Category: From the Director

Created for a Purpose

By Stuart Swartzentruber

My Mom likes old things. She had antiques around our house when I was growing up and still has many around today. One item in particular that I remember from my youth is an old black iron. My Mom used it for a door stop, and I remember stubbing my toes on it many times with my bare feet.

That iron was created long ago to be used to take wrinkles out of clothes. It was designed and built with that purpose specifically in mind. It can also make an amazing door stop or a book end, but the purpose and potential it was designed for is missed when it is used in that way.

Learning from Others

By Stuart Swartzentruber

Recently I was listening to a podcast where pastor and writer, Albert Tate, was being interviewed. In the interview he talked about the need for churches to be places where different cultures and backgrounds are celebrated and individualism is kept in check. Tate said, “If you come from a completely different culture, how am I gonna love you well if I completely ignore your culture…What does it mean for me to be invited to carry your burden and share your burden and not be your burden.”

I See Jesus in You

By Stuart Swartzentruber

Recently I sat in a Sunday service at New Hope Fellowship in Thunder Bay listening to a new Christian describe what drew him to follow Jesus. He said that he saw happiness and passion when individuals talked about Jesus. As he became part of the group, he observed how people took care of, prayed, and shared love with one another. He said, “I saw Jesus from looking at you. When I talk to you, I see Jesus’ personality in you.” I can think of no greater affirmation for a church than that comment! I was overwhelmed with gratefulness at that moment for the privilege of belonging to this local expression of the body of Christ.

A Journey From Blindness

By Stuart Swartzentruber

The discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites has brought horror and grief to many in Canada. There is also a certain kind of vindication for the residential school survivors who have spoken of atrocities at some schools for many years.

I am non-Indigenous, but help lead an organization that is owned and controlled by a majority Indigenous board. I grieve for the loss and the pain that the residential school system brought to Indigenous people in Canada. I grieve that LHNM’s historic connection to organizations that operated a residential school still causes pain. I grieve that I participated in a government funded system designed to destroy Indigenous culture. I grieve for the students and friends that encountered pain and loss at Poplar Hill Development School where I worked. I am trying to learn how to walk in humility and repentance in regards to those years of my life.

Tensions that Strengthen

By Stuart Swartzentruber
I have memories of baling hay as a boy on our farm in Delaware. The hay was compacted into a chamber where strands of twine were knotted around the bale. The right amount of tension was needed to produce a bale that was firm, but not too heavy. Too little tension and the bales were soft and unstackable; too much tension and the bales were heavy and the twine in danger of snapping. I remember tightening or loosening the tension on the machine.

Words like “restriction,” “stress,” “tension,” and “constraint” bring up negative emotions in many of us these days. But can there be tensions that strengthen? Is there a stress that produces beauty?

Growing the Partnership

By Stuart Swartzentruber

Living Hope Native Ministries is turning fifteen years old this year. How is that idea of partnership, doing these days? What have we learned? What kind of future does LHNM envision?

The working out of ideas, even God-given ideas, can easily lose their glitter as they get dragged through the dirt and debris of what we call “everyday life”. The last 15 years have not seen the complete fruition of all that we have hoped and longed for, but God’s desire for unity is like a compass pointing us the right direction.

Faithful to Jesus

By Stuart Swartzentruber

God calls each of us to faithful living. The word faithfulness can elicit ideas of predictability, steadfastness, loyalty, and duty. These are great descriptions, but can come across as if being faithful to Jesus is unexciting and never makes waves. Faithfulness as described in the Bible meant radical living and upsetting the status quo.

The faithful men and women recounted in Hebrews 11, although loyal to God, were anything but predictable to onlookers.

The Unstoppable Kingdom

Stuart Swartzentruber

God’s kingdom is unstoppable! It has a mind of its own, and has a King who bows to no one. This kingdom will not cave to peer pressure or popular thought. In its truest form, it can never be hijacked by anyone for personal gain or status.

God’s kingdom topples other kingdoms, but not with a sword. It declares justice for all. It gives favour to the humble, the weak, and the vulnerable. It curtails and opposes the arrogant and the proud.

The Right Fit

by Stuart Swartzentruber

Recently, while working on my deck railing, I extracted a 1\2” drill bit from my tools and drilled the necessary holes for fastening the wooden railing to my deck. It was satisfying to see the obvious results as I drilled.

LHNM Office at the Right Location for This Time

By Stuart Swartzentruber

For over fifty years, Northern Light Gospel Mission, Impact North Ministries, and Living Hope Native Ministries had their offices and headquarters in Red Lake, ON. In September of 2018 LHNM moved those offices to Thunder Bay, ON. Why? According to Statistics Canada, in 1960 only 12 percent of First Nations individuals lived in Canadian cities. Today that number is close to 60 percent.