In 2003, Robert Canady was serving as the pastor of pastoral care at Friendship West Baptist Church. But he could feel the Lord calling him to start a church in Southeast Dallas. So, on March 31, 2003, Canady quit his job to plant a new church with no building, no members and no funds. He had faith, however, that the Lord would provide. That afternoon he went to the gym, where he ran into Charlie Wilson, who was serving as executive pastor of Sunnyvale FBC and director of Evangelism at Texas Baptists at the time.
When Wilson heard about Canady’s ambitions, he got excited. They shared the same vision to start a church in Southeast Dallas county. Dr. Wilson wanted to plant a church to reach those outside of the walls of Sunnyvale FBC. He asked for Canady to come by Sunnyvale FBC, and when Canady arrived, Wilson told him that Sunnyvale FBC had a building they had recently acquired that they could meet at, people who would serve in their ministries and funds to get them started.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Canady said. “You know that was all God.”
God had provided Wilson with the resources to fund the vision He had given Canady. With that, All Nations Fellowship (ANF) was born in Garland, a small Texas Baptists church start with 12 initial members.
Raising up the next generation
Now, over 18 years since ANF’s inception, the church grew from the 12 original members to almost 800 in early 2020. They are involved in ministry in all aspects of their community, striving to meet people where they are at and improving their lives.
One of their biggest ministries is Next Level Life, which is led by Stephanie Canady, Robert’s wife. Next Level Life is designed to help local students prepare for the “next level” of life, whether that is college or the workforce. Canady explained that Next Level Life seeks to educate them on real-life issues, from finances to resumes to healthcare.
“We started Next Level Life because we felt like there was a need to make sure our kids were ready. Some kids are going to go to college, some are going to go straight into the workforce. And they’re not all ready,” Canady said. “We want these kids to have the best opportunity for success that we can give them.”
A prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2020 opened Canady’s eyes to even more opportunities for local ministry. He learned that African American men are at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. In fact, a study by Zero Cancer shows that one in six African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at one point in their lives.
As Canady went through his doctor appointments, surgery and recovery, Canady felt God calling him to start a new component of their ministry, the Next Level Life Men’s Health. The ministry, Canady explained, will educate men in their community, the majority of whom are African American, about health issues, particularly prostate cancer. They will also help those who cannot afford medical care get check-ups and anything else they need to stay healthy.
“God took me around the long way to get me to see what he wanted me to see,” Canady said of his own cancer. “The pandemic has taught us that we don’t need a big church, we just need a big ministry. Our goal is to do massive ministry by reaching the masses.
“I’m glad we never started the new church building because that’s God’s hand directing and ordering our steps,” he continued. “ANF’S vision has been made even clearer. We are a body of Christian believers called to impact the community, edify the believer and glorify the Father.”