Originally from the Merritt, BC area, the James’ along with their son, Kobe, studied at Key-Way-Tin Bible Institute and Nipawin Bible College. Bernie is happily busy with many behind-the-scenes tasks at Tribal Trails, including program duplication. She is presently building her team of prayer and financial supporters.
John & Lois Hopcraft first heard about NCEM through one of our missionary’s visits to their church in Winnipeg. Since then John has volunteered his carpentry skills at Pine Ridge Bible Camp, and they have accompanied our missionaries on visits to northern communities.
The Hopcrafts desire to further serve with NCEM as associate members, representing our Mission in churches, groups, and schools. “In my mind, retirement isn’t sitting in a rocking chair watching the grass grow!” says John. “It’s been amazing to see how Lois and I have been able to help out where we can.”
Conrad also travels extensively, connecting with pastors and lay leaders in Native communities. His service on the Native Evangelical Fellowship (NEFC) Board prompted a trip with three others in early spring to Garden Hill, northern Manitoba.
With arrangements to deliver fuel barrels for NCEM Aviation, the team traveled by truck. Garden Hill is Conrad’s home reserve, so 18 hours of very rough ice road was not new for him, but it was a new experience for the other three: a Native pastor from west-central Saskatchewan, a Bible college student from Mexico, and missionary Dave Wright from FirstStory (Ethnos Canada).
The team reported great opportunities to minister in the community of 4,000.
“Garden Hill has had the Gospel for many years,” reports Conrad, “and the NEFC church there has a Christian radio station.” The team also shared on local TV, but the highlight was their time with the believers, he says.
“The Fellowship loves God’s Word and preaches it faithfully. They do their best to disciple the believers. While a lot of folks have been saved through the years, they realize that they need to do more.
“Unfortunately, some are no longer walking with the Lord,” he adds, “so you can imagine their excitement as I shared about our new thrust of teaching Bible foundations so there will be better understanding.
“This can seem to take longer,” says Conrad, “but there is typically a depth to the resulting faith that will carry new believers through the storms of life that follow.”
Dave taught four foundational Bible lessons from Genesis. After each session the local pastor reiterated what was taught. In one session the teaching began at 9 pm and, with all the questions and discussion, finished at midnight!
“They took all the material that we brought with us and have asked us to return at a future date.”
P R A Y : Pray for future trips to Garden Hill and other communities needing the teaching of foundational Bible truths.
The Fletts appreciate prayer for their family, and their lives and witness in Prince Albert where Conrad is an elder at New Life Fellowship (C&MA).
Summer is a welcome time for Ruth Armstrong, who serves in Puvirnituq, Arctic Quebec. The warmer temperatures are appreciated, of course – even spring can be on the cold side (in April 2016 it was still dipping as low as -30C).
Summer is also a time when Ruth can enjoy a somewhat slower pace, as her ministry is closely tied to the public school calendar.
Bible classes for students from kindergarten through high school have been part of her work for several years. Ruth takes care of curriculum preparation for these classes taught in the Inuktitut language.
It’s a team effort, though, as she is joined by Inuit associate teachers at the school. Lately it’s been with high school students that Ruth has had direct classroom involvement.
P R A Y : “Pray for the ongoing teaching of God’s truth at school,” requests Ruth. Also, in her home she has the long-term care of a foster daughter now in Grade 2. Ruth asks, “Pray that she will come to understand about salvation and choose to follow Christ.”
Ruth also requests prayer for her community: “Pray for ‘POV’ with its issues of addiction and abuse. Pray for hurting and hopeless hearts to be awakened to the comfort and hope available in Christ. Pray that God would intervene to break the cycle of apathy and hopelessness.”
“This past year it has been great to see the Native believers we work with at St. Mary’s Reserve take upon themselves the job of assisting and encouraging the work on Tobique First Nation,” the Strouts report.
Tobique First Nation is one of six Wolastoqiyik reserves in New Brunswick, and the largest with a population of approximately 2500.
“God has brought unity among the Tobique believers and the Fredericton-area Native believers,” says Kevin.
“They support and share with each other in different Bible studies and outreach events. They have been responding as the opportunities arise. It’s great to see them reaching out in service among their own.”
As Kevin continues his visitation and discipleship ministry, he sees First Nations people facing unique struggles. He comments, “The struggle between growing in a relationship with God and not losing their traditions and culture is very real.”
P R A Y : “Please continue to keep these First Nations communities in your prayers,” request the Strouts. “Pray that we may be ‘ready always to give an answer’ and that the Gospel may be clearly shared.”
Kit & Debbie Elford manage NCEM’s US office in Billings, Montana. They have the daily tasks of processing donations, regular mailings (Northern Lights magazine, Minute-Man Call letters), along with Tribal Trails DVD duplication and shipping.
There are also unexpected phone calls. Some of the calls come from Montana First Nations reservations, requesting the Elfords to visit a relative who has been transferred to a Billings hospital.
Kit & Debbie find these ministry opportunities challenging. Usually they have never previously met the patient, and there are often relatives in the hospital room. The people may be from various religious backgrounds.
Yet the Elfords say that they have been accepted very well in these situations. The Lord has provided openings to share the Gospel with many, including those with terminal illnesses. Gospel literature is offered, sometimes a Bible is given, and Tribal Trails DVDs are always appreciated.
“Over the last eight years only one person has refused to listen, and only once were we asked to leave,” they say. “Some have taken the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Savior, while a few others have recommitted their lives to the Lord.”
P R A Y : “Please pray for open doors and wisdom to know how to share in these hospital visits,” request the Elfords.
Also, please pray for a replacement manager for NCEM’s US Office, as the Elfords are nearing retirement age.
Finding affordable health insurance has been a challenge for Kit & Debbie, and they appreciate prayer for this, as well.
Along with her other office responsibilities, Sue enjoys being bookkeeper for four of NCEM’s ministry departments.
The community of Oxford House, Manitoba, is never far from Sue’s heart, though, as she and her late husband, Tim, served there for 10 years.
Unfortunately, because of her father’s passing in November, Sue had to cancel her annual December trip to Oxford. “I really missed seeing everyone there and also missed playing piano for the elementary school’s Christmas concert,” she says.
However, at the end of March, friends from Oxford House came to Prince Albert to visit to help make up for their lost time together.
“The church (associated with NEFC) is doing well with its regular services and Sunday school,” Sue reports. “They still have lots of Sunday school material (thanks to response from Northern Lights readers).”
Oxford House now has its own Christian radio FM satellite station, enabling residents to tune into Christian music, preaching and other programming 24 hours a day. One of Sue’s friends recently told her how much she especially enjoys listening to church services broadcast from other communities.
P R A Y : Sue invites prayer for Oxford House, especially for young people, and grieving families.
This past year there have been a number of tragic deaths among youth, including suicides.
In August 2016 a young woman, who Sue had spent time with as a child, went missing in Winnipeg. Later a man was charged with her murder, and her body only recently recovered.
“It is a tremendous heartache to the families and to the community, especially when the deaths are tragic.
“However,” says Sue, “I also hear of answered prayers, joys and hope that many have, as well.”
After serving alongside Tom & Donna Cnossen in Maskwacis, Alberta in connection with Maskwacis Bible Fellowship Church, the Yeos are seeing God opening doors to new areas of ministry.
For the past year Jonathan has been tutoring students on the nearby Montana Reserve, and they have seen how this has created many connections in the community.
The Yeos with their five children recently moved their home to a new location and are realizing the benefits.
“When people ask where we live, we tell them the house with the little red barn on dump road,” says Jonathan. “Often their response is, ‘Oh, we know where you live. You guys are the ones that have the sheep and baby lambs.’ ”
The Lord has also opened the door for the Yeos to start an archery outreach in the local Community Centre in the fall.
Additionally, Jonathan has recently been given administrative responsibilities with NCEM’s Bible camps/ministry centres.
P R A Y : Pray for the continued growth and maturing of the Maskwacis Bible Fellowship Church. Also pray for protection of the Fellowship property. Their building has been broken into repeatedly this past year.
Margaret and her late husband, Stan, who went to be with the Lord in 1998, joined NCEM as missionary members in 1960 after graduating from our Mission’s Bible school at La Ronge, Saskatchewan.
Margaret faithfully supported Stan in his pastoral ministry in M’Chigeeng (West Bay) and Ojibwe language radio program reaching the Anishinabek people on Manitoulin Island and throughout northern and southern Ontario.
The Williams were charter members of Native Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (NEFC).
Margaret served faithfully in Sunday school and youth ministries while raising their nine children, plus several foster children. In her retirement years she remained a prayer warrior, which had characterized her entire life and ministry.
With deteriorating health, Margaret had spent the last several years in Centennial Manor in Little Current, Ontario.
To clarify, FirstStory Ministries is a ministry of Ethnos Canada (formerly New Tribes Mission Canada) and works in cooperation with NCEM. A number of our NCEM missionaries will serve under FirstStory direction in this new venture. You will find continued updates in Northern Lights magazine.
Pray along with us for more young couples and singles to join FirstStory as it focuses on Indigenous communities with no evangelical church.
We encourage those wishing to stand behind FirstStory financially to give to NCEM designating their gifts for FirstStory Ministries.