Though the Calgary Stampede has already come and gone, the highlight of your summer still awaits you. That’s right, the Torchbearers Tour is coming to Calgary on August 12-13, and I (Luke Thomas) look forward to seeing you there. Meet up with students and staff from your school year and possibly others who might just be living down the road from you. If you’re not in Calgary, but in need of a good excuse for a road trip, come and enjoy these couple days of fellowship, reminiscing and teaching from God’s word. You can also check out the Torchbearers website to see where else the tour will be going this summer.
Holsby has a new website! Check out the fresh and innovative design. It is full of beautiful images and graphics, and has lots of helpful content. This new website is now optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets.
This project came together very quickly under the expert guidance of Samuel Weirich, a volunteer programmer and designer from Germany. Samuel has been able to accurately capture the ethos and vision of Holsby and then communicate it with this attractive and accessible digital tool.
Take time to explore and click your way through the various pages. And then be creative in helping us get the word out about the new Holsby website through your own social media and personal connections. It is a great tool for sharing with potential students and their parents.
If you are an alumnus of Holsby, pay special attention to the “Alumni” tab in the “Connect” menu at the top of the page. There you will find instructions for linking up with a Facebook group specifically for the year you attended. Join the group and get back in touch with your old roommates and friends!
There are plenty of exciting things happening at Holsby. We will be highlighting some of our plans and projects in upcoming posts on our FikaTime blog and our newly updated Facebook page. So stay connected and stay in touch!
“Alums” return to visit Holsby from both far and near! It’s a joy to renew acquaintance and witness God’s continuing work in their lives. Two such visits were a part of our experience in June.
A large family group graced the campus early in the month. Pam Hagen Beebe, from 1982-83, came with her whole family and some of her extended family (which included Swedish relatives from a nearby village, who have even sent their kids to Holsby for confirmation camps). “It was such an amazing experience,” she stated. There were 21 of them altogether. Their time was limited, but after enjoying a tour of the campus, they even eagerly managed to conquer the adventure course. “That will certainly be a memory for all of us,” Pam shared. “Your staff was so gracious and patient as our group struggled through each segment of the course.”
Pam reflected about her Bible school year: “I attended Holsby between my high school and college years, hoping to get deeply rooted in God’s Word and gain a global outlook on Kingdom work before I set out to prepare for my vocation. When I returned to the States, I became a teacher and a pastor’s wife. Now we are enjoying a season as the presidential couple of Westmont College in California, and I continue to see the many ways that my time at Bible school prepared me for our ministry.”
During their visit, Pam met Morgan McCornack, the daughter of one of her Holsby classmates (Scott McCornack). Morgan is on summer staff after being a student here this past year. Maybe there will also be a “2nd Gen” student from the Beebe family in the future. “It is my great hope that one of my own children might return for their own experience at Holsby,” Pam concluded.
A church group from north of Gothenburg was here for a week of family camp at the end of June. They’ve been coming to Holsby every summer for many years. One couple in the group is Dag and Gun Linwik (formerly Dag Wikström). Dag was a Holsby student way back in 1978-79. His story is an amazing one of God’s love and grace.
One day on a business trip, Dag picked up a couple of young people who were hitchhiking! They were Holsby Bible school students, who were bold to share their faith. What they said piqued Dag’s curiosity – so much so that he located Holsby and came for a visit on his next business trip. It was spring break, and so not many were around on campus. But there just happened to be someone there when he drove in. They directed him up the hill to the Schoon house.
On the way up, Dag stopped to ask further directions of someone who just happened to be walking the hill – who just happened to be a student, and who (at that precise moment) just happened to have left (because of cat allergies) the neighbor’s house where Wally and Donna were having “fika”!! Dag parked the car, knocked on the neighbor’s door – and we all soon learned his reason for coming to Holsby. A deep conversation ensued – of what it meant to really know and love Jesus Christ. Of course, the neighbors had to listen too.
Eventually the dialogue moved to the Schoon home. Sometime after midnight, Wally asked a key question of Dag: “What keeps you from receiving the Lord Jesus into your life?” And so in those early morning hours, a new life was born into the Kingdom of God! That autumn, Dag came to Holsby as a student so he could grow more deeply into his new-found faith in Jesus Christ! All these years later, Dag and Gun have an active faith within their church fellowship and its surroundings.
Things don’t just happen in this life of walking with the Lord! God had all the pieces in place long before they were put into action to bring Dag to Himself! I do not remember if those students who witnessed to the life of Jesus ever knew the results of Dag’s response to the Lord in his heart. But eternity will reveal their faithfulness in sharing the life and love of the Lord Jesus within their everyday circumstances!
When were you last in “awesome wonder” of our God? If we understood the totality of His wisdom, not limited to, but wonderfully represented in creation’s gifts: the blooming of a flower, the hungry songs of nesting birds or the shades of shifting light, I think we would be in a constant awesome wonder of Him. How much more when we add to creation’s gifts, His intentional interest directed towards us through the infinite power of His sovereignty and His intimate love experienced through His community. Both of these are life changing and, though not always acknowledged, they would also lead us into a constant awesome wonder of Him.
As you watch this slideshow, a summary of this year’s Bible school, many of you will know and remember the awesome wonder that is behind the fellowship of all that takes place here at Holsby…an awesome wonder that has changed our lives and will continue to change us until Christ returns.
As you were probably told when here, that awesome wonder isn’t because of Holsby; it’s because of Jesus Christ, who has never and will never leave us. Have a fika break and take a few moments to identify some of God’s awesome wonders in the midst of your work, your studies, your family, your church and the rest of your surroundings.
Please take the time to read this encouraging story of light in the North!
It is relatively rare that the Northern Lights can be seen as far “south” as Holsby, but last week many students stayed up late to catch a glimpse of this mysteriously beautiful appearance in the northern sky. But I want to tell you the story of a different kind of light that is miraculously making an appearance on a regular basis here in Sweden.
News reports about the recent flood of refugees streaming into Sweden usually emphasize the problems, unrest and tragedies that have accompanied this great migration from the south. Sweden has taken in many thousands of people fleeing the war in Syria, the poverty in Africa and the daily uncertainty and even persecution in other parts of the Middle East. And yes, this mass movement of desperate refugees is inevitably accompanied by difficulties, but that’s not the whole story.
Last week, a young man whom we will call Mansoor (not his real name) for his safety, visited the Holsby campus. Mansoor came to Sweden from the Middle East about five months ago out of fear for his life. Back in his home country, Mansoor had begun to search for truth and took a special interest in the claims of Christianity. He assumed that by coming to Sweden, a “Christian” nation, his search would be successful. Little did he know that Sweden is what we call a post-Christian nation – and is now one of the most secular countries in the world.
The Swedish Church, which until 16 years ago was the official state church, is led by an archbishop who denies many of the central truths of the Bible. She has stated that belief in the virgin birth of Christ is an optional extra, and she can’t say whether Jesus or Muhammad presented a truer picture of God. It would seem that there is not much light in this part of the world – except for the occasional Northern Lights.
Anyway, Mansoor ended up in a relatively isolated part of Sweden together with 800 other refugees waiting to be interviewed, processed and hopefully resettled. The government is not equipped to handle all the social and human needs of these desperate immigrants. They languish in boredom in temporary housing with nothing to do except wait for their fate to be decided – will we be allowed to stay or will we be sent back to the war zone and/or possible persecution? Despite differing views about the wisdom of opening the borders to so many refugees, Swedes have generally shown generosity and compassion toward these people.
The local parish of the Swedish Church was overwhelmed by the needs of Mansoor and his fellow refugees. They hired some extra staff, including a priest to minister to their spiritual needs. In God’s sovereignty, this priest turned out to be “Johan”, one of the relatively few strongly evangelical priests within the Swedish Church. Johan also happens to be a former member of the Holsby board and has brought many groups of young people to Holsby as part of their confirmation instruction.
Johan and the members of his parish organized activities for the refugees, including a Sunday afternoon meal and worship service. After a hot bowl of soup, a small group of mainly Muslim refugees gathered to hear about Christ. In one of his sermons, Johan told the story of how a young and very fervent young man named Saul was on his way to Damascus, on a sort of spiritual crusade, when he was stopped in his tracks by a bright light. And there on the road to Damascus in Syria, where many of these present-day pilgrims grew up and are now fleeing, Saul came face to face with Jesus Christ. The irony and poignancy was not lost on the refugees.
Young Mansoor was the first to give his heart to the Lord and soon nine of his fellow refugees also encountered the Light of Life in the face of Jesus in that small parish in our post-Christian Sweden! Almost immediately, they all asked to be baptized. The leadership of the Swedish Church strongly discourages Muslim converts from getting baptized. In part, they are fearful that if these refugees are eventually sent back to their home countries their lives will be in danger because of their public conversion to Christ. But Mansoor and his fellow converts insisted on being baptized.
Mansoor, who speaks English fairly well, serves now as an interpreter for Johan as he continues to instruct these former Muslims in their new faith. His hunger for God’s Word is insatiable and Johan sensed that Mansoor needed more in-depth Bible training. “Let’s see if Holsby has a place for him!” And so, Mansoor visited our campus last week to see if we might be able to fit him in for our Bible school spring term.
As Luke and I conversed with Mansoor, we immediately recognized the reality of his faith in Christ. And we quickly agreed to offer Mansoor a scholarship to join our students for the spring term (the months of April and May). We are confident that Mansoor will be quickly accepted and drawn in to the Holsby student body. It will be a perfect opportunity for him to experience Christian community and be strengthened in his knowledge and faith.
The latest report from Johan is that 20 more Muslim converts are now asking to be baptized. The Light of lights is shining brightly in the North! Please pray for Johan and his staff. Let’s thank the Lord that He has His people everywhere. Over 60 refugees now attend the weekly “soup and worship service” at Johan’s church. And let’s pray for Mansoor and his fellow converts as they already face opposition from some of the other refugees.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)
If you would like to contribute to the Holsby scholarship fund so that needy students like Mansoor and others may attend, you will find instructions at the following link: General Donation
Your investment in scholarship students like Mansoor is a great way to spread God’s light to a part of the world that has so little true witness for Christ.
As a reminder, we would also encourage you to think about making a contribution toward the gym project. You can use this link: Donation to the Well
In the 11 years that I have had the privilege of directing the work here at Holsby, we have had more than 400 staff members serve in various volunteer or paid positions. Some have been here for a matter of weeks or months, others have been here for 15 years and counting. All have contributed to making Holsby a special place of spiritual growth and blessing.
Each year, many seasonal volunteer positions need to be filled, and we urge you to contact us if you would like to invest your time and talents in this ministry for the spring and summer season of camps and retreats, or if you would like to serve a bit longer and help during the Bible school term. Click here for more information: Volunteer Opportunities
From time to time, we also need to fill longer-term positions that require a higher level of experience and more of a time commitment. We presently have two such openings, which may be of interest to you or someone you could recommend to us.
Accounting/Staff Services Coordinator: We are looking for someone who can commit to serving for a minimum of two years as our accounting/staff services coordinator. You should have some experience in accounting and a general understanding of finances/bookkeeping, as well as the ability to manage a variety of office tasks. For more details, click here: Accounting/Staff Services job description
Maintenance Assistant: We are looking for someone who can commit to serving for one to two years on our Holsby Maintenance Team as an assistant to our Maintenance Coordinator. For more details, click here: Maintenance Assistant job description
Because of visa considerations, our ideal candidates for the two longer-term positions above will be from the European Union. Please write to us at email@example.com if you have further questions.
Holsby is a great place to serve. We would love to hear from you if you are looking for a place to serve the Lord in a friendly, fun and fulfilling environment.
Our group of special little “Teebees” (Torchbearer staff children) continues to increase! Our most recent newcomer is …
NAME: David Frederick Stephens
DATE: 15 January 2016
TIME: 10:11 a.m.
WEIGHT: 4200 grams (about 9 lbs., 4 oz.)
LENGTH: 52 cm. (about 20.5 in.)
PARENTS: Danny & Manuela Stephens
SIBLINGS: Moses & Samuel
After just a little over six hours of contractions, Manuela gave birth to their third son. She says it was her easiest delivery yet – and for that there was much praise! Another item of praise was that Danny was fully recovered before David was born after having been on crutches for four weeks with a broken bone in his ankle. It’s always nice when the husband can drive his wife to the hospital!
The name David is a Hebrew name and it means “beloved.” There is no question that this new little life is cherished by his family, and his name bears witness to that.
Danny shared: “In the Bible, David is called a man after God’s own heart. We pray that our little David will also grow to have a heart like God’s, and courage like David to trust the Lord and follow Him. We are now the parents of three beautiful boys, and we pray they will grow to be men who love the Lord!”
Two big brothers (Moses and Samuel) are also very proud of their baby brother!
Little David Frederick … as the Psalmist David put into words, may you also (as you grow) express your heart in this way to our Father God …
O my God,
in You I have unwavering trust
and I rely on You with steadfast confidence.
Do not let … my hope in You be disappointed ….
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness
and teach me;
for You are God my Savior,
and I wait expectantly for You (my hope is in You)
all day long.
Psalm 25:2, 4-5
Luke Thomas (Bible School Principal) and Jonathan Miller (Camp Holsby Director) got together recently to talk about Holsby’s exciting new building project, “The Well at Holsby.” Would you take a few minutes to watch this update on our plans to build a gym, and then consider how you can help us by making a donation?
One of my favorite subjects to write about is the second generation students who come to Holsby. After being able to share all these years of history and God’s great work in individual lives at “Fackelbärarna,” there is great joy to see that HIS truth is being shared from generation to generation.
This year we have not only two “2nd Gens,” but also two “3rd Gens”!! We had the privilege of hosting them last week in our home for the traditional waffle supper. We had such an awesome time reminiscing and reflecting, laughing and rejoicing! We could have continued a lot longer, but it was time for evening lectures to begin!
Come and meet these lovely young people, and learn a bit more about them through their answers to a couple of questions:
Who/what influenced you to come to Holsby?
What are your expectations for this year?
MORGAN MCCORNACK, from Bellingham WA (USA) is one of our first ever “3rd Gens.” Both her parents attended Holsby – Scott McCornack in 1982-83, and Diana Lilja McCornack in 1986-87. (A couple of her aunts also attended – Sharlyn McCornack Roberts and Dawn McCornack Woyke). In the spring of Scott’s school year, his parents – Jerry and Greta McCornack – attended the spring term as well. Jerry, who is now with the Lord, was a retired pastor and simply desired to have some extended weeks of being refreshed with God’s Word! They were a wonderful addition to that school term. Morgan shares:
- I have wanted to travel since I was 8. Strangely enough, Holsby was not my first choice, but I’m so glad I came here. Part of my influence to come was seeing how Bible school really changed my sister.
- For this year, I want to have a better understanding of the Bible and what I believe on my own, not just what comes from my parents. I want a deeper relationship with God, and better foundation in my life.
ERYK SCHOON (a.k.a. ERIC) was born in Sweden, and lived at Holsby until he was 7. Then as a family, they moved to China where they spent the next 8-1/2 years. Now the family is in Chico CA (USA) until all the kids are out of high school, and then the Lord knows what the next step will be. Eryk’s “3rd Gen” status is a bit different – and you notice his last name is Schoon. Yes, he is our grandson! Although never students in a Holsby classroom, Wally and I have been at Holsby since its inception, with various roles to serve – the current one being that of support staff. Eryk’s parents were both students, but in different years – Ric Schoon in 1983-84, and Keli Hignell Schoon in 1987-88. Ric and Keli met at Holsby when Ric was on staff for Keli’s school year. Keli also worked summer staff in 1989. Together they joined Swedish Torchbearers in 1993, and directed Holsby’s ministry from 1994-2004. Eryk’s response to the questions …:
- I really had no influence from home on my decision to come here, but Holsby has been so much a part of my life that there was no reason I would NOT come back!
- There are few places in the world where one can get as much in-depth Scripture study as at a Torchbearer Bible school. I, being a seeker of knowledge, came to create a stepping stone for the rest of my life. It will give me a foundation on which I may build my “floor,” as to know how high I may truly build my “roof.” I want to be able to both gain and give the most in the short life I live.
DAINER DUFF-DINGS comes from Bellevue WA (USA). Dainer’s parents – Kenny Dings and Doreen Duff-Dings – also began their relationship at Holsby in their student year, 1978–79. (Holsby Bible School has also included other family members – Dainer’s sister, Dania Duff-Dings, and Kenny’s sister and her husband who met here as well – Claes Paulsson and Kathleen Dings Paulsson). Dainer went right to the point in answering the questions:
- I had the choice to move out or come to Bible school! I wanted to go a ways away also. My sister really had an influence on my coming here.
- I would like to be strengthened both physically and mentally. And I would like to strengthen my knowledge of the Bible – I never really cared before. I want to know HIS Word, know where I can find certain verses, etc. Would love to be able to “argue” the truths of HIS Word.
RACHELLE COLLINS is our Canadian “2nd Gen,” hailing from Abbotsford BC. Her mom, Carol Fast Collins, attended Holsby in 1982-83. It’s always good to be honest, and so Rachelle was as she answered the questions:
- Because my mom went here, I really didn’t want to come to Holsby. I was thinking of Greece, but that was only 5 weeks of Bible school. So I came here anyway and it’s really great! I’m so glad I’m here!
- When I first came, my thoughts were that I wanted to be changed and transformed. But then I realized I was making it all about me. I want to make my life more about God and where HE wants to take me. Then I will focus more on HIM and let HIM work in me.
We are totally delighted to have these young people in this year’s student body. I’ve paraphrased a verse for you (and your classmates as well) from the Old Testament. These words are my prayer for you …
“Holsby was the best year of my life! My life was changed.” That’s been the story for so many young people over the last 40+ years. Holsby is a quiet place where God shows up, and then big things happen.
Our students, campers and guests from around the world come to Holsby thirsty for godly teaching and Christian community. And they meet the only One who can satisfy our deepest needs. Jesus changes lives.
Holsby is a great place with a beautiful campus. Now, imagine adding a bright and welcoming gym so that our young people have space to get active and stay healthy – no matter what the weather, especially in the darker months of the year. We are getting ready to put up the first major new building in the history of Holsby. We are calling it “The Well,” or “Brunnen” in Swedish. It features a full-size basketball court, a workout area and a café for enjoying Swedish fika. And this is where we need your help.
Would you consider a gift of 20 x $50? That’s 20 monthly installments of 50 dollars (or euros). More to the point, it’s an investment of 1000 dollars into the lives of our future students, so that big things can happen in their lives too. Every gift counts!
We are “well” on our way to reaching our total building cost of 1.9 million dollars, but we need your help. Your gift of 1000 dollars will be added to the 300,000 dollars that we have already been able to set aside for the project.
In the end, we know that God makes big things happen. And He invites us to be part of what He is doing. Your investment in this new facility will continue to bring refreshment for life to so many young people in the years to come. Pray with us for God’s blessing and supply for this project as we build for the future.
For more details about this exciting project, go to our website and check it out: The Well at Holsby.