Get to know our new interim president, Bob Cheatley
We’re pleased to introduce Bob Cheatley, our new interim president of Focus on the Family Canada. Bob previously worked as president of St. Stephen’s University for 15 years and has served on Focus on the Family Canada’s board of directors since 2003. Welcome, Bob!
With a heart for God and a desire to minister to others, Bob is passionate about the ministry’s mission to strengthen Canadian families through education and support based on Christian principles.
Read his story below. We’re excited for you to get to know Bob and his heart for families.
Family has always been an essential part of my life. I was blessed to be born into an extended family in Toronto with wonderful parents, two brothers, all four grandparents, many aunts and uncles, and lots of cousins. We regularly held family gatherings including Christmas parties and family picnics. At all these get-togethers – whether small or large – my maternal grandfather would always make a speech about the importance of family. He would consistently explain that family is the cornerstone of our society and he would bless whoever and whatever we were celebrating on that occasion. I spent a lot of time with Grandpa John and he was the one who guided me into my relationship with Jesus.
Grandpa John also encouraged me, at age seven, to join the church choir and I spent five years as a boy soprano singing at worship services and weddings. In my teens, he introduced me to his cousins in Alberta and I worked all my high school summers on their farm. They were Bible-believing Christians who included me in their family and the life of their local church. Through mealtime conversations and teaching times on Sundays, I was able to make up for all the Sunday school lessons that I missed in my childhood choir days.
My love of farming led me to study agricultural science, move to western Canada, and go into a career in agricultural business. A few years later, I took Marlene, who I had been courting for a year, to a Christmas Eve candlelight service. It was beautiful with only candles lighting the church and church bells ringing. The pastor said that the bells of the world had drowned out the bells of the church and we had lost the meaning of Christmas. His exhortation is as real today as it was for me that night: “You have to read this Bible. You have to meet this man, Jesus. He is the most important one who has ever lived. He will change your life.” As he slapped the Bible for emphasis, I felt chills go through me.
After the service, Marlene and I had the most important conversation of our lives about rediscovering our faith. My plan was to get a new Bible and read it cover to cover, and as I shared this with Marlene, she too got excited and agreed to read the Bible. That night, with tears of joy, I knew that God had spoken to me. I was going to marry Marlene and we would have a life of Christian faith together.
Since that time, Marlene and I have been wholeheartedly committed to Jesus and blessed to be a part of the family of God. We have two married sons and a three-year-old grandson. We also have a middle son who was born prematurely and only lived a short time. While we still carry this grief in our hearts today, we know that he is with our Lord in heaven. God has and continues to sustain us through the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows.
Our lives together these past forty years have been intertwined with our love of Jesus and his people. While I was sure that one day I would work in full-time ministry, God had other plans for me. I found that my Christian vocation was to be a Christian in the marketplace. My mission field was the workplace where I was free to witness, and in that role, God gifted me the privilege of leading colleagues to Christ.
Twenty-five years ago, my work morphed from agriculture to aquaculture and led us to the east coast of Canada. What a privilege to live by the ocean and to experience a more traditional way of life! A few years later, God spoke to me again and I returned to university to study theology and prepare for pastoral ministry. When my course work was finished, the school was in much need of a new president and I was called to that role. Thinking that I would only be there for three years to address the pressing issues of the time, I again discovered that my own plans and expectations were redirected by God. I found I loved the work and the students, and stayed in that role for fifteen years. As I went around the country recruiting students and fundraising, I was also able to coordinate my travels around board meetings as I was a member of the board of directors for both Focus on the Family Canada and Greater Europe Mission.
On retiring, I resumed my master’s studies and prepared for pastoral ministry once again. As you can probably guess, God had different plans for me. A few weeks before my ordination, I was asked by Focus on the Family Canada to be the interim president. Gratefully the leadership of my church, knowing the importance of the ministry of Focus Canada, has allowed me to serve in this capacity with their blessing.
As I serve in the church on Sundays and preach every few weeks, I am blessed to be able to invite people into a relationship with Jesus – to be part of his family. No matter what family of origin we come from, God invites us into the world’s best family: his own!
Family has always been important to me, and from my days as a choir boy listening to Grandpa John’s speeches, to my new role as interim president of a ministry whose vision it is to see every family transformed by love, vibrant in faith and enduring in hope, I know first-hand how valuable Focus on the Family Canada is to couples, parents, grandparents and children across the country.
The pre-eminent goal of Focus on the Family Canada is to support the family because it is the smallest unit of the Church of God where faith can be nurtured and passed on to the next generation. It is Jesus’ prime strategy to bring the whole world into relationship with him and to offer eternal life.
I look forward to serving you through the ministry of Focus on the Family Canada and partnering with you in our shared desire to help families thrive. May God bless you and your own family as you journey together.
With every blessing,
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