Known as the Feast of Dedication, Yeshua/Jesus celebrated Chanukkah. Modern-day Festival of Lights celebrations include lighting the hanukkiyah, adding one more candle for each consecutive night. Potato pancakes/latkes and donuts/sufganiyot are the culinary highlights. Chanukkah begins this evening (12/18/22) at sundown. We are gearing up for some deep-fried fun, but the best parts of the commemoration are the deeper spiritual lessons, allowing The True Light of the World to illumine you. Chanukkah is truly about the miracle of Salvation and dedicating oneself to the True Light.
Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.” ~ John 8:12
From left, Mati, Owen and Scott on December 1, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan, a day after the horrific school shooting. We sat and listened to them, praying for healing and hope in their hurting hearts.
Click HERE for a Shabbat Service with Prayers & Teaching on Chanukkah
Click HERE for a Written Teaching on Chanukkah
Click HERE for a Just-Released Video (IN JAPANESE) About Chanukkah
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1
Joanne Allebach was a gem. She was many things to me: my ninth grade Bible and English teacher at Southfield Christian School, my seamstress and also my friend. The best relationship we had was our sisterhood in the LORD. She lived a life of complete dedication to Jesus and taught me and hundreds--probably thousands--of others what it looked like to be a sold-out servant of our Messiah.
Joanne entered her Savior's presence nine days ago, 94 years after her patriotic arrival on July 4, 1928.
She was a Proverbs 31 woman, a woman of valor.
This is the kind of woman you want to know, so I asked her a lot of questions. Here is some of what I learned about this smart, sweet and spunky icon of the Christian faith.
She was raised in a very strict religious home in Albany, Oregon, the third born of four—two older brothers and a younger sister. Her mother and grandmother were not kind. “I lived in fear, spending a good share of my childhood alone, locked in my bedroom, reading and sewing.”
Her grandmother, who died at 96, repeatedly called her a whore and told her she was going to hell. Her mother never told her she loved her. The year before her mother died at 88, she wrote “I love you” at the bottom of a letter to Joanne.
As a young girl she voraciously read the Bible and other good books. She knew that the Jesus her maternal figures espoused was not the same that she met on the pages of her Bible. She also had Sunday school teachers that showed her lovingkindness/chesed.
As a teenager, she was allowed to attend a Youth for Christ conference which she credited with inspiring her to “put a stake in the ground”, professing her faith and love for the Lord.
Based on what she believed about herself from the hateful words and actions of her mother and grandmother, she reflected, “I think I may have become a prostitute if not for Youth for Christ and finding the Lord.”
Upon high school graduation, her father offered for her to go to Oregon State University but Joanne said she knew that was too big after having led such a sheltered life. Instead, she went to Sterling College in Kansas. She had a rough first year: “It was very traumatic, I had never made decisions for myself. It was an emotional upheaval.”
Then she met her future husband. They graduated in 1951, she with a degree in speech and English, minoring in Bible education and history.
After her hometown wedding in 1952, they moved to his home state of Pennsylvania where he finished seminary. After briefly working at a Salvation Army summer camp in Ardsley, New York, they moved to Pontiac, Michigan, where he then pastored the same church for 22 years.
They raised six children--Paul, Mark, Craig, Margaret, Gordon and Elisabeth--and also fostered a number of troubled teens over the course of many years.
“I loved being a mother and a pastor’s wife. In college, I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to be." Joanne relished memories of playing games, reading and singing together with her children. She also fondly recalls teaching Sunday school and junior church during those years.
She and her husband started Oakland Christian School in 1968 and she was principal the first two years, assistant principal the next two years, then taught high school English and Bible her fifth year.
In 1975, after 23 years of marriage, her husband abandoned her. She insisted on remaining married. He had other plans. She was devastated. “I did not want the divorce, I married for life,” said Joanne. He left Michigan and went on to marry three more times.
Joanne continued to wear her wedding ring. She said it was a good deterrent to unwanted attention. “Even then,” she said with a grin, “there were a few offers.”
Those beginning years of singleness were rough, figuring out a new life. “It nearly killed me to not be a pastor’s wife. I was an emotional wreck, but I was not alone. I don’t know what I‘d do without the Lord. God has gone ahead of me all the way.”
One of her favorite scriptures:
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. ~ Psalm 61:1-3
Joanne's father offered to move her family back to Oregon but she thought it wiser to stay in Michigan where the children had grown up. She moved near and began teaching 9th grade Bible and English full-time at Southfield Christian School. (Ha! If you follow the link, there's a photo of me with my varsity basketball teammates.)
"Please deposit your gum in the corner receptacle,” said Mrs. Allebach in class to her gum-chewing students
Loving people from the SCS community came alongside her, helping her afford a modest home. She received great encouragement: “SCS was wonderful to me. I loved to teach. The day always flew by. I love to teach and still do.”
And taught she did, up until just days before she passed! Joanne was a faithful Sunday school teacher at her local congregation. It brought her great joy to teach Bible lessons to children, using meticulously prepared craft kits and flannel graph. She did so for decades through the church and Child Evangelism Fellowship. She spent countless hours teaching in numerous settings with CEF all over metro-Detroit, in homes, parks, schools and local congregations, sharing the love of Jesus.
“I think CEF has the best training that I know of, teaching memory verses, Bible lessons, leading children to Christ.”
After 18 years at Southfield Christian School, she began substitute teaching. She insisted, “Retirement is not a concept found in the Bible.” Anyone that knew her well, knew that her work continued well beyond the classroom. She was a fervent prayer warrior, committed to interceding daily for a large number of people she personally knew who were in need of salvation.
She confidently declared with the Psalmist:
O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. ~ Psalm 71:17-18
She took great joy in sharing The Good News with everyone that she could and she had a special place in her heart for little ones. “I want children to know the love of the Lord.”
She was a tiny, but wise and steadfast shepherdess, passionate about protecting and promoting the well-being of children. “My love for children springs from my childhood. I don’t want to see any child abused or misused.”
In addition to this life goal, she also loved to read, “I try to read 52 books a year and am pretty successful. I read the Bible through once a year, three chapters on weekdays, and five on Sunday.”
She was an expert seamstress and could do most anything with a needle and thread: “I love to sew. I knew it would get my mother’s approval, so I worked hard to teach myself. I wasn’t allowed to use a machine until I was a senior in high school.” She mended and hemmed like nobody’s business.
“Kleenex, one for show and one for blow.” ~ Joanne Allebach
In addition to her six children, she has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. None of her family live in Michigan so she travelled to visit them. Two days before she passed, she made flight plans to be with her family in Florida for Christmas.
She drove her car regularly until the early fall and asserted matter-of-factly, “I’ve never had a ticket or an accident." Hard to beat that record! Until the day before she passed, she daily walked up and down a full flight of stairs in her home.
Two years ago, she laughed: “I’m pretty healthy. I wear glasses, just for reading and sewing. I could use a new plumbing and disposal system. ”
Joanne Allebach was always dressed to the nines. “I have to be, I am an ambassador for Christ,” she smiled. Her unofficial uniform consisted of a fashionable skirt, dainty shirt, fine cardigan and nude pantyhose with sandals. Here she sits at her regular perch in her Waterford living room. Spring 2020
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. ~ Proverbs 31:25
Tim Conway was one of her favorite comedians. She loved to laugh, especially at herself, and mused, “I have done a lot of dumb and sinful stuff in my life, thank goodness the Lord forgives!”
She planned her funeral: “I want everyone to sing Jesus Loves Me and Great is Thy Faithfulness. I want salvation and the faithfulness of God to be stressed and my love of children. My hope is for people to forgive anyone who has wronged them. People hang on to hurts and it ruins their lives.”
Joanne Allebach's life was a fragrant offering, a pleasing sacrifice, holy and set apart to the LORD. She was busy living, enjoying Jesus and the abundant life he gives. She stored up much treasure in heaven and generously gave her time, talents and treasure while here on earth. She reminded me often of the Savior's command in Luke 19:13, "Occupy till I come." And she did.
"Give it while you're livin' so you're knowin' where it's goin'." ~ Joanne Allebach
Joanne and I - Spring 2020, Waterford, Michigan
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Matthew 6:21
A Miracle Happened Here
Joanne's delicate hand as she lay in a hospital bed the morning of December 9, 2022 - Pontiac, MI
Friday, December 9, 2022
Joanne was surrounded by loved ones the day she died. Beginning at 5:30 a.m. until she passed 13 hours later, Brothers and Sisters streamed into her ICU hospital room. We prayed with her, sang and talked about what a wonderful life she lived. She was ushered into the Savior's arms with two loving friends by her side: my dear mother, Bonnie Shellnut, who taught with Joanne at Southfield Christian School and Judy Mosteller, a fellow teacher from Child Evangelism Fellowship. How blessed!
When I left the hospital that morning, I decided to stop by Joanne's home. I had been helping her so I had a key to her home. I unlocked her door and went into her home at 7:30 a.m. and immediately washed my hands. Just as I finished drying my hands, Joanne's home phone rang. I answered it:
Shawn: "No, this is Shawn, her friend. Who is this?"
Caller: "This is her friend Joanne. Joanne just called me, but I couldn't get to the phone in time before she hung up."
Shawn: "Joanne, you're telling me that you just received a phone call from Joanne Allebach's home phone?"
Joanne: "Yes, it rang and I couldn't answer it quick enough. I'm worried something is wrong because she called so early and I haven't spoken with Joanne in a couple of months."
Shawn: "Joanne, can you look at your phone and tell me the phone number from which you just missed a call?"
Joanne: "Yes." (Then she said Joanne Allebach's home phone number.)
Shawn: "Joanne, I can't explain what just happened. I just left Joanne's bedside where she is unconscious in the ICU. No one else has been in her home. I just walked in."
Joanne Sprout and I believe that there is no rational explanation for what occurred. She was very saddened that morning to hear about her friend's grave condition. We both believe that the LORD arranged for this phone meeting so that she could be praying specifically for her friend that day. We spoke later that day after Joanne had passed and it was evident to us both that her prayers were answered, knowing that Joanne did not die alone. We rejoiced that she was now in paradise!