into a memory box so I could forget it.
It was also my way of doing justice. It’s an answer to the question of some we met. “If you truly believe he is guilty, how can you live with knowing that he is free to victimize other vulnerable women?”
With a book, I was able to explain my reasons for believing he is guilty. With a book, I was able to give power to the truth, which creates a prison of sorts. With a book, I was able to address some of the flaws in our justice system, hopefully to make it better, because unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that our justice system is not equipped, prepared or motivated to deal with what would be considered a frivolous argument, something introduced by the defense that sabotages the entire process and proves to be unproveable in the end. I hear that they are now setting up mechanisms to charge defense lawyers who practice this. From what I hear, the book is causing some to think – to re-evaluate. I’m also hearing that some defense lawyers are being haunted by the trial – and the outcome. I hope the book will encourage change. For me writing the book was successful, - I can lay it to rest. The book Project Angel was launched end of June.
This year, I also found my passion. I started teaching a “Life Writing” course. I have never enjoyed anything more than seeing people begin to write their life story – and finish it. In total I have done four sessions, and loved every minute. My biggest celebration was when my first student completed her 130-page book in one year - as promised in the course - and then allowed Amity Publishers to edit, design and print it. It became the perfect Christmas gift for her family and herself. It really is an amazing accomplishment for someone who had no intention of writing a book.
But now all my writing is on hold until I finish my next book, Lifers – an amazing escape. It’s a story of the redemption of “once the most wanted man in Canada” and the justice-making of a “mother of a murdered daughter.” Both resorted to extreme measures to get the freedom that they needed. It’s the strangest story I’ve ever told.
Cliff & Wilma’s Family Desk
On Nov. 26, Candace House celebrated its grand opening. The house was named after our daughter Candace, who was murdered in 1984. This Winnipeg-based charity provides support for victims and survivors of violent crime and is "a homelike day refuge for families during the court process."
We are thrilled that victims of violent crime and their families dealing with the justice system now have a place they can call home, if only for a short time.
It truly was an amazing start with excellent media coverage. Check it out at:
How about this one for a first ever kind of history-making event.
Both our son-in-law, Larry Reimer, and our son, Syras Derksen announced to us that they wanted to become pastors mid-summer.
Larry Reimer was hired lead pastor of the Cornerstone Vineyard Church in Winkler, MB. He is, along with our daughter, Odia, being ordained, Feb. 3, 2019. http://cornerstonevineyard.com/
Syras Dersken has decided to found a new church, Maplecrest Church which meets at the South Holiday Inn on Pembina Hwy, Wpg. MB. He and Natasha are pastoring a newly formed congregations of about 55 strong supporters. www.maplecrestchurch.ca
We are pastoring alongside of them.
By the way – our three grandchildren are amazing and we have pictures galore to prove it. :)
A lot of our energy and planning has also gone into renovating our car garage into an art studio. It’s been a few years now since Cliff has had a ceramic studio so he is very anxious to get that finished. We’ve just got the permit and should be done in a month or so – or so we hope. ;)
It’s been quite momentous year so say the least. We are in awe of what God has been doing. The opportunities to share and give testimony to how God has led us through grief, trauma and forgiveness over these many years continues.
We ask for your prayers for wisdom and prophetic insight to speak to the hearts of those who are in pain and struggling to find forgiveness and true freedom in Christ.
Thank you for your prayers and support
Happy New Years to you all
Cliff and Wilma Derksen