God’s Care: Tim and Brenda Tjosvold

June 10, 2024 | 16 minute read
The Alliance Canada


Looking back over the years, our service to the Lord has been a fulfilling experience, reminding us once again of the wonderful care our Father gives to those who give themselves to Him. We recall the words of Carman’s song Fear Not My Child, “Fear not my child, I’m with you always. I feel every pain and every tear I see. Fear not, my child; I’m with you always. I know how to care for what belongs to me.” Our lives and ministry thus far have been a living out of the wonder described in the song. He has taken such good care of us, and we are thankful.

Tim: Beginnings

The time was Remembrance Day 1952, at almost midnight. The place was Outlook, Saskatchewan, in the small village hospital where only one nurse was on duty. A gentleman on a bed in the hallway was about to expire, and there was Esther Tjosvold in a room not far away, awaiting a baby. All was quiet until a good scream broke out. Little Timmy was noisily letting the world know he had arrived, as he would continue to do for a good many years to come.

I was born seventh of what would eventually be eleven children. Dad was expected to have died of congestive heart failure a few years before my birth. He was given two weeks to live but was healed through the anointing and prayer of a servant of God. Without that miracle, I wouldn’t have happened. My family moved so often I became used to it, which may have facilitated the over thirty different moves I would go through before retiring.

I had diarrhea for my first two years. Mother told the story of the day God healed me, something I will never forget. A radio preacher was speaking on healing, and he wanted to make it real, so he said, “Put one hand on the radio and the other hand on that sick one as I pray.” Sounds a bit hokey, but after the prayer, I was healed!

When I was around five years old, a missionary from Taiwan, Pearl Fustey, came to our home and served a Chinese meal to the family. The experience started me thinking about serving the Lord and going to China. Childhood exposure to international ministry continued as missionaries visited our home and church. In grade three, when the teacher asked what everybody was going to be, all the regular answers of a farmer to fireman came out. Little Timmy spouted off a very solid, “I’m gonna be a missionary.” 

During a Canadian Bible College Youth Conference at the age of fifteen, I sensed a call to be faithful but had moved away from thinking about missions. I was very involved in my church, Beulah Alliance in Edmonton, and was the Alliance Youth Fellowship (AYF) president in my grade twelve year. 

Over Christmas, I got a job as Christmas help at Canada Post. There I met Alfie, a true hippy who wore torn jeans before they came into fashion. Alfie believed in the teaching of Herbert W. Armstrong, founder and head of the group Worldwide Church of God. From him, I learned some untruths about theology. I would call my youth pastor, Roy Taylor, almost every night after work, around midnight, with complicated questions. Then, each following day, I would be popped into another corner by Alfie’s grip on his theology. On the last day we worked together, I got blown away when Alfie told me, “I know this stuff and believe it, but I’m not going to live it, so I’m going to hell. But you say you believe it and want to live it. You really should know the Bible better.” The Lord twisted my arm in this conversation, and it pushed me to the decision to attend Canadian Bible College (CBC) after high school graduation. 

At CBC, I grew in the Lord, but after a couple of years realized I was more into having fun in singing groups than growing in the Lord. In my freshman year, I was in every music group except the Ladies Trio. I took a year out, intending to return after just one year unless I got into a full-time musical ministry. Before the year was over, I was asked to serve with Sound Alliance, a group of singers from different Alliance colleges. I grew in ministry and was ready, after a year of construction and a year of singing ministry, to return and get serious about my studies and serving the Lord. As I studied and served, it became clear the Lord wanted me to move toward international service. 

Brenda: Beginnings 

I grew up in a railroad family. I was born in the Canadian National Railway (CN) town of Biggar, Saskatchewan and was raised in Edmonton. Because of my father’s connection to CN, I got to travel every summer to eastern Canada. I remember going, with my family on the train, to Montreal for Expo 67. I got used to travelling a lot and loved it. Was the Lord preparing me a bit for a life of travel?

My friend, Linda, took me to Beulah Alliance Church, where I got involved with the youth group (AYF). At the time, if you were involved in the Beulah AYF, chances were pretty good you would end up doing summer camps at Nakamun Bible Camp. It was at Nakamun where I got to hear Jess Jespersen, who, at the time, was serving in Côte d’Ivoire (CI). Through his preaching, I gave myself to Christ. Interestingly, a few years later, I would arrive in CI, two years after Jesse and Ann Jespersen left the field for ministries in Quebec. Was the Lord preparing the way for His servant, Jesse, to bring his eventual replacement into the family? 

At a CBC youth conference, I felt a call to follow Jesus more seriously. I came to understand I was to follow Him, not the kids in the youth group. As I grew in my walk with the Lord, I completed my studies as an X-ray technician and began working at the St. Albert Hospital, close to Edmonton. During this time, I attended an early Edmonton MissionsFest. It was 1976, and there I sensed the Lord calling me to international service. My response was, “Lord, I will go, but you have to give me a man to go with.” I wanted to obey, but I was a bit hesitant, and I thought having a man to go with might be a safer bet. 

Coming Together 

My (Tim) first full-time ministry was as a youth pastor for Delta Tabernacle in Hamilton, Ontario. While serving there, I returned to Alberta for the Alliance Council in Calgary in 1977. I spent a few days in Edmonton before and after Council, and so got to spend some time together with my friend of eight years, Brenda MacKay. Brenda was also heading to Council in Calgary and had planned to stay with a cousin there. I convinced her to stay with my cousin instead so we could have more time with each other and go back and forth to the meetings together. After Council, we each headed our own way for a bit of vacation time. We met each other in Edmonton before my return to Hamilton and had a lovely evening at a concert, followed by a sweet goodbye. 

Brenda was a tad blown away when I called the day after getting back to Hamilton. I asked her, “Hey! Should we get married?” Then there was some SERIOUS LAUGHING FROM BRENDA! What was happening on this May evening when the crazy Tjosy came up with the idea? Brenda was surprised but, after some good laughing, she promised to think and pray about it. Well, my idea changed a lot and was the beginning of a bunch of great stuff. Through a change of senior pastor, I felt I should move on after a bit more than a year in Hamilton. We were brought back together in Edmonton, where we would be married and begin our life together.

While we worked in lay jobs, we were very involved with the Beulah youth group and ended up being called to be the youth pastor. We could only serve one year because we were heading to seminary to prepare for overseas ministry. At Beulah, we were blessed to work with many wonderful teens and families, and we are still in contact with many of them. Another blessing from our year at Beulah was the birth of our first child. 

Our year of ministry in Edmonton was followed by two years in Regina, where I did one year of seminary study and worked full time as Brenda took two years of full-time Bible college study and had our second child. The Lord provided in wonderful ways for all our needs. 

Beginnings of Overseas Experience 

Because we were headed off to serve in CI, a West African country where the official language is French, we took one year in France for language study. The year was a fantastic time of learning the language and getting some cross-cultural training. It also did not hurt us to study in Albertville, nestled in the beautiful French Alps. We began to see when we gave ourselves to the Lord for His service, He would always take care of us. This was one of those experiences of being incredibly spoiled by the Father who had called us into His service. We began to learn, more than ever, He knows how to care for what belongs to Him. 

First Term in Côte d’Ivoire 1982-1985 

Our first two years in CI were primarily taken up by studying the Baoule language. As we grew in our language capacity, we got involved in lay leadership training ministries in villages located in the country’s central area, where the Alliance mission office was situated. We were also privileged to have a baby girl added to the family during our first year in Africa. 

Another lesson on the Father’s perfect care came when Brenda’s parents visited us in CI. They were held at the airport because of a visa problem, and we had to stay in the capital city, Abidjan, for an extra day. It just so happened our little girl was not well while we were waiting. Because we were in the capital, with excellent medical facilities, we could take her to a clinic where she received excellent care. 

She would not have been able to get the same care in Dimbokro, our little town, three hours away. The Lord was showing us, He who had called us was faithful, and He would do the work through us, taking care of us along the way. 

Second Term in Côte d’Ivoire 1986-1990

This was a term of living in three villages and doing leadership training – Soubre, Tiebissou and Sakassou. Then followed time in the city of Bouake, administering a Bible translation project that had slowed down. We got it going and got the church involved, so the project got completed more quickly. 

One of the challenges we faced at the end of our second term was a call to be Missionary-in-Residence at Canadian Theological Seminary (CTS). I was not an academic, and a man I respected greatly, Arnold Cook, wrote asking us to take the position and stay for three years! I wrote back, “Dear Dr. Cook. You lived in Colombia too long with all kinds of drugs around. You must still be under the influence to ask me to do something like this!” In his strategic but sneaky response he called me on the phone, in CI. “Will you stay open?” What could I say to that? I was not going to close my heart to the Lord or to the authorities He had set over me. We accepted. 

Many on our field did not think it was the right thing to do. CI had lost four worker couples in the years just prior. They all went to leadership positions in North America. Most said they would be back, but none returned. One precious sister told us, “You’re leaving a ministry that only you can do, to do something anybody over there could do!” Nobody thought we would return, which made the move much harder. 

We held to our decision and saw the Lord minister in wonderful ways. Before school started, we attended The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s (C&MA) biennial Assembly in Quebec. The Lord knew I needed help in heading to CTS, and He blessed me through one of the youths I had served at Beulah when I was there. Don and Dolores Tjart sang in one of the services; the song has become a foundation for me, and it got me through those challenging three years. They sang Steven Curtis Chapman’s “His Strength is Perfect.” I sat in the meeting with tears pouring down my cheeks. The Lord was telling me He would be all I would need as I headed into a challenging ministry, teaching at the school where He was training His servants. It was a great three years. Jesus came, helped, and worked through us to bless and train many beautiful people. 

Another challenge piled on top of the CTS challenge was, during our third year, I started experiencing what looked like multiple sclerosis (MS). I was hit by weakness in the legs and pain that was very difficult to control. Doctors told me heading back to Africa would be very unwise as MS exacerbations were very much more likely to occur in high heat and during hard work. After a Christmas banquet in 1992, Jesus let me know we would be heading back. During the meal, we sat at a table with a lovely couple from the church. She told us how her mother had come down with MS, and in three years, she was gone. Because of my pain, I had been unwittingly overdosing on Ibuprofen and damaging my stomach, so I was not feeling very well throughout the night. 

After the banquet, we returned to Brenda’s parents’ home, where we were staying. I put the family to bed and stayed up to cry and to pray. As I knelt, I cried, and I asked the Lord what was going to happen. Would I live or what? He blessed me with something I had never before experienced. I saw an image of a whole bunch of African people walking toward a massive light. There in the middle of them all was one white man, and it was ME! Well, I cried some more for sure, but I never again had any questions. It was obvious Jesus was sending us, and He would be there with us, using us to bring people to Himself and to the Light. 

Some questions were asked by others about whether or not we should be sent out by the Alliance. After our wonderful boss, Wally Albrecht, heard what Jesus had told me, he backed us 100%. Wally had lost his own father to the effects of MS, but he was ready to trust the Lord to take me and care for me through whatever would come about. Thanks, Wally! 

Third Term in Côte d’Ivoire 1993-1997 

We surprised the CI team and returned, as we had promised, after three years. Even though I was still no academic, it seemed right to them for me to teach at our Bible school, the Yamoussoukro Bible Institute, for the next term. This term was another great time of seeing the Lord’s excellent care. 

There were questions about my health because Yamoussoukro is the second hottest city in the country. And as for workload, I served as the program director and as a professor, so I rarely got six hours of sleep on any given night. But the Lord took care of me and made me strong through it all. 

Five years into the supposed MS adventure, I was able to have an MRI, which revealed I did not have MS. I have some weakness and pain, but it is assumed to be the result of an inflammation of the spinal cord. Unlike MS, it was a one-time thing that did its damage and left. If it had been MS, it could have remained, creating ongoing and damaging exacerbations throughout my life. Hallelujah! It was not MS, and though I am a bit gibbled, I am vertical pretty much whenever I want to be, and I am grateful! 

It was an excellent term for Brenda. She was able to handle the accounting at the school and have a great ministry among student wives. She enjoyed teaching the women and got to be a big help using one of her favourite books, Where There is No Doctor. Brenda helped the women take care of their families and brought them to the hospital for complex cases. For two ladies, she assisted them to give birth in their homes when things moved too quickly for them to be taken to the hospital. 

Fourth Term in Benin 1999-2004 

Our fourth term was a move to another country where we hoped to take the Ivorian church into international mission. They never did accompany us; due to a coup d’état in CI that year, the National Church did not feel able to send anyone with us considering the crisis. However, in light of its size and health, we showed them they did not need us, and we could go toward people who had less access to learning about Jesus. Our move created some tension among our workers in CI, but we went following the vision of our Canadian leadership. We ended up doing research to see where we would find unreached peoples we could work among in the country. Our study showed us the Church in Benin was strong enough and could reach Benin’s remaining unreached on its own. Therefore, we spent the rest of our time in mobilization. We worked with all the three hundred and seventy-three evangelical denominations and tried to prepare them to reach out to the unreached of their own country. 

The beginning of our term in Benin was a tough one for me (Brenda), with many adjustments. There were multiple reasons for this. First of all, my parents were both gone. We missed them, but it also left us without a base in Canada. I was feeling like an orphan. 

Additionally, we left our two eldest children in Canada to go to university. The move to the country of Benin meant our remaining two high school kids would attend high school in Côte d’Ivoire. But the most significant adjustment was being a mom for a baby again. 

While on home assignment, Tim’s youngest brother and his wife had a baby boy they were not able to keep. Through different ways (dreams and messages we heard), each of us felt God was asking us to care for this child. We were able to gain custody and took him with us to Benin. Our youngest of the first four was already twelve, so this was like starting all over again. After arriving in Benin, Tim was very busy trying to figure out what the Lord wanted us to be doing. It became evident to me that I would not be getting a lot accomplished with our little one-year-old taking up a lot of my time. 

Once, when Tim was out of town, I cried out to God and asked, “Why am I even here? I’m not accomplishing anything.” To make things even worse, I had experienced my most fulfilling ministry in our last term in CI. Now I felt like I was doing nothing. I even wrote a letter to my then boss, Ron Brown, telling him how I felt and suggesting maybe I should go off allowance or be sent home. He very graciously and lovingly assured me our son was my main priority for such a time. 

A couple of years later, we had a terrifying experience. The rebels in Côte d’Ivoire decided to fight against the government; with two of our kids at MK school in CI, it was very frightening for us to be so far away. Eventually, the school sent them home, but it turned out to be a false alarm, and life settled down. They were able to go back to finish the year. It was the following year when, once again, the rebels got things heated up, and an actual war broke out. 

Our third child had since graduated, leaving only one son in CI. It was a terrifying time as rebels and soldiers camped on opposite sides of the school with the kids still there. Eventually, they were rescued by the French military, and our son was taken to the capital city from which he flew home to us, who were anxiously waiting. 

God had given me a verse when I was expecting our first child, Isaiah 40:11, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Over the many years since God gave me this verse, He has fulfilled His promise. He led us when we had young children, and He gathered His lambs and carried them close to His heart, protecting them in a scary situation. 

In the last three years of our time in Benin, the Lord especially blessed me through some productive ministry opportunities. The research Tim had been involved in required the publishing of a couple of books. I got to do the layout and editing for those. We also undertook the administration of the French translation of a theological training program, the OMEGA Program. In the end, there was some questioning and pain, but He took care of me just like He had always done. 

Final Terms in Niger 2005-2016 

After five years in Benin, a time of helping the church prepare to reach out to the least reached, the Lord called us to work among some truly unreached peoples. He moved us north to the country of Niger to work among the Fulani and the Tuareg. As we ministered through the first year, building relationships and seeking the Lord’s direction for our ministry, we came to a new realization. First of all, we saw the Muslims were not responding very much to the preaching of the Gospel and the ministry of international workers. Secondly, we realized that Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Our new idea was, rather than carrying on with traditional evangelistic work, we should simply show love. We concluded that the Lord wanted us to prioritize obedience to the Great Commandment in our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. 

Our arrival was in the midst of a year of tremendous need for Niger. There had been a drought and a locust infestation, so people were hurting badly. We sought out ways to bless them and ended up partnering with Samaritan’s Purse to make an impact with the love of Jesus. 

One of the biggest joys in Niger was the privilege of being field leader. We were given the blessing of receiving a great bunch of fantastic people, sent by the Lord, to be part of the team. It was an incredible experience to see the Lord bring diverse personalities, with unique giftings, together to build a ministry that added a lot of good things to the Nigeriens’ experiences in our lives. We did all we could to help the team learn and fit in effectively while ministering to those needy people. Our Friday morning team meetings were a highlight for us. They were a chance to be together, hear how things were going, and support each other in the Lord. 

It was an especially neat time when the Lord brought a ministry from Guinea to join our team. Dan and Melody Ibsen’s WAVE internship ministry included the Ibsens, Jose and Jocelyn Reverente and four interns, who joined us for ministry in Niger. They were forced to leave Guinea because of the Ebola outbreak. Rather than sending those students home, they accepted our invitation to Niger, continuing the African learning experience in another country and blessing our team.


Looking back, we see the Lord used us to follow the vision of our Alliance Family. We went out to bring access to the Gospel to the unreached. While we were serving in CI, we could have stayed in our comfortable setting ministering to the Ivorians, but the Lord, through the Alliance, moved us to CTS and leadership training. We realize training the next generation is of utmost importance, and it was a privilege to interrupt our other ministry to help out in the endeavour for a while. 

Then, we moved from a well-reached group in CI, to reach out to less-reached peoples as we moved to Benin. It was a move to the uncomfortable for the living out of the Alliance Family values. In this case, the need of the unreached called us. Many of our colleagues in CI were not excited about our moving, but they blessed us as we went. We got there and realized that the need was more one of training the church to reach out to the least reached, so we gave ourselves to the training of God’s people for mission to them. 

Finally, we moved to a land of truly unreached peoples. In Niger, we reached out to them, but our ministry took a bit of a turn as we gave ourselves to a new emphasis. Rather than continuing to minister in traditional evangelistic strategies, we felt called to love the people in the name of Jesus. We came to believe that we had to live out the Great Commandment in a way that would truly enable us to obey the Great Commission. We needed to love people through development, helping them in their difficult life situations to provide for their families. We became a non-governmental organization (NGO) rather than a denomination, religious organization, dedicating ourselves to help people through development teaching training, which always found its roots in Bible teaching. We believe our demonstration of love will eventually bear fruit in bringing them to the One who is behind the love that we showed. Our team has now moved to the status of a religious organization. Still, it continues to work in development as we tie in with other national church groups, helping them minister to the unreached peoples of Niger. 

As we left Niger and headed home toward retirement, two very encouraging comments helped us. We were saddened by what seemed to be a lack of significant evangelistic results in Niger and wondered what the Lord had really done through us. It was beautiful to hear from one former leader in a Fulani community, “Monsieur Tim taught us to work.” Monsieur Garso, the head “cowboy” of the community, hit one of those very special spots for anybody working in development. It was not a decision for salvation, but it was an expression of impact we had prayed for the Lord to use in drawing this wonderful man to Himself. We had the privilege of helping them learn to work to bring themselves further along in developing independent accomplishments. 

The other expression to encourage us as we were settling back into retired life in Canada came from Midou, the community chief’s brother. Our colleague, Kristi Hopf, was talking with him when my name came up. Midou said he would never forget Monsieur Tim, “He loved people.” I believe such a reputation is a significant goal for anybody who longs to bring access to Jesus for people who do not know Him. We see the Lord used our love to sow His Word among the Fulani and Tuareg people of Niger. Our prayer is for the harvest to come soon and be an abundant harvest for the glory of Jesus. 

In all the years and all the settings, we came back to one wonderful reality. Our perfect Father truly does know how to take care of what belongs to Him. We went through some hard times. From time to time, we had questions and wondered if things were really okay. There was some pain, but through it all, our loving Father showed Himself to be perfect in providing the care that we needed. We are grateful. 

This is an excerpt from the book, On Mission Volume 2. Download your free copy today.



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