Category: From the Director

On the Path to Reconciliation

By Andrew Lang

I recently attended a gathering put on by the former students of the Mennonite-run residential schools.  During the gathering I was able to listen to many stories from the former students about their experiences while at residential schools. Those stories included physical abuses, an encounter with the one true God, sexual abuses, memories of loving staff sharing their love for God with them, neglect, the formation of life-long friendships, and cultural abuses amongst other experiences.

Christmas Update

By Andrew Lang

As 2023 draws to a close, I am amazed at how I’ve seen God at work through our staff and associate team this year. It has been such an encouraging journey, and I am looking forward to what God will do in this coming year. Since reflecting and celebrating is such a major theme in the Bible I thought it would be fitting to talk about some exciting things we’ve seen God do through us and what we are planning for the future.

Here’s what we are excited about:

  • VBS started back up with a team going to Pikangikum.
  • We hired Rodney Martin for the position of Public Relations Director.

Looking Forward

By Andrew Lang

The mission of Living Hope is to equip and empower local churches that matter. We are shifting energy as an organization so that we can more effectively do that, specifically with partnership in mind.

I’m excited that we have been able to trial a number of events, and are building relationships to help build up the local church in northern communities. We’re hoping to build on the momentum we’ve gained this past year, reach even more people, and be a resource to more First Nations Christians in Northern Ontario.

A Community that Cares

By Andrew Lang

Recently, I was in a car accident and what struck me (days after the mishap) was how quickly my church family was there to check in on me and to help our family with our needs.  We didn’t have to advertise it or ask for help; it was just there.  I was so moved by how caring and generous the people in my community were to my family.  I had more phone calls checking in on me than from my direct family, which is not a dig on my family; it’s just a sign of how invested the church community is.

There’s a saying that “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”

Go, Make Disciples

By Andrew Lang

Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus has very explicit instructions for us here; he commands us to go, a call that isn’t tied to spiritual gifting or skills. This is a universal command for all of us who believe. We must all be active in spreading God’s word. It doesn’t mean we have to go far, but we do need to be an active agent in bringing the word of truth to those in the world.

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?