We live in a dark world...a world that suffers the affects of sin and evil. Yet this is the world God send his Son, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world bringing us deliverance from the darkness of sin and evil. But Jesus also gives us his Word to light our path, to guide us, and to take to the far reaches of the earth. As His word says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In The Beginning...

As with most everything in life, there is a beginning.  Each one of us can most likely remember many of those "beginnings."   It might have been the beginning of your education, a relationship, a new location to live, or a new job. 

For me, February 1, 2015 was all of those beginnings.  I officially began a new position with LAMP--Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots as their newest pastor/pilot.  It's the beginning of a new relationship with LAMP staff, First Nations communities in northern Ontario and Manitoba, Vacation Bible School teams, and the many supporters and partners in this special ministry.  

It's the beginning of educating and preparing myself to be a missionary pastor and pilot flying into remote areas of Canada.  It's the beginning of living part-time in Thompson, Manitoba where I'll be based during the summer VBS months.  So there are a lot of new beginnings taking place in my life. 

This is also the beginning of this blog so that you can follow me along as a partner in ministry to the people of northern Ontario and Manitoba.   So as the "newbie" on the block (or if you're a fan of the TV show "NCIS", a "Probie"), you're probably wondering who this guy Dennis is with the French-sounding last name and how it came about that he became a part of the LAMP ministry team.

Well, without boring you with a complete autobiography of my life, I'll give you the "Reader's Digest" version...or as much as a pastor can condense down.

I am by birth Kentucky-born.  I lived in a number of places growing up including Alabama, Virginia (outside of DC), Kentucky, and Michigan.   My dad worked for what is now called FEMA in the U.S. government and he got transferred to different regions.  Hence, our moving.   Speaking of my dad, he was the first generation of his family born in the U.S.   His parents immigrated from St. Jean Port Jolie, Quebec to Massachusetts.  So, in essence, I am part Canadian.  

It was while living in Michigan that I met my wife, Teri.  We have been blessed mightily by the Lord with 3 wonderful daughters, their equally incredible husbands, and 4 grandchildren (for now).  Teri is director of an oral deaf education school in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She is a teacher at heart and has the myriad of gifts and talents to serve that special ministry.

I'm obviously a pastor, but in my prior life, I worked in manufacturing and industrial engineering for 14 years before going to seminary.  Before going to seminary, I fulfilled a dream of mine to get my private pilot's license.  Six years later, I added an instrument rating.  And just this past month, I earned my Commercial pilot license.  What's next?  Who knows.  But all of it has prepared me for missionary service to LAMP and the communities it ministers to.

So how did I come to be part of LAMP?   It's a case of "Divine Intervention" and God's timing.   

You see, back in my engineering days, while my family and I were on vacation in Michigan, a LAMP pastor/pilot came to the church we attended that Sunday morning and made a presentation.  I loved aviation already and the thought of taking the Gospel of Jesus to people in remote areas who are without a pastor or church sounded so much like the Apostle Paul and how he ministered to the people as described in the Book of Acts.  That was the beginning of the LAMP seed being planted in me.  I had always thought of one day becoming a pastor.  Now it expanded to become a pastor/pilot.  

Needless to say, years went by before God saw fit to have that seed sprout.  That seed was watered last June when Pastor Bill Ney, the pastor/pilot with LAMP called me at the church office.  After a number of conversations with Bill and Ron Ludke, the Executive Director of LAMP, my wife and I visited the LAMP office in Edmonton.  Then I flew out into the field with Ron (and Andrew our pilot) for a day to Sucker River outside of LaRonge, Sasketchwan.  

On final approach to LaRonge airport.
 It was quite an experience to see the kids so excited to be there and the care of the VBS team for them.  It was obvious that there was a bond there between those children and the VBS team.  And the best part was that they were getting to hear about Jesus and what He has done for them.

VBS children preparing to do their craft.
A couple of girls putting together their Christmas angels

After the VBS was over, we ate lunch together with the team from Richmond, Wisconsin who had driven in to Sucker River.  We talked about how things were going and helped talk through some of the materials to make it more understandable for the children.   Then we went for a walk around the community.

Most of the kids had gathered at what could be called "the beach" and went swimming.  With it being late June, the water wasn't exactly warm, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.

As we walked around the community, we met people the team and Ron have know for quite awhile.  Again, the relationships that have been formed are deep and appreciated by the people in the community, the VBS team, and LAMP staff.

At the north end of the village sat this little Anglican church.  It was being repaired on the inside in the hope it could be used for worship.  Unfortunately, like many remote communities, there is no one who is serving that church regularly.

This makes it all the more important for the ministry of LAMP to continue in the north.  In some communities, the VBS will be the only exposure the children and community have to learn and hear God's Word.  This is also the task that the Lord has given to us all.  1 Timothy 2:3–4 tells us, "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

So after the trip that day, the seed God planted within me started to grow and sprout.  And as of the beginning of 2015, I would have to say it's starting to bloom as I became part of this amazing ministry to take the Gospel to the people in remote areas of northern Canada.

I will be serving the area that pastor/pilot Bill Ney had most recently, and that pastor/pilot Steve Dreher ministered to for many years.  That will be western Ontario and eastern Manitoba.  It is a humbling privilege to follow in the footsteps of these two missionaries.

But once a seed sprouts and blooms, it must be watered, cultivated, and cared for so that it can bear fruit.  This is where your prayers and partnership with LAMP, and with me, are so critically important.  Without them, we could not carry out this noble task in which the Lord has allowed us to serve Him.  As God's Word says to us,  "For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47 (NIV) 

Please pray...

*  for the VBS teams as they prepare to go north this summer
*  for the communities that arrangements can be made for the team's VBS week
*  for me as I get checked out in the Cessna 182 and start flying into the
    communities the end of next month. 

Peace in Christ.