Hopelines December 2019

A Glimpse of God at Work in 2019

by Ken Funk and Rhonda Slaubaugh

In this issue we give you a glimpse into the lives and activities of the Living Hope Native Ministries staff team. These are the faithful labourers who have sacrificially given their lives to Kingdom-first living, and bringing the powerful message of redemption to those in their place of calling. They are the faithful whose work is unrecognized by the world, but who know the power of sowing and reaping and have chosen to sow for a great harvest.

Thank you for your support of this team through your genuine interest, intercessory prayers, financial partnership, and the powerful sowing you are doing into their lives. We are entering the unchartered waters of 2020.  Change comes at us fast and furious. But we are know that the timeless law of the harvest is still in full effect, and we believe with you for a huge harvest in the coming year.

Children's Church with the Lyndakers at GCC in Red Lake, ON.

Arthur and Iris Lyndaker live in Red Lake where they are the LHNM facilities managers and the field supervisors for the area. Their son, Collin, got married to Rhoda this summer, and Andrea and Graham are attending Rosedale Bible College. Iris homeschools Evan and Olivia, as well as two other children. Arthur left his construction job due to an injury. During the summer he kept busy with their market garden.
They are very involved with Grace Community Church, including preaching/teaching and leading a small group. Teaching kids' church is a highlight of the week. The Lyndakers have purchased 40 acres for a future produce farm, and dream of developing that property into a place of discipleship and ministry. In September Arthur led Akwachink Leadership School.

Merle and Rita Nisly are part-time workers, serving as advisors for the LHNM administration from their home in Red Lake. They also visit and encourage people in personal relationships, respond to requests for teaching and mentoring, and make visits to northern communities for events like weddings and funerals. They relate to multiple local-church leadership groups for mentoring and coaching. Traveling to visit family members and taking time to enjoy creation are also important activities in this season.

Wendell and Lila Graber report from Sault Ste. Marie, "Much of 2019 was spent renovating the building for our church, The Lighthouse. It was a stressful year with unexpected challenges. At the same time, it was a great privilege to have "front row seats" as God moved, sometimes in ways that seemed miraculous, to meet every need. Faith at The Lighthouse has grown as a result.

The Lighthouse dedication in Sault Ste Marie, ON

"Most of the work is completed and we have been using the building since early June. A couple from the neighborhood has been attending on Sunday mornings now; several other newcomers are there occasionally. It feels good to have more time to invest in relationships again. We thank God for all he has done, and look forward to what is to come."

Malachi and his mom at his graduation.

Colleen Estes shares, "Some of the joys of ministry in Pikangikum over the past year were continuing to be able to point children to Jesus in daily Christian Education classes at Eenchokay Birchstick School; having two young men attend Mokahum Discipleship school; two young adults from Pikangikum taking the Gospel to the nations; hosting the first-ever couple's seminar; 26 youth experiencing passionate worship at WLS; and having a rundown youth building transformed by God's people infused with His power. Sometimes the joys were very simple things, like making it possible for a mom who has been away from home for medical reasons to be able to attend her son, Malachi's, grade 8 graduation.
"However, intermingled with the joys were tense times as forest fires threatened the community, and tragic times as we buried youth, babies, and parents in the prime of life. In the midst of it all, the command of Colossians 3:12 is so vital in continuing ministry..."clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

Sondra Funk connects with friends over lunch at their home in Nipigon, ON

This past year, Ken and Sondra Funk continued to serve with Living Hope in a half-time capacity. They are involved with administration, oversight of staff, and also continue to work in local ministry in the Thunder Bay area. Ken and Sondra are excited to watch a new generation emerging at New Hope as youth are stepping up and being committed Christ followers. They are learning to embrace new roles as influencers, with less hands-on doing.

Kirk Turtle, from Pikangikum, is at Mokahum Ministry Center in Minnesota.

Sebai and Beverly Yaman are leading New Hope Fellowship in Thunder Bay. This last year has been an encouraging milestone for the church with the purchase of their building! Sebai and Bev are leading the church through the Alpha program this fall, and have had a good turnout each Wednesday evening for a meal and study. Their prayer is for disciples to be made, and the church to be strengthened.

Stuart and Delores Swartzentruber write from Thunder Bay, "As LHNM executive director, Stuart spent a lot of days in the office this past year. Many tasks have been new for him and have stretched his comfort zone. He has also been able to do some traveling to visit staff members and to encourage the local churches. He often takes other men with him if I am unable to go. His focus is the office, but he always has time for a coffee with friends.
"We have been privileged to assist with some funerals here in Thunder Bay. There have also been many visits to the hospital to visit individuals who have been sent for medical care from northern communities. We have seen some amazing answers to prayers for healing. Praise God for his grace in these lives. Our local church is running the Alpha course, and we have been helping with cooking and leading a group. These activities, along with the recent purchase of a house and moving, have kept us busy."

Mary Keesic (bookkeeper) and Rhonda Slaubaugh (administrative assistant) are also part of the LHNM office team in Thunder Bay. Now that one year of working in the office has gone by, we can look back and see many answers to prayer as we learned our jobs. It's a privilege to have a connection with the staff and to see the behind the scenes activity. Our prayer is that our work will be a piece of what God is doing through the staff and churches of LHNM.

Paul and Esther Lee at Grassy Narrows

Paul and Esther Lee send this testimony from Grassy Narrows, "It's already the month of November. Due to my brothers and sisters' help from different areas, we were thankful to have another good summer. We had teams from Trenton First Baptist (Missouri), and Korean churches from Boston, USA and Mississauga, ON. These teams had come here to share God's love with the adults and the children of my community. Also in preparation for winter, a small team from Missouri came to help us cut wood and share God's words with our church. I ask in the name of the Lord that the people who support and help us will continue to have passionate and loving hearts for the Lord and will continue to work in expanding God's kingdom through prayers and God's words. God knows all of the hard work and efforts that my brothers and sisters had put in while they were here. Due to the help that we received here, I am happy to inform you that there are few changes and improvements in my church. I love you, my brothers and sisters, and I thank you once again. Shalom."

Kevin and Norma Moore of Sudbury lead the group at Sudbury First Nations Church, and are excited about the way God is building up the leadership team. Along with church responsibilities, they also spend a lot of time visiting people in the hospital. Many of these people are far from their homes in northern communities, and are grateful that Kevin and Norma come to encourage and pray for them.

LaMar and Janice Weaver live in Red Lake, operate a small store, and are active at Grace Community Church. LaMar has been producing the Living Hope calendars and Hopelines for over twenty years as well as assisting with summer teams. "I look back at my photos and stories and can see the many ways that God has worked in peoples lives," said LaMar. "I like telling people's stories!"

Stan and Sally Bragg work in Saugeen, ministering to youth and families in the community. We are praying for God's leading as we start our 20th year of ministry there, and are looking forward to adding a monthly dinner outreach for families to our other activities. We are excited to have a young man from Cape Croker doing an internship with us and hoping to enter full time ministry in the New Year! We are gathering for prayer for Saugeen, Cape and the country of Canada. Please pray for the prayer gatherings happening in our home Monday evenings, on Cape Croker monthly, and monthly on Saugeen beginning in January 2020. May a mighty move of God see many come to know Jesus as their Saviour and see healing released across our communities.

Rob and Sharlene Dilts minister through camps and personal relationships in Golden Lake. They are closely involved with their community, and are walking in relationship and small gatherings "as we learn to travel well together."

Philip and Anne Warner live and work in Pikangikum, with the goal of sharing God's love and hope with the community. Philip works with the counselors at the school, and Anne cares for their two sons. They both have frequent opportunities to connect with neighbours and friends as they hope to shine God's light in Pikangikum.

Maturing Into Diversity

By Stuart Swartzentruber

Most of us celebrate diversity most of the time. We drive long distances to see the brilliant colours of the oak, maple, birch, poplar or evergreen trees. Through human intervention we can now enjoy over 7500 varieties of apples in our world! And who doesn't enjoy a hobby like birding or hiking where we experience the glory of God's diverse creation?

Is it possible that the world God created was intended to mature into a beautiful diversity of plants, animals and people all worshipping their Creator? We lament when we see the loss of variety through the extinction of plants, animals, and cultures. We love the beauty of creation in all of its brilliance and variety.

I wonder if part of our fallen nature leads us away from diversity and variety, and toward a strict uniformity of belief and practice. Fear of losing truth and a desire for safety has kept many of us from reaching out to those different from ourselves. I have been recently challenged in how I evaluate the people and cultures around me. Is my goal and passion to see people maturing and becoming more like me? Do I think people are maturing and looking like Jesus when they start picking up my beliefs or taking on my cultural traits? Is it possible that as we grow in becoming more like Jesus, we actually expand our capacity to embrace those different from ourselves? I wonder sometimes if God doesn't spread out specific pieces of the puzzle of His Truth among many church traditions. If we want to see the whole picture we must humbly go and learn from one another.

It is a joy for me to read reports from our staff and to see them in action at their locations.  Our staff are so different from one another in their backgrounds and methodology. There is a beauty in this. I have the privilege of sitting with them, hearing their hearts for Jesus, and seeing the humility with which they pursue Jesus in partnership with others. Our staff are not perfect and we fall short many times as we seek to have a learner's heart.

I believe that as we embrace our differences under the watchful eye of our Creator and Redeemer, the communities of faith that emerge will reflect a beauty that is not possible otherwise.

As you read the reports from the staff of LHNM, we invite you to rejoice in the many ways that God is building his kingdom in Ontario in a variety of First Nations contexts.

This Christmas, we rejoice that we have a God who entered our world as a baby; lived, died and rose again to "...ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" Revelation 5:9.

LHNM Staff Opportunities

Thunder Bay is a small but busy city (110,000) with many people coming and going from the northern communities, especially for education and healthcare. This job description will be developed with the candidate from many opportunities including partnership with ministries to Indigenous youth, hospital visitation, and contributing to the local church. Additional opportunities exist in the LHNM office, including IT support and assisting with public relations. This assignment is for a minimum of two years.

The LHNM office has an opening for an individual with skills and interests in graphic design, photography, videography, and public relations. The job description includes the quarterly Hopelines newsletter, the annual calendar, and communication with supporting churches and individuals. Occasional travel to LHNM locations and public relations events would be required. Additionally, opportunities are available to be involved in and contribute to the local church and youth ministries. This assignment is based in Thunder Bay, Ontario

North Caribou Lake First Nations, on the shores of Weagamow Lake, is a community of 800 people located 320 km north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. This opening is ideal for a married couple who could partner with the local churches to connect with the youth and children of the community. Relationships would be built through activities such as after-school programs, youth groups, teaching Sunday school, or hosting summer camps. This assignment is for a minimum of two years.

For more information on any of these opportunities, call Rhonda at 855.367.8199 or email office@lhnm.org