In 1991, a Canadian pastor named Bob Birch founded a ministry called Watchmen for the Nations. Pastor Bob lived each day passionately seeking God, so that He might hear His voice and obey. Everywhere he traveled, Pastor Bob taught and encouraged people to live the same way.
“Let him who has ears, hear what the spirit is saying to the churches” was truly a watchword and life verse for this servant of God. Bob longed that Jesus’ prayer for unity would be fulfilled in the Church:
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“I do not pray for these alone, but for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23).
In 1998, at a meeting of leaders in Harrison Hot Springs, Pastor Bob turned the leadership of Watchmen for the Nations over to one of his spiritual sons, David Demian. David was born in Egypt, but he had immigrated to Canada with his wife during her pregnancy with their first child. David and a small group of men covenanted to walk together, along with Pastor Bob, that they would seek the Lord to see His purposes fulfilled in Canada.
One day, the Holy Spirit asked David what he would want to leave as an inheritance for his children, and he answered that he would want them to live in a nation that was under the blessings of God. However, at that time, David realized that Canada as a nation was following a path leading to judgment, and God was looking for a remnant of people who would walk with Him to see the nation healed and restored to God’s original intent.
So, beginning in 1999, and continuing for the next 10 years, a remnant of believers journeyed together with the Lord under the banner of Watchmen for the Nations. This remnant was made up of men, women and children whose hearts longed for the glory of God to dwell in Canada, and they traveled across the nation to cry out to the Lord for mercy, worshipping Him in complete surrender and obey His voice in all that He asked them to do. They prayed to see the redemption of Canada’s destiny and the fulfillment of the Church’s end-time mandate to become a resting place for the glory of the Lord.
These times of worship and prayer were known as “Gatherings.” As believers waited upon God for His strategy and then gathered as one unified Body at His command, He would guide them in prophetic acts and declarations to bring Canada into alignment with His original intent. Repentance—first to God and then to Jewish people in Canada and Israel—for historic acts of anti-Semitism built a bridge in the Spirit. That bridge created the way for Canada to become positioned among the nations of the world as the number one friend of Israel.
Next on God’s agenda for the nation was the need to address root issues of division between the French and English. After years of preparation, God led His people to Quebec City, where those gathered declared the Church’s commitment to walk in the foundational covenant of “holy matrimony” envisioned by God, and articulated by the Fathers of Confederation. This in turn released the First Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) also to covenant to walk together and then, as original gatekeepers of the land, to dedicate the nation back to God. These covenants opened a channel for the release of supernatural power from heaven as the Lord addressed the spiritual stronghold of separatism that had hovered over Canada for decades.
Through the many years of this journey, believers from other nations came and stood with Canada to observe and support what the Lord was doing. Thousands from all parts of the globe were inspired and deeply moved, and they began to earnestly long to see this move of God come to their particular nations as well.
The journey of Watchmen culminated in July 2009 at the Promise Gathering in Ottawa, where the declaration was made that there is one Body of Christ united under one Head—the Lord Jesus Christ—in Canada. A few months later, the Lord asked the leadership to lay down all that they had been doing for ten years, in order to receive fresh instructions, a new “blueprint” for the next phase of the journey. This time of waiting ultimately stretched over six years, as the Father’s intention was not to create a new strategy or ministry function; it was to fashion new wineskins in each person’s heart.
In 2001 a remnant of Canadians began to meet with leaders in Hong Kong and China. A passionate fire to follow the Lord in this way was ignited in the hearts of these Asian leaders. As they sought God together, He began to release the Chinese, with the support of the Canadian leaders, to host Gatherings in Hong Kong. Thus began a further expansion of the family journey, now known throughout Asia as “Homecoming.” It has spread to Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia.
Now, the longing for unity in God’s family and desire for healing the nation is growing. Nations such as South Africa, Germany, Guatemala, the United States and others are coming together to seek the Lord and begin to host Gatherings. These can be regional as well as national; and in the past few years global gatherings have been planned, where all family members from around the world are invited to come together as God directs and seek and obey Him with one heart.
Through tests and trials, the Lord has transformed our understanding of John 17 as His prayer for the Church to walk not only in unity of purpose or vision, but in one heart, as a true family, filled to overflowing with a revelation of the Father’s love so that we might in turn become a beacon, a light to all those living in darkness. As remnants of His people respond in obedience and come together in simplicity to worship our great King and rejoice in His goodness and faithfulness, the Lord will make a spectacle of every system that has defiled His name as He continually unfolds the revelation of His glory and love for every people group.
Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may Your faithful people rejoice in your goodness. —2 Chronicles 6:41
Pastor, church planter, trail blazer, mentor and founder of Watchmen for the Nations, Bob Birch’s life touched countless people both in Canada and in the nations of the world. In 1936, at the age of 22 Bob Birch began his first pastorate in a Baptist church in Penticton, British Columbia. He later founded West Vancouver Christian Fellowship in an old store and in 1951 became the rector of St. Margaret’s Reformed Episcopal Church in East Vancouver. All his Christian life, Pastor Bob hungered for more of God. With Rev. Bernice Gerard, Pastor Bob gave leadership to the charismatic movement in Vancouver. St. Margaret’s became a focal point of the Jesus movement of the 1960’s and 1970s and as hippies flooded the church, Pastor Bob abandoned his clerical robe, prayer book, pulpit, lectern, and choir; all of this to make room for the crowds of young people being swept into the kingdom of God. Pastor Bob became a spiritual father and mentor to countless young converts, training them up in the ways of the Lord and imparting to them his deep commitment and passion. In 1977, in his 70th year, Pastor Bob moved on to pioneer another new work, Burnaby Christian Fellowship, where he pastored and preached for ten years.
After retiring from BCF, he then began his traveling ministry, venturing to many parts of the world. He taught and encouraged young ministers and people everywhere how to hear from God and to be obedient to His voice. “Let him who has ears, hear what the spirit is saying to the churches” was truly a watchword and life verse for this servant of God. It was this longing and desire to hear God and obey his voice, which was at the heart of Pastor Bob’s founding of Watchmen for the Nations in 1991. Among those with him at the founding of Watchmen was a young Egyptian spiritual son, David Demian, who had been traveling with Pastor Bob for a number of years. In 1998, Pastor Bob turned over the leadership of Watchmen to David. Pastor Bob Birch went to be with the Lord on December 6, 2007 at the age of 99. His legacy lives on as we continue in Watchmen to pray for the nation of Canada and contend to see John 17 unity of the believers released in accordance with this prayer of Jesus.
I shifted uncomfortably in my chair as my friends began clearing the dishes from the dinner table.
“David, why don’t you relax while we clean up?
Would you like a cup of tea?” my hosts asked.
“Yes, tea would be wonderful, thank you very much,” I answered as I walked into the living room. I sank into the couch, exhausted. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take, God,” I murmured under my breath.
When the invitation had come to minister at my friends’ church, I had joyfully accepted. They were a precious godly couple pastoring a large thriving church. We shared the same heart and passion for the Lord and whenever we met together, I left feeling encouraged and edified.
But from the moment I had arrived for this visit, I knew something was wrong. There was tension hanging in the air that told me there had been an argument and things were not yet resolved.
As dinner progressed, the tension grew worse. I felt like I was walking on eggshells trying to avoid saying anything that might cause an explosion.
Now as I sat on the couch, waiting for my after- dinner tea, I silently prayed. “God, I love to visit my friends but I can’t stay – this tension is killing me. Maybe I can go for a walk for a few hours or even stay overnight in a hotel. But how can I tell them without offending them or hurting their feelings?”
Gently the Lord spoke to my heart with a sadness I will never forget. “Now, David, you understand how I feel in My church. I love My bride and I want to be with her so I always come to visit. But after a while, with all the fighting, the strife, the jealousy it just grieves my heart and I can’t stay. So I leave. But then My longing for the Bride draws me back and I visit again – and then leave. Visit and then leave. So tell Me David, where is My resting place?”