Project Builders’ ‘100s of Projects’ Make Huge Impact

Tournament marks its 24th anniversary

by Len Barkman

Three church building projects in Nicaragua, a garden tractor to be used in South Sudan, and ICYA building renovations in Winnipeg—these are the projects benefiting from fundraising by EMC Project Builders at its 24th anniversary golf tournament on June 24, 2018.

The church building projects will receive a total of $10,000; an equal amount will support the assembly and production of a walk-behind garden tractor, which can be locally built and sold in South Sudan to aid in agricultural projects; and $13,000 will help ICYA.

Want to know more about the effect of Project Builders’ giving? Funds raised over and above these projects will support a ministry centre in Myanmar, a portable recording studio in Paraguay, outreach in northern Manitoba, office equipment for a Romanian evangelist, radio ministry in Mali, ministry in Afghanistan, several building renovations for ministries in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, a translation project in Myanmar, a school building in Mexico, and camp development in Brazil.

The EMC Project Builders Golf Tournament has been well supported by a great group of generous sponsors, many of whom have contributed to this event in all of these years. It has been well attended by golfers of all abilities who have come from all our Manitoba regions and have shared in the fellowship and camaraderie of this recreational event.

The tournament’s success is because of the dedicated work of planning committees that each year give many volunteer hours to organize an event enjoyable to all who attend. Yet what truly drives the golf tournament is the financial support it gives to the mission and ministry of Project Builders.

Project Builders is a para-EM Conference organization, operating under a separate committee of business and professional people with a heart for supporting special projects and programs initiated by our missionaries and the national churches associated with our EMC missions program.

We are committed to working in association with our missionaries to enhance areas of ministry being developed through their vision and implementation. Over the years we have supported hundreds of projects that have had a huge impact in building Christ’s Church. Project Builders, which started in 1973 as the EMC Missions Auxiliary, has existed much longer than its golf tournament.

The best way to describe the work of Project Builders is to say it considers many wide-ranging applications each year. Typically we support from 12 to 15 projects annually. A new slate of potential projects is reviewed by the Project Builders committee and presented to our membership for approval in November.

The work of Project Builders is financed through our members who each provide an annual donation of $250. More funds are raised through additional donations and an event such as the golf tournament. We welcome members from all our EMC congregations.

We are always available to present the work of Project Builders in adult Sunday Schools, church services, or by invitation to a business breakfast or lunch. For contact and membership information you are invited to visit the EMC website at http://www.emconference/projectbuilders, email the conference office at, or contact me at

Board of Missions Assignment: Angel and Blanca Infantes

The EMC Board of Missions is excited to announce that Angel and Blanca Infantes were assigned to serve in Guadalajara, Mexico, earlier this summer. They arrived in Mexico on July 4 and their four children (Saraí, Belén, Christopher, Carlos) started school in mid-August. They join Dallas and Tara Wiebe as part of our church planting team. Pray that God would give them peace as they settle into this city of seven million people as their children are finding it difficult to adjust, having grown up in Manitoba. To send them a note of encouragement, contact us for details.

TRU2018 Youth Leaders’ Retreat “If Anyone is Thirsty…”

Oct. 26-28, 2018

Are You Serving Gen-Z, iGen, or Centennials?

by Gerald D. Reimer, Director of Youth and Discipleship

If you serve thirsty young people—or those you wish would be—then TRU2018, on Oct. 26-28, at Camp Cedarwood is for you!

“If Anyone is Thirsty…” is the theme to be unpacked by Lloyd and Carol Letkeman, who have a long history of discipling youth and young adults.

Churches, please send your youth workers to this conference. The investment in them and your youth program is worth it. Registration is still open.

Are you dealing with Gen-Z, iGen, or Centennials? They are the generation of people born between 1996 and 2014. When you take into account that the three key trends that shape generations are parenting, technology, and economics, it’s not surprising that this generation is much different then any before them.

While working with the Gen-Z generation means there’s never a dull moment and is filled with fun and adventure, it also calls for incredible creativity and patience as they highly value flexibility and fun. They’re the first generation to have a super-computer in their pockets with 24/7 access to information.

While they may not be money-hungry like Baby Boomers, they don’t like debt either, and are willing to work part-time jobs while going to high school just to have disposable income and avoid student loans in the future.

While Gen-Z’ers are socially connected in their digital world, they would like to improve their face-to-face interactions. And this is where youth workers come into the picture as they have this incredible opportunity to disciple a generation that longs to and will make a difference in this world within their lifetime.

The National Youth Committee (NYC), serving under the direction of the Board of Church Ministries, has planned another training weekend for our EMC youth workers, and we’ve invited some passionate experts to bring that training to you.

Our main session speakers are Lloyd and Carol Letkeman, who have been disciple-makers of youth and young adults for more than twenty years. As strong advocates that the Christian way is “life on mission,” the Letkemans promote experiential life-on-life disciple-making. Currently Lloyd and Carol serve with MB Mission in Winnipeg.

Here’s what they say about the topic they will unpack during the weekend: “Are you thirsty?” is a legitimate spiritual question for all of us in youth ministry. We don’t know when we’re dehydrated! We live a fast-paced balancing act of youth events, mentorship, parents’ meetings, fundraisers, and youth retreats. We’re overwhelmed and struggle to “come up for air” or to “drink from the fountain of living water.”

Gerald D. Reimer Director of Youth and Discipleship

Our thirst for living water makes all the difference! We can begin developing a youth movement of “disciples who make disciples” when we are being continually refreshed by our disciple-maker.

The main sessions will follow a journey centred on John 7:37-38, Jesus’ dramatic invitation to the crowds to “come to me all who are thirsty.” Multiplying a youth movement requires being filled with the Holy Spirit, being intentional and purposeful, and dying to self so that Jesus is glorified. The sessions promise to be inspirational, interactive, and filled with applications for your ministry.

Five Members Received into Rosenort EMC

by Anita Peters

ROSENORT, Man.—Every church loves to celebrate! Sunday, April 29, 2018, was a day of celebration for Rosenort EMC. On that day we rejoiced as three young people were baptized and two others were received into membership.

Hearing the testimonies brought the Good News to life as each of the five shared about the transformative power of Jesus in their journey. The amazing grace of God was magnified. Many visitors were in attendance and the celebration continued over a potluck noon meal.

Each of our baptismal candidates are matched with a mentor from the church who will meet regularly with them over the course of a year to encourage and disciple them.

Terry Smith: The Suffering of Andreas Keller, 1536

by Terry M. Smith

“I am distressed beyond all misery. I am poverty-stricken and robbed of my ability to work, all of which I cannot overcome in my lifetime. I have been starved so that I cannot now eat or drink, and my body is broken. How would you like to live for five weeks with only boiled water and unflavoured bread soup? I have been lying in the darkness on straw.

“All of this would not be possible if God had not given me an equal measure of his love. I marvel that I have not become confused or even mad. I would have frozen if the Lord had not strengthened me, for you can well imagine how a little bit of hot water will warm one. In addition to this I have suffered great torture twice from the executioner, who has ruined my hands, unless the Lord heals them. I have had enough of it to the end of my days.

“…Therefore, dear Lords, you will find in me nothing but patience in word and deed. I will obey you till I die and I will obey God till I die. But I will not build on this commandment of men, which is against God, as long as there is breath in me. I will not be a hypocrite, either to curry favour or to avoid suffering, but will seek the truth with all my heart.”

It is difficult to focus on the wretched suffering of early Anabaptists and other Christian martyrs. Imprisoned in horrible conditions, Keller endured much in body and soul.

“Keller was an ordinary man,” says Walter Klaassen, “and the fact that he eventually gave up does nothing to discredit the strength and pathos of his testimony.” Yet with all due respect to Klaassen, there is little evidence that Keller gave up.

True, Andreas said he would obey the authorities, but he persisted in saying he would obey God and he would not build on the commandment of man. He said he did not seek to curry favour or avoid suffering. He preferred not to suffer; so did our Lord (see Luke 22:42).

As others have done and said, I write these words while seated in a comfortable chair near a window providing light, living in a country that offers much in peace and safety, having returned from a lunch where I ate too much. Who am I to condemn Keller as he faced a time and circumstances not experienced by me? If his faith was weak, I wish mine were as strong as his.

Terry M. Smith

Centuries later my sadness comes partly from knowing that both the tortured and the torturer knew the Apostles’ Creed; to that extent, they shared a common faith in Christ. Yet despite that connection, one suffered and another caused it.

With Reformation Sunday (Oct. 28) and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (Nov. 4) soon behind us, I am saddened by the broken body of Christ, the broken body of Keller, and the body of the Church too often still broken today. The Church is still persecuted and, sometimes, still persecutes.

Source: Walter Klaassen, Anabaptism in Outline (Herald Press, 1981), 86, 93-94.

Peter Ascough: Does Social Media Use Affect Youth Mental Health?

Mental Health Initiative 2018

by Peter Ascough

A few years ago, the Centre for Parent and Youth Understanding ( put out an article entitled “Facebook Depression.” The article was discussing the impact Facebook has had as a cause of depression among teens.

We need to acknowledge that while Facebook was the first of its kind, allowing people to share, like and comment almost instantly to other people’s “posts,” it has been replaced among teens with newer social networking sites (SNS) like Instagram, Snapchat and, Twitter, while Facebook is more popular among their parents.

During this same time, I was studying Human Development at seminary and I thought I would take this investigation to a deeper level.

A Time of Change

Between the ages of 12 to18, adolescents go through many changes in development. This change in their bodies and brains can cause uncertainty and anxiety in their well-being. During this time of self-discovery, they reach out to family and friends for stability and security, for a safe place during potential emotional turmoil.

Are Social Networking Sites the place where they can find this? Does it play a part in supporting adolescents through this time or does it have the opposite effect of creating more anxiety and confusion?

During my 25 years of working with young people, I have seen many who have travelled this road of development relatively smoothly while some have found it to be a struggle. More recently, this journey is not only played out in face-to-face interaction and through personal observation but also in the public forum of social media. Status updates, comments, “likes” and photos have been used as expressions of adolescents to try to navigate the changes they are experiencing and to solicit support along the way.

I have witnessed adolescents’ statuses that are hungry for a response to tell them that they are okay, that they are normal, liked, popular and special. Some may receive many affirming comments and “likes” acknowledging and affirming their cry for acceptance while others receive little to no attention, or worse yet, negative feedback.

Relational History

If the individual’s history of relationships has been negative, there may already be some negative predisposition about their worth, which could be amplified through the vulnerability presented by posting on SNS.

Many adolescents are presenting information about themselves in the hopes that they will be liked, accepted, and that the responses will affirm how they see themselves, or want to see themselves.

Positive feedback can lead to building self-esteem and a sense of acceptance. On the other hand, negative feedback can result in lower self-esteem and perhaps trigger episodes of depression.

The constant desire for approval and the need to get “likes” or affirmations could also become addictive, resulting in more time spent chasing after these things, focusing more on only the highs and positives of life or the temptation to try risky activities either online or offline in order to report on them later.

This addiction can also result in an overall reduction of health as the youth engages in less physical activity and face-to-face interaction.

When It’s Out There, It’s Out There

The daily interactions that adolescents have at home, school, work or socially also have an impact on this struggle of finding their identity. What sets apart the act of expressing oneself on SNS in hopes of having the “right people” respond is that this expression has also been made available to everyone who is a “friend” on SNS.

When in a face-to-face situation the adolescent may have better control as to when and where others hear or see their attempts for acceptance. By posting it online, it is now available to all others whenever and wherever they may be. This may result in unwanted and negative responses, which are then also seen by others.

There is the potential for this to have a negative effect on the adolescent’s self-image and well-being. The extreme of this is what has been termed as “Cyberbullying,” where one deliberately uses digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person. We have heard of the negative outcomes from those who have been victims of cyberbullying. Some have left schools, moved to new communities, and even gone as far as to die by suicide.

The fear of what another may say to or about you in a public forum can have devastating effects on a young adolescent. Unfortunately, the online society has yet to find a reasonable solution to cyberbullying; it certainly needs more time and attention.

Is the Grass Greener?

Envy can also play a factor in reducing self-esteem and an increase in anxiety. There is a tendency when posting on SNS for most users to share only positive things about themselves. The constant exposure to other people’s social activities can lead to the comparison of the user’s social life to that of their peers which over the long haul can damage one’s sense of self-worth and lead to withdrawal or depressive tendencies.

 Real Relationships

Research has shown that adolescents who are securely attached to adults show a greater resilience towards anxiety and depression as a result of participating in SNS. Whereas, those do not have secure relationships with those outside of SNS or who are already predisposed to anxiety or depression can find these symptoms heightened by participating in SNS.

Relationships outside the digital world are more significant than the ones in the digital world, even if it does not appear so. Being intentional in connecting outside of SNS will give opportunity for families, friends, and youth leaders to use SNS to enhance an already positive relationship.

Youth who are in positive, secure relationships with trusted adults are able to explore their identity and the world around them because they have formed a secure sense of acceptance with those who are important to them. As youth explore they have a safe person to return to and process what they have discovered about themselves and their world.

Finding Identity in Christ

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

We have the opportunity and obligation to help our youth discover who they are in Christ. To help them to know and understand God’s unconditional love and acceptance, that in Christ they are a new creation. That their value is not based in the opinions of others but in God who created them, loves them and gave Himself for them.

This is just the starting point of the conversation. There is much more that can be said, both positively and negatively about SNS and its impact on our youth as well as strategies to help them navigate this time of development in a digital world.

Peter Ascough

SNS are a part of our young people’s reality and we need to acknowledge that there is the potential for them to be used to build up and encourage youth. My desire is that by beginning the conversation here it will continue to spark discussion.

Peter Ascough is the senior pastor at Kleefeld EMC and a member of the MHI committee. He holds a BA in religious studies (Waterloo), a Graduate Certificate in Christian Spirituality (PTS), and is working on an MA in counselling (PTS). He is married to Irene.

Jocelyn R. Plett: A Relief That Comes With Faith

by Jocelyn R. Plett

Last Spring I had the opportunity to be a table host for our church’s Alpha program. If you haven’t had the chance to watch the new (2016) Alpha videos, take the opportunity to go through them on YouTube. They are great resources for a Faith-Booster-Shot, even for those of us who have been followers of Christ for decades.

During the six-week program I was thrilled to discover that both a young man at my table and a friend of mine declared their commitment to follow Christ during the Alpha program. How exciting to be a part of that!

Personally, one of the influential table discussions was on the topic “How and Why Can I Have Faith?” Question 1 on my leader’s paper read: “Thinking of your friends, family or anything else—Who or what do you have faith in?”

Stumped by this question, the six people sitting at my table didn’t think they had faith in anything or anyone. Golly! This was a revelation to me. As the group continued to deliberate the idea, I began to list the things I had faith in as a new returnee to Canada:

  • When my boys walk to school I have faith that it will be open, teachers will be present and able to teach, and abuse isn’t tolerated.
  • If I’m in an accident, the medical system will take care of me to the best of their ability. An ambulance will come with functioning equipment and personnel properly trained to treat me. Competent doctors and nurses will be at the hospital with medication and equipment that is available and functioning. I’ll be treated no matter my financial situation.
  • Laws and authorities work to uphold a society based on rules that make sense and build community rather than tear it apart.

There is incredible relief that accompanies the release of sole responsibly for the health and well-being of myself and my children. I can experience this because I have faith in Canadian systems. I’ve lived for years outside Canada without faith in the systems that should be able to care for people effectively. It was always with the underlying fear that should I or my children be in an accident, we couldn’t trust what would happen to us. That sort of unrelenting unease is exhausting!

I marvel at the simple luxury of faith in human systems, fallible systems. Humans can fail. They function within worldviews that change over the course of time, that are built on limited and ever-changing understanding of the universe.

Jocelyn R. Plett

Even so, I know the emotional and mental freedom of being able to trust these things. The bigger revelation is that human systems are nothing in comparison to the faith and trust I can have in the One who created the universe and my body and who governs the authorities of the earth!

He tells me I can trust Him. This Word does not change as humankind gains increased knowledge of the universe, nor as our worldviews shift over time.

Editor’s Note With Permission: It will disappoint readers, but after serving since September 2012, Jocelyn has decided, while saddened, to step back for health reasons from serving as a columnist. She has “really enjoyed the opportunity for a writing outlet and for the many, many words of affirmation I have received from readers. I do think, however, that pruning back this work may help other areas to flourish.” She is learning to “embrace my limits” (Jeanne Flemming). Thank you, Jocelyn, for serving us, and may the Lord bless you.

Obituary: John D. Stoesz


John D. Stoesz

On Dec. 14, 2017, suddenly but peacefully at home, John Stoesz left to take possession of the home prepared for him in glory.

John was born on the farm, northeast of Niverville, Man., to Mary (Mika Schroeder) and David Stoesz on March 5, 1928. His parents predeceased him, as did his brother David Stoesz, his sister Anne and husband Peter Neufeld, his sister Katherine and husband Wally Pauls, and brother-in-law Neil Fast. He was also predeceased by his dear son Fred and a great-grandson Spencer.

John is survived by his beloved wife Ellen (Dueck) of 66 years, Fred’s wife Jolene (Klassen), daughter Marg and husband Kevin Wiebe, son Gerald and wife Kim (Bartel), daughter Linda and husband Mike Enns, and daughter Pat and husband Eric Boorman; 14 grandchildren and their spouses/partners; 13 great-grandchildren; sister Betty Fast, sister-in-law Mary Stoesz, Ellen’s family, and many friends.

He accepted the Lord on June 16, 1946, at age 18, and was baptized that same year and received into the fellowship of the Niverville MB Church. After finishing high school at MBCI in Winnipeg, he enrolled in Teachers College in Tuxedo. He taught elementary school for 13 years. The church very early gave him the opportunity to serve in the choir as well as in youth ministry and preaching.

In his heart he always hoped to spend some time in biblical studies. He believed, and often taught, that being a follower of Jesus meant a “lifetime of service.” After teaching at three schools (Linden, Arran, and Niverville), he left teaching and studied at MBBC and graduated with a theology degree in 1966. He was ordained into the pastoral ministry the same year and served the Kelowna MB Church for seven years, the Winkler MB Church for nine years, and then eleven years with the Braeside EMC in Winnipeg.

These were not easy years for the family as it meant several major moves, but Ellen and the children were always supportive and made the challenge much more pleasant. When he reached the age of 65 he retired because it said in the EMC Minister’s Manual that “Pastors should normally retire at age 65.” He retired because, as he put it, “I want to be normal!”

So what did he do in retirement? For 13 years he helped with a new church plant in Ste. Adolphe, doing much of the preaching and teaching along with a major renovation project. Also he followed his secondary inclination and took on the seniors’ ministry at Braeside, which soon developed into a choir that he named the “Keenagers” which he enjoyed immensely for a long time.

In 2011, already struggling with mobility issues, he was diagnosed with the beginning of Parkinson’s Disease. This “forced” him into retirement—at age 84. He had two guiding Bible verses that he lived by. As for the domestic things of life, he leaned on Matt. 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.”

As for his ministry, he held to Rev. 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” He had a special prayer: “No greater joy can I have than this, than to hear that my children follow the truth” (3 John 4).

John’s funeral was held on Dec. 19, 2017, at Braeside EMC with Pastor Kim Stoesz, his daughter-in-law, officiating.

 – His Family

Loreena Thiessen: Lessons from a Tree

by Loreena Thiessen

Your summer vacation is over. Each morning you were up early and ready to go. It’s back to school and that means work, school work.

The sun still feels warm on your face and summer’s leafy trees still provide shade. But not for long. As temperatures cool a change happens.

For trees to provide shade they must grow a good canopy, a cover of leaves, and to grow leaves must have food. Trees need four things to produce food for their leaves. These are sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll.

Rain provides the water that soaks into the ground and is absorbed by the tree’s roots and then travels up the trunk to the branches and leaves. Carbon dioxide is the breath you breathe out which is absorbed by the leaves. These ingredients, carbon dioxide, moisture from the ground, and sunlight create sugar, which is food for the leaves.

This process is called photosynthesis. The green colour of leaves comes from a natural substance within the leaves called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps trees use sunlight to produce the food they need.

In fall temperatures cool down and daylight hours grow shorter; in midwinter the sun sets around 4 p.m. Less sunlight and cooler temperatures are signals for the leaves to stop making food.

The chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and the green color disappears. Leaves turn yellow, orange, brown and red. The tree lets them go and they fall to the ground. It is time for trees to begin their long winter rest.

Fall is a time for change. You begin your new school year and trees begin their winter break.

There are many things we can learn from trees. Scientists find that having trees around us is soothing and helps us relax. They clean the air you breathe by absorbing, or taking in poisonous gases and metals that are found in smoke from factories and car exhaust. In return they give out oxygen, the air you need to breathe.

Trees are a natural air conditioner. Their shade keeps you and your house cool. In a city enough trees can lower summer temperatures by 7 degrees while you enjoy playing outdoors.

Trees provide homes for birds and small animals. They provide food like tree fruits and nuts for people and for animals. A row of trees will reduce noise levels from traffic going by your house or school. They will stop the wind too. And their different shapes and colours make the countryside beautiful.

Loreena Thiessen

One of the first things God did was grow trees. He says he made them for their beauty and for food, except for one, which Adam and Eve could not eat from (Genesis 2:8-9). But they did not listen, and were sent out of the Garden. This brought hardship and sadness to their lives.

In Psalm 1:1-3, God says that anyone who knows and listens to the laws of God is like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He will prosper and have good success.

Activity: Gratitude Stones

 Need: clean stones with a smooth surface, tissue paper, scissors, glossy Mod Podge, paintbrushes.

Do: 1. Cut out small tissue paper hearts. Place one on the smooth surface of a stone. 2. Use paintbrush to lightly spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over tissue paper heart and over the surface of the stone. 3. Allow to dry undisturbed. 4. Flip stone over and spread Mod Podge over this side. 5. Allow to dry undisturbed. This makes a seamless smooth stone that feels natural. 5. At dinner pass the stone around. While holding the stone share something for which you feel thankful.

Pastor Albert Loewen: It Is An Awesome God We Serve!

by Albert Loewen

ALYMER, Ont.—Albert Loewen was asked to tell us about his ministry as the senior pastor of Mount Salem Community Church.

Tell us about where you were raised, educated, and served prior to MSCC.
I was born in Mexico, but from the age of three southern Ontario has been home. My family has always lived in Aylmer and I grew up in the church I currently serve in.

My goal in life was never to become a pastor and so my post-secondary education is all over the place. I took one year at Steinbach Bible College. Then, convinced that policing was my call, I pursued a college degree in Police Foundations. A few years after that I felt called not to pursue policing, despite not being sure what God did want me to pursue. During the next few years I felt that perhaps counselling was my call and so I gathered all my courses together and began working on a Bachelor of Theology and Counselling from Emmanuel Bible College.

During that time, I was hired on staff at Mount Salem and continued my education until the demands of family and work were too much. I need two more courses to obtain my degree—so perhaps one day I will return. A few years ago I attended Arrow Leadership’s Emerging Stream program which is a 15-month program, and it has been the most impactful learning that I have done in regards to my work as a pastor and would highly recommend other pastors consider it—despite its high cost.

Tell us about your family.
My wife Josie and I started dating in grade nine and have been in love ever since. This journey would have never been possible without her support and wisdom through the years. Together we have six kids and enjoy the chaos that brings (most days).

What led you to serve here?
When I felt compelled to give up policing God really instilled in me a love for the local church. We started serving in our church and, in time, as doors opened we walked through them, and are grateful that we did. Serving here has been the privilege of a lifetime. The leadership and congregation have taken such incredibly great care of us over the past eight years and we are so thankful for that.

To understand you as a pastoral couple, what do people need to know?
We are pretty simple people. We love helping people, love laughing and being challenged; and I love the variety that a job like this brings. Never knowing what the next day will hold fits my life well.

What else would you want to say?
There is so much I would love to say, but I think I would summarize it up like this: God is faithful. Through all the great and difficult times, I have often not known what to do, but God has never failed me and for that I am so grateful. It is an awesome God we serve.