Page 1

A publication of Canadian Baptist Ministries

A

SS

N O I

su

f fe

rin

go f ot h e rs

CO

M

P

Fall 2016

O r ie nt

ing

a tow

rd

h st

e


mosaic is published three times a year by Canadian Baptist Ministries. Copies are distributed free of charge. Bulk quantities available by request.

c o n ta c t 7185 Millcreek Drive Mississauga, ON l5n 5r4 Tel: 905.821.3533 mosaic@cbmin.org www.cbmin.org Managing Editor Jennifer Lau Editor Laurena Zondo Art Direction Gordon Brew

Connect with us.

www.cbmin.org @canadianbaptist facebook.com/cbmin.org

As partners in the Canadian Baptist family we exist to serve the local church in its grassroots mission. Together we impact our communities and beyond through the love of Christ.

Terry Talks What moves you? What is it that summons you, deep within your heart, to get up and act? Is it a holy longing or perhaps just a gentle nudge? In our hyped-up, overloaded, individualistic and consumer-based culture here in Canada, can you recall a time, a place, a person or an incident that actually made you stand up and move?   A few years ago, my wife Heather and I met a family that made us get up and take action. They had a 2-year-old son who suffered from a very severe form of infantile epilepsy. The deep compassion we felt for the family genuinely moved us and as a result, we became actively involved in caring for he and his family. Through that experience, we came to appreciate the great lengths to which many foster parents go. I also learned that compassion is a very different response than pity. Almost all of us can feel pity – or deep concern – when we are placed before incredible hurt and suffering, poverty, despair, brokenness, human tragedy or natural disasters. Intellectually and spiritually, we know that such situations are wrong. But do we act? Does it make us move toward the real work of healing? The example of Jesus responding with compassion in the Bible is powerful and challenging. One of my favorite verses, Mark 6:34, is translated this way in an old English version: “And Jesus... saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” More recent versions soften the response as “Jesus felt compassion.” We read that Jesus was 'moved' with compassion. Quite literally, Jesus’ intestines were gripped because of the lostness of his sheep. It wasn’t just pity or sadness. He didn’t simply say "those poor sheep.” Jesus was moved – he got moving – and moved his disciples. Jesus’ compassion led him to respond in two different but complementary acts. He taught them, and then he and his disciples gave them something to eat. Notice the two-fold movement: word (teaching) and deed (feeding). This is integral mission.


3

Fall 2016

learn.. .............................. 4 The Anatomy of Compassion: Living Out the Heart of God

9 When Your Heart Is Heavy: A Reflection

The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them. ~ John R.W. Stott

just think..................... 10

11 Time for rEcess: Photo Essay 14

Musings in the Mosque: A Conversation Between a Muslim and a Christian Leader from the Middle East

18 Burning Bushes: Personal and Social Transformation

In this issue of mosaic, you will read about people around the world who are moved by compassion and are responding with word and deed, just as Jesus did. Whether it’s in Lebanon where a little Baptist church reaches out to feed Syrian refugees who have moved into their community, or the Democratic Republic of Congo where a child soldier receives counseling because of a local church and decides to commit his life to Christ, or in Nepal where a devastating earthquake triggered a global Baptist response to help people rebuild their lives. Thousands of Canadian Baptists across our country are also being moved with such compassion. In neighbourhoods and communities all across our country, whether it’s in Saskatoon, Saint John or on one of our First Nations’ Reserves, local churches are taking action with compassion and justice. My prayer is that God will give us even more opportunities to express his compassion in a broken world. May he continue to lead us in the right direction of service as we move and respond.

Terry Smith CBM Executive Director

19 You Are Not Alone: Responding in Times of Crisis 20 It’s Hard Not To Stare!

the view........................ 22 A Journey of Forgiveness

foldout special.. .......... 23 Get Active with Compassion

see ................................ 25 Parting Shot touch............................. 26 Grassroots Heroes

mosaic is a community forum of local and global voices united by a shared mission. mosaic will serve as a catalyst to stimulate and encourage passionate discipleship among Canadian Baptists and their partners.


4

mosaic—fall 2016

learn


mosaic—fall 2016

5

SEE others

LISTEN freely FEEL their pain

The

ANATOMY

of

ACT with kindness

C OM PA S S ION

LIVING OUT THE HEART OF GOD

by Rupen Das and Gordon King

COMPASSION IS A POWERFUL FORCE. Stories of compassion are often found in places of tragedy and suffering. These are the locations of wounded and broken people. Members of a small Baptist Church in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon know about compassion. They saw over a million Syrian refugees pour into their country - desperate people who were fleeing the bloodshed and violence of their country. Most Lebanese citizens did not want Syrians in their communities. They remembered the brutality of Syrian soldiers during the occupation of Lebanon from 1976 to 2005. The massive influx of refugees posed a threat to the stability of Lebanon and strained the capacity of social services, housing, and employment. The pastor and members of the church responded in a different manner. They felt compassion for the victims of the civil conflict. The small congregation of 60 opened their church doors to refugees. A school and a safe place to play was established in the church for children traumatized by bullets and bombs. A weekly clinic attended to medical needs. With the assistance of CBM and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, our Lebanese church partner provided food aid to over 4,500 people each month. The church also looked to help refugees with housing and employment opportunities. This was not a program that was subcontracted to paid professionals; it was a ministry that many members of their church selflessly gave their time to as they visited the families and helped in any way they could, both physically and spiritually. They were unashamed of their faith as they shared about the God of compassion, and as they prayed with those who sought help. Assistance was provided without conditions or manipulation to get people to believe.


6

mosaic—fall 2016

There is a connection between a congregation’s demonstration of compassion for wounded people and the manifestation of God’s presence among them. Reflecting on the transformation of his church, the pastor said, “We had been praying for years for revival and nothing happened. But when we as a congregation started helping the desperately poor and needy refugees, and shared the love of God with both hands, in words and in action, revival came and changed our church.” They were seeing people from different faiths choosing to follow Christ, prisoners in jail transformed, and dramatic answers to prayer. This is not a formula or a template for church renewal. But the testimony of this Baptist Church in Lebanon bears out the promise of Isaiah 58:7-9 where God’s word addresses the social needs in post-exilic Israel. The prophet compares pious public presentations of fasting with the authentic spirituality of feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. The concluding words are: Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. There is a connection between a congregation’s demonstration of compassion for wounded people and the manifestation of God’s presence among them. In the remainder of this article we will consider scriptures, give attention to two modern theologians, and offer suggestions on ways in which we can nurture compassion as a virtue in our own lives. We are very aware that our words are only a limited introduction to this important theme of our faith.

T H E B I B L I C A L P E R S P EC T I V E The Psalms were the hymnbook of Israel. People learned about God and faithfulness through the poetry that touched on themes of joy, loss, blessings, and suffering. In Psalm 10:14 the psalmist’s description of God is intimate and tender. He describes God taking human trouble and grief into his own hands and becoming the helper of the vulnerable people who turn to him. The character of God becomes the basis for social actions of justice and compassion. In Psalm 80 God speaks from his place in the divine council: Give justice to the weak and the orphan; Maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; Deliver them from the hand of the wicked. The New Testament celebrates Jesus as the visible image of the invisible God. Compassion motivated Jesus in his mission. The first gospel records that when Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion upon them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). He had compassion on people who were hungry (Mark 8:2) and a widow whose only child had died (Luke 7:13). He was moved by compassion when two blind men called out for mercy (Matthew 20:34). Compassion is the turning point in two of the parables. The Good Samaritan, in contrast to the priest and Levite, feels compassion for the man left dying on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:33). The waiting father is filled with compassion when he sees the prodigal son on the road home (Luke 15:20). The


mosaic—fall 2016

7

Compassion speaks to our hearts about concrete actions of mercy and justice.

SEE others

FEEL their Pain Greek word is splanchnizomai and literally means, “to be moved in the inward parts.” D. Preman Niles, a Sri Lankan Christian leader, describes the term as a strong physical and emotional reaction, “a gut-wrenching response.” It is unfortunate that “compassion” has become diluted to mean simply feeling pity at someone’s misfortune. One of the more intriguing passages in the Bible is Galatians 2, which describes the controversy between Paul and Peter in the city of Antioch sometime before AD 49. The disagreement was on whether Gentiles could become followers of Jesus Christ without also keeping the Jewish laws. The decision was made in Jerusalem that Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentiles, while Peter and others would devote themselves to the mission to the Jews (Gal. 2:9). The following verse seems almost out of place in light of what precedes it. Verse 10 states, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” We need to be attentive. This early church council determined that the Jewish law that carried over to Gentile believers would give priority to caring for the poor. It seems clear that being compassionate was a fundamental part of what it meant to be a Christian. That is why James, who was part of the Jerusalem Council, later wrote, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

It is unfortunate that “compassion” has become diluted to mean simply feeling pity at someone’s misfortune.

A C A L L FO R D E E P E R E N G AG E M E NT TO DAY Two modern theologians that help us think more deeply about compassion are Jürgen Moltmann, who shapes our understanding of the compassion of God; and Jon Sobrino, who reminds us of the dimensions of human compassion. Jürgen Moltmann was a high school student and reserve soldier in Germany during World War II. He was taken to Scotland as a prisoner of war and became a Christian through the compassionate witness of local believers. Moltmann’s book The Crucified God makes reference to the Jewish Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s concept of the pathos of God. This pathos is not “irrational human emotions,” but rather the deep feelings of God who is affected by events, human actions and suffering in history. Moltmann writes, “He is affected by them because he is interested in his creation, his people . . .” The pathos of God is contrasted with the apatheia of the gods of other religions in the ancient world that were unable to feel or be influenced by human events. Centuries later this apatheia is encountered in the beliefs of some other religions and in the secular ideologies of consumerism and wealth generation. For most people today, the powers that sway the universe remain distant and uncaring. We agree with Moltmann that compassion is a divine attribute fundamental to God’s nature. We cannot think of the God of the Christian faith apart from his compassion for people and his creation. Jon Sobrino is a Jesuit priest from El Salvador. He wrote about “the mercy principle” after his country was shaken by two major earthquakes. Sobrino observes that compassion is a profound emotional reaction to human suffering. Compassion compels us to personally identify with people who are strangers. We are willing to cross cultural boundaries in order to enter into their lives. Compassion speaks to our hearts about concrete actions of mercy and justice. Through compassion we work to preserve the dignity and well-being of those who suffer from life’s wounds. Moved by compassion, people may make extraordinary sacrifices to serve others in need. It is our life’s calling, as followers of Christ. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love other; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:16-18)


8

mosaic—fall 2016

Lancaster Baptist Church in Saint John, NB created a furniture and household goods centre for refugee families entering their city. They helped furnish homes for over 90 families.

See foldout back cover for more ways to nurture compassion

ACT with kindness LISTEN freely

[left] CBM Global Field Staff Rupen Das works with churches in Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. He is author of Compassion and the Mission of God. Gordon King serves as CBM’s Resource Specialist. He recently published Seed Falling on Good Soil: Rooting Our Lives in the Parables of Jesus.

T H E N U R T U R E O F CO M PA S S I O N How can compassion be nurtured in our hearts? Expressed in life-giving ways as part of our witness in a broken world? The following are some suggestions. •

Practice spiritual disciplines. Read the scriptures with a heightened awareness of the compassion of God, Jesus, and the Spirit. Be attentive to the Bible's teaching on human mercy as a virtue. Pray for the Spirit's quiet work in your heart and direction in your actions. Support in prayer those who represent God’s love and grace in difficult places. Ask God to act on behalf of those people who suffer from violence, poverty, discrimination, or natural disasters.

Be sensitive to your personal experiences of suffering, pain, and consolation. St. Paul wrote about a time when he felt crushed beyond endurance and despaired of life. This difficult period eventually became a resource for understanding affliction, God's mercy, and the role of a restorative community. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

Listen attentively to the stories of men and women who have different and difficult life experiences. Allow the heart to feel first and the mind to analyze second. Attempt to understand how background and events play a role in giving shape to people’s attitudes and decisions.

Do not stifle compassion. Give yourself the freedom to become emotionally involved with a person or an issue without losing perspective. Find ways to be informed about promising practices that are helping people.

Express your compassion in concrete actions with the support of others in your church or community. Remember that you do not have to solve the world's problems. Leave the big picture to God. Find inspiration in Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 8: 8-15: (1) God's love is extravagant. Jesus, being rich, became poor so that we might become rich. (2) We need to be realistic about what we can accomplish. (3) We work toward a fair balance that is concerned for people at the margins.


mosaic—spring mosaic—fall 2016 2016

WHEN YOUR HEART IS HEAVY A REFLECTION

9

1. PERMISSION TO SCREAM . As this heaviness has been building, I recognized I just had to scream. I had to say it out loud – this is sad, this is not right, this is awful. Name it. Call what is unjust, unjust. One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms, a book of poetry in the Bible, is it is a record of people’s unfiltered sadness, anger and confusion poured out to God. And they are not reprimanded for it, not at all, instead we celebrate the Psalms and the range of human emotions expressed to God. Rather than getting angry with others or letting my frustration come out at work, I’m learning to bring my unfiltered thoughts and emotions to God. What makes you want to scream? Have you told God? 2. FEEL . One day a man asks Jesus a very religious question, “How do I inherit

by Renée Embree, Director of Youth & Family Ministries, Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada

MY HEART HAS BEEN HEAVY LATELY. I have been feeling a deep heaviness for the trouble around us: • the hateful killings that took place in Orlando • the cases of sexual assault where justice seems elusive • the confusion around what it means to welcome and care for refugees and newcomers • the profound sadness that seems to have entrapped some First Nation communities • the silence or confused response of many Christians and churches I’ve been trying to work through what I, what we, are supposed to do with such heaviness and trouble. I find it especially hard when it seems so overwhelming and confusing. It is easy to get stuck in doing nothing, saying nothing. Here’s how I’m working it through.

eternal life?” In other words, “Who is out and who is in, and am I in?” This man wants to justify himself. Jesus answers with an extremely practical answer, the story of the good Samaritan – a person who felt compassion for another and acted. The key phrase is, “He felt compassion.” No qualifiers about the person who is in trouble matter. In fact, we find out the Good Samaritan was considered an arch enemy, so it doesn’t matter if the person is your arch enemy… you show mercy. The essential point is he felt compassion and acted. Exercise your compassion muscles. Take the time to hear people’s stories. Allow yourself to feel compassion and be moved by compassion. What are the emotions, the stories behind what is happening?

3. ACT OUT GOD’S HEART OF COMPASSION. There is a profound moment that has stuck with me, when it truly felt like evil was winning all around me. In our little community we were surrounded by fresh stories of tragedies – teen suicide, young people in a tragic car accident, sexual abuse, and corruption of those who were supposed to help. One morning, while on a youth retreat, I woke up super early. I was scheduled to speak that morning and I told the Lord, “I can’t do it. I got nothing here. Evil is winning.” I followed my own advice above – I screamed at the Lord, I deeply felt the hurt that was being caused to people, families, and a community. Just when I thought God would give me encouragement and a hug from heaven, I strongly sensed him saying, “Renée, I’ve got the victory here, now act like it.” It changed my whole perspective. The truth is evil does not win. Christ wins – love wins, compassion wins, forgiveness wins, justice wins. So, I started acting like Christ’s victory was real (because it is). The first thing I did was cook an over-the-top, lavish breakfast for the youth, to start to show radical kindness. We must tangibly show the alternative to the way of hate and division by showing the way of kindness and love. The best thing you can do in the face of the tragic events happening in our world – act out God’s heart for compassion and justice now. In the midst of tragic events, we also hear stories of people who act on compassion – rush into danger to help others, open their homes and churches for people to grieve, line up to give blood. How can you tangibly show God’s radical kindness, mercy and love? *This is an edited excerpt of one of Renée’s blog posts. For the full version and more of her reflections visit www.oneneighbourhood.org.


10

mosaic—fall 2016

just think

What fills our eyes more often than tears?

MATTHEW 7:3


mosaic—fall 2016

11

A PHOTO ESSAY OF COMPASSION IN ACTION Photography by Ruby Gatiera

KINGSWAY BAPTIST CHURCH IN ETOBICOKE, Ontario recognized a particular need in their community and are reaching out to fill it. The rEcess Program provides children with special needs and their siblings a safe place to share one-to-one play time with a buddy chosen just for them. Brothers and sisters, who often shoulder greater responsibility within the family, also get to enjoy a few hours to just be a kid. The program also provides their parents with four precious hours to themselves – to go on a date, go shopping or whatever else they wish.

God’s love is shown through the dedicated volunteer community that has formed to run the rEcess Program. Compassion is being experienced in practical ways, as expressed in the gratitude of the families who benefit from the program. The program has also influenced the wider community to be intentional about including and accepting people with different abilities. Together they celebrate these beloved children who are made in the image of our loving Father.


12

mosaic—fall 2016


mosaic—fall 2016

13 We are one body in Christ and so our souls sing with the Psalmist: “even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am

&

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:12-14


14

mosaic—fall 2016

MUSINGS IN THE

MOSQUE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN A MUSLIM AND A CHRISTIAN LEADER FROM THE MIDDLE EAST by Laurena Zondo


mosaic—fall 2016

15

Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zaid, President of the Sunni Religious Court in Saida (city in South Lebanon) and leader of a local mosque, and Martin Accad, Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut are building bridges of friendship and understanding among Christians and Muslims.

YOU’VE KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR MANY YEARS NOW. THROUGH YOUR INTERACTION AND FRIENDSHIP WHAT NEW PERSPECTIVES HAVE YOU GAINED?

M ARTIN : When you’re interacting all the time with your own community, you’re hearing the same thing, growing up with the same ideas, but when you start developing friendships with members of other communities, other religious communities, it gives you a new perspective, not just on them, but also on yourself. I can honestly say that my friendships with Muslims, and significantly my friendship with Sheikh Muhammad, forced me to think in new ways about my own faith, about my understanding of God… and I feel better for it. I feel that I’ve grown spiritually, personally and relationally as a result of this friendship. SHE IKH MU HA M M AD : I can say the same things. Being Muslim, living in a Muslim community my entire life, and meeting my own people who belong to same religious community, will make your horizon very limited. But in knowing Martin, and through him knowing his students and the school where he teaches, and through conferences and other activities together, this made my horizon wider… I was able to meet new people, and hear and speak with people from different perspectives, different religious backgrounds, and it helped a lot, to express myself in a different way or rethink my ideas.

photo: Randy Vanderveen

It’s very easy to stereotype others when we are speaking to our own community… M ARTIN : We are living in a time of conflict and I cannot anymore say something about Islam without imagining what would Sheikh Muhammad’s reaction be? Am I saying it in a way that is fair, that is balanced? Am I stereotyping? It’s very easy to stereotype others when we are speaking to our own community.


mosaic—fall 2016

photos: Randy Vanderveen

16

…understanding that my Muslim neighbour cares primarily about raising their children, putting them through school, making sure that they have food on the table, these daily little concerns of humanity are probably the most common ground between Christians and Muslims…

SO WHAT IS THE COMMON GROUND BETWEEN THE

SHE IKH MU HA M M AD : The general human perspective, as two human beings. Besides, we have a lot of common things between Islam and Christianity concerning ethics and morals. I believe this is the best and most solid common ground we have together because we know that even Muslims among themselves do not agree over everything, and the same thing on the Christian side, but at least we have our human background and our ethical and moral background. It helps a lot in accepting each other, and in dealing with the things we don’t agree on in a positive way.

TWO FAITHS?

M ARTIN : Definitely our humanity and our common human concerns …understanding that my Muslim neighbour cares primarily about raising their children, putting them through school, making sure that they have food on the table, these daily little concerns of humanity are probably the most common ground between Christians and Muslims… on a theological level… I think today I feel less and less attached to religion… it’s more about the relational aspect of the message of Jesus rather than what religious group I belong to. I feel that’s allowed me to be much freer in my relationship with Sheikh Muhammad, and with other Muslims. I think Jesus is a very strong common ground… the Qur’an speaks extensively about Jesus, always very positively… nothing at all negative, nothing disrespectful ever about Jesus. On the contrary, he‘s a very highly respected figure, and so for me, Jesus is quite a strong common ground as well in relationships with Muslims. SHE IKH MU HA M M AD : The first lecture I gave to ABTS students was about how Muslims believe in Christ, as a well-respected religious figure, as a messenger from God… how we respect him. It can be a common thing that can help both of us to get rid of these stereotypes about each other.


mosaic—fall 2016

17

I really think that a lot of our conflicts today globally have to do with our lack of understanding and knowledge of the other, our lack of meeting at the level of our basic humanity.

IN 2014 YOU WENT TO THE U.S. FOR THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST, BOTH YOU AND MARTIN WENT TOGETHER. CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE OF YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THIS FIRST VISIT?

GIVEN ALL THAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED, AND WHAT YOU SEE TODAY, WHERE DO YOU FIND THE GREATEST HOPE?

SHE IKH MU HA M M AD : Yes, through Martin, I was able to receive an invitation… the breakfast itself was a huge thing to be part of, but also being in the same plane, sitting beside Martin for hours and hours and hours, gave us the opportunity to talk more. It gave me an opportunity to know Martin even better… and feeling that we are both like ambassadors of the Lebanese community, the Christian guy and the Muslim guy, together in the same trip, going there for the same aim, meeting people and talking in the same way, in the same tongue, even though we have different religious backgrounds. Yes, it was a very nice experience and I was honored to be with Martin. I wanted to document it and that’s why I published my book, The America I’ve Seen. M ARTIN : The book that he wrote has an impact on the Muslim community here, seeing America through his eyes. I really think that a lot of our conflicts today globally have to do with our lack of understanding and knowledge of the other, our lack of meeting at the level of our basic humanity. I really think there is a lot of value in facilitating meetings, and in fact, currently we are talking about other projects where we would get Christians and Muslims to meet more together, to bring down the walls of fear and lack of understanding.

SHE IKH MU HA M M AD : In all cases, we should always have hope. We are believers, we trust in God, and if we do trust God, then we should always keep our hope that the coming days will be better… People need to live together, and have to live together, and some open minds and some wise people will help. I hope that through my relation with Martin I play this role among my community, and among other communities. M ARTIN : Hope is in friendships, in relationships… that God can create in a way that is perhaps above natural human boundaries.

For more on the thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East visit www.imeslebanon.wordpress.com


18

mosaic—fall 2016

Bu r ning Bus h es

by Paul Matheson

PERSONAL AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

THE SUN WAS SHINING, and a stiff breeze blew across the water as I stepped off the ferry and set foot on the historic Isle of Iona. It was my first visit to this holy place where St. Columba established a Christian community in the year 563. Today this beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland continues as a place of pilgrimage. The Iona Community welcomes visitors from around the world for worship and spiritual renewal together with a commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation. This pattern was established by George MacLeod, a Presbyterian minister, who brought unemployed craftsmen from his depression-era parish in Glasgow to help rebuild the ruined Abbey buildings. They worked side by side with theological students training for ministry. What they discovered was a blessed integration of worship and work, spiritual life and sharing together in common tasks. It is a pattern that sustains my own life and ministry. In my work as a pastor – and perhaps in yours as construction worker, scientist, banker or volunteer – the interplay between events and activities that fill my calendar on one hand, and prayer, personal devotion and participation in worship on the other, represent a mutually supportive and enriching pattern. It is a pattern that I believe is rooted in the life of Jesus. Jesus was an itinerant teacher, healer and worker of miracles. The challenges he faced and the drain on his energy must have been enormous. Yet that life of activity and engagement was always held in balance with prayer. As Jesus embarked on his public ministry, he prayed. When his journey shifted to Jerusalem and the cross, he prayed. On the Mount of Olives before his crucifixion, he prayed. Even as he endured the agony of the cross, Jesus prayed. At every major step in his ministry, Jesus undergirded his actions with prayer. Spirituality and advocacy are inseparable. They work together. One without the other is vacuous, distorted and incomplete. When we actively confront injustice and seek to bring about transformation in the world without also seeking that inner transformation of our own hearts and inner beings, we risk both running out of energy, and running in the wrong direction. Reflecting on this relationship between contemplation and action, Richard Rohr, a teacher and founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation, references 20th century Catholic writer and social activist Thomas Merton, who wrote: “He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity,

and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.”*

As we grow deeper in our relationship with God, we come to see the world in different ways. We approach others not out of envy, or with a desire to impose our will, but with a servant’s heart. Filled with God’s reconciling love, we seek to participate with God in the healing of creation. Prayer is a necessary component of our action. In one particularly difficult circumstance, Jesus’ disciples asked why they had been unsuccessful in casting out an unclean spirit. Jesus answered, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” (Mk. 9:29) Sometimes, it seems, prayer itself is the action that is required. Authentic spirituality is never self-centered. Our inner life with God always prompts us to move out beyond ourselves to engagement with others and the world God loves. Richard Rohr points to an example in the life of Moses: “Moses takes spirituality and social engagement together from the very beginning. As Moses hides his face from the burning bush, God commissions him to confront the pharaoh of Egypt and tell him to stop oppressing the enslaved Hebrews.”* Personal transformation and social transformation belong together. Spirituality and advocacy are two sides of the same journey. The pattern I learned on my visit to Iona continues to inform my pilgrimage as a disciple of Jesus and a minister of the gospel. Paul Matheson is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Saskatoon and a member of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada’s Justice and Mercy Group. *Source: Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Centre for Action and Contemplation


mosaic—fall 2016

19

You Are Not Alone

by Rachel Conway

RESPONDING IN TIMES OF CRISIS

A key element for me is remembering that we are all family together, brothers and sisters around the world, worshipping one God. We are part of a global prayer network. All things are possible with God, and he uses all of us in his mission. “WE ARE AFFECTED PEOPLE, HELPING AFFECTED PEOPLE,” said the leader of a

Rachel Conway is the Facilitator of the Baptist Relief and Development (BReaD) Network.

Local partners respond respond in Bukhel, Kathmandu Valley following the Nepal earthquake.

local Baptist organization in Nepal, following the devastating earthquakes that rocked the country in May 2015. They were coordinating relief responses whilst living in tents, having had people close to them killed. I was struck by his vulnerability, but also his commitment to his fellow Nepalis. Humanitarian crises are all around us: South Sudan, Vanuatu, Nepal, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ecuador. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of situations like these. What can I do? What should I pray for, give to, focus on? Too often it can feel like we have to step up to the mark – that the responsibility is solely ours. From my experience with the BReaD Network, I believe that there is hope in these seemingly chaotic and despairing situations. A key element for me is remembering that we are all family together, brothers and sisters around the world, worshipping one God. We are part of a global prayer network. All things are possible with God, and he uses all of us in his mission.

Each of these situations provides the body of Christ an opportunity to join together to use our different resources, skills and callings. The BReaD Network’s role is to enable organizations to each play to their strengths in responding to humanitarian crises in a more coordinated and effective way, whether that be through their expertise, prayers, funding, or partnerships across the world. Following the devastation of the earthquake, Nepalis are now using their experiences to advise people in Ecuador who have been affected by the earthquake there. Although Cyclone Winston received little international media coverage, an American convention has been able to support the Fijian Baptists through the secondment of personnel. An organization that does not have partnerships in Ethiopia has used the BReaD Network to enable a church to support a sustainable livelihoods project in response to severe drought. The BReaD Network brings these contacts alive and it has been exciting and a privilege to see the body of Christ at work in this way. The community, solidarity and unity that the body of Christ affords us should not be forgotten. Our response to the Baptist leaders in Nepal, and all these other countries: We are standing with you. We are family. You are not alone.

CBM is one of the Baptist agencies in the BReaD Network. Learn more about this global collaboration at www.thebreadnetwork.com


20

mosaic—fall 2016

M eet M ak aiao Makaiao is in Grade 3. His favorite things are riding his bike, eating tacos and going for hikes with his family. He also loves everything to do with science.

M eet Tim Tim has stitched together a radical life of service among children, youth, and adults facing profound physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual challenges. He enjoys ham sandwiches, playing the drums and going to the movies.

Tim Huff is the founder and currently serves as the creative and development lead of Youth Unlimited’s Compassion Series. The Compassion Series books are available in 27 countries around the world. Book 3, The Honour Drum: Sharing the Truth and Beauty of Canada’s Indigenous People with Children will be released later this year. For more information visit www.compassionseries.com

It's hard TARE not to S mosaic invited two junior reporters to interview Tim Huff, author of the Compassion Series books, which are being used in elementary schools across Canada to educate and inspire children around challenging topics. Book 1 is entitled The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge: Helping Children Understand Homelessness. Book 2 is entitled, It’s Hard Not To Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities.


mosaic—fall 2016

M eet Sophie Sophie is a Grade 4 student who loves art and math. She enjoys reading, swimming, eating tacos and playing with her little brother.

21 kids with disabilities for many years. I worked with deaf children for 14 summers at a camp and I married a woman I met at the camp. She can hear but both her parents are deaf. Her first language is sign language. SOPHIE : What are some things kids can do to help people with disabilities? TIM : At the end of this book [It’s Hard Not to Stare], it says to not be afraid to ask if you can help with some simple task. There’s a famous guy named [former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario] David Onley and he had a position in the government. He uses a mobility scooter. Since he was three years old, he’s had a disability. He told me he sometimes wished people would ask him if they could just help get things off the shelf or make things simpler. It’s not about thinking, “This person has a disability, I should not even talk about it or not notice it.” It’s about being compassionate, which is being kind and thoughtful and then asking if you can do something. So, if you see someone with a disability and you feel you’re safe, and the adult you’re with thinks it’s safe, you can ask, “Can I help you with something?” or if it’s a friend of yours… play or do something that makes it so they’re having fun. SOPHIE : How do people become homeless? TIM : When we talk about this book in schools, we don’t always explain all the ways people become homeless because sometimes they’re so sad it’s better for mommy and daddy to explain it. I will tell you that they have sad situations at home, and it makes it so that they feel like they need to leave their homes. Often that’s what happens. Sometimes relatives are not nice to them or things are very difficult or they’re feeling hurt in some way and they don’t know what to do and don’t have other people to help them, so they wind up on the streets. That’s why we have to be compassionate, to show we care about them. It’s complicated isn’t it? SOPHIE : What are some things you can donate to help homeless people?

SOPHIE : What gave you the idea to write about compassion?

TIM : There are lots of things you can do. With your school or with your mom and dad or with your church, you can look up all kinds of things. If you’re on a computer and you type in “homeless” and “Toronto” all kinds of things [ways to help] would pop up… some groups donate food. I used to run something called Light Patrol and we would go out in a fancy mobile home and drive around and hand out food, drinks and sleeping bags and talk to them and be friends with them. There are lots of places you can donate to. SOPHIE : If you see a person with a guide dog, what should you do?

TIM : Lots of years ago when my kids were 8 and 4 years old, we were walking down the street and passed by sleeping bags and a homeless person sleeping on the street and some other stuff. My kids kept asking, “Daddy, why is that stuff there? Who is that person laying there?” Now, I actually cared for and worked with homeless people and I had a hard time answering their questions, so I thought I would make a little book… this started just as some coloured photocopies for my own children, but as it turned out, people were interested enough that they wanted to make it into a book for all kinds of people. I actually took care of homeless people for over 20 years and worked on the street and walked past people who look just like this. I also worked with

TIM : I always compliment the person and tell them their dog is beautiful because I love big dogs. I have a big dog. But you don’t go and pet the dog until you ask if that’s okay first. The dog is actually working… It has learned lots of rules about what it’s allowed to do and not do… A lot of people I know who are blind or deaf sometimes use trainer dogs. I like to ask questions about how the dog was trained. How it knows what to do? How does it know to stop? Can it tell the streetlights by itself? You can ask lots and lots of questions. M AK AIO : What’s your favourite colour? TIM : When my kids used to ask me that, my answer would always be, “for what?” For food, it’s not blue, but for the sky it’s blue. In general, it’s blue.


22

mosaic—fall 2016

THE VIEW

What was your experience during the civil war in Lebanon?

A JOURNEY OF FORGIVENESS

Rosette: I grew up during the civil war. I don’t remember much of my life before that. The war lasted for 15 years, and I remember many times trying to imagine or dream of how life would be without the daily fear of being killed or kidnapped. We were constantly on the move, searching for a safer place; we moved from many houses, many schools, looking for “safer areas.”

Rosette Mansour serves as the Partner Relations Officer for CBM’s partner, the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development. In her role she helps coordinate important ministries such as church-based outreach programs for Syrian refugees.

What memories just won’t fade? R: There are so many painful memories that I wanted to obliterate, but I couldn’t. I first witnessed people killing each other at the age of 9, and after that time, the sights of death and destruction were my daily bread. I still remember my 13-year-old friend who was kidnapped while riding his bicycle and was never found.

Where do you see God’s intervention in your life? R: On October 13, 1990, we awoke to the sound of planes bombing. I grabbed my 10-month-old son. I couldn’t see or breathe because of the smoke. In a split second we decided to flee home and seek shelter in a hotel. We had driven a few miles when we saw soldiers. A little light of hope shone in our eyes, but it didn’t last long, because after we cried, “We are Lebanese, we are with you,” we realized that they were the Syrian army who were on a doomed mission, coming to kill everybody in their way. They stood us against the wall with our hands up, ready to shoot us. Then I heard a large explosion. I opened my eyes thinking I was in heaven, but to my astonishment, I was still alive and untouched. At that moment, a Lebanese tank pulled up behind us and saw the Syrians ready to shoot us, so they fired a rocket at them, killing them instantly. We were less than 10 metres away, but we were unharmed. What has been the journey of forgiveness like for you? R: Being pregnant, I was traumatized by the incident, and began having nightmares, dreaming that they were coming to slaughter us and kill my children. I knew that salvation from this extreme fear could only be found in the God of life, the one who saved me and granted me extra years. I prayed, fasted, cried out to Him: “God, I can’t take it anymore. I’m scared, bitter, and hateful. I don’t want to hate those who tried to kill me.” The answer to that prayer was a lengthy journey through which God taught me to forgive. It took me almost six years of fasting and praying, during which I saw God’s hand on my life.

As followers of Jesus we are asked to love our enemies – an extremely difficult thing to truly put into practice. R: When the Syrian war started, I said, “God, my ministry is to pray for them, but keep me away from personal interactions." However, my son and daughter-in-law are very much involved in the Syrian ministry. Every time they visited or we gathered for a meal they would share stories about what God is doing: healing miraculously, appearing in dreams, answering prayers, revealing His glory. I thought, “If God is at work, I want to be involved.” This is when the challenge of “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” appeared. I forced myself to pray for them (my enemies), to visit them, to hear their pain. This is when I realized that I don’t have enemies anymore.

CBM mosaic 2016 Fall  

What moves you? What is it that summons you, deep within your heart, to get up and act? Is it a holy longing or perhaps just a gentle nudge?...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you