All Saints Day is when we celebrate those people, past and present, who have had a significant impact on our spiritual lives. Below you will find a number of saints whom the people of Highland have encountered throughout their lives.
Feel free to share about your own saints in the comments.
Amy Dirks -
It is part of the evening routine, preparing for bed.
The warning, ”Shower Amy, and then five more minutes on the computer,” meets her approval. She can prepare! She has some control.
Back upstairs, showered and dressed for bed, she sits on the sofa, drinks her nighttime lavender tea while I read her daily Bible passage. Always, Amy asks to read the Jesus lines.
After brushing her teeth in the bathroom she then lies on the bed for me to floss her teeth, pull some stray eyebrows and clean up any spots of dirt under the skin. Recently, Amy expressed her annoyance and disdain at this routine. As she lay there with me leaning over her, peering for any foreign and unwelcome object on her face, I softly said, “Amy, do you know why I do this every night? I do this because I love you and I want your face to be clean and your eyebrows to look kept and your mouth to be healthy. I do this because I love you and care about you and I want others to see that you are cared for. I want you to feel clean and cared for when you go to sleep at night.”
As I said this to her, thoughts about my life and the regular routines I go through—about the challenges and the annoyance at having to continue on—came to mind. I heard God saying to me the very things that I had said to Amy. “Sylvia, I love you and care for you. I want you to feel loved and well taken care of. I want you to grow and be healthy. I am with you because I chose you. I love you!”
Amy has encouraged me in the ways of Christ. She has invited me to share in Christ’s sufferings, to love like he loves. She has given me opportunity to question God as a child, to show my anger, frustration, pain and annoyance and learn that I am so valued, loved and cherished by God.
– Sylvia Dirks
(May 12, 1915 in Provence, Switzerland—August 16, 2005, Taizé, France) -
Brother Roger is like a spiritual father to me and I am so grateful for all I have learned through his life. His writings taught me about the journey of trust
rather than the journey of fear.
He wrote about the gift of listening and that to listen is to catch a glimpse of the beauty of the human soul.
He believed in sung prayer and brought about the singing community of Taizé in France.
He took refugees into his home in the early years
of his work during WWII.
He is a model to me of generosity, trust, faith, open-hearted living, and unconditional love.
– Cathy Hardy
(1979 – 2004) -
Eric lived a life of loving with no judgment.
He called forth love, gentleness and silence in those around him. Eric expressed a desire to show his commitment to God and to the Highland Community Church through baptism, saying "baptize me."
Amazing, coming from someone who spoke little.
– Maryanne Balzer
(b. August 16, 1939) -
George has been the most concrete, day-to-day example for me of what "a man after God's own heart" looks like. He has modeled what it means to "follow Jesus" in all aspects of his life—and has been humble and honest about the challenges that involves. When George prays, one feels as if they are truly brought before a listening God. George's life has been infused with the presence of his Creator, wooing those around him with the sweet aroma of grace, forgiveness, and love. George is my father.
– Jen Wieler
Helene A. Frasee
(February 1914—July 2014) -
You can tell by the laugh lines that Aunt Helene had a sense of humour and a positive outlook. No wonder she lived to be 100— despite maintaining that "the good die young." At her funeral, Helene's pastor made three points regarding her legacy, with which I concur: A global worldview, the importance of family, and following Christ with both head and heart.
I hope I've caught Helene's value of learning your whole life.
It was a privilege to be with her when she died--
singing hymns, reciting Psalms and expressing love— things she did herself, naturally.
– Daphne Kamphuis
Anne Miriam (Froese) Esau
People who knew my mother have often referred to her as a saint, and over the 37 years since her death I have come to concur with that designation.
Anne left a legacy of unconditional acceptance of everyone, no matter their creed, religion, colour, status or age. She befriended numerous people whose background differed from hers.
Despite experiencing difficult circumstances throughout her married life, my mother exemplified patient endurance and fortitude. She did not become bitter, but rather, she embodied a posture of trust and she exuded a sweet spirit. Not to say that she didn’t also worry - she did enough of that - but there always seemed to be a song humming underneath, buoying her up. For her entire life she maintained a good sense of humour, often laughing at herself as well.
My mother's faith was strong and her relationship with Jesus, intimate. Long before her death, she told me that there was a particular song she wanted sung at her funeral. A male quartet made up of 4 of her nephews sang this song:
The Half Cannot be Fancied
1 To Jesus ev'ry day I find my heart is closer drawn,
He's fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn;
He's all my fancy pictures in its fairest dreams, and more,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before.
The half cannot be fancied, this side the golden shore;
O there He'll be still sweeter than He ever was before.
2 His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar,
He's fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star;
He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o'er and o'er,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. [Refrain]
3 My heart is sometimes heavy but he comes with sweet relief,
He folds me to His bosom when I droop with blighting grief;
I love the Christ who all my burdens in His body bore,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. [Refrain]
Source: The New Church Hymnal #39
(January 24, 1932 in Nijkerk, Netherlands— September 21, 1996, Hilversum, Netherlands) - Henri Nouwen has had a profound influence on my journey of faith.
He models Jesus to me—not just talking about Jesus, but living like Jesus. His life displayed an intimate relationship and experience of Jesus.
He was a brilliant man and could have lived out his life highly esteemed by academia but he chose to be a member of a L'Arche Community in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He was the in-house priest for the community
and loving caregiver to Adam, a profoundly disabled man.
Henri also modeled to me, through his many books, his vulnerability and honesty. God used Henri's voice to show me that it was okay for me to be vulnerable and broken—I was still deeply loved by God. What a beautiful message to my heart! Thank you Henri. You are truly a saint!
– Sue Vander Woude
Jacob Peter Penner
(March 20, 1898 near Rosthern, SK—September 19, 1988, Chilliwack, BC) - This candid photo is of my father, ready for church on a wintry Sunday morning in 1956, waiting for the rest of the family to assemble for the drive to East Chilliwack M.B. Church, thinking through the sermon he will preach that morning.
He was a wise guide to me as I entered manhood, chose a profession and married Frieda, and through the rest of his earthly life.
I may be a little partial when I say that he was the best resident lay preacher in East Chilliwack M.B. He was equally fluent in German and English, and my friends would happily listen to his well planned sermons that always included a humorous story or lines of poetry that applied to his theme.
– Wilf Penner
John & Olga Wiebe -
My grandparents! My Grampa was open minded, intelligent and never afraid of questions. My Gramma prayed. They spent time with me, loved me, accepted me and were an example of who Jesus is.
They were the most supportive and encouraging people in my life for many years.
– Audrey Hoehn
(b. 1941, Flowing Well, Saskatchewan)
Lorlie has been a pastor, a cartoonist, and television producer. For five years I worked with him producing
radio programs with thousands of people of all ages in more than 100 schools and churches across Canada.
Lorlie never liked Bibles that put Jesus’ words in red.
That was partly because he was colour blind and red was difficult for him to see. But he also said that “red letter bibles” distracted people from God’s “paraword communication”—all the ways Jesus communicates without speaking. Lorlie once suggested I read the Gospels with a focus on what Jesus did. I saw a God who listened, who looked, who touched, who wept, who loved. My relationship with God has never been the same.
In fact, Lorlie’s influence in my life is so significant that my oldest son is named after him.
– J Janzen
(1929 – 2011) -
Once upon a time there was a humble princess who didn't get to live in her castle, but nevertheless made a great kingdom all around her. She loved God, and God loved her, and so God blessed her.
She worked hard to please the Lord, whether in her garden, or her home, and anyone could see she WAS truly blessed. But what really counts for me, is that she FELT truly blessed.
One of her most recalled memories was of us grandkids, who would trail over to her house after breakfast, either to dress up in her fancy gloves and scarves, or play with her wooden trains in her living room.
From a young age, I remember many occasions that I'd run over to Grama's. She was the woman to see about milk and eggs, and often she'd be in the middle of running a fresh batch of milk through the separator, ALWAYS humming her favorite hymns as she worked.
She loved children, and her great grandchildren got to feel that love. My heart panged the days that came when she would offer them a cookie, only to forget where she had put them.
Being a loved grandchild of hers, I knew where they were, so I'd gently guess which cupboard to open.
Her gardens got smaller, her world got smaller, and eventually she stopped getting so frustrated about that. My Grama was still there though—right to the end. I got a chance to really be with HER in the last week of her life. She was even a little bit funny.
She was a great example of a lifetime of love, with a heart that was serving. We will mourn the loss of this lovely princess for years to come, but I know she had a long and happy love-filled life that was not at all wasted.
– Juliana Verde
Maude Saterbo -
My maternal grandmother was a saint to me in so many ways.
She had a very giving heart, a ready smile, a wonderful chuckle, and always a huge hug for me. She lived a life of giving to others— especially shown after her husband, my grandpa, had a stroke and was very helpless. She cared for him in all kinds of ways and remained cheerful throughout those very difficult years. She wasn’t known for a lot of words, but instead lived her love in all her caring acts.
– Jean Imbach
(March 19, 1932—March 13, 2009, Quezon City, Philippines) -
My life was changed by reading Father Thomas Green’s book, Opening to God. I wrote to him via his publisher and received a hand written letter a month later. We corresponded a few times and later met at a retreat he was offering at Kingsfold in Alberta. We became friends and he visited our home numerous times. We also had the joy of visiting him in Manila. He took us to his room where had had lived for 50 years. His life reflected every single thing that he wrote about in his numerous books.
– Steve Imbach
My mom chose Psalm 37:5-6 to be used at her celebration of life, which accurately portrays how she lived her life.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
The justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Mom committed her life to living, as best she could, the way of love. With a trust in God, she quietly went about reflecting goodness.
Mom was(is) the kindest person I have known. She extended grace to every person she encountered, regardless of how she was treated by them. She was kind to the core of her being.
With a deep inner strength, mom courageously accepted and persevered through difficulties in her life.
To the last breath of her life on earth, she reflected her commitment and trust in our Lord and Creator. With consistent and humble modeling, mom reflected God's love.
Roland Balzer -
Coming to know Roland, first as my Pastor, then more intimately in Small Group and now as valued friend has greatly impacted, for the better, the direction of my walk with God over the years. He continues to model for me an intentional life lived in transparency, humility and service, with his love for Lord and community, that I find so attractive. Bless him.
-- Sandi Ernst
Agatha Wiebe personifies meekness; so humble, yet so very strong, self-giving & sacrificial, non-judgemental, quiet in demeanor but strong in faith, principled and decisive. She is the eldest of 10. At almost 25 years she married the farmer from down the road, then in following years they together established their own farm, and she bore 9 children. During those years she unflinchingly and without complaint wore many hats… she was a cow-milker, gardener, soup-cooker, tree-planter, sew-er of her five daughters’ Christmas and summer Sunday dresses, peace-maker, baker of countless loaves of bread and buns, encourager, mender, letter-writer, comforter, helper, vareniki, perischki and platz-maker, canner, pray-er, knitter, reader, mourner of her husband and two too-soon-gone grandsons plus countless others, acceptor of all who ventured into the family, birthday-card-sender to her 9 and their spouses, to her 17 grandchildren & spouses, and to her 21 great-grandchildren... Her parents were saints in their own rights, and her father, the local pastor always sought to bring people together, and to include ‘outsiders’ and women. Thus, Agatha and her mother were the first women to vote at their church congregational meeting. Agatha never appreciated being known as ‘Mrs. Henry Wiebe’. No, she was, and remains even still at age 100years, Mrs. Agatha Wiebe, my mother. The work of her life is all but done now; she sits quietly… and waits… still an example to all.