Tabitha, tell us a bit about your growing up years.
I grew up close to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, with an older sister and four younger brothers. We grew up running through the bush and learning to canoe on the river … all right across from our house! My dad taught us to ski, and spent many evenings reading to us. My mom home-schooled us and found ways to make learning creative and fun. I was pretty quiet and shy, so I was glad to be home-schooled.
My parents are NCEM missionaries, Brent & Wanda Wahlstrom, so there was always some traveling (which I loved) and meeting people (which I didn’t love).
Tell what happened that led to you receiving Christ into your life.
I was about seven years-old when I trusted Christ as my Savior. I remember being very afraid of dying, and one night I talked with my dad and then prayed to accept Jesus’ forgiveness and eternal life.
Can you describe your life growing as a young Christ-follower?
Because I was so young, I don’t remember much of a drastic change in my life when I accepted Christ. But I had a desire to know God, and later a desire to be baptized and give my life to serving Him.
Through my later teen years our family went through some tough times, and I questioned God and doubted His love. But He was so faithful in bringing me back and re-assuring me that He was always there, and that He did indeed love me. His presence in my life has pulled me out of some pretty dark places through the years, even recently, and I am thankful that He is forever faithful.
… and your first interest in serving the Lord in ministry?
Growing up as an “MK” (missionary kid), of course I always knew about NCEM. My parents involved us kids in their ministry and I loved helping out at the Tribal Trails studio, and tagging along on video recording trips.
Besides television, my parents were also involved in summer camp ministry and would always bring us kids along with them. I guess I thought that I might end up in missions somewhere – and I dreamt about going over to Africa as a nurse. I did get to Africa on a short-term missions trip, and that’s where God revealed that, for me, I should be serving Him among people who need Him right here in Canada.
Tell about your decision to join NCEM as a full-time missionary.
I don’t think God gave me an option (just kidding! … but, in reality, there is some truth to that). My introduction to NCEM’s Pine Ridge Bible Camp came at age 12 when I tagged along with my sister to help out in the kitchen one summer. Since then, the only summer I’ve missed serving at Pine Ridge was when I was on a missions team in Peru.
You know how Bible camp goes – you start by helping with dishes, you come back for several summers as a cabin leader, then for a few years you maybe show up for a few weeks here and there to help with things like registration or the “LIT” program (Leaders in Training) … and then you move on with life, go to college and get a job.
Well, I’ve tried that – moving on – many times over the last years, and God just kept bringing me back to Pine Ridge. So, to make a long story short, I finally quit fighting it and joined NCEM to work at camp full-time!
But lest it sound negative, it has been an amazing journey – challenging and crazy difficult, yes, but also amazing – that God has been taking me on. And I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be invested in than with the staff and campers at Pine Ridge!
Any “surprises”? Has your full-time missionary service turned out the way you’d expected?
Just about everything has been different from what I expected. But I’m glad that God didn’t paint me a picture of what my life would be, because it would have seemed too much. He knows how to prepare us for each step of the journey before opening the next door. I’m also thankful for those who God has put into my life to mentor and guide me through it all.
Life is more than just ministry … tell about your favorite way(s) to relax.
I know I need to figure out better what “relax” means, but I do enjoy hiking, scrap-booking, camping, reading, driving, and seeing new places.
Your greatest challenge in ministry?
Getting to know so many campers and “LITs” through the years, and then watching the poor choices that many of them make as they get older can be really discouraging. Also, overcoming fear and having the confidence and courage to make decisions, knowing that God is guiding.
Your greatest joy in your ministry?
Seeing the Camp staff grow. God has given so much potential to each of our LITs and staff, and it is a joy to see them grow in so many ways: in their walk with God, in leadership opportunities, and in the gifts and personalities that He has given them. It is a joy to be part of their journey and to see what God can and will do through their lives.