Pastor Gary Heyes is a dear friend of City Harvest Church and the founder of Speak Life Global. City News caught up with him for a chat.
When Gary Heyes preached at CHC’s multiple service weekend on 22 and 23 July, it was his first time at the pulpit but not at the church. In fact, Pastor Gary has been coming to CHC almost every year (sometimes more than once a year) since 2017. He is a familiar face to the staff and some members of the church. He comes often with his wife Sheila and together they minister prophetically to the staff and member of CHC.
City News invited Pastor Gary for a chat to tell us more about himself and his ministry.
Hi Pastor Gary! Let’s start with your background. Which part of Canada did you grow up in and where are you based now?
Originally, I was born in England. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was 4 and we lived most of the time in southern Ontario. I grew up in Toronto, and then went to Bible college; after college, I met my wife and moved back to Toronto. Now we live in and are based in Hamilton, Ontario, which is about 45 minutes from Toronto.
Our home church is called Living Hope, and we’ve been part of that church for 27 years. My wife and I were both on staff: I was on staff for 16, my wife was on staff for 20, and now our son is on staff there.
What did you do before you became a minister?
I worked for a meat and seafood company from 1985 to 1996. I was bi-vocational: I was serving in a church in Toronto, and I worked in sales. Eventually at that church, I became the senior pastor for a few years, and through circumstances, I ended up shutting that particular church down and moving to Hamilton in 1996. In Hamilton I went into full-time ministry as a staff pastor of Living Hope Church. I did a lot of things: I was the principal of our Christian School. I was a youth pastor. I was our men’s pastor. I was the associate pastor. Pretty much anything the pastor didn’t want to do, I did. (laughs) My wife was our children’s pastor, worship pastor, women’s pastor, and then she was also our administrative financial pastor. I left staff in 2012 and then from 2012 till the end of 2014, I had my own business and started to travel a bit in 2014. Then in August of 2014 I started travelling full-time. Yeah, God has been really good.
How did you and Pastor Sheila meet?
I met Sheila in the May of 1984. We did not hit it off at our first meeting (laughs). The second time we met, I was pastoring the church where her parents were, and she came home for Mother’s Day. God spoke to me that she was going to be my wife. She was engaged to somebody else (laughs). So about a month later in July we were dating; we got engaged in October, and we married the next August. It has been 38 years this August (Ed’s note: Pastor Gary and Pastor Sheila celebrated their 38th anniversary on 10 August 2023)
Tell us about your son, Joshua.
We have one son. His name is Joshua. He’s a miracle. We were married about two years when we decided that we were going to start having children. We were trying for about eight months and weren’t seeing the results of our labour. My mom worked for a doctor and he said to us, “Gary, come in for testing.” I was tested on a Friday afternoon; on Sunday, we went to church. We had told nobody that we were struggling. Our pastor was prophetic. He said to my wife, “Sister, I see you’re going to a shelf. Put whatever it is on the shelf, close the door, and go about the work of ministry. God’s timing was not man’s timing, but we would know surely the Lord had undertaken.” So, we settled in our hearts that we’re not going to worry about kids. A few weeks later, we found out that I was born sterile, that we were never going to have children. Well, we trusted the Lord and we cried out to God.
Two or three years went by, and all our friends started getting married and having babies. We became godparents of 13 kids. In the third year we moved into a home with a room decorated as a boy’s room. We had one name—Joshua Joel—and we put his name on the door, and we began to call him in. We would say, “Joshua, you’re going to be a worshipper, you’re going to be a mighty man. You’re going to play music, you’re going to preach, you’re going to prophesy, and you’re going to be good-looking like your dad.” We just kept praying and declaring.
Year four goes by, year five goes by. My wife had a baby grand piano and she had these cloth diapers that she would dust the piano with. One day I used one as a paint cloth and my wife lost it—she got really angry at me. I said, “Honey, something’s not right. You need to go and pray. I’ll pray.” So we prayed. She came back about an hour later said, “I’m mad at you. I’m mad at the prophets. And I’m mad at God.” I said, “What can we do? We’ve got to pray.” In that moment, we said, “God, we don’t understand, but we’re framing our world according to Your word.” And we continued to declare, “Joshua, you will come forth, you will be a musician, you will worship”—all the things, you know.
A month later, my wife got really, really sick. She had the flu. She was in bed for a week. At the end of the week, she said, “I don’t think I had my (period) cycle.” We had done pregnancy tests—in five years, we’d done probably 20 of those tests, and every one would be negative. On this particular Saturday night, it turned positive! We called my sister—she’s a believer but she said, “You know, don’t get your hopes up.” But I said, “Nope, Josh is coming. This is our moment.” We went got another pregnancy test. The next morning, Sheila did the test, and it was negative. We went and did a third test that was also negative. Then Sheila started spotting. So, what do you do in a case like this? You go to church!
I remember sitting in the front row saying, “God, if it’s not now, it will be. You will be faithful. Joshua, you will come forth.” My friend was singing at the service: “In Christ alone, I put my trust, and find my glory and the power of the cross.” We said, “God, we’re going to trust you.” [After service] we got another test. When we got home that morning, the second test that we had done [before going to church] was positive. Then we did another one that was positive. We did two more. They were all positive. My wife went to a doctor and he said, “I thought you guys couldn’t get pregnant.” Sheila said, “Doctor, you’re about to see a miracle.” He didn’t believe her so he tested her, and confirmed she was pregnant. But he still wouldn’t believe it.
The next week we saw him, and he had my sterility report. When he read it, he leaned back in his chair, and he said “I have to ask this question—is this your husband’s baby? Because it’s medically impossible for your husband to father a child.” Sheila said, “Doctor, you don’t know us. First of all, we are born again believers. Second of all, he’s the only man I’ve ever been with. Third, you are about to see a miracle and his name is going to be Joshua Joel.”
Eight weeks later, we saw an ultrasound. And on 1 December 1993, Sheila gave birth to an 8lb 3oz baby boy named Joshua Joel. This year, Joshua turns 30. He is a worshipper. He leads worship, he plays every instrument, he preaches, he prophesies. He’s way better looking than me. So that’s our story. And we pray all over the world for people—I have about 60 pictures of babies that were born just by us praying for people. God has been very, very good to us.
How did you meet Jesus?
My parents immigrated to Canada [when we were kids]. I have an older sister and a twin brother. I don’t know how it happened but we got connected to a Pentecostal church though my parents were not Christians. My sister and twin brother started going to Sunday school. There were two men, one was named Ed Grout. He would pick us up every Sunday for Sunday school, rain or shine or snow. My sister would get us dressed, my parents would say goodbye, and we went off to church. On a particular Christmas, we were in a Christmas play and we said, “Mom, Dad, you’ve got to come to church.” So they came to the Christmas play and they loved it so much, they called the church on that Sunday afternoon and the pastor’s wife picked up. My parents asked, “Do you have a service? Can we come tonight?” And she said “Yes, come tonight.”
There was a second man. His name was Harvey Quinn. Harvey was a marketplace business guy, and he had a heart to reach new people. So he said to the board, “I want to go reach new people,” but they said “We’re not set up for that.” But he said, “I’m going to do it anyways.” Our family was the first house he knocked on and my mom invited him in and he led her to the Lord. A couple of weeks later, my dad came to Christ. And that was it— we started attending this Pentecostal church as a family.
When I was 12, I backslid and I fell away from the Lord for five years. I did a lot of drugs and alcohol, kind of messed my life up running around with the wrong crowd. On 20 October 1980, I was held up at gunpoint for drugs and I got beat up. That was at about 9pm. My mom was at a prayer meeting that very moment praying this prayer: “God, whatever it takes, bring my boys home.” The power of a praying mom! I got home really early that night—I never got home before midnight—and my dad was home. I told him what had happened and he said, “Gary, you’ve got to give your heart to Christ.” I was like, “Yeah, whatever.”
The next day I went to school—I was still in high school—and I’d never known fear like that. I was petrified. I thought these guys [who had beat me up] had followed me and were going to take my life. The next night, I went out with my friends and just didn’t feel like I needed to be there, so one of them took me home. I got in the house and the phone rang: my brother was on the other end saying “Gary, I’m in jail.” My dad talked to him, and I walked into my living room and dropped to my knees. I said to God, “I can’t do this anymore. You know my life is a mess.” My mom led me to the Lord, and from that moment, my life was changed, on 21 October 1980.
In January 1981, I was praying: “God, what do You want to do with me? I’m flunking out of high school; my life is messed up.” I heard God saying, “Go into the ministry.” But I’d done a lot of drugs. So, I thought I was going to work for the government, maybe Parks and Recreation. My mom said, “Gary, you’ve got to go to Bible college.” I was like, “Mom, I can’t even get out of high school, how would I go to Bible college?” I got rejected by the Bible college, but I had a pastor who believed in me, and he went to bat for me. He said, “I’m gonna fight for you.” The next week, I got a letter: “Congratulations, you’re coming to Bible college.” I graduated from college and I’ve been in the ministry ever since. It’s been an amazing journey. Those two men—Ed Grout, Harvey Quinn—and the power of a praying mom: those are the things that matter. Both of those guys have gone to be with Jesus, they’ve no idea what we are doing today (tears).
How did you first discover your prophetic gift?
I had an incredible desire to prophesy. All my life, I’ve been touched by the supernatural. I remember going to a Katherine Kuhlman meeting—that was significant. I remember seeing people who were demon-possessed, people being delivered. My mom and dad were very spiritual people, my dad was always involved in church leadership. There was just an anointing on their lives when they were new Christians, they were sold out, so that was always a mark on my life. Even when I was an unbeliever, God was speaking to me, I’d have visions—God was speaking to me when I was really wild. When I got saved, I read the Scriptures, and I read about the gifts and thought, Paul says, “desire to prophesy”. So I started prophesying, I started reading books. My parents moved to another church, and there was this pastor who was prophetic and he became kind of my mentor, teaching me how to prophesy. I hung out with guys who were prophetic, and they just stirred me. Now I get to do it full time.
You have told us that God called you into a travelling ministry – can you elaborate on that? What have been the fruits of your obedience?
I always say this in my testimony: I was 22, married, and God spoke to me through a prophet, that I was going to travel the world. I was going to preach in conferences, I was going to prophesy, I was going to ride on the high places of the earth. Then, for the next 28 years, the only travelling I was doing was to the grocery store for my wife (laughs). I’ve found that sometimes God gives you this massive word, then He takes time to build you to become the person that can handle that word. On 10 August 2014—our wedding anniversary—I was preaching at a friend’s place and this lady handed me a note, and I put it in my pocket. When I read it, it was a prophecy: “Travel, travel, travel! Pack your suitcase, you’re about to travel.” I didn’t have a suitcase, so I went and bought a Samsonite travel suitcase, and from that moment, I started travelling the world.
So far, we’ve gone to 38 nations: Singapore, 30 times; Taiwan, 12 times; China, eight times. During Covid, I went to 22 new nations through Zoom. God has been good, He has done miracles through all of that. It’s been an awesome journey. It is an amazing story of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Last year, we went to 62 churches; this year, we’ve already have gone to 47 churches. So, God has been really faithful. He accelerates you. You know, when you’re faithful and you’re obedient and you’re just serving God, He accelerates you.
Sometimes people come up and say, “You said this about my life and it’s come to pass.”We’ve seen miracles, healings, blind eyes open, deaf ears healed. We’ve seen people get pregnant after many years. We’re still trying to obey the Lord. It’s walking in and just letting God use us.
Has it ever been difficult?
Yeah, because life is hard sometimes; sometimes your own nature, your flesh gets involved—I’m certainly not perfect. There have been health challenges. There have been difficult moments. There have been wildernesses, valleys that we’ve had to walk through. There have been moments of insignificance, where you feel hidden or mistreated. That bitterness can get in your heart, but you have to guard your heart.
You’ve been coming to CHC for the last 6-7 years. You first came in 2017 after hearing about Pastor Kong in Fukuoka. How did one year turn into 7?
Backstory: I had many people say, “Don’t get involved with City Harvest.” But I watched your services, and I listened to Pastor Kong and I prayed. I felt God say “Be a friend.” So I came in January 2017, and we sat at a coffee shop and we had a great conversation, we hit it off right away. Pastor Kong said to me, “I’m really open to the prophetic. So if you have a prophecy…” and I said, “I didn’t really come to prophesy, I just came to be a friend.” I did give him a prophecy, and we exchanged contact information. I said, “I will pray for him and I’m just going to be a friend.”
Later that week, he invited me to come to the church to meet Pastor Bobby and Pastor Sun, and we had a great time talking. So, from that moment, I would send him a scripture regularly, I would just encourage him with something and let him know that I was praying for him. In February 2017, I was coming to Asia and I said to Pastor Kong, “I’m coming to Asia. I’d like to hang out for maybe a week and just come to your church, get to know you a little bit more and pray with you.” He said, “Well, I can get you busy.” I said, “I’m not coming for work. I just want to be a friend.” But Pastor said, “No, no, I’m gonna get you busy.” So I ended up coming for 13 days and in those 13 days he had scheduled 18 (prophetic) meetings. I said to my wife, “That’s a little too many meetings, I think.” By the time I was done, I’d had 42 meetings (laughs).
But it was so awesome, because I was just walking among the church and at the end of it, Pastor said, “I really want you to come again. Whatever happens to me, I want you to come and just walk among my church.” It has been the greatest joy of our lives to be able to come and walk with City Harvest, we’ve loved every minute of it, it’s a great blessing. The privilege that Pastor Kong and Sun have given me to walk among the church team and the ministers has been wonderful. Sometimes prophets can be a little risky and weird (laughs) so the trust that they’ve given me to be able to speak into your church has been a great honour.
You’re quite different from what people think a “prophet” is like…
You know, one of my goals is to take the mysticism and the weirdness out of prophecy. Many would say, “Gary is a prophet”. I just say, “I’m Gary from Hamilton.” I know what I am. And I know that I have that (a prophetic anointing). But I’m also a pastor. So whenever I prophesy, I’m thinking pastorally, too. Sometimes prophetic people are not pastoral, so they can damage people by what they say and how they do things. And they can be really weird. I’ve pastored churches, so I want to make sure that people are ministered to in a proper way.
You conduct prophetic sessions with staff and cell groups when you are here—how do you minister to so many people at a single meeting? How do you prepare for a prophetic session, and how does the Holy Spirit gives you a word of knowledge about each person?
God’s grace, God’s grace, God’s grace. It is the grace of God. It’s His divine power working through us. I say all the time, “You cannot have an empty head and you cannot have an empty heart.” My heart has to be full of the love of God, so I really make sure of that; I try to not have any bitterness in my heart, any wrong motives, or any hurt. I really make sure that my heart is healed. So that’s the first part—the love of God being poured out by His spirit into our hearts. This is the fruit of the Spirit. The second is a full head, so I’ve got to know my Bible. I’ve got to know the stories of the Bible. I’ve got to know God in His ways. It’s an ever increasing love for God’s Word.
Knowing that I have so many meetings, this is what I do. In the morning in my devotions, I wait on God. A thought comes, and then Scripture, and then that becomes the activation point for me to stir up my gift and prophesy. So I write down these Bible verses, and I’m not afraid to use those Scriptures over and over again, because they’re the prophetic scriptures. So I’m trying to discern and listen to hear His voice through prayer; hearing in that sense of asking God for vision. Then I’ve got to stir my faith, and be obedient to go with that thought.
We had a young boy in one of the meetings this afternoon. I said to him, “I want you to hear from God.” So he closed his eyes and he said, “I see a pencil and eraser. He said, I see God telling you to write out your story. But I think God is going to erase all your past that is wrong.” Amazing, a little boy like that.
So that is the strategy God gave me to be able to minister to so many people. This is my heart. My ministry is called Speak Life Global, and it’s to encourage churches and strengthen leaders. My goal is to come beside leaders, encourage them and strengthen them to build churches. The church is made up of leaders. When I go to church I ask them, “How many leaders do you have?” City Harvest has a lot of leaders, so for me to be able to minister to as many as possible, I’ve had to ask God for a strategy to do that.
It’s beautiful how you and Pastor Sheila minister in tandem. How did that come about?
My wife has always been in ministry. Well before I met my wife, she had her own singing group that travelled, they were called Rejoice. She was an amazing young lady: she was a small group leader in her church. She was a pianist. She had her own singing group, she was the leader of that group. So she was an amazing woman to begin with. And I knew when I saw her, I thought, “Wow, this girl’s a good catch.” The first time she came to our church, she sang a prophetic song. It was quite amazing.
My attitude was this: we were always a team, and I always wanted to push my wife ahead. I say they hired me to get to her, because she’s way more gifted. We’ve always been a team, we’ve always done things together. When I started travelling, my wife had no desire to travel. She was loving her job, loving being on staff, but God had spoken to me when I was 22, that I would not travel alone—we were engaged at that point. He said, “This is a season that I’ve designed.”
By 2018, I’d already been travelling, she was travelling a little bit with me. I started travelling a lot to Asia, starting in 2016. She started hearing all the stories, all the connections, all the miracles, and God began to birth in her a desire to travel.
She started travelling with me full time at the end of 2018. She basically said “Gary, don’t put any pressure on me”. I would say in the last two years, she’s gotten stronger and stronger in the prophetic. She’s always had a prophetic gift but she hadn’t used it. So these last two years she’s just become unlocked, and it’s been a great joy to see her. She’s amazing: she’s an amazing leader. She’s an amazing woman. She’s an amazing mom. She’s an amazing grandma and she’s an amazing friend to many, many people.
In the many years you have come here, what are some of the most powerful testimonies/transformations you have seen from the members you have ministered to over the years?
There’s a few but one of them was a couple Cindy and Daniel, in Johann’s (Sim) zone. They had been struggling to have children for 12 years. I prophesied and I prayed over them, and I said to her, “The next time I see you, you’re going to be pregnant.” They had some rare issue that they could never get pregnant. I was scheduled to be in City Harvest in March 2019, but we were in Singapore in December 2018 and we came to City Harvest one Saturday night and in the back room there were three people and two of them handed me their babies. They said, “You prayed for us, here’s the fruit,” Cindy was there. When we came back in March, she was at our first meeting and she was overdue. The next day she had her baby. Now they have two children. The second child was said to have some problem but was born perfect.
There’s also another young man that was serving me in the guest room. His name was Jason. I kept feeling God say “Give him money.” Every time I saw him, I gave him money. I said, “Listen, God’s going to give you money. Someone’s going to bless you, God is going to provide for you.” He was engaged to be married. A few months later, he texted me and said, “Pastor, someone in the church came up to me, and they want to give me $10,000. What should I do?” I said, “Talk to your leader. Make sure it’s legit. The person doesn’t want any strings attached.” And he said, Pastor, it’s legit.” And this brother gave him $10,000. It was enough for him to get married. I remember some of these stories, because you know, they’re so significant.
Your message was so encouraging. We have been in a season of slow-down Christianity, so hearing a call to be the next person ignited an excitement in some of us. I have some questions related to your sermon:
a. How can we get ourselves into a quiet enough place to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us to say to someone?
You just have to always be aware that God wants to use you. You have to be intentional. Just as you’re in this habit of intentionally slowing down, you have to be intentional in hearing.
b. Sometimes fear stops us from saying something to a complete stranger. You talked about that in your sermon, and you simply chose to obey. But Asians can be quite easily embarrassed—how do we get over that?
North Americans are easily embarrassed as well (laughs). This week, I’ve had two people say no.
A member of the church was standing beside this person, and the person was just too busy and said no. The member’s boyfriend contacted me and he said, “I can make this happen.” So I gave him the word and he gave it to the guy and the guy said it was spot on.
When fear is in your life, primarily, you’re only thinking about yourself. You’re thinking, “How do I feel? I don’t want to be embarrassed.” You’re thinking about yourself. So I have always had to not think about myself. I would say to anybody who wants to learn, the first thing I would do is ask a question. Introduce yourself, be normal. Introduce yourself, say “Excuse me, can I can I share something with you? Or could I pray with you?” And if they say no, say, “Oh, great. Thanks.”
I was in a restaurant saw a man walk by and I ran outside. “Excuse me, sir.” He goes, “What’s this about?” And I said, “Well, I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor, do you mind if I share something with you?” He said, “I’m an ex Christian. I don’t want to hear.” Okay, no worries, but I never want to miss that opportunity. I would just say, you have to get out of yourself. You have to be bold. The Bible says it this way: the righteous are as bold as a lion. So be bold.
c. What happens if the prophetic word we give doesn’t make sense to the person?
Some things don’t make sense in the moment. That’s what prophecy is, it speaks to your future. So, encourage the person to just think about it. And if it doesn’t make sense, that’s okay. But in the moment, God makes it happen. Some things don’t make sense in the moment. So if it’s done with the right spirit, that’s the key. It’s done with a loving heart, God will work it all out.
Having been with us for so many years, how would you describe your relationship with City Harvest Church?
I consider City Harvest Church to be great friends and a beautiful community. It’s a priviliege we get to partner together and establish the kingdom. That’s what’s really important.
Do you have a word for us (as a church) for the coming days?
In 1 Samuel 30, everything David had had been stolen and ransacked, and David inquired of the Lord, and he encouraged himself in the Lord. City Harvest has been a church that has encouraged itself in the Lord, even when everything was potentially against it. You have been a church that has kept praying to the Lord. I believe the word of the Lord to City Harvest is this : “Pursue, overtake and recover, for without fail, you will recover it all.”
I believe God wants a pursuing overtaking mindset. His promise to you is you will recover. You will, without fail, recover all. Amen.