I am thankful for my home life growing up. I belonged to great parents who feared the Lord and desired to live for Him. Although I was exposed to church from birth and grew up in Sunday school, youth groups and was even an “altar boy” in the Anglican Church, I never truly knew Jesus Christ. As I look back I marvel at how strongly I would have believed that God was real, yet it did not turn to genuine faith. Instead I lived a life in the pursuit of self. I wanted life to be about me and I thought life should be about me. This carried on through my teenage years and into my early twenties.
It was when I was graduating from my undergrad in University (Wilfrid Laurier) where I joked that I majored in “football”. I was leaving school and I did not have a real plan for the rest of my life. In fact, as a graduate I stopped and considered what was to follow and I came up with, “now it’s time to make money and die.” This greatly troubled me because I saw all my friends and what we were being taught to do—to dream, to have great ambition—but it all seemed to be empty and have no meaning. This ended up taking a lot of my mind-time and really grabbed my attention. I started asking questions I never asked before and I started looking “up” in a way I never had before.
Over the next few months a growing restlessness troubled my soul. I was burdened and desperate for answers . . . this is when God stepped in, big time! It was March 9, 1997 when I found myself alone at home, hating myself and despising my behaviour. I could not figure out why I was so miserable and with great expressions of grief, I popped in a CD my brother had given me. But, you see, this was a Christian CD which previously I would have scoffed at, but I pressed random and song #10 came on. Here’s what I heard:
I keep trying to find a life on my own apart from You. I’m the king of excuses, I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behaviour This is only serves to confirm I’m still a man in need of a Saviour! (In the Light, by DC Talk)
It is difficult for me to express what took place at that moment. Heaven came down, light pierced through darkness, sight replaced blindness. In an instant, all the Biblical teaching I had ever received suddenly made sense. My eyes were opened, my life was found, my Saviour Jesus Christ has saved me, completely and fully! I remember crying loudly, yelling and expressing my utter joy in my sins being forgiven, that my life immediately had purpose, that my God had shown me His glory! From that day on, I would never be the same again, never! God gave me a passion that day of immense love for Him, I pray that fire never grows dim.
There’s so much more I could say, but I call this my “road to Damascus” experience. Immediately my whole life changed. I quit my job and began to serve the Lord in various settings, including Christian Leadership camps, and even Africa for five months. I passionately wanted to love the Lord but I had no interest in full-time ministry. In fact, I was afraid of full-time ministry, so I tried to run in the other direction. But as God tends to do (100% of the time), He wins these battles. It would be a few years later in trying to run away from ministry that God called me to it. I finally surrendered and began the journey of following His call to vocational ministry. In 1998 I met my wife Gill, who also had no desire to be in ministry, but praise the Lord after a week of sincerely seeking God, she agreed to journey with me in following the Lord Jesus and His call upon our lives.
Gill and I have been astounded with what God has shown us and allowed us to be a part of. I started as an intern youth pastors assistant (it doesn’t get any more basic than that). Next I received a part-time youth director position while being full-time in seminary, when I had confirmed in my life the massive passion to preach God’s Word. From there I became an associate pastor and then finally onto my current position with Harvest Bible Chapel Oakville, which is an incredible story of its own.
Again, we have been so humbled and we marvel at God’s grace over the past several years. We have four children, Aidan, Cale, Sadie, and Bliss which are a huge blessing to us.
To be the Senior Pastor at Harvest Oakville is an immense privilege that I do not take lightly. I often say with sincerity, “are you sure you got the right guy, Lord?” What a joy it has been. As the Lord promised me from the beginning, there would be cost, but there would also be great blessing! To that I say, “Amen!”.
Hope for Harvest
My hope for Harvest, in two words, is LIFE CHANGE! The mission God placed within me early on with Him was to help people realize their full potential in Jesus Christ. Too many settle and are satisfied with drinking drops, when the Lord wants to turn on the fire hydrant. My call is to help people raise the bar to a powerful, Christ-exalting life, which will bring God huge glory! My hope for our Church is really that simple, more and more lives changed for the glory of God! Don’t stop Lord! Here is my life verse: (at least one of them)
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-2
Robbie Symons is the founding Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Oakville. His greatest passion is to see Jesus Christ glorified as people realize their potential only through His amazing power.
With a Spirit-led resolve to proclaim the Word of God without apology, to passionately worship His only Son, and to believe firmly in the power of prayer, Jesus is building His Church. Harvest Oakville has experienced the power and grace of the Lord in its growth from a Bible study of 18 people in 2003 to over 4000 people today.
God burdened Robbie and the church elders early on with the conviction to plant churches. Through much prayer they have seen the birth of vibrant churches across Canada in Brampton (2009), Niagara (2011), Toronto West (2013), Brantford (2014), Kelowna (2014) and Ottawa (2017).
In 2014 Live in the Light, a radio ministry of Harvest Oakville, began airing Pastor Robbie’s messages in a 30-minute weekday program that plays in the greater Toronto area, Atlantic Canada, and greater Buffalo areas on weekdays on JOY1250, WDCX, and Harvester Radio. Live in the Light exists to see radical transformation in God’s people through the revelation of God’s truth.
Robbie and his wife Gillian live in Burlington, Ontario with their four children.