Cliff Kriz serves Grace Church Lethbridge, AB as an Elder and is primarily working to plant a healthy church in Taber, AB.
My name is Cliff and I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. Though, I didn’t always know that, in fact I didn’t always know who God was, or if there was one.
I grew up in a loving home with a loving family. I was baptized in a lutheran church as a baby, and have a faint memory of going to a Sunday school at one point, but was not regularly in church-except for the occasional wedding, or a funeral. Mostly, I thought things were fine, and I was fine. I spent the first 20+ years of my life doing whatever I liked, whenever I liked. It is not my desire to glorify sin but to give a more accurate picture of some things that characterized my life taken from 1 Corinthians 6 are: sexually immoral, greedy, idolater, reviler, all of which are unrighteous and the Bible says any who are these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. To add a few more: liar, gossiper, thief etc. At times I would possibly feel guilt, but as I got older, I think I suppressed the consequences of these things in my mind, and grew deeper and deeper in them without much remorse.
By God’s pure grace, in 2012 my life started to crumble. I was starting to realize that the desires I had and the things I pursued couldn’t satisfy. I had many questions about my life, and purpose. I started to feel alone, empty, and without any hope. Everything that I thought could help, didn’t and I was out of options. I don’t believe I seriously considered ending my life, but I did start to wonder if I died, would it matter?
But God saw fit to start a work in my life and He started it using Christians. I noticed one of my friends and co-worker was different and had something that I didn’t have, and I was curious. I ended up asking her why she was the way she was, and thought it strange when she told me she was a Christian and it Wass actually Jesus-who she believed in as her Saviour. I didn’t understand this fully, but started attending a church.
At first most of my experiences were quite emotional, I felt a little more comfortable being there, and thought I must be doing the right thing because I was in church now. Singing songs, eating free donuts and identifying with other Christians. I thought the spiritual path I was on was eventually going to fill the emptiness I had, but it didn’t. It was as if I was living a double life, a hypocrite in many ways and self deceived. I didn’t know the Gospel fully, and I certainly didn’t believe I was a sinner who needed forgiveness. I didn’t know at the time that God was light, and in Him is no darkness at all. I had been gifted a Bible and tried to read it. Most of it didn’t make much sense, though there was a passage in John which caught my attention and convinced me there was a God, and He was Jesus (even if I didn’t surrender my life to Him) John 1:48 Nathanael said to Him, “From where do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him,” Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Looking back, a part of me knew that God saw me. He came to find me when I was lost, eventually revealing Himself to me and saving me.
Thankfully God sent some more people into my life and I began meeting with the pastor of a small baptist church regularly. I started attending that church, probably mostly because I was attracted to my friend, and the pastor there seemed to take a great interest in my life, and he would tell me the truth (even when it was probably hard)
I was counselled, prayed for, I heard the Gospel preached. I was loved-both by God and by people. I started to loosen my grip on the love for the world and it’s empty promises and started to see the foolishness of what were once my desires and pleasures.
I don’t know the exact day, but it was sometime in 2013 when I decided I was going to leave my old life behind, and follow Jesus. I was not perfect by any means, and would still have many struggles with sin (and still do) but I knew that I was a sinner and only Jesus Christ could offer me forgiveness and eternal life. Only He could save me from an eternity of punishment for my wrongs against Him.
I know that baptism doesn’t save you, it is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. But I decided to get baptized on September, 29th 2013 and I have never looked back. At some point, God granted me faith, and repentance and rescued me and for that I owe Him my life and continue to make it my all to serve Him and follow Him. I am so thankful that God caused me to be born again and gave me new desires and pursuits. I am thankful for the promises found in the scriptures, and the Spirit which guides me and keeps me on the narrow path. I am thankful that Jesus died on the cross, and He died to set me free.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done, what the law weakened by the flesh could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Call to Ministry
Shortly after I was converted my love for the local church, and serving grew. I now had new desires and passions to get around other believers, read and study the bible, share my faith, encourage others and to spend my time doing the things I read about in scripture (being devoted to the teaching and preaching, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers)
I found that my love for other Christians grew quickly, but my concern for their spiritual health also grew. I wanted to help people grow and thrive in Christ. Soon I found myself leading a small group and being the first guy to help the church leadership with whatever they needed. At some point, I had a desire, and wondered if I should begin serving as an Elder, and wondered what that would look like. That was recognized by the Pastor and others in the church and so I started doing some elder training and more intense discipleship. Shortly after that, my family and I moved to another city (mostly to be closer to my parents who are unbelievers) We trusted the Lord put it on our hearts to be closer to them, and prayed diligently for their salvation. We looked at this as if we were missionaries.
In this time I became more and more involved at the church in Lethbridge. Serving in every way I could from vacuuming carpets to visiting others. After some time I was able to lead a small group, and that grew into being able to organize all the small groups in the church and oversee the other group leaders (working with the Elders direction) I was able to lead in smaller settings including prayer meetings. I then took over sending out emails weekly with prayer requests and started to organize others for evangelism outside the church and other outreaches. My desire seemed to grow for Pastoral ministry and missions (but I often wrestled with being scared of this call and wanted to trust the Lord fully)
In 2020 I became quite sick and was diagnosed with a neurological and physical condition. At times, I thought I was exiting the world and underwent a tremendously difficult time of sanctification, repentance, and hardship…but God is rich in love and mercy and taught me many things, one of which was that I could trust Him in all of life…not only mine but everyones. I learned He cares more about His church than I do, more about my family and me and everything. I found myself being quite scared, even trembling at the responsibility of this call… one night especially being frightened. I remember telling the Lord I felt that way but also saying in my prayer that I still wanted to do this, if it were His will.
Soon I was given the opportunity to preach the Gospel at different churches in some surrounding towns and cities and I was just burdened by the fact that there were so many people without a pastor…so many sheep with no shepherd. I began to feel better physically and started to believe I could serve full time and I got excited about possibilities to be able to quit my job and do what my heart longed for.
My wife and I continue to pray and pray. We have explored different ministry opportunities, but the need for good local churches and Pastors in Canada has reached a high alert. We need men who will preach the Gospel and proclaim Christ, no matter what. Men who will lead in the local church and love the people. I want to be one of those men.
Many people would affirm my desire and call to Pastor. I still am not sure how the Lord will bring it about so I am able to serve full time, but I am fully convinced I am called and more than willing to do whatever He asks.