We recently visited a missionary couple who moved to Whitehorse about a year ago. They asked us questions about how to make new contacts in a community. We shared a few things with them of what we found worked for us in our times in Pelly Crossing and Whitehorse, Yukon and Lac La Biche, Alberta.
Reflecting on this later, we realized that most of our new contacts in recent years are connected to someone we already know. Relationships of trust don’t usually happen overnight in a cross-cultural situation, especially where trust has been broken so many times. Due to residential schools, loss of land and freedoms, the 60s Scoop and so on, Canada’s history with First Nation peoples is filled with distrust.
Time has been our friend in the Yukon. We have been in the Yukon now for most of the past 28 years. This longer period has served us well, resulting in ministry opportunities often coming to us rather than us needing to look for them. Here are a few examples:
One Sunday evening in August, Janet got a text from a Gwich’in friend who now lives in NWT. This friendship began about 6 years ago when Janet gave this woman a ride to a ladies’ retreat. She was now very concerned for the safety of her adult daughter, who lives in Whitehorse. Shortly after the text, Janet got a call from this daughter. Janet’s relationship with her mother provided a foundation by which she could share freely of the difficult time she was having in a situation involving her children. Janet spent much of the next two hours listening and encouraging her that there is still hope amid the hard time she was going through. Janet and the daughter have met twice since that time. She desires to meet weekly for Bible study and support. She came to check out our church one Sunday and has expressed interest in attending church in the future.
In the first 16 years of our ministry in the Yukon, we attended many more funerals than officiated them. Now many of the sought-after ministers of that time are either with the Lord, moved away or wanting to cut down the number of funerals they do as they get older. So, we are asked to do funerals more often. The most recent funeral was in Pelly Crossing, where we served for 6 years in the 1990s. A much-loved elder had passed away. One of her sons had been a neighbor of ours; a grandson had come to our youth nights when we lived in Pelly. It was an honour to do the funeral and a great opportunity to share the hope of Christ, amid their sorrow and loss.
Janet has been involved in a phone Bible study with two ladies from Pelly Crossing for almost 2 years. This Bible study has been 32 years in the making. Janet remembers a time when one of the ladies ran out of the laundromat to avoid Janet, after Janet came in. Now she absolutely loves to have Janet come by to visit and is hungry to learn more of God’s Word along with her daughter.
It was about four years ago that Harrison Kwok approached us about a church plant he believed the Lord was leading him towards. We remembered him as a teenager, before he came to Christ, going by our place with a soccer ball on the way to practice. He had shared his vision of a church plant with his church. Afterward, some older members encouraged Harrison to connect with us. Again, our long-term presence and ministry in the Yukon made this reference possible.
While God uses short-term missions as well, over and over we see opportunities come our way as fruit of the long-term ministry the Lord has allowed us to have in the Yukon. Thank-you, EMMC, for standing with us, and walking alongside us, in our journey in Canada’s north with NCEM.
Tony and Janet Ens – Northern Canada Evangelical Mission
Field Missionaries and member care coordinators