NELSON, BRITISH COLUMBIA (September 15, 2017) – Covenant missionary Max Nahnychuk died Wednesday night after suffering a heart attack at his home. He was 46.
Max and his wife, Colleen, were returning home from a two-month itineration to their partner churches throughout Canada. According to ECC director of missionary personnel Deborah Masten, they had just finished unloading the car from their final church visit when Max experienced chest pains. The Nahnychuks had been commissioned to serve in Argentina at the Covenant Annual Meeting this past June. They would have been the first Covenant missionaries to Argentina in nine years.
“He was passionate about missions and about Argentina,” Colleen told Serve Globally leaders by phone today. “He had a great love for Argentina.”
Eugenio Restrepo, who with his wife, Pia, serves as regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, remembers Max’s desire to get onto the mission field. “He was so eager to get to Argentina,” says Restrepo. “The orientation process takes time, but he was so excited to get there.”
In 2016, the Nahnychuks spent four months in Argentina serving with Merge Ministries. “It was there that Max told me he knew God was calling him and Colleen to serve in Argentina,” recalls Restrepo. They had planned to be the first Covenant missionaries based in the Patagonia region, at the southern tip of South America.
Says Masten, “Max was exuberant in his love for the Argentinian people. He delighted in the beauty of their culture. His ministry partners in Argentina were devastated by the news. They enthusiastically anticipated Max and Colleen’s arrival.”
“I knew Max for only a short period of time, and yet he impacted my own discipleship walk with Christ immensely,” said Pastor Jeff Strong in a message to the community at of Nelson Covenant Church, where the Nahnychuks were members. “Together we grieve the loss of a true ambassador of the kingdom of God.”
Following the commissioning service at Annual Meeting, Max grabbed the Argentinian flag and draped it around himself with excitement, remembers Restrepo. “It’s as if he were echoing the words of Isaiah—‘Here am I. Send me!’ He was ready to serve the Lord with everything he had.”
Plans for the memorial service were still being determined at the time of this posting.