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Dear YWAM Family,
In this last edition of eTouch I would like to share a bit of Peter’s life with you. Most of you will know by now that Peter has gone home to be with Jesus. He went home peacefully surrounded by family as well as Dr. Bruce and Barbara Thompson.
The celebration of his life was outdoors surrounded by God’s creation. Many YWAMers and associates came, including Loren and Darlene Cunningham, which was such a blessing. Peter had been Loren’s assistant for nine years in the early years of YWAM Kona. Loren and Darlene called Peter a few days before he died and we all wept as they shared how much they loved him. David and Ruth Demian were there, along with Gideon Chiu, our Chinese pastor from Vancouver, and his wife, May. Glen Sheppard also came, as well as my First Nation’s sister, Carol Lovejoy.
Our Pacific family and Australian grandchildren carried the casket.
Peter was born in 1934 and lived in Chefoo, China (now known as Yantai), where his parents were missionaries to the Chinese people. When he was 8 years old, his family was relocated to Shanghai where they were imprisoned for 3 years in a Japanese internment camp. It was there that he developed a love for aviation as he watched fighter aircraft fly overhead on a daily basis.
At the end of World War 2 his family returned to England and he was enrolled in Moncton Comb boarding school where he developed a love for rowing and rugby. His father returned to China. His sister and one brother had moved to Canada and the rest remained in England. Perhaps now you have a better understanding of why the last thing he ever wanted to do was be a missionary! Although we didn’t understand his father’s decisions, we honored him and regretted never asking about his experiences as a missionary.
However, we have developed wonderful relationships with Chinese pastors both in China and in other nations, as a direct result of Peter’s upbringing and his father’s love for the Chinese people. (To his dying day Peter loved white rice, the land of China and its people.)
At the age of 17 Peter came to Canada with just a few dollars in his pocket and the name of a Christian man. He settled in Toronto Ontario and got involved with Christians camps. At the age of 19 we met and he was sure I was to be his bride even though I had just turned 15! My dad was unsure because he didn’t have a proper education and I was unsure because he was so different from my other friends. But he was handsome and polite and my mother loved him.
He proceeded to get his high school diploma and then enrolled in Western University, pursuing Physical Education. After two years he realized that wasn’t for him and joined the Canadian Airforce, flying the CF100 as a jet fighter pilot.
In 1959 he finally won my heart and my father’s acceptance, becoming an air traffic controller. We married in 1960.
Eventually Peter pursued a new career in business and was promoted to Montreal, Quebec. By then I had become a registered nurse and in the years to follow we became the parents of three daughters and a chosen son. Peter did very well financially and we had a beautiful home.
Peter became an elder in the church and was invited to be on a YWAM board to prepare for the 1976 Olympics. At the board meetings the leaders asked God questions, waiting on Him for an answer, which stirred a hunger in us for this kind of close relationship with God. One day, while sitting in his plush Montreal office, God clearly spoke to him, calling his name and bringing to mind a Bible verse, which says to “leave everything and come follow Me”. So we packed up all the earthly goods we could take and headed to Kona, Hawaii to join YWAM.
Although we were blessed by our church family, we had no financial support as everyone thought we were crazy – and in man’s eye we were – but in God’s eyes we were being obedient. My mother believed in us.
We started out in a tent and then moved into a house with five other families until YWAM was able to possess some land and an old motel that had been vacated for 8 years. Those we pioneered with, are still some of our dearest friends even to this day. After our initial training we led many training schools and Peter became Loren’s assistant, often leading the base when he was away.
In 1988, with the blessing of the Global Leadership Team, we moved to Vancouver, BC to pioneer YWAM Associates International, a ministry of encouragement to former YWAMers and associates (those who love YWAM or are connected to it in some way). Peter did much of his encouragement through his love for writing. He wrote 50 inTouch magazines which were mailed to many thousands of people around the world. In time, the magazine transitioned into eTouch, which he continued with until he got very sick the end of 2018. He also wrote a book designed to help YWAM alumni transition back into life at home (ReEntry) and, The Last Thing I Will Ever Do, a book about his life experiences and the lessons he learned, both of which are still available.
I loved Peter very much. What I miss the most is sharing and processing with him after returning from a ministry trip and praying together to make decisions. He was also much loved by his family. In December, our grandchildren, Uso and Leilani, phoned us from the hospital to say, “We’ve decided to name our newborn son Jordan because we want him to be a man of God just like his grandpa.” Peter wept at the honor of having his first great grandson named after him.
Until the last couple weeks of his life Peter’s mind and spirit were very bright. It was just his body that was failing due to congestive heart failure. There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God and Peter’s desire to the end was always that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 would be answered, that we would become one just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. This remains my greatest desire as well.
Our next letter to you will be called reTouch. In reTouch we will use Peter’s past articles and I will continue with My Corner until the Lord leads differently. In June of 2020 those involved with YWAM Associates International will meet together here in Alberta to seek the Lord regarding His strategy for a new season. If alumni and associates are on your heart please write and let us know so we can send you more information.
My thoughts walking through these last 12 months. Peter got very sick in October a year ago.
Family being together and processing Peter's going home. When in hospital in Calgary as many of us in the family who could, stayed in a hotel and visited him.The girls returned home often to be close to him which was so special. A sacrifice, but worth it.
Let people know when they are alive how much you love them, and what you love about them, and how their lives have touched you. Peter got wonderful phone calls and cards even when he couldn't respond. As a family we were overwhelmed with the love shown us and people sharing how much Peter meant to them. "Sons" from Singapore, Korea and other nations phoned weeping as they tried to talk to Peter. He knew he was loved.
At the celebration it rained, it hailed, it thundered the sun shone, our first nations family and Island family said it was God's favour. Those who shared at the celebration along with family were our extended "family" representing our love for nations and ministries.
When God called us to Medicine Hat, He said, streams would come together forming a river taking healing to the nations. We saw this as Loren and Dar representing YWAM, Peter( not physically but I believe in the spirit) and I representing YWAM Associates including alumni, Glenn Sheppard representing the prayer movement, Gideon and May Chiu representing our Chinese family and the local church, David and Ruth Demian representing Watchmen for the nations, Ieru To'omua representing our Island family, Carol Lovejoy representing our First Nations, she went into travail saying Peter went into the ground as a righteous seed and would multiply 100 fold. We're already seeing that as young and old are getting a burden for the alumni of YWAM and many attending the watchmen gatherings in the nations. Amazing days we're living in.
Bottom line is: Love God, love each other, listen to Him, have faith to believe what He says and walk in obedience.
We live for eternity when we will see Jesus face to face, and our dear friends and relatives who are part of the family of God. Lets learn to be "family" here. Encouraging and loving one another.
Love and blessings,
PS We will continue with eTouch, but it will look a little different next time.