Pastor Nick Nimchuk served the Church of God (Seventh Day) as a minister in both Canada and the United States for almost 40 years. The following is his story – the story of a young man who went searching for his purpose in life, and found that purpose as a pastor. Whether he knew it at the time, his early life was in preparation for ministry.
In the fall of 1948 at the age of 14, I considered myself a man and I wanted to prove to my parents and myself that I could work with the threshing crew. My dad went along with my request, yet showed up daily at the threshing site to ask if I needed him to take my place. My option was to go home and help with chores, but I wanted to stay until threshing was completed.
When the time came to settle our bill, the boss of the threshing crew handed $73 to my dad. “Don’t give it to me,” Dad said. “Give it to Nick – he earned it.” What can I do with that much money? I still had the dollar Dad had given me for my twelfth birthday. The money served to purchase much-needed winter clothing and boots. Mother knitted liners for the boots from her home-carded wool. With the $14 left over, I purchased a new Savage 22 Rifle. Totally in my glory at this young age, I was a MAN! Proud as punch!
Like so many others during the tough times of the Great Depression, the family was evicted from our homestead for non-payment of taxes. The folks were able to relocate in 1937, picking up another unfortunate neighbor’s land by paying the back taxes thereon.
I headed west to seek my fortune
In 1956, we rented out the land and built a home for my parents in Hazel Dell, Saskatchewan. I headed west to seek my fortune. Four years later, now married and facing a job cut, I decided our best option was to move back to the Saskatchewan farm. And move we did.
That summer of 1960, I injured my wrist mounting newly sharpened cultivator shovels, ending up in hospital with tetanus, an often-fatal disease and the first case in the province in ten years. My wife contacted her parents. Her dad was attending Ministerial Council meetings at the time and the entire Council in session paused for a special prayer service.
My miraculous recovery left me considerably weakened, but we continued struggling on the farm until the spring of 1965. By now a family of six, the farm had grown, also the hard work, but my energy level waned. What must we do?
In preparation for ministry
On July 22, 1965, we had a public auction, sold our livestock and machinery, rented out the farm, and moved to Stanberry, MO to attend Midwest Bible College. I obtained a tailor-made side job at the church Publishing House. Here I became acquainted with the print world in addition to my classes in preparation for ministry.
In May of 1968, I graduated with a three-year diploma and an immediate posting in the Nipawin/White Fox, SK area to reestablish the Church of God (7th Day) there.This was a totally new adventure. We met in homes for a while but soon located an old Roman Catholic Church for sale in White Fox, some ten miles from Nipawin, that had been used as a warehouse by Wilfred Shill’s Electric.
Soon, we purchased the building for $1,500.00 and at once began cleaning, painting, and remodeling. We spent an entire day removing the damaged steeple. This posed quite a problem. No one wanted the challenge to finish the very steep roof, known as a “hail-stone splitter.” I took on the job, even while recovering from a recent and complicated appendectomy.
With the roof sealed, now how do I get safely down from this 20-foot high peak safely? With a long rope tied to a car bumper on the south side of the building and flung over the peak, I gripped it in my hands and began a slow descent to the eave on the north. From there I stepped onto a ladder and began the final descent to the ground. I did get a reprimand from my doctor later. Roof climbing was not considered wise in my condition.
It was during this time that my parents sold their house in Hazel Dell and purchased a home in Nipawin. We enjoyed having them near, and they were delighted to be a part of our congregation.
With a three-ton truckload of used Canadian Pacific Railway benches; a seven-passenger Mini-Bus; and a piano purchased; plus a stage and pulpit built; we moved into this humble facility. It served us well as we enjoyed numerical growth, and God was truly praised during my six-year tenure in the area. We had four baptismal services, three Youth Camps, one adult Camp Meeting, and several series of revival meetings.
Attendance grew slowly to thirty-five and gradually to sixty-five. In 1969, the Challengers Quartet put on a concert in the church. With a full house and the overflow listening from trucks and cars in the parking lot, two hours passed swiftly with heartfelt singing followed by a meaningful message presented by Elder Dale Lawson.
Baptisms, conducted in rivers or lakes, were well attended and followed by fellowship meals. Rained out after one service, we plowed a muddy, zigzag path until reaching the gravel road.
At first, we met in homes, school gyms, and halls
In July 1974 the District Church Board moved us to the Edmonton/Stony Plain area where we organized a church that is presently still active in the Parkland area west of Stony Plain. At first, we met in homes, school gyms, and halls, conducting a number of baptisms. With time, attendance and membership grew to forty. With our congregation bilingual in makeup, both English and Ukrainian, I would translate for visiting English-speaking ministers who presented sermons. Among these pastors from the United States were Calvin Burrell, Dan and Joyce Camero, Robert Coulter, John and Katherine Kiesz, Dale Lawson, Nathan Lawson, Delvin O’Banion, Archie Stiede, and Wesley Walker, as well as Peter Hrenyk from Mission, British Columbia.
Prior to our move to minister to the Calgary/Acme churches, they purchased property to establish a permanent church home in the Parkland area. In our new posting, I served part-time for the church and took other full-time employment in order to fund our daughters’ attendance at Spring Vale Academy, our church high school in Michigan.
I requested a transfer
I requested a transfer to the church in Eureka, SD and we moved there in the fall of 1983. We spent close to seven years in Eureka, growing from a congregation of twenty-two to seventy. At the same time, I served for several years as Coordinator for the Central District of our church, helping to restore relationships within the District churches, and between our several local denominations as well.
I was asked to move back to Canada to serve in Mission, British Columbia. We moved there in April 1990. For a time we successfully held joint meetings with the many Hispanics moving into the area, working together with their lay leader. When the building became too small for the many in attendance, the Hispanics found another meeting place and we continued as an English congregation.
For the sake of my health
In March and April of 2000, I had two heart attacks but I continued in part-time service to the church for the next two years. I was encouraged to retire for the sake of my health. Currently living in a comfortable apartment in Medicine Hat, Alberta, my continuing heart issues somewhat restrict travel and our full enjoyment of retirement. However, we praise and thank God for the work He enabled us to perform for His praise and the benefit of His people. We await His coming kingdom.
Still have questions about preparing for ministry? Check out these resources:
- How You Can Clarify Your Calling
- Fulfilling Your Purpose: How “The Call” Can Clarify Your Focus
- Why Jesus-Followers Should See Themselves as Leaders
Want to dive even deeper into discovering your vocation? Download our free guide to Discovering Your Leadership Strengths and consider taking Artios Christian College’s five-week introductory course, Essentials of Vibrant Leadership (LEA 111).
- From Plow to Pulpit – a life lived in preparation for ministry - January 28, 2020