December 19, 2021
Article by Braden Swab, Interview by Dan Chong
“I was really, really sick.”
It was 2014, and Isabelle Meunier – founder of the LINK Village Society in Kamloops, BC Canada – was given 24 hours to live.
“I told the Lord that I was ready to go if it was my time, but that I had kids at home waiting for me. But I just said, ‘Well, your will be done.’”
That didn’t mean she was giving up.
“I also said to the Lord, ‘In Jeremiah 30:17, it says that You restore our body to health and heal all of our wounds.’” Isabelle continued, “I just came into alignment with that truth and promise. And just like that, I was healed. And at that time, I said to the Lord, ‘My life is yours, whatever you want me to do.’”
A year later, Isabelle felt God leading her to travel internationally on a mission trip. Instead of sending her to Mexico to visit her sponsor child, as she expected, God directed Isabelle to a country much further away: South Africa. It was there that God gave her a clear vision.
Isabelle began sharing this vision with others in South Africa, who were already working with orphans in the area, convinced it was a vision for them. Oddly, no one she talked to felt the same call.
“And so I went home and I said, ‘Lord, who's this vision for?’ And He said, ‘It's for you.’”
After a second visit to the country, Isabelle returned home determined to bring God’s vision for this village to life in South Africa. As door after door closed, God once again redirected her focus to the city she lived in: Kamloops, British Columbia.
“I was working on a project called ‘Brave’ to bring awareness against human trafficking. I started communicating with local organizations that work with vulnerable children, especially young girls."
It was shortly after this revelation that Isabelle founded the LINK Village Society – with LINK as an acronym for Love In Nations Kind – to be a sustainable source of affordable housing and resources that keep children with their families.
“There are way too many families that are broken, where children are pulled into ‘the system’. Where…if only their families had a little bit of support, this could be prevented. If they weren’t separated from their families, they might not be on the street and be the first prey for human trafficking.”
The fruit of Isabelle’s vision, the future LINK Village, will serve families of many backgrounds, including local Indigenous communities. In British Columbia, there are over 8,900 children who do not live with their biological parents, 65% of whom are Indigenous. With the recent finding of the remains of 215 residential school children near Kamloops, the call for reconciliation with Indigenous communities is stronger than ever.
“It breaks my heart. They blame the Church for that. And that's not Jesus. Jesus came to this planet to break those things and proclaim the good news of God's kingdom. And in God's kingdom, there is no racism. There's no division.”
LINK Village Society's goal will be to build nine homes and a community centre in the city of Kamloops. The community centre will provide support and services for families in need, both from inside and outside the village homes.
Equipped with the vision, but not sure where to start, LINK Village Society connected with the EMI Canada office in Calgary, AB in mid-2021. EMI gathered a small team of professionals to help Isabelle and LINK refine their vision, navigate early-stage design challenges, and create visuals to help them share their vision with others.
Isabelle shared about her experience working with the EMI team.
“EMI has been so amazing. From the beginning, EMI was able to come alongside and to listen and capture the vision. And that is a gift itself; to be able to listen in a way where they can put it onto paper.”
“This is what we are dreaming and hoping, and having that visual (from EMI) is such an immense tool to be able to help the community see the bigger vision, to see the bigger picture of what we have in our hearts and minds.”
More than just their skills in architecture and project planning, the EMI team was able to provide LINK with something deeper.
“Just the collaboration and the love and the prayers in all of this that the EMI team brought forth,” Isabelle continued.
“That is just a beautiful thing to me. It's such a breath of fresh air to be able to know that there's such an organization that was led by the Lord to keep moving ministry, not only in (other) nations but in our own country too.”
With the Christmas season in full swing, Isabelle contemplated the connection between this time of the year and the future of LINK Village.
“Christmas is about family. Christmas is about the birth of our Savior.” Isabelle said. “It's the biggest gift that we could ever receive – the redemption and the salvation that he came to offer us so freely. And LINK Village is all about that. It's so those families, those women and children, can have an encounter with Jesus. And they are going to be able to have that transformed heart that can bring on a new beginning, a new way of life. And therefore, bring healing.”
It’s not difficult to envision the greater things yet to come as God works through Isabelle and LINK Village to provide hope to families in need in the Kamloops area.
“In our village, they will receive that support in a kingdom place. Where there would be no division. There would be unity. To feel like they matter. That we care about the struggles they're going through. We care about the needs that they have that are not being met. And just to come alongside them. And there, greater things can come.”
What’s next for Isabelle and LINK Village?
“Prayer is our next step, as always. And then finding land and then… we're just going to continue until this vision is in place. And when it is, you'll be invited to the grand opening.”