Living Hope Staff Celebrate God’s Faithfulness as they Reflect on Blessings and Challenges in 2022

Boys at church in Pikangikum

Jamie and Rhonda Thornton live in Parry Sound, where God has faithfully opened doors for new relationships in the communities in the Georgian Bay area. They are blessed to reconnect with young people after the pandemic, and enjoy talking about faith and answering questions about Jesus. Their hope is to start a drop-in centre for First Nations youth. Jamie and Rhonda thrive on stepping out to journey with friends through the highs and lows of life, all the while pointing them to the hope that can only be found in Jesus.

Kevin and Norma Moore share the highlights of 2022 in Sudbury, “After talking about it for years, Sudbury First Nations Church finally affiliated ourselves with not one, but two, larger organizations. We joined the Northern Lights Association of Churches as a full member, and we also joined the Native Evangelical Fellowship of Canada as associate member. We’ve also started a Sunday soup and bannock supper in our home, and it’s so encouraging to see body life happening again. Pray for wisdom to know how to reach the younger crowd. Miigwetch!”

In the past year, Merle and Rita Nisly engaged in many rewarding conversations with friends, leaders, and parents. Helping others process their own life experiences keeps them learning and growing, too. Contact with friends in northern communities is special, especially as they pray for each other. “Aging and a few health challenges remind us that life is precious, that relationships are priority, and that God’s love is everlasting.”

A painting activity at New Hope Youth Centre

The three main things that Jeff and Mary Kirkpatrick focus on are volunteering with the New Hope Youth Centre, Jeff’s outreach to people on the street, and having friends (often young adults) over for meals and hangout time at their house. They also work in the LHNM office part-time, helping with IT support and communication with supporters. At the close of this year, they are thankful for friends who have become like family!

Paul and Esther Lee live in Grassy Narrows, and share the following, “For the year of 2022, it was inspiring to see faith grow through our daily morning prayer meeting. It is a challenge to battle our community’s struggles with addictions and people losing their faith. We would like to request continuous prayers for our community. It is encouraging to see our community trust us to lead services at our church, and having their support for our ministry motivates us to continue our work.”

Beverly and Sebai Yaman lead New Hope Fellowship in Thunder Bay, and feel that 2022 was a rewarding year. “It’s been amazing to have ministry back in full-swing after two years of start-stop ministry during the pandemic.” They’re blessed by young people in the church who are excited about their faith and want to be baptized. As they complete their seventh year of pastoral ministry, they are planning a sabbatical to relax and renew their vision of what God has next.

Youi’s baptism at New Hope Fellowship

As Stuart and Delores Swartzentruber recently stepped down from the leadership of LHNM, they will be taking a sabbatical to discern God’s direction for their future. The past year has primarily been filled with seeking God’s will for the future leadership of LHNM, and then watching the wonderful way he brought Andrew and Kristin Lang to lead LHNM through the next season. They ask for prayer as they navigate this transition.

Elder Penny Peters blesses Colleen Estes with clothes at Pikangikum

This fall Colleen Estes celebrated the faithfulness of God after 25 years of ministry in Pikangikum. However, it was a very different year, with a late Covid outbreak shutting down Christian Education in the school, Sunday School, and Bible studies for six months. Medical treatment also thwarted in-person outreach for two months later in the year. All of this strengthened her resolve to seize every opportunity to bring God’s Word and love to people’s lives. Her fervent prayer is for additional labourers for the ministry now that additional housing has been provided.

Attendees at Morson Community Church, Morson, ON

This has been a year of blessings and challenges for Stan and Sally Bragg in Saugeen. They launched a healing discipleship ministry called Eagles Wings Freedom Sessions, after seeing how badly it is needed. Jesus is the answer, and this outreach is merely a tool to invite him into the midst of grief, abuse, addiction, and trauma. They are thankful for the faithfulness of a great God, the prayers of his people, and they long for a supernatural move of God across Canada.

In Red Lake, Arthur and Iris Lyndaker prioritize time spent in one-on-one relationships, often over coffee or in a shared activity. In 2022 they were encouraged by the connections the Holy Spirit led them to – both in giving and receiving. Arthur is also the property manager for the LHNM buildings in Red Lake. Over the last year, the uncertainty of Iris’ health and her surgery has been difficult, and they appreciate prayer for peace and healing.

Rob and Joy Weaver praying at Morson Community Church

Rob and Joy Weaver and their family live in the small community of Morson, where their ministry centres on their church family and the weekly service. They also reach out to their community, building relationships and hosting a summer day camp for children. Several people have believed in Jesus, and the Weavers are delighted to encourage new believers as they follow Jesus! They are praying for another young family to share in the ministry there.

Jason from Teen Challenge receiving a gift after sharing at Camp Mishewah

Rob and Sharlene Dilts lead the Pinaaz-I Zibi Maamawi ministry in Golden Lake, and write about the last year, “The return to overnight camp and community involvement was rewarding, despite the challenges of fundraising and volunteer recruitment. We saw new and strengthened relationships through camp and community gatherings such as the Christmas feast. An important community connection continues to be hiring a local summer student as part of our Reconciliation Action Plan. Our partnerships continue developing with LHNM, as well as CRC, NAIITS, Teen Challenge, EMCC and many others.”

Campers at Camp Mishewah celebrating culture

Wendell and Lila Graber live in Sault Ste. Marie, where Wendell is the pastor of The Lighthouse. They both make it a priority to meet with people for conversation and prayer. Hearing from people about how God is working in their lives, and about spiritual growth is what encourages the Grabers in their ministry. Their prayer is that God will direct their connections and friendships and use them as a light.

Pinaaz-i Zibi Maamawi Indigenous Kids and Youth Camp, held at Camp Mishewah, ON

In Nipigon, Ken and Sondra Funk share that they have seen the Lord’s favor and blessing in 2022. “Our semi-retirement lifestyle continues to be full with no boredom. We are encouraged to see people we have prayed for returning to the Lord, and seeking to restore their relationship with Him. The principle of sowing and reaping are unstoppable Kingdom forces. We have fully enjoyed relating to our natural family and our church family and feel rich in relationships.”

LaMar and Janice Weaver live in Red Lake and operate the Treasure House store. LaMar continues to do photography, and designs both the Hopelines and the yearly LHNM calendar from his home office. Both are involved in the ministry of Grace Community Church and Janice is a part-time registered nurse. Both welcome the challenge of representing Jesus in their community.