Board of Directors

Allan Pole, B.A., M.Div., D.Min.—President 

My name is Allan Pole but you can call me Al.  I grew up on a farm on the northern edge of Calgary and I now live on an acreage just north of the city.  I have lived in other parts of Alberta – Edmonton, Lethbridge and Wetaskiwin – but when my wife, Brenda (who I married in 1985), and I moved back to the area in 2003 with our daughter, Allison (born in 1995), and our son, Braden (born in 1997), we thought it would just be for a short time.  The Lord has a way of working things together for our good so in August of 2004, the four of us started to meet in our living room on Sunday mornings with the intention of planting a church.  You can learn more about New Beginnings Church at

I carry a variety of experiences, having grown up and pastored (since about 1984) in Pentecostal churches and educated in different schools along the way:  Eston College (formerly Full Gospel Bible Institute) with a Pastoral Major, Foothills Christian College (formerly Berean Bible Institute) with a Bachelor of Arts and a Christian Education Major, Taylor Seminary (formerly North American Baptist Divinity School) with a Master of Divinity and Fuller Theological Seminary (the only school that has not changed its name since I studied there) with a Doctor of Ministry.  I have had the privilege of teaching and preaching God’s Word in other parts of North America as well as Europe, Asia and Africa.  All of this points to my personal mission – to help others fulfill God’s call.

You might be able to tell this by looking at my photo but my dry sense of humour appreciates unexpected jokes, clever puns and good hair.  I am a guy of average intelligence who enjoys books, food, movies, music, live theatre and travel and a guy of average athletic ability who enjoys football, hockey, basketball, badminton, pool, bowling and (unbelievably) curling.  On warm, sunny days I like to cruise the country roads in my convertible.

I love Jesus and I love His church.  As followers of Christ, we have an amazing opportunity to band together in welcoming and integrating newcomers from all over the world who are eager to meet new friends while they learn English or improve their English skills.  I am excited to be a part of the Cooperative ESL Ministries team as we empower churches to reach out in love to the immigrants and internationals in our communities!

Madeline Johnson, B.Ed., TESOL Dip.—Vice President 

While serving as director of Agape Language Centre (1997-2003) God impressed Madeline with the heart-cry of Jesus in His last great prayer (John 17) that His family would be one, “so that the world would believe.” God used a student’s question in ESL Bible Study: “How do you know what church to go to? It seems like they’re all competing with each other” to move her to action. Others caught the vision for churches being society’s key leaders  in welcoming and integrating the immigrant/new Canadian. The Cooperative ESL Ministries became a provincial non-profit society in 2002 and a registered charity in 2004. Our first training of Christians from any church in how to do conversational style English as a Second Language ministry happened in January of 2001. Since then sixteen 30-hour classes have been held training “grass roots” Christians how to have an ESL outreach ministry from their own church.  In addition, conferences, networking brunches, the website and newsletters have helped develop credible church-based programs.  Madeline is happy to see the Cooperative continuing and looks forward to seeing increasing impact as we welcome our new neighbours.

Mel Johnson 

The fifth child of Daniel & Bertha (nee – Lindgren), Mel was born in Provost, AB.  He attended school at Newbrook, living on the farm where he learned to operate heavy equipment to build roads and irrigation dams.

Mel responded to the Lord’s call and was baptized in Amisk Lake near Boyle, AB.  After attending Alberta Bible Institute, Mel accepted an invitation to be an associate minister with Pastor Milton Chugg at Jasper Place, Edmonton, AB. Mel married Madeline, the daughter of Rev. Dr. R.J. White, then pastored 21 years in Swan Hills, AB, Churchbridge, SK, and Paradise Valley, AB.

From spring of 1984 to 2000, Mel enjoyed serving as representative and area manager with World Vision in Southern Alberta and the East Kootenays of BC.  This was great exposure to  other cultures and working together with other believers in the ministry of Jesus.

Mel and Madeline have a daughter in heaven, 3 sons in Calgary with wives from Korea, Surinam, and Bahrain. They are also grandparents to 8 grandchildren. As of 2017, five have been involved in mission projects.

Of  special blessing was the sponsoring of two “boat people” families in 1979 while pastoring the congregation at Paradise Valley.  Truly one of the most gratifying experiences of our time of serving.

Bill Demaer—Treasurer

I consider a privilege to partner with other volunteers and donors to further the mission of this ministry.  Many lives have been positively changed thus far and there is much more to be done.  We can expect great things as we work together as ambassadors of the One who has always been concerned for the stranger amongst us.


Helen Ohlhauser  

I was born at the Calgary General Hospital as was my husband, Terry, and our three adult children – true “Calgarians.”   My parents immigrated to Canada after WW2, so growing up, my brother and I experienced firsthand what it was like to live in a home where our parents learned to speak, read and write English.

My first experience with an ESL Program was in the faith community when I was asked to oversee their ESL program.  With volunteer management in my background, we began recruiting and training teachers through CESLM.  We hold classes on Tuesday evenings, Thursday mornings and a Sunday School class prior to the service to review the sermon.  Included in the program was Life Skills sessions as well as special events e.g. Christmas, Chinese New Year’s.  A Friday evening ESL care group was set up to study the Bible.  For those who could not speak English at all, we set up one on one tutoring.  I am happy to report that under the new leadership, the program has expanded to include Bible studies.  This is an exciting, wonderful ministry offered to newcomers who come to us!

I vividly remember accepting Jesus as my Saviour when I was in Grade 6 during an after school program.  I was baptized at age 16 and special to me was being able to attend Prairie Bible College for two years as a mature student.  I have a Cardiology Technology diploma, management certificate from the University of Calgary and experience working in Foundation and Volunteer Resources departments.  Terry and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this year and our pride and joy are 8 grandchildren (four born between January 21 and May 12, 2017.)  I enjoy travelling, being a Nana and am looking forward to being a “retiree” in 2018.  A Bible verse, special to me because my name means “light,” is Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Kathryn Seib

Kathryn is a native Albertan, born and raised west of Edmonton. With a keen interest in diverse cultures and a deep love for Jesus, she quickly went from country girl to world missions’ traveller while still in her teens.

She feels privileged to have served for over 15 years, on three continents. Spending several years in Zambia southern Africa, she can identify with the joys and challenges new Canadians face when integrating into a new culture. Following Jesus’ example by building relationships, as well as working cross-culturally, has become her favourite adventure.

Currently living in the Calgary area, Kathryn enjoys working, volunteering, and gardening. She has a head for numbers, a heart for people, and her eyes on Jesus. She is passionate about missions at home and abroad, as well as serving in the local church. Kathryn is excited about the heart and future of Cooperative ESL Ministries and is thrilled to serve as a board member.

Anshu Stephen

My name Anshu, (pronounced “unshu”), means ray of light in Hindi. I am grateful to be a part of this amazing group of people. I bring 7 years of experience in the field of empowerment, advocacy, and success coaching in the non-profit sector—working with marginalized populations. I am also a certified TESOL instructor from Mount Royal University. I am looking forward to learning and sharing my giftedness in this extraordinary, supportive, and passionate community of fearless believers!

I consider myself a global citizen, as I grew up in Canada, India, Cambodia, and Malaysia. I continue to explore this beautiful globe whenever I can, learning about cultures around the world through their delectable foods. When I am not working or traveling, I love to recharge through great music, painting, and spending time with my loved ones.


photo Roxy MeyersEvents Coordinator—Roxy Meyers 

ACE TESOL Certificate, (MRU), M. A. CEd., (Sioux Falls Seminary), B.S. (Northwestern College). Roxy worked as Children’s Pastor at Central Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Taylor College and Seminary in Edmonton prior to moving to Calgary in 2010. She is married to Doug and they have two young adult children. Roxy served as Community Liaison Coordinator (2012-2016) for CESLM and has recently returned as CESLM Events Coordinator.


Communications & Marketing Coordinator—Sandy Baldwin

Born and raised in Calgary, Sandy has a deep calling to work with non-profits that aid children in impoverished countries. Two years ago, an opportunity to work with a charity focused on helping children in Myanmar, India, Philippines and Kenya arose. After praying and asking God what he had in store for them, Sandy, his wife Janelle, and their three children packed everything up and moved to Kelowna.

CESLM is Sandy’s fourth Christ-focused business/non-profit that he has worked for over the past 18 years. He is always amazed at how God uses our gifts and talents to further His kingdom around the world.

Sandy is excited to work with Cooperative ESL Ministries to empower churches as they welcome new immigrants into their churches and communities.

Resources Coordinator—Darlene Penner

Canadian born and raised in the US, Darlene moved back to Canada with her family when she was 18. Since then she spent most of her time raising three boys to adults with her husband Brad, an amazing husband and father.

Always interested in other cultures, she trained as an ESL teacher in 2006. In 2016, after many years of teaching ESL, she graduated from Alberta Bible College with a BA in Leadership. She has taught students from all parts of the world, in all levels of English. Attending a Spanish-speaking church for many years, Darlene and her husband were immersed in both the language and culture of people from Latin America and Mexico.

Currently, Darlene serves as a volunteer at Centre Street Church’s New Canadian Friendship Centre, leading an ESL knitting class with students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

She is excited to help Cooperative ESL Ministries provide resources and training for churches and community groups to help them reach out to immigrant communities in their neighbourhood.