Family plays a big role in Oasis Church's middle school pastor, Alex Janzen's role in ministry. She is working side-by-side with her husband, with her brother-in-law being her boss, and her great-grandmother pushing her to learn more about Christ. 

Growing up close to the 940 Elmhurst Road church, Janzen admits she knew 'a bit' about Christianity, but nothing that stuck at first. 

Her 96-year-old great-grandmother has had a huge impact on Janzen's life, as she has always been a Christ-follower.

"She lived in British Columbia and when she would visit we would always go to church and sometimes we would go on Easter or Christmas, so I knew general bits but definitely didn't have a relationship with Jesus," Janzen said.

Her childhood had its challenges with her father being an alcoholic and producing and selling drugs, which ultimately led Janzen to look for fulfillment in other places. "I started trying to find joy, love, satisfaction, all these things in other places because I didn't have it in Christ and struggled to find it at home."

As her father's health started to decline and Janzen would visit him in the hospital, she remembers praying that he would get better. "I knew that God was supposed to love me, but he [her father] didn't get better. In my mind, it was that God didn't love me. I became angry and that search continued in lots of unhealthy places in the way that I looked, or who I was associated with or who I was dating."   

Shortly after that, her great-grandmother came to visit, which brought Janzen to church again- Oasis Church, when it was meeting in her middle school. "I felt comfortable, I go to school there."

As she kept going back with her mom, she encouraged Janzen to see if there was a youth group, something that she had never heard of. "I had never heard of youth group before, but I found out there was one. I met the youth pastor and he encouraged me to come check it out."

Janzen admits that she was hesitant and nervous to go, but didn't have an excuse to not go. "It was close to my house, I could just walk there. I was like, 'I'm just going to go there by myself, I'm not going to know anyone.'"

After getting a call from her great-grandma telling her to check it out, she ended up going.

"As soon as I walked in the doors, the leaders were so excited to host me, see me, and greet me. They hung out with me the whole night to make sure that I felt comfortable. I remember seeing so many people that were happy and joy-filled," wanting that as well kept Janzen coming back. 

Getting more involved in the youth group, Janzen would go on a youth retreat a few months later where she ultimately gave her life to Christ. "Everything changed in that moment for me. It was quite a dramatic impression of Christ on my life and transformation shortly after."

While her mom was okay with Janzen going to church, she had some hard experiences in the past. "She didn't want me to become crazy,"  Janzen said.

Fast forward and trying to figure out what to do after high school, her small group leader suggested that she apply for Bible college. "I did and the Lord provided the exact amount of money I needed for that first year, through my great-grandma, so I went. That's how I got into ministry."

Even though she was not sure what she wanted to do, she had to serve somewhere, ultimately beginning her passion for youth ministry with Youth for Christ. "It was challenging in many ways working with the kinds of students we were working with." 

There is a church two blocks over which had no teenagers, but since Janzen knew so many through her time with Youth for Christ, she started one with her now husband. Being there in Saskatoon leading the youth group for eight years, and now back in Winnipeg, where it all started has been very special for Janzen. 

"It's my favourite thing, working with youth," she said.