Serving Steinbach

Serving Steinbach

To outsiders, the town of Steinbach, 58 kms southeast of Winnipeg, may not appear to leave much of a footprint in Manitoba. Residents here will remind the visitor, however, that the city boasts the third largest population of the province – just more than 13,000 residents. Most of the town folk adhere to the Mennonite faith, a religious tradition that spans recent decades.

Latter-day Saint missionaries had attempted to introduce the restored gospel to Steinbach citizens a decade ago. But because of the established religion, efforts by the elders yielded no converts. The missionaries were moved to more productive fields of service and for the last ten years, Mennonites and Mormons never crossed paths here.
Fast-forward to September, 2013. A pair of dark-suited, white-shirt missionaries again began catching wary glances from Steinbach citizens. It would not be long, though, before the new strangers would no longer be regarded as foreigners. “Probably the biggest thing we did,” recalls Elder Simister, “was creating what we called the ‘Ammon project.’ We decided to just serve the people in the community and anyone on their farms.”
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As the pair began to “just serve,” without pay, with no expectation of delivering a discussion on-the-spot, miracles began to happen. “We were featured in the local newspaper; people asked us to go to their friends to serve. We became known for service,” says Elder Brandon Simister. “There were some members that weren't known to us, but we began finding members in Steinbach, and began baptizing other members of those families.”

The missionaries’ efforts began to attract the attention of Mennonites and other residents. “We received a media referral my second week to Josh Giesbrecht. He had done some soul searching through his life and as he prayed, he received these revelations: that God had a body, He was separate from Jesus Christ, and felt he had now found the gospel on the earth. His pastor said that it was of the devil and not of Jesus Christ.”

Some weeks later, Josh came upon the website. He read about the church’s beliefs and was surprised to know that they were in line with the questions in his prayers. “We taught him  Saturday evening. Then when he came to church the next day, we taught him the plan of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ and all the commandments.”

The missionaries say that they felt like Ammon and Aaron expounding the scriptures. “We had a three hour lesson. He felt the spirit so much. He was the most prepared person that I have ever met. He was so ready. The mission president came for the last 30 minutes of the lesson and interviewed him.”

“When Josh was taught the first lesson,” says Elder Simister, “he said he would be baptized. He was baptized 21 hours after the moment that we met him.”

President of the Canada Winnipeg Mission, Kirk M. Thomas, adds another layer to the mission’s success in finding and retaining new members. “We have focused more on the less-actives, to get them to help us. We ask them for a commitment, ‘Will you pray for us as missionaries, will you pray for missionary experiences, pray for names of people to come to mind, invite a friend to come over to dinner.’ Simply asking for them to pray for us as missionaries gets them involved in the work.”
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One Steinbach family had seen a Church advertisement and requested more information. “We met with Mr. Cornie and when we shared the Book of Mormon with him, he said that he wanted to be visited next week,” Elder Joncas remembers.  “We came back and shared the restoration. Then, Tia, his wife, she gets up and grabs Book of Mormon from her husband, and says, ‘This is a wonderful book! I love this book!’ We gave Books of Mormon to the five children, and they were excited to receive them. We are teaching five families now.”

“My experience has been wonderful and blessed,” says Elder Joncas. “The members work with us almost every day. There are many miracles.”

“When I hear about the hastening of the work, Steinbach is a perfect example,” says Elder Simister. “The town has been great, I love the Mennonite people. They are hard-working and love Jesus Christ. They teach their children to live the commandments. They live Christ-like lives and serve. They are amazing, especially in a town with one religious tradition. It is a pleasure to live and serve in such a Christian community.”

“All missionary work can’t be done by people alone. We are only successful as we include the Lord, include Him in prayer,and especially as we follow the Holy Ghost, even at the most inconvenient times. That's when the miracles come.”