This award is given each year to alumni who contribute extraordinarily towards the ongoing work of NBC and/or as a token of recognition for a life given to faithful ministry or servanthood. Please contact NBC or the Alumni Exec if you know an Alumnus you feel deserves to be given this honor.
These individuals grew up in close proximity in small towns outside of Saskatoon. After a year of Bible school at Bethany Bible Institute this gentleman settled back into his home church in Warman, helping out at the youth group. It was here he was reacquainted with a young woman, who he’d known of since they were kids. No longer children, a spark happened quickly, and just 7 months later, they wed.
The next few years included church ministry with the youth, and starting a family. With a 3 and 1 year old in tow, God brought them to Bible school at Nipawin for the fall of 1983. A couple of NBI alumni, Norm & Diane Janzen and Tim Ryan were greatly influential in that step.
As students, he loved the classes and grew immensely. She was even able to audit some classes, despite also serving as full-time mom to young Jocelyn and Jerel. Staff at Nipawin who impacted them those days included Dennis Kroeker and Dan Koop, in part through their teaching, and also Dan’s missionary heart that influenced the Peters toward considering God’s missional call.
A week before a fall conference, NBI staff Tassos Xanthopolous asked Ed the question, “Have you ever considered pastoral ministry?” Having not considered himself pastor material, the question became an integral part of God’s work in their hearts, along with conversations with a Village Missions rep at the conference. After considering foreign missions, the Peters came to think if they could raise up missionaries in their churches as a pastoral couple, they’d be multiplying themselves for God’s work around the world.
After graduation and a short internship, the Peters joined Village Missions and began serving on the sunshine coast of BC in 1986. Compared to rural Saskatchewan, you could say the BC coast felt like foreign missions! After 8 years of a growing experience there, the Lord loosened their grip, making it clear he was moving them to their next destination. But, not before the blessing of leading one last gentleman to the Lord. Marty was baptized the 2nd Sunday before they left, reminding them of God’s faithful work over their time in BC.
In 1994, Ed and Ruth left BC for the rural farming community of Garrington, AB. 28 years later, they’re still there. It takes a clear calling to stay in one place through all the ups and downs of pastoral ministry. Ruth is known as a prayer warrior - if congregants are looking for prayer, they know who to go to. When someone is sick, or something hard is happening, Ruth’s hospitality shines through as she bakes and cooks meals. Ruth has also been part of leading ladies Bible study for years, often team-teaching with other ladies as she faithfully studies the Word and passes it on.
Ed, continues to preach and fill the role of pastor. Feeling unqualified going into pastoral ministry, he fondly remembers a time from his earlier years when a mouse got into a box of sermon notes he’d packed away. Ed laughs, noting that when he found the mouse dead in the box he was sure he’d died from eating content that was so exceptionally dry. Yet, he gratefully notes how faithful God has been to speak through His Word, even as Ed could make only his best efforts to share it with the congregation week by week. Ed wants to encourage and challenge each of us, to consider the faithfulness of God even when we feel unqualified, or not good enough. Where is God calling you?!
Like the work in a farming community, the work of God is never finished. There’s always another visit or call, and more preparation for services and sermons. They’ve been blessed to see God’s faithfulness in bringing strangers to Christ, men on their deathbeds, and many other individuals who’ve accepted the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. And as part of their original decision to join Village Missions instead of going overseas…they’ve also been blessed to see no less than a dozen couples or singles from their churches eventually go into full-time foreign missions work around the globe. Praise God.
Even as chapters of life continue to change, the Peters look toward who God is calling to continue on the ministry in Garrington, and the ways they may be able to mentor or help raise up those leaders.
At Nipawin Bible College, it is indeed an honour to acknowledge as our 2022 Alumnus of the Year for Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry, Ed & Ruth Peters.
Both these individuals came to Nipawin as single people, and escaped as single people. Over the next few years, she began working at the Camp Arnes office in Winnipeg, and shortly after that their long distance friendship matured and bloomed into something more. He moved to Winnipeg and they were engaged and married over the next months. After they started a family, she stayed home, and it was he who carried on work at Camp Arnes eventually landing in the role as the program coordinator.
In 2004, this couple backed their bags and headed to Lloydminster (the SK side!) with their two small children for what seemed like a dream opportunity working with a small local business. Within 6 months they felt unsettled and were certain God had something else for them to come. In fact, they even had a for sale sign sitting in their home for months before finally putting it outside.
When a phone call came in January 2006 asking them to consider a position at NBC, the Willson’s felt confident God was at work. Kendall remembers driving home after an interview, filled with joy at the opportunity to bring his family back to NBC. They moved to campus and Kendall began as Finance and Facilities manager in March 2006.
They thoroughly appreciated their time on staff at NBC. Highlights were numerous - Melisa mentioned having NBC students take personal interest in their kids, having NBC fill the role of extended family when much of theirs lived farther away. Kendall would enjoy watching 3rd and 4th years and how much they’d changed as God transformed them over their years. He enjoyed getting to know the hands-on guys that would do their student work with the misc crew. He even enjoyed building relationship with the students who had the biggest money challenges who had to visit him the most in the finance office.
As their children got older, Melisa joined the NBC staff as well in the fall of 2011, becoming the bookstore manager and doing some other administrative work. From 2006 to 2021, the Willson’s remained a fixture on the NBC staff. Service to Nipawin Bible College as staff doesn’t stop with 40 hour work weeks, and it was not uncommon to see Kendall on campus working on different projects or snow clearing, or Melisa to be in the book store if something extra needed to be done.
Melisa finished at the Bookstore after 9 years, and after 15 years in Finance and Facilities, God gave Kendall the freedom in his heart and mind to know it was time to move on to what He had next. Kendall and Melisa set the standard for what it means to serve faithfully throughout an entire tenure, to finish a job well right to the end, and then to leave well.
In fact, though they are not employed by NBC anymore, in so many ways, Kendall and Melisa have not left. That is in fact, what this award is all about. Distinguished Service to NBC. Only a year after leaving as a staff member, Melisa started sensing God was calling her back to be a student! She desired to equip herself more to serve in women’s ministry. Since graduating from her 4th year, Melisa has thrown herself in ministry roles at her church, with mentoring, Bible studies, and friendships. She has co-led Women’s ministry classes and weekend events at NBC including a women’s ministry class in Meadow Lake this January under the NBC umbrella. She accepted nomination to the NBC Alumni Executive, and has served faithfully over this past year.
Kendall continues to be a buttress, a pillar of strength for Nipawin Bible College. He has put in extra hours to train a new Finance Manager, he fields calls regularly about all kinds of things at NBC from the Facilities Manager, Maintenance Manager, the President, and the Board. This past summer while we were in a time of transition, Kendall took initiative to phone me on numerous occasions to see what he could do; ordering gravel, grading roads. and more. He was a blessing and a channel of God’s grace to this College.
Despite the mixed feelings that come with leaving a place you love, God has been faithful to involve the Willsons in a number of roles and relationships that affirm his timing and leading in their lives.
Kendall wrote in my 1996 yearbook as he graduated and I finished my first year. I’ve copied the exact last two sentences to share with you all, and I’m changing just the last word as I now address it to Kendall from myself. “You have a heart for God and you’re a spiritually mature guy. And your big muscles, wow, you’re buffed. Love Jason.” Thank you Kendall and Melisa for how you serve NBC.
It is an honour today to recognize Melisa and Kendall Willson as our 2022 Alumnus of the Year for Distinguished Service to Nipawin Bible College.
Serving NBC comes in all shapes and sizes. For each full or part time staff who serves our students together here, there are faithful alumni - like you here today, praying, giving, recruiting, joining hands with us in the effort to continue developing passionate followers of Jesus Christ with a heart to serve.
I’ve often found it easy to fall into a thinking that I’d be more of a blessing if I had more money to give. Or if I was spending 4 hours a day praying instead of 20minutes, or if only I was a more effective communicator, persuader, recruiter. But when I look at this individual we honour today I see a man being intentional simply, with the talents he has been given, investing into kingdom at NBC.
A word I would highlight with this gentleman is this: intentionality. He came to NBC in 2010, a farm kid through and through. Familiar with cattle, grain, the weather and the land, and the hard work necessary to earn a living on a farm in Saskatchewan. Not an academic by any stretch, there was one way for him to earn passing marks in all the reading, writing and other classroom expectations at NBC. Hard work and intentionality.
Our lives overlapped first when he returned for a 2nd year at Nipawin, and I came to work here in the fall of 2011. If there was ever a Misc Crew dream team at NBC with our students - he was a vital part of it along with 1 or 2 others during his time here. Need a side walk shovelled? Trees moved? Make shift back of 1/2ton hot tub created? Any maintenance done at any time of the day in any spot on campus? He was always there.
Since Stephen finished his 2 years as a student, he has maintained connection here through his intentionality. Even as there is only 1 staff member still here from his years. He has attended Alumni Connect nights in his area, has regularly come out to Alumni Weekend, and he regularly makes sure to come and talk to me about the specifics of NBC. How are we doing? How is the student body doing? How is the staff? What are our long term plans, and what are needs on campus?
Stephen has gone out of his way to bless the staff here. One time after an alumni connect night he came to in North Battleford a few years ago, he asked me which direction I was headed from there the next day. He arranged to meet me in Glaslyn on my way to Meadow Lake, telling me he had something to give me. I didn’t know what to expect, but when we met on the side of the highway, he gave me a couple boxes of freshly frozen steaks to bring back to NBC for a staff BBQ in the spring.
For years Stephen has made available for our staff to get 1/4 or 1/2 beefs at reasonable prices, and this fall he phoned me to see how the new 4plex was coming along and was there a specific way him and his family could contribute to the project.
We are so thankful for alumni like Stephen Epp. For his interest, for his concern, for his ongoing giving and contributions, for his intentionality, we are pleased to honour Stephen as our 2021 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Service to NBC.
Following the Lord’s direction in ministry can be described as a journey of trust, one where you know you are called to serve - but don’t know completely what the future holds and what God has in store. These two students came to Nipawin Bible Institute in the late 1980’s. Marrying after their second year, they graduated one year later in the spring of ’91. Sensing God’s call toward missions, they began their training together just a few years later with New Tribes Mission in southern Ontario. Along with two small children, they headed for Papua New Guinea in January 1997.
God brought them to a remote mountainous area of the country to live and serve among the Wusuraambya people. Two years after arriving, child number 3 came along. God worked in and through them - living without the everyday conveniences we take for granted, learning a different language, and serving with a small team of other missionaries, they saw many people place their faith in Jesus Christ and a thriving church that grew in maturity.
God would have them serve with Wusaraambya people for 11 years before leading them to the next place on His journey for them. In 2008 Terry & Rosie moved to a more central area support centre to help take care of new missionaries and be mentored into the leadership team. Serving in this location meant the Banman’s took on new responsibilities to support missionaries living in remote language groups. It meant serving in capacities like security coordinator, orientation coordinator, public relations, and member care. God was faithful to provide as He called them to serve.
Life brought change as it does with passing years. In 2015 the Banman’s went back to PNG without their oldest 2 children, who had both graduated and stayed in Canada. After 2 more years, their youngest graduated, and they came back to Canada for a year long home assignment. This was a great time to deal with weariness, health issues with parents, and receiving a first diagnosis of the early onset of Parkinson’s with Rosie. God’s faithfulness in the timing with that home assignment was clear.
Still, they were eager to return to PNG for the next chapter…this time, without any kids. Terry & Rosie had always sensed God’s leading to serve overseas. God continued to do amazing things as they served, even as it became evident over time that because of health, God was beginning to close the door on overseas ministry. It became clear they would not be able to continue travelling back and forth to PNG and by 2020, they knew their time had come to a close. In the same way they had walked by faith to go overseas some 23 years earlier, it was time to trust God and obey in faith as He brought them back to Canada. Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
The Lord has placed the Banman’s in the past year in a role of Church Relation Reps for Ethnos here in the Western Canada. They’ve settled back into Manitoba, and the Lord has even placed their 3 grown children (and now 2 grandchildren) within driving distance of them for this time. They regularly travel around the prairies, and Terry continues to preach and bring mission awareness wherever he can.
At Nipawin Bible College, we are so thankful for how Terry & Rosie Banman have followed the Lord’s leading in their lives, and we are pleased to honour them today, with this 2021 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry.
It is often true that the paths of our lives before attending NBC show glimpses of God’s sovereignty in where he takes us after NBC. Coming out of difficult or ungodly circumstances are no match for the transformative work of Jesus Christ, and this couple’s individual backgrounds and the work God did in their lives at Nipawin, helped set them on a good trajectory of walking with many who had also lived through varying, but tough, circumstances in their own lives.
Though I’m not trying to promote Nipawin as a Bridal College, this is another story of God bringing two lives together into one.
She had made a commitment to Christ in her mid-teens, but had not grown up in a very solid home, living through some pretty tough family situations, and without much for good Christian example in her home life. He had grown up in an alcoholic and quite unstable home, and didn’t come to accept Christ until he was 20. Coming to Nipawin as a student didn’t happen until his mid-20’s. You could say it was a miracle they both made it here.
When I asked him what brought them together, He simply said to me “God”. Hard to argue with that. But in all seriousness, after connecting personally through an informal coffee get-together, there was a spark. And that led to another coffee. In the words of Walter, they were “two really messed up people who the Lord brought together to work and serve together.” They brought the Lord into their relationship right from the beginning — praying, asking for God’s permission and leading before they started to date.
They expected God to lead, and He did. Throughout the years since, they haven’t stopped looking for His leading.
He, and Cindy married in 1989, joined Northern Canada Evangelical Mission and started with First Nations ministry in the city of Regina. Their children Mark, Daniel, and Caylea all came along in the early 90’s. In 1994 they began the Healing Hearts church plant where they’ve served in varying functions to this day. Inner city ministry in those early days meant pioneering things like gang intervention and exit strategies, dealing with racism, abuse, and deep hurt.
Cindy has had an incredible ministry with so many women. Through Bible studies, music ministry, counselling and mentoring, walking with women in addiction and other areas, she’s been privileged and amazed to see God’s ongoing work in and through her. Prayer has been such a vital and ongoing ministry for Cindy as well as Walter, whose strengths lie in areas of engaging with people, relational skills, and other areas of leadership. And if you’ve seen any of his vehicle projects you’ll note he’s also good with his hands.
Walter served 6 years on the NBC board in recent years, and Walter has also led the FMP orientation at NBC for freshmen here in January multiple times. Though the details of who they’ve they’ve served under have occasionally changed over the years, whether NCEM or NAIM, the specific Healing Hearts ministry and their service in Regina has continued throughout.
In fact, going back to NCEM wasn’t what Walter or Cindy would have foreseen, but just as they prayed when they started to date, they’ve continued to be steady in prayer, looking to, and expecting God to lead. 4 years ago Walter became the Director of NCEM, while they continue to oversee Healing Hearts ministry.
Walter and Cindy really see ministry as committing yourself to serving the Lord. While equipping and preparing yourself is important, a long list of degrees or credentials are not what God is looking for. The Selke’s are excited these days to see God raising up a new army of young people who want to serve the Lord in First Nations Ministry. They are loving being in the Word, searching for the Lord to lead them every day, and are seeing God work in wonderful ways.
At Nipawin Bible College we are encouraged by the work of God through the lives of our alumni serving faithfully. And this morning, it’s an honour to present Walter & Cindy Selke with the 2020 Alumnus of the Year Award for Faithfulness in Ministry.
Once upon a time, this couple first met as students at Nipawin Bible Institute. He, was an alumni kid, whose dad had attended TRBI back in the early days of its history. Through he’d grown up mainly in the Nipawin area and was well aware of NBI, he wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of coming to Nipawin as a student.
After High School he spent some years pursuing a few other options - however, after attempts toward other careers or schooling ideas continued to fail, he finally relented in applying for Nipawin, even though at the time it may have felt like he was “settling” for God’s directing instead of his.
She grew up, as many good Mennonites do, in southern Manitoba, calling the MacGregor area home. Being interested in Bible College, she had a family connection to Nipawin through a sibling of her mother’s, who had attended NBI in the 70’s. And so, she applied, and off she went.
As students, both grew in their love for the Lord, understanding of His Word, and some sense of calling in their lives. This couple’s friendship also grew, slowly, but steadily, until they formally went to a Christmas banquet together toward the latter part of their time at NBI. Though he graduated a year before she, they finished her time at NBI with a bang, getting engaged on the weekend of her graduation in the spring of 1987. Sensing God was calling them into ministry, they were married and spent a year in the MacGregor area before God led them to join Village Missions. Carl and Brenda spent 14 years pastoring in 5 different rural churches across BC, SK, and MB, and God added 3 children to their family along the way.
The longer they were with Village Missions, the more God seemed to lead them in a new specific direction. This led to a transition in 2002, moving to Aylsham, SK and starting full time into a children’s ministry that included camps, running VBS, doing puppetry and marionettes, and a few other things that were part of sharing the gospel with kids in settings across Western Canada. Ministry in Aylsham has also grown with Carl and Brenda part of leading local church services usually 2-3 times a month.
A missions trip to Central America in the mid-2000’s sparked in Brenda a desire to intentionally begin learning Spanish. Self taught over a number of years, a more recent trip to Costa Rica even earned the praise of a native Costa Rican guide who stated that her Spanish was near perfect. This Spanish learning would come to be a very unexpected, but helpful aid with ministry in Aylsham.
In 2020 Carl and Brenda continue to serve under the Umbrella of Healing Hearts with children’s ministry. Carl regularly preaches, they travel together sharing many dramas in churches, camps, VBS’s, and other places. And wouldn’t you know, God prepared them (especially Brenda) for ministry with a permanent and seasonal Nicaraguan community that has settled right in the Aylsham area. As Carl has reflected on years gone by, he’s been amazed that God would consider doing work through them — two of the people you might have thought least likely to do pastoring or public speaking work while they were students at NBI in the 1980’s. Carl almost quit NBI when he found out he’d have to take preaching class, and Brenda, quite soft spoken by nature, would not have considered herself the type who would ever be comfortable speaking in front of people.
But they marvel at how God works in and through us when we are only willing to follow Him. A lot of their ministry in Aylsham is to the elderly. Just this spring, Carl and Brenda were having phone calls with an elderly man who’d attended the Aylsham church for years. Involved in accident and not doing well, he was in a Saskatoon hospital where they’d try to call him on a weekly basis. One day in May, in one particular call Brenda, again, explained the gospel to him in clear point, and asked him if he believed. His response was, “I do now”, and he went on to share that his growth toward belief had come through the ongoing relationship and love he had continued to be shown in part by Carl and Brenda. What a privilege it was for Carl to lead this man’s memorial service only a few months later in September.
At Nipawin Bible College we are encouraged by the work of God through the lives of our alumni serving faithfully. And this morning, it’s an honour to present Carl & Brenda Ens with the 2020 Alumnus of the Year Award for Faithfulness in Ministry.
In 2000 this young lady came to Nipawin Bible Institute as a freshman. She spent 2 years as a student at Nipawin before heading west to Alberta to go to College for 1 year in Olds for office administration. She chose the Olds area mostly because her older brother already lived in the area serving as a youth pastor. In fact it was this brother who initially convinced her to come out and help with the youth group at his church during in that fall of 2002.
After her first year of helping another young man returned from his own 3 years of Bible College up in Peace River country. He also began “helping out” at the youth group, which was the church he’d grown up in. They helped with youth for a couple years and it wasn’t too long and this friendship grew to be something more. In the meantime, Denise’s brother had moved on from Youth Pastoring there, and it was the fall of 2005 when Darryl and Denise decided together that there were just too many youth in their church to “not have a youth group” of some sort. And so, still only dating, they took on the role of youth leaders at Garrington Community Church. On the side of course, Denise worked full-time with the Olds Agriculture society and Darryl was in the midst of schooling in nearby Red Deer College. Denise laughed telling me she thought they’d maybe do it for a few years. In the spring of 2006 they were married and carried on leading youth as a married couple.
They continued to run youth during the 2 years Darryl did school up in Edmonton. He’d live up there during the week, drive the 2 1/4 hours back down to Garrington on Friday just in time to run youth with Denise and they’d have the weekend together before he headed back to Edmonton while she stayed working in Olds. In 2011 and 2013 they welcomed a son (Eli) and daughter (Addelyn) and didn’t miss a beat with leading youth. Their babies turned into toddlers and then to little kids and they just brought them along.
They see a wide mix of both churched and unchurched kids and find the ministry most fulfilling when they see youth growing and living their life for God. Darryl and Denise have made a concerted effort to bring their youth to three60five, they think they’ve only missed 1 or maybe 2 in their 13 years. In fact one of Denise’s most memorable youth experiences was hearing a deep spiritual conversation for 6 hours on the way home in one of the recent years. They are pleased to see one of their youth here at NBC as a freshman this year.
Denise continues to work with the Olds Agriculture Society where she’s been for 15 years, and after teaching for a number of years Darryl now works as a Field Operator in the oil & gas industry. And they’re still leading youth, many of whom weren’t born when they started. Apart from youth ministry, the Rice’s also enjoy serving Sunday’s with Sunday School, sound and tech ministry, and Darryl has also served on the Church Board.
The Nipawin Bible College is pleased to recognize Darryl and Denise Rice with the 2018 Alumnus of the Year award for Faithfulness in Ministry.
I met this couple in the fall of 1993 when I came here as a student and they were on staff. I remember being impressed with his Ford ½ ton and the 2 skidoos he had sitting on his front yard here on campus. I’m sure I was also impressed with his theological knowledge and his ability to teach, which he did here at NBI for 13 years.
Now, fast forwarding from the time they were on staff until I came on staff in 2006. It was at this time I was able to reconnect with them around the ladies dorm renovation project. I clearly remember the day Dennis Kroeker called me to say he had a day open up where he could volunteer in the dorm. That was the same day where I had to attend to the needs of one of my friends who had just lost his mother. Dennis’ timing and ability to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit has always astounded me. Most recently it was from Dennis that both Jason and I received support and encouragement through texts, phone calls, coffee and prayer as we navigated the waters of presidential and staff transition.
We all know that behind every good man stands a supportive wife, and Hannah’s contributions to the NBC family are equally as significant. Hannah has been a huge encouragement as she has joined cantata year after year and particularly taken the soprano section under her wings by taking them to her home and working on perfecting their parts. It has often been observed that Hannah is intentional at ensuring students feel welcome at their church and have opportunity to get involved. Many students can attest to Hannah’s gift of hospitality as they have been well fed with perogies, enchiladas and donuts, as well as her willingness to visit them on their turf in the dorm.
Dennis and Hannah Kroeker are people like you and I who have determined to live life in step with the Holy Spirit. This is evident year after year as they pour into the lives of NBC Staff, Students and their church family through words of encouragement, tangible involvement and time in prayer on our behalf.
It is a great privilege for us as an Alumni Association to recognize Dennis and Hannah Kroeker with a 2018 Alumnus of the Year Award for distinguished service to NBC.
Our mission is of course “developing passionate followers of Jesus Christ with a heart to serve”. This gentleman’s heart to serve has been evident since the day he left. Attending for 1 year as a 25 year old, he had only been out of NBI for 9 months when he let his name stand and was voted into the role of NBI Alumni President. A role he served in for 4 years, which inevitably lead to him serving on the NBC board for a stretch. During his time on the board he was a pioneer in the online dating world. Ironicially, his future wife, not an NBI alumnus herself, was encouraged to the same website he was on by another NBI alumnus in the Saskatoon area who’d met her spouse that way. Well, this gentleman married Marsha into our Alumni Association within a year of the initial email he sent. Shortly after I connected with Dave and Marsha in fall 2011 they were able to purchase an older farm house and put it onto a basement out on an acreage near Osler. I have always remembered clearly what they first told me about that home. “We want to be able to bless others with our home and whatever stuff God might give us here”. They have lived out their goal.
There is still no other home that I personally, or our NBC tour teams have been in more over my 6 1/2 years here. In fact, we’ve even had tour team members call them after they’ve finished attending NBC and stay at their house when they’ve been in Saskatoon for something like a wedding. You know you’ve felt welcome when you’re comfortable to do that. I can talk to students from 5 and 6 years ago, and they still all remember the Reimers. They remember the smoke alarm beeping as we arrived at 10:30pm at night to a late night feast of incredible appetizers and Marsha joking with them about how they didn’t know what they were in for. And the Reimers remember the students, they remember Jordan Fosseneuve and how he introduced himself as big chocolate, and how Jeremy Sherwood meticulously squeegeed and wiped every single drop of water from a shower that wasn’t even technically supposed to be used as a shower — they still laugh about that. All this hosting while their house has been a continual construction and renovation zone, while they’ve gone from one child to four, and while they’ve managed work and acreage responsibility on the side. In talking with them recently it struck me what compels them to their hospitality and all other forms of serving. They really love people. Like Christ loves people. In recent years they began an annual home-grown “spring donut drive” welcoming the warm weather. They make literally dozens of donuts, go out with the kids, and deliver them to all the neighbours building bridges and relational connections with even the most crabby neighbour who has no chance to be crabby with a little 3 year old smiling holding up fresh home made donuts.
Both live out their faith with their lives, in secular work places, or whether they are serving in the many areas they’ve served in their home church over the years. Crafts, music, Sunday School, youth group, kids club, serving on Boards, the list goes on. Just as they have incredibly blessed NBC, their home church, and whomever they have crossed paths with, may their lives be a challenge and an encouragement to each one of us, of how faithfully we can be a willing member of the Body of Christ, building each other up, as each one does it’s part. They continue to stay in touch with NBC, pray for us, are part of the Many Hands team, and the 2017 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Service to NBC goes to Dave & Marsha Reimer.
They’d been connected with community and a church in the Swan River area where he worked with seasonal carpentry and she with teaching/administration. He began to sense a tugging from God to invest in something more. And so it came to be they came as a mature couple to Nipawin Bible Institute. Even though they were almost old enough to be grandparents of their classmates, they embraced and enjoyed NBC community while this gentleman contributed much to his class. Leaving Nipawin in 2001 after 2 years, he wrote “I have learned so much, and now it is time to pass on what I have learned at NBI”. They moved to Grand Rapids MB, Stella’s hometown to do just that. With minimal denominational support, a church that was too small to pay them, and the challenges of serving alone, Manfred and Stella spent the last 15 years being intentional salt and light in a community desperately needing to accept the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Manfred’s roles have included regular preaching, small group Bible study and discipling men, performing countless funerals and being involved in many other community services where he’s had much opportunity to clearly share the gospel. Stella has served in largely supporting and enabling him to serve these ways, but has also been involved in music ministry and Bible studies, while together they have regularly hosted VBS’s with the help of church groups from Steinbach. Now in their 70’s, they have faced challenging health realities. In the last couple years, Stella has had heart failure issues, while 14 months ago Manfred was diagnosed with advanced cancer in his liver and was given only 8-10 months as late as this past September. The last 12 months for the Neffs have looked like this: Sunday evening drive 5 hours to Winnipeg, Monday receive blood work, Tuesday receive chemotherapy, Wed/Thu recover from the worst side effects of chemotherapy and then drive back to Grand Rapids Thursday evening so they can serve in ministry in whatever their bodies will let them do for those 3 days before driving back to Winnipeg Sunday night to start all over. With the short-life expectancy, Manfred and Stella’s hope is that the chemo would slow down the cancer enough to buy more weeks and months so they may be able to minister to the people of Grand Rapids for that much longer. James 1 starts out by saying “2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” and in verse 12 James gets to this fitting tribute. “12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
As Manfred and Stella live out last years, months, or perhaps even days, they await a glorious crown and the sweet presence of their Saviour. May we pray for their ministry in Grand Rapids, and hold them up in prayer, giving, or any other way as they finish their ministry on earth. May each one of us be challenged to live to our last breath faithfully sharing the love of Christ to those around us. The 2017 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry goes to Manfred and Stella Neff.
If there were a separate world for all the giants of servanthood, I envision both this man and woman would be in that world. First meeting as students at Nipawin Bible Institute around the mid 80’s, they got married in 1988 and began life together. With 5 children by 1994, I can only imagine the juggling required when Reneil first served on the Alumni Executive in the late 1990’s. I have seen this couple’s faithful involvement in their own children’s lives and also with their home church, just a couple of other reasons why I find it so neat they have also taken intentional time to squeeze in serving faithfully as they’ve been able at Nipawin Bible College. Though you might not see HIM at the front of a room or auditorium, Barry is a valuable contributor of getting the necessary things done. In 2012 when we renovated Rempel Auditorium and finished this Student Lounge, Barry and his work-crew (a substantial portion of which were his children) were such a valuable asset to NBC in adding eavestrough to the exterior of this building. Just this past summer 2016, his crew was at it again - they were in and out so fast most of us staff missed even knowing they were on Campus. However, as quick as they left, they left us with 2 dorms which for the first time in almost 50 years, had eavestrough all down the sides. For her part, Reneil has served on the Alumni Exec at least 2 different times, most recently from 2011-13. In 2010 when it appeared no one would let their name stand to be the new Alumni President, she was willing to volunteer her name spur of the moment to be considered for filling the role. This weekend Reneil has given of her time to lead a workshop this afternoon on a topic near to her heart — that is sharing her passion with us as Alumni to strive for God-honouring and thriving marriages. The Larson’s have been part of NBC’s Many Hands team for years, and both Barry and Reneil are an inspiration, encouragement, and example to me. In my opinion, they don’t just serve faithfully, they also have a deep LOVE for the people they serve. The 2016 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Service to NBC goes to Barry & Reneil Larson.
In 1993, this gentleman came to NBC as a young, fuzzy faced Freshmen. Leaving after a year, he ventured down various paths including a small chapter as an live auctioneer. Called back to NBC in January of 2000 he began his 2nd year and by God’s providence crossed paths with a certain lady who happened to be a freshmen that year. In 2002 this couple were married and since it appears I decided that this year we’d give the Alumnus of the Year awards to people with lots of children 🙂 they started on a journey towards the 6 they have with them here today. After 2 years of pastoral training in Yorkton, they moved to Ebenezer, SK where Kendall took on the pastoral role at the Baptist church. A long-term commitment to a specific ministry inevitably results in seeing many triumphs, celebrating milestones, and experiencing the joys that come in seeing life-long growth in many you have crossed paths with or directly invested in throughout the years. Of course, it also usually comes with living through various disappointments, unexpected let-downs, and enduring through a number of hardships. Over the past 10 years at Ebenezer, Amanda has served in a number of capacities at the church including women’s ministry and discipling, and music ministry — this along with home-schooling the children as they reach school age. Apart from his role as pastor, Kendall has also served alongside Good Spirit Bible Camp for a number of years in roles including staff training, and one-on-one mentoring with camp leadership. In 2013 Kendall joined NBC’s Board of Directors, becoming Board chair 1 year ago. Kendall and Amanda are a part of the NBC Many Hands team, are Christian leaders and examples to many, and we are pleased to extend to them today the 2016 Alumnus of the Year award for Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry.
The 2015 Alumnus of the Year award for Distinguished Service to NBC goes to Ryan & Pam Jansen. Ryan was thrust into the alumni spotlight unexpectedly, allowing his name to stand on a spur of the moment nomination in 2010 to become the President of the Alumni Association when no other people had let their name stand coming into that Alumni Weekend. His position on the Alumni Executive soon led to an invitation to serve as part of the NBC Board of Directors. During Ryan’s time on the board he began to envision a new potential for NBC. In 2013 he brought his proposal forward to see NBC run completely by solar power. The process came together quickly and in June 2014 the project started with construction, eventually coming online in December, with a grand opening in April 2015. Without his company’s contributions and his own continual provision of time and expertise NBC would not have been able to complete the project at the cost we did. Alongside Ryan, Pam has also served faithfully. Shortly after becoming Alumni President, Ryan & Pam had their first child, and though the demands of time and this new experience were part of their life, Pam regularly hosted the alumni exec in their home for Alumni meetings, designed and made Alumni Weekend posters, and graciously allowed Ryan to travel to NBC for various meetings and Alumni Weekends, coming along as much as she was able and they regularly opened up or offered their home as a place for NBC staff or tour teams to stay on the road. Ryan & Pam continue to serve and bless NBC through faithful giving and his serving as part of the Board. We are honoured to have them as Alumni and to recognize them today.
Ryan & Pam Jansen RESPONSE
We are truly humbled to be named alumnus of the year, and sincerely thank you for this honor. We are sorry that we are not able to be with you today.
I (Ryan) attended NBI for one year in 2002-2003 directly after high school, as I was both: looking to build my life on a firm, Biblically-based foundation, as well as find a wife! God used the school to completely put my life on His track, and ingrain in me a clear direction and purpose for my life. Thus, accomplishing one of my goals… God had other ideas for providing a wife!
I met my beautiful wife, Pam, studying Engineering Physics at the University of Saskatchewan, while she was studying Commerce. Two years later, we were married, and we now have been married for 9 years, and have been blessed with two children. We attend Asquith Baptist Church, near Saskatoon, and are involved in many areas of leadership there.
Although I only spent one year at NBI as a student, God has called me back, and allowed me to serve as Alumni President for a 4-year term, and to continue serving as a Board Member. We are so grateful for the impact that this school has in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world. We never cease to be amazed at the quality of students and staff that the Lord brings to NBC, and we are truly blessed to be a part of His plan here at the school. Thank you.
The 2015 Alumnus of the Year award for Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry goes to Gordon & Val Rowland. Gordon and Val exemplify well the NBC Mission statement we seek to ingrain with our students today…
“Developing passionate followers of Jesus Christ with a heart to serve”.
Not only are they passionate followers of Christ serving faithfully, through their pastoral work over 35 years they have sought to invest themselves into congregations and individuals to see others grow in passion for following Christ in faithful service.
A long-term commitment of service to a specific ministry or organization inevitably results in seeing many triumphs, celebrating milestones, and experiencing the joys that come in seeing life-long growth in many you have crossed paths with or directly invested in throughout the years. Of course, it also usually comes with living through various disappointments, unexpected let-downs, and enduring a number of hardships.
Gordon & Val have served with Village Missions for over 35 years now in 5 mostly rural churches. They give faithfully through ‘Many Hands’ and were glad to see 3 of their children attend Nipawin. We are honoured to have them as Alumni and to recognize them today.
Gordon & Val Rowland RESPONSE
It is hard to believe that it is getting close to 40 years since Val and I left the campus of Nipawin Bible College. I (Gordon) attended from 1974-77, and Val attended from 1976-78. That year we were married and one year later began our ministry with Village Missions. The Lord has been good to us, leading us to serve in 5 churches, including the Clive Christian Fellowship in Clive, Alberta, where we have been now for 14 years. Over those years, along with the ministry, God has blessed us with 4 children and 10 grandchildren.
It is a real honor and very humbling to be named alumnus of the year. We feel that our contribution to the school has been rather limited over the years, although we did send 3 of our children to NBC. After a few years in ministry I attended another prominent Bible College for one year to complete a degree program. However, I have always considered Nipawin Bible College to be “my school.” I want to thank NBC for the role they have played in my life, and for their faithfulness in continuing to train men and women to serve Jesus Christ.
We thank you with all of our hearts for recognizing us with this award. We are so sorry that we cannot be there in person. It is our desire to continue faithfully serving our Lord as long as He gives us strength to do so.
Adam graduated from NBC in 2011 completing a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership. He came with a background in construction, framing houses before and after his time at NBC.
While at Nipawin Adam was very involved, especially in music leadership. He appreciated how the staff helped him form his theology, without forcing their views on him. But he admits that he was forced to become better at resolving conflict.
They stay connected to NBC in a number of key ways:
- bringing their youth group to three60five every year
- hosting tour teams in their church and at their home
- promoting Bible colleges with the youth in their area, especially NBC!!
- there are current NBC students here as a result of that influence.
Adam & Elly felt a call to some aspect of church ministry even before coming to Nipawin. After doing his internship with Youth For Christ in St. Pierre MB Adam worked with them for another year before sensing God calling them to work with the youth at Grunthal Abundant Life Fellowship Church.
Elly is a vital partner in the ministry, and increasingly so as their kids get older. She has an important role with their small group ministry and especially connecting with the girls.
Adam & Elly are committed to serving God faithfully, with a heart to do so for the long term. In this they exemplify well the mission of NBC which is to passionately follow Jesus Christ, with a true heart to serve.
For Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry, today as a College and Alumni Association we recognize Adam & Eleanor Dyck as one of our 2014 Alumnus of the Year.
After coming home Tiffany worked for 2 years as a personal care giver for adults needing support to live in their homes. But after getting her TESOL certificate she felt God nudging her to be involved overseas again, which led to work overseas in 2005. Tiffany would tell you that she did not want to return to Asia at that time, mainly because she wanted to sweep her way around the globe to other continents. She was placed, by the organization she went with, in “OGC” , the Asian country she least wanted to go to of those offered. But God burst upon her with a great love for the people and country, surprising her in how quickly her heart was changed.
Upon returning she explored linguistics at the Canada Institute of Linguistics and then a year of study at Steinbach Bible College. Much prayer for God’s leading brought her to join a translation organization in 2008, and finally landing her in Chiang Mai, Thailand en route to a future focus with OGC.
There were many influences God used in her choice to serve overseas. From the words and encouragement of an NBC faculty member, Lorilee who she went to India with, to parents and friends, Sunday School teachers who gently invited her from a young age to know, love and serve God. And not least, the people who were there for her when she returned from OGC the first time, confused and somewhat lost — people who prayed with her and challenged her in ways she didn't always want to hear.
Tiffany will testify that it is in the most discouraging and low times that she is most aware of the need to persist — in the battle of where she invests her time, energy and thoughts. “Will I turn toward more desperate dependence on God? Or will I rationalize that I can do it myself, or will I just give into negativity or hopelessness?” She is one our most faithful Alumni in communicating with friends and supporters including NBC, with detailed newsletters sharing often of how we stand with her in ministry. We have been blessed to have her in chapel twice over the past few years when she was on home assignment.
For Distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry, today as a College and Alumni Association we recognize Tiffany as one of our 2014 Alumnus of the Year
It seems like just yesterday when I attended their wedding - Another good NBC wedding story. Boy pursues girl. Girl is unsure at first, but soon enough comes to realize that this is who she has been waiting for, and things proceed from there.
They married fairly young, perhaps in some people’s eyes, but this couple jumped right into life together, serving well in any job or role they had - living first in Nipawin, and then up in the Meadow Lake area for a time. Though they didn’t necessarily have a distinct strong calling from God in those early married years to go to the mission field, or be a pastor, or jump into some line of full-time ministry, there were people around them that God was directing to speak into their lives at just the right times, which in God’s perfect plan led them to also join Northern Canada Evangelical Mission. It’s fun to look back and marvel at God’s sovereignty and how he can take plain clay vessels like us and do such great things. Almost any person I’ve ever met who has filtered through Big River Bible Camp in the past 10 years cannot find a shortage of good things to say about these Camp directors. Their heart to see kids come to know Christ and then, not to stop there, but to see them grow in depth of relationship with the God of the Universe and a Saviour who dearly wants to mold each of us in His image, is evident.
The amount of youth who have come to NBC as students after spending time as a camper or staffer BRBC with Jason and Anita is noticeable.
The Bouchers have also worked with NBC quite regularly for a number of years as we sent freshmen students to them each January to get a taste of cross-cultural ministry as part of our annual Freshmen Ministry Practicum.
May you be inspired and challenged this morning by this story - about a couple who don’t feel anything special about themselves is what qualifies them to serve faithfully in ministry. What qualifies them to serve faithfully in ministry are hearts that feel an urgency to share the love they know that’s found here (hold up Bible), with boys and girls who need to hear and see that love lived out towards them. Jason & Anita, don’t grow weary in serving well.
It is with great privilege that we as an Alumni Association recognize Jason & Anita Boucher with a 2013 Alumnus of the Year plaque for distinguished Faithfulness in Ministry.
I don’t even remember the first time I met this couple. I remember knowing them, before I knew NBC. In fact, and probably because I was a child, I didn’t know they were NBC alumni until I was a student here, but I saw them faithful in ministry already during those childhood years. This couple met here on the NBI campus in the late 60’s. After they met a stereotypical bridal college fate like a number before and many since, it wasn’t long until they were involved in full-time ministry. They served with Northern Canada Evangelical Mission for decades in a number of capacities including flying and at the headquarters in Prince Albert, and more recently have also played roles in other organizations such as Bridges for Peace. In the early 90‘s they had involvement with the NBC Alumni Executive, and were committed to support NBC as they were able, even as we know full-time missionaries are not always the ones who can bless others with their pocketbooks - especially when compared to many others in our rich western culture. These days, Wanda faithfully stands by Gary and works hard at supporting their three adult age children as she and Gary continue to both live out Christ’s love towards those three. Their passion for NBC is clear - Gary regularly gives me names of high-schoolers he’s working on recruiting, and I know he and Wanda both are faithful in regularly praying for God’s work here. As their life paths have found them lately in less in “full-time” vocational ministry and spending time a bit more time with a construction company among other things, their hearts of generosity toward NBC have been clear. They are every-day people, like you and I, and I am encouraged by them and what it looks like to be Kingdom minded in life and daily focus. It is with great privilege that we as an Alumni Association recognize Gary & Wanda Brown with a 2013 Alumnus of the Year plaque for distinguished service to NBC.
It is my privilege to recognize the Alumnus of the Year for 2012. Many deserving alumni have been given this award over the past couple decades, and it is a testament to the heart of our Alumni Association that we are able to find people each year and ask ourselves, “how have they not been awarded this before?” This year, we recognize humble, faithful service once again.
Think small-town Saskatchewan - a young man and woman, each come to Nipawin Bible Institute in the fall of 1982. He from east of Saskatoon, her from southeast of Moose Jaw. I’m sure there are at least a couple of you here that could tell us the expanded story - but by the time those NBI years were over, “bridal college” had worked its magic.
This young man got his first taste of extra involvement with NBC after being voted onto the Alumni Executive as president in the mid-1990‘s, in fact my freshman year I believe, in 1995/96. Over the years since that time on the executive, both have grown in involvement and commitment to seeing the work of NBC continue and grow. After a season of life in BC, they returned to Saskatchewan where both their boys graduated from high school and attended NBC.
In addition to regular attendance at golf tournaments, Alumni Weekends, and almost every other single school event year round, both have shown a sacrificial willingness to commit their time to lending a helping hand around NBC where needed. They’ve been a steady part of “Many Hands” for years, and it just seems whenever we issue a fundraising challenge they’re always at the front of the pack to help and lead the way.
During my time as Alumni Exec president I saw Darlene’s desire at work to see more of their classmates and peers back at NBC for Alumni weekends or other events. Randall was invited to join the Board of Directors as an Associate member while he served as President of the Alumni Association. 17 years later, he never left, being the longest serving member currently on the Board. This summer Randall volunteered time doing electrical work on this student lounge we enjoy and dedicate today.
Randall and Darlene had the unfortunate circumstance of having to suffer through 7 days in Jamaica this week - but I assured them I’d hold on to this and give it to them when they got back. This morning I am honored to announce Randall and Darlene Dyck as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year award receipients.
2011 - Peter & Linda Enns
2010 - Ray & Esther Larson
2009 - Ken & Lina Yadlowsky
2008 - Matt Thiessen
2007 - Allan Kreller
2006 - Brad Steppan
2005 - Brian & Judy McArthur
2004/05 - Wes & Diane Fehr
2004 - Dennis & Hannah Kroeker
2003 - James Anderson
2001 - James Anderson
2000 - Darrel Teichrob
1999 - Jake D. Ens
1998 - Lois Jansen
1997 - Gordon Koop