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An Interview with Evelyn Hattan & Nancy Dannen

Evelyn Hattan worked as a missionary nurse in Zambia, Africa for 40 years. She came back to Spokane in 2008 and has served in a number of ways since, including volunteering at Christ Clinic before it closed, FBC children’s ministry, and working with the Nepali Refugees who meet here at Faith.

Nancy Dannen, her sister, is the wife of Earl Dannen who was a pastor here and founded the Faith Biblical Counseling Center before he passed away from cancer in 2017. 

Over the last several years Evelyn has been battling cancer. We were able to visit her recently and ask her some questions, as well as Nancy, who has been tirelessly serving and caring for her sister. 

Nancy (Left) and Evelyn (Right), May 1968, a month before Evelyn left for Zambia.

What has God taught you as you have battled cancer?

EVELYN: “I’ve experienced in a much deeper way God’s mercy and God’s loving-kindness. He certainly is faithful. I’ve learned more about His character, and more about myself, too—that I appreciate all that he’s done through Christ for me.

“Even when there are times that I’ve been anxious at night, and He doesn’t feel near, He just takes me back to the cross and reminds me what He’s done for me. He’s taught me about the importance of God’s word in encouraging us and helping us—even though we don’t feel He’s with us, His word is true, and He is trustworthy.

“In the difficult times when I didn’t even feel like reading the Word, I had memorized several chapters—the book of Ephesians and several chapters in Psalms and that has been a great help, to get my mind on Scripture.

“It’s been wonderful to experience His compassion. Just knowing His power, His strength, learning to say I can’t do this, but you can, whatever you have for me.

“I’m reminded of Philippians 1:21, Paul said ‘for me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ and when you get closer to the dying part—I’m certainly looking forward to being with Christ. It won’t be easy leaving this world in some ways, but I’m so ready. And my desire is to serve Him and to bring glory to Him up until the time He takes me, whether that’s a few weeks or even a few months, He’s got the date, I don’t.”

NANCY: “Now I’ve had two examples of Godly people who have served the Lord — Earl until his last breath, and Evelyn through all this. I think that has been a wonderful model and example for me.”

How has this trial opened up opportunities for the gospel?

EVELYN: “When they find out I’m a nurse, they’ll ask me ‘what area did you specialize in?’ And I say ‘we had to specialize in every area.’  They’ll ask ‘well where did you work?’ And I tell them I went to Zambia to do missionary work and use my nursing training for the Lord, for 40 years, and it just blows their mind. So there’s been lots of opportunities to talk, some of them want to see my pictures, it’s been great, lots of opportunities to talk about Christ.”

How would you encourage those at FBC to be missionaries in daily life?

EVELYN: “There are many places that you can get out and share Christ. Cultures are different but the hearts are the same. We all need Him. It’s all about building relationships and sharing His love, and showing people that you care about them Where they are, and just ask God to open up the doors.”

What would you like to say to those enduring suffering?

EVELYN: “I would encourage them to memorize scripture, because that has been such a help to me, because there are going to be times when you just can’t read. (There were days I couldn’t read, or if I did I couldn’t comprehend, after my second chemo treatment.) Then you can meditate on His Word, you don’t have to have the light on, you don’t have to be trying to read.

“Also, even when He doesn’t feel near, His word says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ He’s with us. He walks with us through this time and His Word is true, we have to remember that. We have to go back to His Word even if we don’t have the feelings, and the feelings will come.”

What would you like to say to Faith Bible Church?

EVELYN: “I certainly want to tell them how much I appreciate their prayers and they’ve done in reaching out to me, through prayers, coming to visit, cards, bringing food to the house, just coming and showing their love to me in this way. I understand in a much deeper way the importance of the body of Christ and how we need to minister to one another, and we need one another. “

NANCY: “I have been loved and encouraged, and corrected, ministered to, fed spiritually and physically by the Lord through the Church—the church locally and the church in other parts of the world that have prayed for us, and I’m just very grateful to God. I just want to express that gratitude for all that the church has done for us. It is a testimony to the world, and I’ve seen that with Evelyn and I saw it with Earl. And I’m challenged to find where God wants me to minister to others in the church.”

Nancy and Evelyn, May 2018 at Hospice of Spokane. (50 years after the photo of them together above.)

EVELYN: “Faith Bible Church has been wonderful, so I want to thank them for that.”

“I would encourage those in the church who are not involved in some kind of service or ministry to get involved.

“It’s so easy to get focused on ourselves. I’ve noticed that, really at the beginning of all this process I’m going through now. I’ve had to constantly ask the Lord ‘keep me focused on you and not on myself.’ Its easy to focus on ourselves, and feel sorry for ourselves. So I would just encourage people to reach out to others when there are needs. Ask the Lord to show you ways you can minister to others believers in the church.

“Lamentations 3:22-23 ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ And God has just proven that over and over again to me through His Word and through the body of Christ. I’ve seen His mercies and steadfast love and His faithfulness.” 

In Loving Memory of Evelyn Hattan
April 27, 1942 — May 19, 2018