As an activist prayer leader who has seen answered prayers usher Christians into the top echelons of Canada’s government, Faytene Grasseschi knows what it’s like to be part of a movement steering a nation back to biblical values. This Canadian-born visionary mobilizes tens of thousands of Christians through a balanced mix of prayer and practical action to influence political leaders and public policies from a Christian worldview. As a result, she’s been thrust onto the front lines of her homeland’s hottest social issues, such as abortion and sex trafficking.
But for this 30-something “Jesus chick” known to most as simply “Faytene,” her vision extends far beyond Canadian borders.
In 2005, Grasseschi led a ragtag ministry just getting off the ground. Despite her lack of prestige, money or political mojo, she dared to believe God for uncommon favor to influence government at a critical time in her nation’s history. Canada’s liberal shift was all but complete, with its ruling parties seemingly bent on propelling the country into a post-Christian era.
Alongside a small group of young, passionate believers, Grasseschi set out for Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal government in Ottawa, with a goal to meet with and call the nation’s leaders back to biblical values for the sake of future generations. During that first trip, Grasseschi and her team booked an unprecedented 60-plus meetings with members of Parliament (MPs) in four days to deliver their message.
“You don’t understand,” a professional lobbyist later told her. “That is not normal. You don’t just walk onto Parliament Hill and get an audience with that many parliamentarians unless you are a world leader, the president of the United States, or the nation is in crisis and you have the answer.”
With a sparkle in her eye and a sense of the pressing need for change in her nation, Grasseschi replied, “Well, we just might be in the third category.”
Indeed, in the eight years since then, Grasseschi and her team have had more than 1,000 in-person meetings with MPs, have led thousands in 11 mass prayer gatherings and have found themselves working in the epicenter of a stunning national shift toward righteousness.
Governing Through Prayer and Fasting
Lou Engle knows all about gathering believers to cry out on a nation’s behalf for the purpose of seeing it return to God. The founder of the U.S.-based TheCall has worked with Grasseschi as she’s led a prayer movement in Canada, known as TheCRY, among mostly young adults.
“Like Esther in the Bible, Faytene has risked everything to step onto the stage of Canadian history,” says Engle, who has become a mentor and spiritual father to Grasseschi. “There is a young generation of men and women who have been catapulted into arenas of massive influence, fueled out of the fasting and prayer movement. Faytene is one of these new prophetic voices, and, as an activist prayer leader for her generation, she is courageously challenging and contending for righteousness at the gates of government and culture. As she is calling the youth of Canada to prayer and fasting, they are now seeing visible change take place.”
Canadian MP Rod Bruinooge, who serves as chair of Parliament’s pro-life caucus, has also seen firsthand the governmental impact of Grasseschi’s ministry since his first term in 2006.
“Faytene is a real leader who has brought dynamic energy to Ottawa and has filled the gaping need for a young person’s voice to be heard from a Christian perspective to help create a more balanced and sensible debate on moral issues in Canada,” says Bruinooge. “Instead of complaining about things the government is or isn’t doing, she put together a group of fresh faces at a grass-roots level and has demonstrated a unique ability to get these young people to advocate on several critical issues, including fighting against abortion. Faytene takes responsibility and is prepared to do hard work.”
Grasseschi has also approached social activism from a noticeably different angle—one more concerned about reflecting the heart of Jesus than taking political sides. As a result, her activist organization, MY Canada, continues to not only gain momentum but also move legislation on bills that combat human trafficking (Bill C-310) and motions that condemn sex-selective abortions (M-408).
“We are working with all our heart for laws that protect vulnerable people, create a culture that saves lives and create security for people,” Grasseschi says. “It’s about shifting the spiritual atmosphere over a nation in a way that clears it for a greater move of God.”
When Honor Releases Favor
Grasseschi points to the principle of honor as a major reason for the unprecedented favor and access to national leaders she’s received. Early in her ministry, the Lord impressed upon her Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honor your father and mother ... that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” She and others believed that if they raised up a prayer and activism movement that carried a spirit of honor instead of accusation, then God would give them the land.
“We knew we needed change, and we knew God was saying He wanted to raise up a new breed—a new Jesus movement,” she says. “If this was truly going to be a Jesus movement, it was going to need to smell like Jesus. His fragrance is not accusation and petty debate but intercession, honor and love. We will never hold back in speaking truth, but when we speak it, we aim to do it in the right spirit.”
Grasseschi is careful to point out that honoring the nation’s leaders doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they do; it means when there are disagreements, the MY Canada team continues to treat representatives with love and honor, as the Bible commands. This culture-defying approach hasn’t simply been a refreshing change for the Parliament leaders with whom Grasseschi and her team have met; it’s also opened new doors of opportunity.
At TheCRY in 2006, for example, thousands gathered to pray and fast for eight hours at the doorstep of Parliament. At one point, Grasseschi led the group in an extended time of prayer and blessing for the country’s national leaders. Shortly afterward, she received an email from a prominent MP’s office saying they had never witnessed a group hold such an honoring posture—least of all a Christian group—and that their entire office had been deeply moved, even to tears.
From that point on, Grasseschi says the doors to Parliament seemed to burst open. In fact, Grasseschi’s first book, Stand On Guard, a best-seller in Canada, is on the bookshelves of the majority of Canada’s senators and members of Parliament and is also kept in the Library of Parliament.
Grasseschi hopes to see the same impact made on other cultural spheres—including the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood. During TheCRY Hollywood in March 2012, more than 3,000 believers gathered at Universal Studios to pray for God to move in entertainment media. Grasseschi and her team honored Pat Boone, Ted Baehr, Nancy Stafford and others who have stood for Christ in this sphere of influence.
Taking the same approach that succeeded in Canada, Grasseschi encouraged intercessors to bless Hollywood rather than accuse it and to call it back to its roots as a Christian-driven industry. According to Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of MovieGuide, Hollywood began as a Christian retreat by Christian ministers with a vision to impact the world for Jesus; however, Christians retreated decades ago, opening the door for others to establish what has since become the mecca for exporting gratuitous violence, crude language and sexual immorality.
“We need more Christian people to get back involved in Hollywood in all capacities and to never, never, never retreat again,” says Baehr, a featured speaker at TheCRY Hollywood. “Faytene is answering the call, bringing her strong faith with a prophetic point of view. We have to go and take the territory.”
Yet that “taking” may not always appear as violent as it sounds. At the event, for example, Shawn Bolz, pastor of Expression58, saw two young men, weeping and visibly moved, walk toward the exit. He approached them and discovered they worked in the pornography industry and had never been at a church event where they not only felt so much conviction directly from the Holy Spirit, but also so much love from the people.
“This story epitomizes the heart of our work,” Grasseschi says. “We hunger to see people genuinely touched by God’s love in a way that leads to personal consecration to God and industry transformation.”
Marked by a Miracle
For Grasseschi, that hunger was first stirred on the streets of Vancouver, where in the late 1990s she mobilized churches for inner-city ministry. She had overcome both an eating disorder and a near-death bout with autoimmune hepatitis. With her faith stretched and her doctor offering little hope for her to beat a disease that was destroying her body’s immune system and attacking her organs, Grasseschi saw God intervene in a way she’d never experienced before. Her healing was a true miracle, both for her and her amazed doctor.
The experience marked Grasseschi, and in 2000 she bought an open-ended airline ticket to Liberia to do mercy missions work. At the time, Liberia was one of the least stable countries in Africa, yet Grasseschi wanted to obey what she sensed was God’s call for her to go.
As a missionary in Liberia, she was content to aid sick children mired in extreme poverty and face the occasional confrontation with a witch doctor. In fact, she was willing to serve in Africa the rest of her life. But only months later, her life was set on a new course when God called her to go to leaders of the free world as an ambassador of Christ.
“It was like the penny dropped for me,” she says, “and I realized if we can touch the hearts of our leaders, we can help multitudes of children at risk. It was like God was asking me to shift from serving the poor I could see, feel and touch on a one-on-one basis to being a voice for those at risk who I may never meet in this life.”
After wrestling with whether she had truly heard God’s call, she surrendered. Today, Grasseschi testifies that dealing with impoverished and unpredictable preteens with semi-automatic weapons in the backwoods of West Africa was less terrifying to her than dealing with first-world politicians, financiers and celebrities. But she had prayed for God to send her into places of spiritual darkness where He was lacking volunteers. Little did she know the answer to her prayer would take her from the pit of poverty to the societal pinnacles of Parliament and Hollywood.
In addition to launching MY Canada as the activism arm of TheCRY, Grasseschi has sounded the pioneer’s cry on multiple fronts—both inside and outside Canada.
In 2007, she launched the Canadian branch of Bound4LIFE, a grass-roots pro-life organization founded in the U.S. by Engle and Brian Kim, and established the 24/7 Prayer Siege 4 Life, which mobilizes day-and-night prayer to end abortion. This spring, she will lead a group of 25 women on a 140-mile prayer walk from the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Montreal to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. Along the way, each of the women will share their personal stories related to abortion with those they meet, and the walk will converge with the massive March for Life 2013, which last year drew almost 20,000 people.
Grasseschi’s leadership has helped launch other young people’s new ministries, including houses of prayer, Christian creative arts and a purity tour to impact the educational system.
“Faytene started out as an ordinary person who was ignited by God with a vision and a passion, and now she is spearheading revival in the next generation,” says Bill Prankard, a Pentecostal Assemblies of God minister who used to be Grasseschi’s pastor in Ottawa. “She gives young men and women practical things to do, such as how to contact government and what to say to government officials about moral values, but she takes it even further to create a culture of honor that I believe is key to revival. Faytene is raising up other ordinary young people to walk in the extraordinary and be committed to seeing the nation change.”
This year, Grasseschi will take TheCRY beyond North America. In August, intercessors will gather in Israel, with millions more joining on GOD TV. Dubbed “a CRY in the wilderness,” the day of prayer and fasting will call a generation to be as radical as John the Baptist in preparing the way for Jesus and will involve prophetic leaders such as Engle, Patricia King, James Goll, Matt Sorger and Kim Clement.
Though Grasseschi now splits her time between the U.S. and Canada—she lived briefly in Phoenix after marrying in 2011—she’s committed to spurring this radical generation across the nations to see a global spiritual awakening.
“In this hour of human history, we must be a people of prayer like never before,” she insists. “We are on a journey of reforming our culture.”
With Grasseschi leading a new breed of uncompromising activist prayer warriors, it’s clear the reformation has already begun.
Anthony Petrucci is a freelance writer based in New England.
Watch as Faytene Grasseschi shares her miraculous testimony of how God healed her from a terminal illness at faytene.charismamag.com.