It had been an intense few days with the Higher Challenge campers. We had taken them to places they normally wouldn’t go in their everyday lives – down rivers and up mountains, and rappelling off cliff faces.
It was our last night, our last campfire, and I was headed for my tent, thanking the Lord for a safe camp, satisfied that our leaders had indeed shared and lived out the Gospel. As I was about to check in for the night, I noticed Esther with a gathering of campers around her.
There wasn’t the usual silly laughter of over-tired teens. No, they were talking quietly, and then I heard her lead them one by one in a prayer, putting their trust in Jesus Christ. I think I slept with a smile on my face that night!
We met Esther Arbour in an odd way. In the fall of 2009 I was playing an audio track of Tribal Trails (NCEM’s Native Christian TV program) on our weekly program at Maskwacis Radio in Hobbema. Her recorded testimony stood out to me as very honest and godly, and I hoped that someday we would meet Esther, who is Ojibwa First Nation and employed as a civil engineer for the City of Calgary.
A few months later an email from NCEM Headquarters came through. It told of a woman looking for an opportunity to spend her holidays serving the Lord with NCEM … and it was Esther!
I wrote our Mission Office right away and said we could sure use a leader for our Higher Challenge camp. It was then that we found out that Esther loved the outdoors, had a burden for Aboriginal young people, and was glad to come. She wondered if, in the meantime, we could use some help in Hobbema. Of course we said, “Yes!”
We have found in Esther such a willing spirit to serve the Lord. She lives with a deep gratitude for what Jesus Christ has done in her life.
As a tri-athlete, she knows what it means to persevere. She has walked in the same shoes as many of our young people, and knows where to find true hope and help, and loves to share it. Almost monthly Esther has come up to the Hobbema Fellowship. Sometimes she loads her pickup full of food to give away at the church.
She has enjoyed street witnessing in the Samson Reserve town site. Recently she came up with about 30 free tickets to a hockey game in Calgary for our youth. She has shared her story on our live radio program, and has been taped by The Storyteller (Native Christian radio program).
She has endeared herself to our people. When we don’t see her for a while, they always ask me, “When is Esther coming back?” We have come to know her also as a prayer warrior, and we believe God is hearing those prayers and working in the lives of the people here.
I believe God sends people into our lives and into our ministries. Like the Esther of old, I believe this one has come for such a time as this.
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (#515). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.