The Founders and Canadian Coordinators

Profile: Bill and Linda Brierly

ASOSAP/Hope of the Pokomchí Founders and International Coordinators

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

This motto has guided Bill and Linda throughout life, initially to have travel adventures around the globe, and ultimately, to embark on the spiritual adventure of seeking to help others by following what they sensed was God’s direction. Through many twists and turns, ups and downs, they landed with the Mayan Pokomchí of Guatemala.

Linda, born in New York City into a Christian family, has always known Jesus as her Savior. After meeting Bill in Bangkok, Thailand, when she was 24 years old, she began to take her Christian faith more seriously. She cannot explain why, but it became a turning point in her life in many ways.

Bill was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. His mother was an Orthodox Jewess who married a Catholic, resulting in Bill being educated by nuns in a Catholic school. As soon as he was a teenager, he rejected religion and chose to live life his way, acknowledging God exists but was not relevant to him.

Each traveled and lived “on the edge” before meeting the other.

Upon graduating as a professional nurse, Linda promptly went to work in the Appalachian Mountains with the Frontier Nursing Service. From there she lived in Germany, nursing in a German hospital in West Berlin, learning to speak German by total immersion. Next she went to South Vietnam during the war to nurse in an orphanage in Saigon, keeping many malnourished babies alive and helping many to leave Vietnam through adoption. When she left Vietnam, just months before the Americans pulled out, she traveled alone to Hong Kong and then to Bangkok where she met Bill. He stepped in as her “knight in shining armor” at just the right moment. (That is a story for another time!). It was love at first sight!

Bill, after graduating as a Weighing and Testing Machine Technician, immigrated to Australia where he worked, among other places, in the remote and arid Northern Territories. At one time he hitch-hiked around Australia, sometimes waiting days for a car to come by, and once, awaking in the dead of night surrounded by a group of silent aborigines. Fortunately, they were a friendly bunch! A few months later he decided to go to South Africa to work in the diamond mines. He sailed from Australia for Singapore on a cruise ship filled with beauty contestants! Bill’s overland journey from Singapore to Bangkok, brought him to that fateful meeting with Linda. Yup! It was love at first sight!

After briefly visiting England and the States, they decided to make Canada their new home, traveling there in an ancient V.W. van with a top speed of 40MPH, no heater, and which “died” as soon as it delivered them to Edmonton, Alberta in the dead of winter. Within a year they left the city for the untamed wilds of the Yukon Territory where they lived for 5 years, 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Bill worked in a large lead and zinc mine as millwright and maintenance planner; Linda worked in a Nursing Station. It was in the Yukon that they learned to cross-country ski (often at 30 F. below zero) and to canoe (sometimes for 2 weeks at a time, seeing no other human soul).

Since the Yukon, they have lived on Salt Spring Island and Clearwater, British Columbia. Clearwater is now home base. Bill worked for years as a Back-Country Ranger in a nearby wilderness park and Linda worked in the local 10-bed rural hospital. It was then that Bill and Linda started their annual winter trips to Latin America. They first went as tourists, then as short term volunteers for various social aid projects.

All this time, 20 years, Linda prayed that Bill would take God more seriously and personally. As she prayed for Bill, God drew her closer and closer to Himself. He was also working on Bill in various creative ways that Bill recognized but chose to ignore. Finally, while they were working in Nicaragua for a 2-year commitment for a private foundation, God “nabbed” Bill and wouldn’t let him go. Bill finally accepted Jesus and started his amazing “fast-forward” walk with the Lord.
Two years later, in 1999, Bill and Linda traveled to San Cristobal, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, to live and work with the Mayan Pokomchí tribal group living in the mountains of that area. A business card left by “chance” on a desk in Nicaragua and picked up by Bill “directed” them to the Pokomchí. They have been there ever since, first with Food for the Hungry and then with Helps International. In 2004, God, through amazing and at times painful events, led them to form their own organization, Hope of the Pokomchí, ASOSAP.
Their passion is to show God’s love by the way they live their lives, and to mentor and help others to reach the full potential that God intends for them.  They continue to “live on the edge” – of their own resources and strength, depending daily on God’s faithfulness and provision.