Fall 2019 A publication of Canadian Baptist Ministries
Embrace What You Believe
cover & inside cover photos: Randy Vanderveen
EMBRACING DIGNITY CHALLENGES INEQUITY This issue of Mosaic is the third in a multi-part series that features the foundational causes anchoring CBM’s ministries around the world.
POVERTY BUILD THE CHURCH JUSTICE
KIDS AT RISK
he sound of pages turning fills a small church in rural Rwanda. It’s time to practise reading. But those in attendance are adult women – not children. And many of them are reading for the first time.
Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people, says information from UN Women, the United Nations’ entity dedicated to gender equality. Global statistics also show that girls – especially in rural communities – are less likely to attend school than boys. As a result, uneducated women and girls often struggle to break the cycle of poverty.
CBM’s Women’s Literacy project in Rwanda helps impoverished women to access basic education. In partnership with the Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda, staff and volunteers encourage women to attend classes at local churches. The women learn to read, write and count. This helps them to better care for their children and find alternative sources of income.
Fall 2019 contents
4 Jesus is the Justice of God: A Closer Look at the Fabric of Justice 3 Terry Talks: Serving the Witness of a Just God 10 Justice and Reconciliation: A Reflection on the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda 13 Serving Justice: Coffee Farmers in El Salvador Find New Hope 16 Be a Fashion Influencer: How to Shop with a Conscience 18 A Truth that Hurts: Seeking Justice for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples 21 Plead the Cause: A Call to Stand Against Injustice 24 Hopeful Gifts for Change: CBM’s Christmas Gift Catalogue
7185 Millcreek Drive Mississauga, ON l5n 5r4 Tel: 905.821.3533 email@example.com www.cbmin.org 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. Mosaic is published three times a year by Canadian Baptist Ministries. Copies are distributed free of charge. Bulk quantities available by request. Managing Editor Jennifer Lau Editor Nicolette Beharie Art Director Gordon Brew
Serving the Witness of a Just God “P
apa, ce n’est pas juste,” seemed to be the frequent lament of our three children when they were little. Fearing that they might get what they didn’t believe they deserved (i.e., some form of punishment) or the inverse (that their siblings were going to get a slight advantage), they decried our parenting as unjust. They had an infantile notion of justice. I fear most contemporary Christians do, too. We individualize our notion of justice, render it essentially punitive and think about it as only getting what one is due. Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Tim and I don’t agree on everything. To be fair, we have never spoken to each other, but I am quite sure that we wouldn’t quite see eye to eye on everything. He baptizes infants (but lots of non-infants, too). He aligns himself with a complementarian position on women in leadership, whereas I consider myself as egalitarian. But other than those two issues, I definitely appreciate his teaching and writing, including on justice and the kingdom of God. A few years ago, I read his book, Generous Justice (Penguin Random House, 2010). Please read it. It was a fabulous eye-opener for me. Keller reminds us that one of the words for justice in the Old Testament (mishpat) includes providing for protection and care. In the Hebrew Bible, the most frequent beneficiaries of justice are the widows, orphans, immigrants, priests and the poor. The second word for justice (tsedaqah) is often translated as righteousness in our English Bibles, although I appreciate the fact that French translations don’t have an equivalent term. It’s all justice! Our contemporary Christian culture tends to make righteousness all about individual acts of piety or private morality. Or massively sweeping acts of social justice, frequently without reference to personal transformation. But justice is about living in a right relationship with our Creator, out of whom flows fairness, generosity and equity. Transformation – individual, communal and societal – is required. In the fifth century, St. John Chrysostom exhorted the Church, “... Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first – and then they will joyfully share their wealth.” This is why we practise integral mission at CBM. And Keller reminds us that the justice of a society is actually measured by the treatment of those who are most frequently maligned, marginalized or outcast.
As I write this, I am returning from Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our Baptist partners there can teach us a great deal about justice. As they are critiquing an unjust society, they are also caring for and helping restore the dignity of rape victims. They rehabilitate child soldiers. They fight for (and win) the land rights of forcibly displaced pygmies. They honourably bury those who have died of Ebola. And they are investing in children and widows. Oh, that Baptists in North America would see their engagement in the community not as an act of charity, but of justice. And it begins with the most marginalized. In El Salvador, our partners are helping build latrines. In Rwanda, they are teaching women to read. In Lebanon, staff distribute food vouchers and provide free education to the children of Syrian refugees. In Bolivia, children whose parents are incarcerated are benefitting from spiritual and social care that includes health, nutrition and hygiene. These are not individual acts of charity. They are expressions of a just God whose Church is helping to build shalom and bring about his kingdom. Our partners have taken up the cause of the powerless. In a day of increased fragmentation and marginalization, Western society needs to hear anew and live into the words of Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NRSV) In this issue of Mosaic, Jonathan Wilson and Rick Tobias explore the biblical view of justice. Gordon King and Gato Munyamasoko reflect on the meaning of justice in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, and Cheryl Bear highlights the journey of Indigenous peoples in Canada. As you digest these articles, I encourage you to meditate on how your life (as an individual, family, church or community) is serving the witness of a just God who does justice and loves kindness.
Terry Smith CBM Executive Director
Jesus is the Justice of God A C L O S E R L O O K AT T H E F A B R I C O F J U S T I C E by Jonathan R. Wilson
here are many visions and stories of justice clamouring for our allegiance. The temptation is for Christians to sign up for one of those versions of justice. We might imagine walking down Brick Lane in London, where every establishment has a barker out front, telling us that his restaurant has the best food at the cheapest price and he will give us a further discount. That’s what the “justice” market sounds like today. But when we say, “Jesus is the justice of God,” we are saying that the only true, hopeful and complete story of justice is the “Jesus story,” that is, the gospel. And only this story offers a vision of justice that has already been made real and whole and guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection is God’s vindication of all he claimed and taught – that through him all creation would be made right, and lined up with God’s intentions for the life of the world. In other words, through Jesus we – and along with us – all creation is made “just”: justified, reconciled. So, when we say, “Jesus is the justice of God,” we are saying that this is the only story and vision of true justice because it is the story of God making all things right. Since Jesus is the justice of God, this means that how he taught us to live in word and deed is witness to and participation in God’s justice. This truth is woven into the fabric of our faith. In this article, we can only get started on this journey. But we can see something about this justice in Mary’s song (the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55), the Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:16-21), the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and throughout the gospels as we learn to read them through the lenses provided by this teaching. Although I have begun this account of the justice of God in the New Testament (NT), careful readers will recognize that the Magnificat
and the Nazareth Manifesto echo the Old Testament (OT) and its cry for justice. As Israel’s Messiah, Jesus fulfils the OT cry for justice that we find in the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job and more). We cannot understand Jesus as the justice of God apart from his identity as the Messiah of Israel and the fulfilment of the OT. In Jesus, the justice of God is revealed as “making right” this fallen world so that it becomes what God created it to be: “new creation” is one of the ways that Paul proclaims this good news that he learned from the risen Jesus through the Holy Spirit. (And Paul often echoes Isaiah: see Isaiah 60-66 for a concentrated proclamation of the justice of God.)
“So, when we say, ‘Jesus is the justice of God,’ we are saying that this is the only story and vision of true justice because it is the story of God making all things right.” Paul expands this vision in his letters to the churches. In Ephesians, for example, he begins with the blessings that God has bestowed on humans but enlarges the scope of God’s work: “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment— to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Ephesians 1:8-10)
This is the vision of justice taught by the reality of the gospel. And this is good news beyond any other vision and story! Now that we’ve discovered that Jesus is the justice of God, we will explore four more convictions that follow from this reality: • Justice is integral to the gospel of Jesus Christ • Justice must not be disconnected from Jesus • The cry for justice all around us is a cry for the good news of Jesus Christ • The justice of God is cosmic, global, local and personal
Conviction #1: Justice is integral to the gospel of Jesus Christ Given the vision and story that we’ve just affirmed, we know that not just any account of “justice” is integral to the gospel. But the gospel cannot be told and lived faithfully apart from this vision of justice taught by Jesus and Paul (and the rest of the Bible). How can we proclaim the gospel of Jesus in word and deed without declaring and living the reality that God is “justifying” all things – lining them up in accordance with God’s will – through Jesus Christ. As we enter into the work of justice that is the story of Jesus, we confront a lot of obstacles to God’s will for unity under Christ. Sometimes these obstacles are in us and shape our resistance to the justice of God; sometimes they have a lot of control over us, limiting our vision of what is possible in faithfulness to the risen Jesus; sometimes the obstacles are powers that have become established in social structures – political, economic, medical, educational, architectural and more – that are enemies of God’s justice in Christ. Jesus confronted these powers continually in his mission. Paul has a variety of names for them. In Ephesians, he tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) But Paul also assures us that “in [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
“… when we become part of Jesus’ story by faith in him, we join in this struggle against forces that oppose God’s will to justify all things – line them up in their right relationship to God’s purposes in Christ.” There’s a lot to think about in these passages, but two things stand out. First, when we become part of Jesus’ story by faith in him, we join in this struggle against forces that oppose God’s will to justify all things – line them up in their right relationship to God’s purposes in Christ. So, we don’t choose whether or not to be part of this struggle; if we are aligned with Jesus, we will be with him in this struggle. Second, the forces that oppose us are ultimately under the lordship of Christ. That’s why, when Jesus commissions us, he begins, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore ….” (Matthew 28:18-19) As his disciples, following him in this story of the justice of God, we need to know that he is making things right because all things belong to him – they are “through him and for him.” Thus, when we confess Jesus as the justice of God, we are simply confessing that in Jesus, all things are being brought into alignment with God’s plan for creation. This simply is the gospel: that in the incarnation, life, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and return of Jesus Christ, God’s justice prevails. This justice is integral to the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ cannot be told or lived apart from this reality.
Conviction #2: Justice must not be disconnected from Jesus The “justice market” today offers us many tempting options. But compared to the gospel story of justice, every one of them is incomplete, misdirected or in direct conflict with Jesus as the justice of God. However, they are alluring. They may promise justice delivered immediately. They may promise justice that privileges my identity or group instead of the reconciliation of all things. They may promise justice that brings me peace of mind and prosperity here and now. But they all fall short of the glory of the justice that we see in Jesus. However (again), many accounts of the gospel have neglected – or even rejected – justice as integral to the gospel. As a result, people who long for justice do not turn to Jesus. That is, people who see what’s wrong with the world and long for justice, even if they have “grown up in the church,” often turn away from the church and Jesus in their pursuit of justice through another story and vision. This is tragic, because the one true hope for justice is Jesus. Any account of the gospel that neglects God’s justice is a reduction of the gospel and of justice.
we appear to fail, when our hopes seem dashed, we must remember that it is through the cross that God is justifying all things. One of the clearest ways for us to grasp our need to keep justice connected to Jesus is to consider the Beatitudes that introduce the Sermon on the Mount. Begin with the end of each beatitude: poor, mourn, meek, hungry and thirsty, mercy, purity, peacemaking, persecuted and insulted. Most of these are things that we want to avoid. And even the things that we might seek, such as meekness, mercy and purity, make us vulnerable to the way this world works. Now recall the first part of each beatitude: “Blessed”! How can this be – that we are blessed when we suffer the conditions identified in the second part of each beatitude? The only way to make sense of this puzzle is to recognize – and celebrate – the connection between the two parts: Jesus. When we join Jesus in God’s work of justice, we will experience the following. • Poverty of spirit: how can we possibly do what we are seeking to do? • Grief: we will see how far this world is from God’s life. • Meekness: we must work in God’s way, the way of sacrificial love.
When justice is disconnected from the gospel, the tragedy unfolds in many different ways. One tragic consequence unfolds when people seek to establish justice by force. They seek to correct an injustice through violent means. This may achieve a partial justice for some people only for a while, but we know from Jesus’ story that the final justice of God is achieved not through violence but through sacrifice: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
• Hunger and thirst: we long for God’s justice to come and be made visible.
Another tragedy unfolds in the lives of those who pursue justice disconnected from the risen Jesus, to be precise, apart from the life of the Spirit. Such pursuit is bound to end in failure, disappointment and collapse. Many of my friends began their pursuit of justice as an act of discipleship by joining what God is doing in the world. But over time, they drifted away from Jesus and into another story in which some vision of justice replaces Jesus as Lord. They seek justice through human effort apart from the “coming down” of God. And somewhere in that other story, they find that a vision for justice that is not rooted in Jesus leads to despair, resentment, burnout and collapse.
• Insult: this will come when we do not conform to other ideologies of justice.
If we are to sustain a lifetime of commitment to “justice,” we must know our work for justice joins us with the work that Jesus did and continues to do. When we are disappointed, when
• Mercy: this is the way that God’s justice – reconciliation and unity – comes. • Purity: we will learn to will one thing – God’s vision for justice, not ours. • Peacemaking: God’s justice brings wholeness and healing to all creation. • Persecution: this will happen when we stand against and expose the powers of injustice.
And we will experience blessing, because when we join the Jesus story of justice we are entering into life as God intends it to be and as God has given life to us in Christ by the work of the Spirit. When we look at history, it may seem that pursuing justice in the way of Jesus is doomed to failure and disappointment – it ends on the cross. But when we come to faith in the risen Lord of all and live in the power of the Spirit, we know by faith and in hope that the real trajectory of the cosmos is to be God’s new creation. So, we remain faithful to Jesus’ way of justice and do not lose heart, turning to the right or the left. As we abide in Jesus, the Spirit sustains us in the hope – the sure expectation – that our hunger and thirst for justice will be satisfied in Christ.
Conviction #3: The cry for justice all around us is a cry for the good news of Jesus Christ “It’s not fair!” “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be!” “When will justice be served?” “How long must we wait for justice?” “How long will evil and injustice prevail?” We hear these and many other cries from the world around us. Our newsfeeds are filled with stories of oppression and injustice, violence and abuse, poverty and disease. And so we cry out for justice. This cry for justice arises from the very centre of our being made in the image of God. Among other things, to be made in the image of God means that we are made for: • relationship with God • relationship with other humans • relationship with the rest of creation • relationship with ourselves When any of these is “out of alignment,” that is not “justified” or in right relationship with God, we know something is wrong, even if we don’t know what that something is. Cries for justice are just this: “I know that something isn’t right and I want it made right!” Sometimes those who cry out for justice think that they know what’s wrong and how to make it right. But sometimes the cry for justice is simply a crying out in the midst of oppression. In Exodus 3, we have a story of this dynamic. We read that YHWH has heard the cry of the Israelites “because of their slave drivers,” (Exodus 3:7) but there is no mention of them crying out for “justice” or liberation. Yet that is what YHWH comes down to do: “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8) Through Moses, YHWH brings a people into alignment with his life – justifies them – as a witness and blessing to all nations. We who are followers of the Jesus story of justice now have that same calling, to be witnesses and a blessing to all people. So, when those around us who do not know the story of Jesus cry out for “justice,” we have good news for them.
Many of those who cry out for justice have an incomplete vision of justice; many have a distorted vision of justice; indeed, many have a vision of justice that is contrary to the justice proclaimed by Jesus in word and deed. We must not be put off by these partial and competing visions. Every one of those cries arises from the sense that something is wrong and should be made right. Every one of those cries is an occasion in which the Spirit is calling us into the world with the good news. In Jesus Christ we have the only vision of justice that brings life everlasting to all creation through the reconciliation of all things. As we hear the cries for justice in the world, we must also pay close attention to our response. If we respond only with words, we betray the reality of the good news of God’s justice in Jesus Christ. Jesus calls us to put his words into practice. (Matthew 7:24) Paul admonishes us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) James warns us that “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) And John writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Those who cry out for justice must not only hear the good news of Jesus, they must see it. The justice of God in Jesus is not an ideal, not an idea – it is reality. Sometimes it seems that those outside the church have a deeper passion for justice than we who are followers of the only true and hopeful justice. When Israel was unfaithful to God’s call to live justly and bear witness to the nations, they cut themselves off from the life that God gives and brought themselves under God’s judgment. May we, by God’s grace, be faithful to the justice of God and proclaim Jesus, the justice of God, to a dying world.
“As we hear the cries for justice in the world, we must also pay close attention to our response. If we respond only with words, we betray the reality of the good news of God’s justice in Jesus Christ. Jesus calls us to put his words into practice.”
Conviction #4: The justice of God is cosmic, global, local and personal • Cosmic: since God is reconciling all things to Godself, that is, bringing all things into just alignment with God’s will, and since “all things” includes “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,” (Colossians 1:16) then the justice of God is cosmic in its scope. In John’s vision in Revelation 21, this work is complete in “a new heaven and a new earth.” (Revelation 21:1; in John’s vocabulary, “a new heaven” refers to the astronomical bodies.) • Global: since “all things” includes “thrones, powers, rulers and authorities” (paraphrasing Colossians 1:16), and since these things extend their authority as far as their power enables them, God’s justice disarms them and makes a public spectacle of them, “triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
“Justice” often appears to be a complicated and controversial topic. When we begin to cry out for it and work for it, we usually find ourselves tangled up in economic and political ideologies that divide people from one another. Or we may try to do something for a while, then our good intentions wither and we lose hope and burn out. In this article, I have invited us into the journey that is the Jesus way of justice. It is a lifelong, generation-spanning journey. May we hope, pray and work toward a conversation about God’s justice and a practice of God’s justice that brings us toward unity and deeper faith in him because Jesus is the justice of God, where “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
• Local: when the justice of God becomes real in the coming of Jesus, God also “justifies” human relationships. In NT times, this took the form of Jew and Gentile coming together as one people in Christ. And in Colossians, Paul describes this justice in communal life as he admonishes them to put to death their old way of life that was out of alignment with God, and to live as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” (Colossians 3:12) This is one small way to enter into the justice of God made known in Jesus. • Personal: in the same passage in Colossians, Paul also admonishes each follower of Jesus to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10) In this renewal, God’s justice brings each of us into a right alignment with God and with ourselves as God has made us. In order to do that, God forgives us – and is just in doing so because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21-26)
Jonathan R. Wilson is Senior Associate for Theological Integration with CBM and Teaching Fellow at Regent College.
See page 10 for a brief reflection on justice, reconciliation and peace in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Justice and Reconciliation
A REFLECTION ON T H E 2 5 T H A N N I V E R S A RY O F T H E G E N O C I D E I N R WA N D A by Gato Munyamasoko and Gordon King
Gato Munyamasoko is CBM’s Peace and Reconciliation Specialist, serving in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. He was awarded the Baptist World Alliance’s Human Rights Award in 2015 and an honorary doctorate from Acadia University in 2016. Gordon King has been a friend and prayer supporter of Gato for many years. He is also the author of several books, including Seed Falling on Good Soil: Rooting Our Lives in the Parables of Jesus. Gordon’s wife, Régine Uwibereyeho King, is a Rwandan genocide survivor. They live in Alberta, where Régine works as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary.
his year marks 25 years since the Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of more than 800,000 people. Ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were brutally killed – often by their own neighbours – and thousands of women faced sexual violence. A quarter of a century later, the journey of healing and reconciliation continues in this East African nation. The work of justice makes demands on our hearts, minds and bodies – we enter into difficult places of great suffering and loss. In “Jesus is the Justice of God” (see page 4), Jonathan Wilson helps us to focus on what it means to follow Jesus into a broken world. Our response offers a brief reflection on justice, reconciliation and peace in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. GORDON: In May 2014, members of the Rwandan community and
their friends gathered in a church in Winnipeg to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide. After two decades of silence, Faustin* told his story publicly for the first time. The killings started in Kigali on the evening of May 6, 1994. He had walked home in the shadows attempting to avoid roadblocks and gangs of killers. Arriving after midnight, he discovered the dead bodies of his family. He worked through the night to bury them in the garden. Then, he prepared himself to die at the hands of his neighbours in the morning. I have often wondered what justice means for people like Faustin. Can anything compensate for the grief and suffering that have marked their lives? *
Name has been changed
“Forgiveness after mass violence does not mean forgetting. But it does mean remembering in a new way based on faith that God’s new creation begins in the wounded places of this world.”
Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, is the nation’s largest city. More than 250,000 genocide victims are buried at the Kigali Genocide Memorial site.
GATO: Faustin is simply one example. The world in which we are living in today is full of violence. People are injured or killed, women suffer sexual abuse, children are afraid of becoming orphans and property is destroyed. Violence is a painful reality for millions of people in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. In these situations, victims hope for some form of legal justice. We understand their prayer for a God who judges on the earth and punishes the perpetrators of violence (Psalm 58). Yet justice seems far away. Even when police and the courts act on behalf of the victims, the offenders may minimize or deny their actions. They may plot revenge against their accusers. Victims of violence seldom feel secure about the future. This reality has been our experience in Rwanda as survivors, perpetrators and bystanders are challenged to rebuild their lives. What does justice mean in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region? How can Christians work so that all parties find hope for a shared future based on justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23)?
GORDON: I would like to submit a few points about justice:
1. The theme of justice in the Christian faith means that individuals are accountable – before God and the community – for their actions and the impact of their deeds (and their silence). 2. Justice requires a commitment to truth, humility and confession. These virtues are important because each of us is guilty of evil motivations and destructive actions. 3. Actions that expose evil and injustice are controversial, as shown in the biblical prophets and the gospel traditions. Discourse about justice is perceived by some people as a threat to social stability because it casts light on specific times, locations, actors and actions. 4. There is a distinction between punitive justice and restorative justice. The former attempts to inflict a punishment commensurate with the severity of the injustice that has been committed. The latter has the goal of confession, restitution, forgiveness and reconciliation. We think of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 as an example of restorative justice. 5. Forgiveness after mass violence does not mean forgetting. But it does mean remembering in a new way based on faith that God’s new creation begins in the wounded places of this world. Justice after a genocide is important but limited in scope. In Rwanda, the community courts (Gacaca) and annual genocide commemoration events have ensured that the victims’ stories are not forgotten by the community, there is acknowledgement of evil, and some form of retribution or restitution is enacted. Forgiveness and reconciliation move beyond justice as an anticipation of the new creation when we will live together in God’s presence and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.
photos: Randy Vanderveen
GATO: There have been four parts to our work for justice, forgiveness and reconciliation in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region. 1. Confrontation: The parties meet with each other in order to listen and speak about the injustices inflicted on the victims. Time is taken to examine the root causes behind the violence. Personal accountability and honest confession are important at this stage. 2. Redemptive Forgiveness: This is demanding for both parties. The one who forgives is challenged to develop empathy for the offender. Claims for retribution are laid aside and the offender is seen as someone who is not defined only by past actions. The offender ends all attempts of self-justification, makes a truthful confession and humbly receives the gift of redemptive forgiveness. 3. Restoration: Grace means that both the victim and the offender willfully intend the well-being of the other. The parties explore what reconciliation means for their lives. They make mutual commitments to build a shared relationship that frees them from the past. 4. Restitution: Desmond Tutu wrote that he could forgive someone that confessed to stealing his fountain pen, but he would expect that his pen would be returned. Acts of violent injustice require some form of restitution even when it can never match the losses and harm suffered. When an offender makes efforts to make things right, even partially, it is a way of saying, “I am taking responsibility for my actions and acknowledge the rightful demands of justice.”
“By God’s grace, the horrors of the genocide were acknowledged and confessed, forgiveness and healing were experienced and the process of building a new Rwanda was initiated.” This is not theory for me. Let me give just one example. I worked in schools in Rwanda where there was hatred between students and teachers after the genocide against the Tutsi. Survivors feared new outbreaks of violence. Members of the other ethnic group had family members in prison and feared actions of revenge. We worked with peace and reconciliation clubs, peace camps, workshops and choirs composed of members of both groups. By God’s grace, the horrors of the genocide were acknowledged and confessed, forgiveness and healing were experienced and the process of building a new Rwanda was initiated. GORDON AND GATO: The vision of the new creation offers the image of the
wolf and the lamb feeding together in peace and security. Our work for justice, forgiveness, and peace in a broken and wounded world is an anticipation of God’s renewal of creation and salvation.
Serving Justice CO F F E E FA R M E R S I N E L S A LVA D O R F I N D N E W H O P E by Nicolette Beharie
he aroma of freshly brewed coffee is a familiar wake-up call that many can’t live without. Whether you’re standing in front of your coffee machine or waiting in a drive-thru line up, the day doesn’t begin until you get your first cup of joe. And you’re not alone. More people are consuming coffee than ever before, and the demand for it continues to rise. About 125 million people worldwide – mainly in developing countries – rely on growing coffee to make a living. But unlike the retailers and Western cafés that sell coffee at a profit, the farmers who produce the coveted beans are struggling to survive. Their profit depends on the highly volatile commodity market price. Farmers also face costly environmental challenges like drought and disease that threaten to destroy their crops.
[above] Coffee pickers at a farm in El Salvador prepare their harvest to be processed. Through a direct trade model, they are able to earn a fair wage.
Bruno and Kathleen Soucy, CBM’s Latin America Team Leaders, visited coffee farms in El Salvador earlier this year. Although coffee was once a mainstay of the country’s economy, growers have been abandoning their farms to find alternative sources of income. For many, it now costs more to produce coffee than what they get in return. “When people can’t feed their families they move to other places,” explains Bruno. Coffee growers often migrate to urban areas in search of work, only to encounter new challenges when they arrive. A lack of education and limited job opportunities make it difficult for rural dwellers to earn a living. For those who are able to find work, many are paid a low wage, endure hard physical labour or work in unsafe conditions. Women
“But unlike the retailers and Western cafés that sell coffee at a profit, the farmers who produce the coveted beans are struggling to survive.” who take on domestic work or nanny roles in the city must leave their own families behind for extended periods of time. In Central America, the hopelessness can also be seen at the U.S. border, where droves of migrants are seeking refuge. There are many contributing factors that lead to this risky decision, but among them is their lost livelihood. “It’s just a vicious cycle of never getting out of poverty,” says Bruno.
“Through this partnership, pickers get paid a day’s wage rather than by the pound. And farmers receive a significantly higher rate for their beans than the commodity market price … it also empowers farmers to thrive in their own business.” INEQUITY IN A CUP
A NEW DIRECTION
For more than a decade, world coffee prices have been declining. Earlier this year, the market price dropped below a dollar a pound – reaching the lowest level in more than 13 years. This price usually determines what coffee growers will get paid per pound when they sell their beans to a “middle man” at a mill. The beans are then processed and sold to an exporter before reaching consumers through retail outlets. The overall journey from farm to table varies and can be complex. But one thing is clear: profitability occurs at the other end of the supply chain. Although a cup of coffee can be sold for about $4 or $5 in cafés, the farmers who produce the beans take home a marginal amount of the retail value (see the graphic below).
Gustavo and Leena Castelar are the founders of Firebat, a coffee roasting company in Oakville, Ont., which seeks to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. Along with their co-founding partner based in El Salvador, Rodrigo Giammattei, the couple has seen first-hand how coffee growers struggle to make ends meet when the market price dips. “To a producer who is desperate, this is the kiss of death,” says Gustavo. “If you grow the same quality of coffee as Brazil, you will get the same price. But you will never have the volume or productivity that they have.”
“Think of the abuse that happens when you don’t have resources, and don’t have any control or power,” says Kathleen. “Imagine growing beans and not being able to sell them at a price that you can put back into your farm – let alone feed your family. The system is set up to abuse small producers.” About a third of the coffee supply on the market is produced by Brazil, making it the world’s largest producer. When Brazil experiences a bumper crop or a decrease in its currency value, it leads to increased export sales – driving the global price down. Countries like Vietnam and Colombia that have increased their production in recent years have also impacted global coffee prices.
Many coffee farmers in El Salvador grow their plants under tree canopies, which means ripe beans must be picked by hand. Although this is a labourintensive task, it ensures that only the best beans are selected – compared to large mechanized farms that harvest indiscriminately. While this process makes it difficult for small farms to compete against mass producers, it opens the door to another market: specialty coffee. “We believe there’s an opportunity for producers to make a living from coffee, but the focus must switch to ‘quality’ in order to bypass the commodity market prices,” explains Leena. CBM recently partnered with Firebat to offer specialty coffee through Collective Cup, an initiative that encourages Canadian Baptists to “serve justice when you serve coffee.” A collective of farmers in El Salvador produces the coffee using
% RETAIL VALUE OF A CUP OF COFFEE RETAINED BY COFFEE GROWERS
Less than 3%
When the market price of coffee reached record lows beginning in the mid-1990s, farmers took the hardest hit. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, coffee growers received just one to three per cent of the value of a cup of coffee sold at cafés in Europe or North America.
JUSTICE SERVED HERE & THERE
sustainable practices that help preserve the environment. They also adhere to strict guidelines that ensure quality and unique flavour, which roasters are willing to pay more for. Through this partnership, pickers get paid a day’s wage rather than by the pound. And farmers receive a significantly higher rate for their beans than the commodity market price. This allows them to feed their families consistently, and it also empowers farmers to thrive in their own business. “As Christians, we want to work with people who help to equalize the playing field,” says Kathleen. The farmers in the collective benefit from a direct trade model, which the Castelars refer to as “relationship coffee” because they work directly with the growers and know their names. This connection provides a supportive environment for farmers, who can work collaboratively with roasters and make decisions. The end result is rare and distinct beans that will satisfy the coffee connoisseur.
“When churches serve ethical coffee, it’s a real simple way of educating people about the global issues behind something we consume every single day and don’t even think about.” Nacho is one of the coffee farmers in El Salvador who supplies coffee to Firebat. He built his farm from the ground up in the early 2000s, collecting wild and abandoned coffee plants on a small plot of land. A few years later, he started planting an exotic variety of beans. With local support, he took the little that he had and submitted his rare coffee in national competitions – and he won several times. Each time, he reinvested his earnings into his farm. Nacho is now a successful farmer and his children can access post-secondary education. “Today, he is able to sell his beans directly to roasters and avoid the commodity market altogether,” says Leena. Brenda Halk, CBM’s Senior Associate of Strategic Projects, says, “While tackling injustice in our world can seem like a daunting task, swapping out your morning cup of java is a good place to start. Coffee is something almost all of us consume. When churches serve ethical coffee, it’s a real simple way of educating people about the global issues behind something we consume every single day and don’t even think about.”
CBM in EL Salvador CBM continues to work with partners in El Salvador towards children and youth programs, community transformation, water and sanitation, and sustainable agricultural development.
Collective of Farmers A collective of farmers in El Salvador produces coffee that uses sustainable, environmentallysound practices. The coffee is shade-grown and protects the forest and water resources. Farmers receive a fair share, and pickers are paid a day’s wage rather than by the pound.
Your Church When your church serves justice through your private label Collective Cup house blend, you demonstrate what you value: responsibility, integrity, community, fairness.
Serve it at Church When your church serves Collective Cup, you empower the collective in El Salvador. You also support CBM programs in El Salvador, such as building latrines. Visit cbmin.org for more information!
[top left] Rodrigo Giammattei (left) and Gustavo and Leena Castelar (right) are the founders of Firebat, a coffee roasting company that works directly with local farmers in El Salvador.
Be a Fashion Influencer
HOW TO SHOP WITH A CONSCIENCE by Sarah Peel
an educator, nothing compares to seeing my students’ eyes light up when I teach “My Clothes, My World,” a program about fashion, human rights and sustainability. Produced by Fashion Takes Action*, a Canadian non-profit organization that focuses on sustainability, the program offers a series of workshops that help students think critically about their shopping choices. I’ve often wondered why fashion and social justice resonates with boys as well as girls, from Grade 4 all the way up to Grade 12. I think it has to do with one simple fact: what we wear is fundamentally connected to how we explore and express our identity.
“… when students realize their collective consumer choices can influence the fashion industry – for the better – they are eager to get on board.” Youth are constantly plugged in to social media and pop culture, which influence their clothing choices. At the same time, school teachers help youth to engage with current issues: poverty, equity, climate change and the need to live more sustainably. These challenges are deeply important to today’s youth. And when students realize their collective consumer choices can influence the fashion industry – for the better – they are eager to get on board. In Christian circles, fashion isn’t a popular topic. We rarely discuss our style choices, except in relation to modesty, and
Visit fashiontakesaction.com for more information.
clothing doesn’t become top-of-mind unless we are organizing a donation drive in response to an emergency. Fashion is easily swept aside as materialistic fluff. But just like my students, I think the Church could get excited about fashion as a delivery method for justice work. Our society is addicted to cheap and disposable fashion. As a result, God’s creation and people are paying a high price. Let me paint a picture of the fashion industry and our relationship to it as consumers. • ENVIRONMENT: Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil. This encompasses water, air, waste and toxic chemicals. According to data sourced from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, if fashion were a country, it would be the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide. About 60 per cent of all clothing manufactured (including clothes that have not been purchased) are incinerated or sent to landfill within one year. • LABOUR: Fashion is one of the most labour-intensive industries, directly employing 60 million. About 80 per cent of these workers are women, and the majority of them do not make a living wage. This puts pressure on them to work overtime and to put up with unsafe working conditions and harassment. Moreover, it is estimated that more than 40 million people (including children) are living in modern slavery. They labour for various industries, but many of them are in the supply chains of Western fashion brands. • CONSUMERS: Globally, we purchased more than 107 billion items of clothing and 14.5 billion pairs of shoes in 2016. That amounts to 13 items of clothing and two pairs of shoes per person in one year. But, of course, most of that is consumed in wealthy countries. The average in the United States, for example, is 52 items a year. According to a store exit survey of 1,000 people, Greenpeace found that 66 per cent of shoppers lost the “buzz” of buying something new within a few moments to a day.
“Fashion influence isn’t just for an elite crowd. We all wear clothes, so we can all make a difference. And you can start today.” Although this picture seems bleak, there is good news. You can help fight injustice by simply paying attention to how you shop, wear, care and part with your clothes. Here’s how to get started on your very own ethical wardrobe: • SHOP: Do it less, and when you need something, shop secondhand first. If you need to buy new, try to make your purchase from a mainline retail brand that has a better rating for ethics and environment on the Good on You app, the DoneGood browser extension, or the Labour Behind the Label report, produced annually by Baptist World Aid in Australia. If you’re shopping less, you may have more money to invest in local, fair trade or sustainable brands. To start, try one of the growing number of brands for ethical basics, such as Canadian retailer Kotn or Everlane.
FAITH & FASHION There are many global brands making strides in the areas of human rights and sustainability. Here are some grassroots examples of Christian entrepreneurs who are making a difference.
1 BRAVE SOLES: As the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, Christal Earle had been working alongside a community of garbage dump workers in the Dominican Republic when she noticed wasted tires piling up. In 2017, she came up with a solution: use the tires to make soles for beautiful handmade shoes – improving the environment and creating local jobs in the process. bravesoles.life · @bravesoles.life on Instagram
2 CITIZENNE: Recognizing there was an education gap between sustainable living, fashion consumption habits and authentic self-expression, Sarah Peel launched Citizenne last year. The organization offers a new kind of personal styling consultancy – one that empowers women to build a great wardrobe that aligns with their values for fairness, sustainability and affordability. citizennestyle.com · @citizennestyle on Instagram
• WEAR: The most sustainable thing, of course, is to use what you already have. About 80 per cent of the clothes in our closets are unused or forgotten. Take time to rummage through your wardrobe – you’ll be surprised by the “new” discoveries you’ll find. You can also accessorize or wear your clothes in different ways. Once you have a few winning ensembles, be a proud outfit repeater. • CARE: You can extend the life of your clothing by washing in cold water and air-drying. If there is a stain, learn how to remove it. If you get a broken zipper or rip in the wrong place, take your item to a tailor or fix it yourself. Try to avoid dry cleaning, as the solvents are incredibly toxic to you, the workers and the planet. Instead, wash your clothes gently or take them to a professional wet cleaner. • PART: No clothes or textiles should go to landfill to rot and release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. As long as it is clean and dry, even holey socks and underwear can be donated. These items will not be resold at your local Value Village, but they can be repurposed in upholstery stuffing or insulation. Even shoes that are missing a pair can be reunited with matches through the mind-boggling brokerages of the global used-clothing industry. Fashion influence isn’t just for an elite crowd. We all wear clothes, so we can all make a difference. And you can start today.
1 2 3 4
3 FRANCIS + BENEDICT: God ignited Katie Walters’ heart for the women of Togo when she visited the West African country in 2015. Francis + Benedict, which produces the most fantastic skirts, is the marriage of Katie’s love for well-made, fashionforward clothing and seeing women worldwide excel at what God has called them to. francisandbenedict.com · @francisandbenedict on Instagram
4 JUST ONE: When Krista Jefferson, photographer and blogger, Sarah Peel is a sustainability educator, social entrepreneur and self-taught stylist located in Toronto. She is also the founder of Citizenne, a collective of women who offer ethical fashion consultancy.
won a trip to Uganda, she had the opportunity to spend time with former child soldiers. During this trip, she also purchased some handmade jewelry made by a young single mother supporting her family. When she returned to Canada, Krista discovered that others wanted to buy beautiful accessories to support artisans like the woman she met – and Just One was conceived. iamjustone.ca · @shopjustone on Instagram
A Truth that Hurts J
ustice is one of the attributes of our Creator. The very one whose Word is the foundation of our lives. Do we truly believe in justice? Because if justice is one of God’s own attributes, an intricate part of the being of God, then it’s kind of a big deal. The injustice and abuse that occurred at Canada’s residential schools between the late 1800s and the early 1990s is widely known in our nation. In fact, elementary and high school students across Canada are now learning about this dark part of our history. When the truth was uncovered, many Canadians felt despair because they didn’t know about these schools. And it’s true. Most Canadians were not aware. Some lived near First Nations communities, had Indigenous friends and wondered where they went to school. But most folks were blissfully ignorant. Today, many Canadians are outraged that the Canadian government withheld this information from them. They are appalled to learn of the atrocities perpetrated on Indigenous children in residential schools. As an Indigenous person, I live with first-hand experience of the ongoing inter-generational damage, which is the legacy of these residential schools.
S E E K I N G J U S T I C E F O R C A N A D A’ S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES by Cheryl Bear
That’s why I cannot write about justice without thinking about all the ways that injustice has been perpetrated on Indigenous peoples in Canada. As such, there is another legacy that needs owning up to – the Doctrine of Discovery. Beginning in 1452 through a series of papal bulls, edicts issued by Pope Nicholas V, Christian monarchs and their explorers were granted the right to “conquer Saracens and pagans and consign them to perpetual servitude.” One of the terms used in these edicts is Terra Nullius (“nobody’s land”). This essentially meant that if explorers found land but did not find a recognized monarch, they could consider the land empty. This ideology is part of the Canadian DNA. The Canadian government has yet to renounce this racist doctrine and adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It would not be prudent for me to write about justice in Canada without talking about Colten Boushie who was shot in the back of the head by a white farmer who did not even get charged with wrongful discharge of a weapon. He walked away completely unscathed, while Colten’s family stands around his grave with many unanswered, legitimate questions – along with the grief and injustice that now permeate their lives.
“My friends, it’s not enough to learn about the residential schools and say, ‘Phew, thank God the Prime Minister apologized for that.’ An apology is only worthy if it is followed by changed behaviour.”
was ruled unsuspicious. How can that be unsuspicious? Even more outrageous, the inquiry noted there was a young woman whose death was reported unsuspicious even though she had been shot in the back. Closer to home, a friend of mine recently sent me a message about an incident involving her son. He was in an altercation and ended up fighting for his life. The person who put him in the intensive care unit (ICU) was later released from custody. Horrifically, the brother of the man in the ICU, who was a witness to the crime, was immediately arrested and put in jail – for being “Indian on a sunny day,” as we say. Are you beginning to feel some of the injustice Indigenous peoples in Canada live with every day?
“That’s why I cannot write about justice without thinking about all the ways that injustice has been perpetrated on Indigenous peoples in Canada. As such, there is another legacy that needs owning up to – the Doctrine of Discovery.”
When I share these truths, I get pushback. People don’t want to hear the truth about Canada because it messes with our national identity of right-ness and good-ness. We smugly say, “Well, at least we’re not as bad as the U.S.” My friends, it’s not enough to learn about the residential schools and say, “Phew, thank God the Prime Minister apologized for that.” An apology is only worthy if it is followed by changed behaviour. Let’s acknowledge that there is much more that needs to be done. If we believe in a God of justice, what do we need to change? We begin by asking Indigenous leaders, scholars and Elders. Therein lies the way of justice. The more we push the truth away, the more we push our very Creator away.
Then there is the case of Tina Fontaine. A 15-year-old Indigenous girl who was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. Murdered. The person who killed her, again, walked away. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls noted that the deaths of many Indigenous women are ruled, “unsuspicious.” No one hears about this except the families. This does not get national press. I heard the findings of the inquiry shortly after reading a news report about a young Indigenous woman who was found naked in a ditch an hour outside of her northern community. Her death
Dr. Cheryl Bear of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation is CBM’s Indigenous Relations Specialist. Based in Vancouver, she is also an award-wining singer/songwriter and educator who inspires churches to seek reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
NEW A DV EN T R ESOU RCE NOW AVA IL A BL E! The resources are available at agoodway.ca alongside the Walking Together in a Good Way resource.
There is no better time to walk the good way than during the days leading up to our Creator Jesus’ birth. Peace, hope, love, joy and light lay the groundwork for moving towards wholeness. This season, we invite Canadian Baptists to celebrate Advent from an Indigenous perspective. To hear an Indigenous voice and song. To learn; to experience Creator Grandfather’s love and strength; to understand and to heal together; to rejoice and to welcome Creator Jesus with an Advent of Reconciliation.
We hope that this resource will bring a whole new light to this special time – an awakening, a new dawn – during the period of waiting.
You’ll find everything you need for Advent: 1. Reflection Slides Use these for worship software other than PowerPoint. 2. PowerPoint Presentation For churches that prefer to use PowerPoint. 3. Reflection Videos For added impact, watch these during Advent services alongside the readings. 4. Advent Bulletin PDF versions of the Advent readings that can easily be printed.
Plead the Cause A C A L L T O S TA N D AGAINST INJUSTICE by Laurena Zondo
What is “doing justice” all about? Should Christians be more engaged in advocacy? Mosaic is pleased to present part two of a conversation on urban poverty, compassion and justice with Dr. Rick Tobias, Community Advocate with Yonge Street Mission in Toronto.
MOSAIC: YOUR ENTIRE CAREER YOU’VE WORKED ON THE FRONTLINES OF POVERTY IN CANADA IN VARIOUS COMPASSIONATE MINISTRIES. BUT NOW YOU’RE SAYING THAT COMPASSION IS NOT ENOUGH – WE NEED TO MOVE BEYOND IT TO JUSTICE AND ADVOCACY. WHY THE SHIFT?
RICK: I believe in the church’s compassionate ministries. I have spent my whole life involved in compassionate service. However, compassion in and of itself does not bring to light the underlying causes and forces that severely limit the options available to the poor and marginalized. When we begin to ask what constrains the options available to the poor, we begin to touch on issues of injustice and justice. As a teenager, working in Saint John’s Crescent Valley, I heard stories of inner city children who would fall asleep in class each morning because they came to school hungry – only to become hyper, bouncing off the walls, after they “lunched” on penny candy and pop, the only lunch available for many. By the time I was 16, I realized the deck was stacked against people trapped in chronic poverty. I didn’t understand all the dynamics, but the inequality was clear. Reasonable nutrition, education and health care are but a few of the “universal benefits” belonging to all Canadians that somehow don’t quite make it to the poorest of the poor. In 1989, all political parties in Canada voted to end child poverty by the year 2000. We didn’t come close to achieving that goal and the impact of
that failure can, and often does, scar children for their whole life. Child poverty is, biblically, a justice issue. Then there is the grave injustice faced by First Nations people who have been dispossessed – they not only lost their stakehold in the land, but they lost their land. In the Old Testament, God mandated his people to practise a “jubilee” whereby every 50 years those who lost their land get it back because it is their stakehold in society. Those who have land, or own their own homes, have more power and influence in their society. In Canada, we have a whole nation of people who lost their land. We took it and have never declared a jubilee. In Nova Scotia, there is the Black community who’ve been dispossessed in a whole different way: we took them from their land. I don’t think we yet fully understand the multi-generational impact of these injustices – not to mention the continuing impact of residential schools, forced assimilation, racism, police profiling, to name but a few. The “dispossessed” is but one term the Bible uses to describe a people who have been denied justice. There are no easy answers and it’s hard to honestly engage in meaningful dialogue … Justice is much harder than compassion.
MOSAIC: AND MORE DANGEROUS.
RICK: Yes, more dangerous! It irritates people and raises issues. Over the years, I’ve sat with numerous corporate leaders; there’s always been a struggle … what do I call them to? What is the journey I invite them to take? In the early days, I just wanted them to give some money so we could run our programs – I wanted a compassionate response. Later, as relationships grew, there were conversations about ethics and what might be different. There were economic conversations about fair wages and shared values and issues that quickly went over my head. It’s a scary thing to risk funding and relationships, but the conversations need to continue and evolve.
“Does our church have a reasoned position on Canada’s dispossessed peoples? Can we live with the fact there may need to be a lot more ‘Truth Telling’ before we get to the ‘Reconciliation’?” Maybe we begin by using our pulpits and pastoral relationships to raise questions like, “How much is enough?” Maybe we move beyond a minimum wage discussion and ask questions about a living wage. Dare we ask about the work conditions and hourly wages of the nannies who tend our children? Or what is our ethical response when candy manufacturers tell us they “cannot” guarantee that our chocolate is not child labour free? Does our church have a reasoned position on Canada’s dispossessed peoples? Can we live with the fact there may need to be a lot more “Truth Telling” before we get to the “Reconciliation”? Do we have the courage to face issues of injustice head on? Maybe one of the dangers is that we have to face ourselves.
MOSAIC: A LOOK IN THE MIRROR – THAT DOES TAKE COURAGE! CAN YOU SPEAK MORE ABOUT THAT?
RICK: We have all been victims of injustice at some point in life, usually a personal injustice – someone has cheated us or we have been bullied, excluded, or a victim of crime or corporate fraud. Some of us have experienced a more institutional or systemic injustice – we were caught up in the Sixties Scoop or became a victim of abuse at the hands of clergy, teachers, coaches, orphanage workers, youth leaders, etc. Perhaps we have all been the wounded sheep Ezekiel talks about when he calls down wrath on the shepherds who fail to protect and heal the sheep. (Ezekiel 34:2-4) Perhaps our experience has made us overly focused on our rights or we’ve become impatient and uncaring towards others. Or perhaps our attitude is, “I survived, why can’t they?” Conversely, we have all been oppressors who have hurt others. Maybe we cheated in our business practices, overcharged for our products and services. Maybe our retirement fund is a little fatter because of unethical products – like those that use slave or nearslave labour? If one’s full-time salary is not enough to live on, is that not slave labour? Maybe we harbour racist or sexist attitudes that we fear will surface if we get too close to the issues. Ezekiel suggests that it is not simply the rich and powerful that commit injustice; the “people” are also guilty. (Ezekiel 22:25-29) As Ray Bakke (a leader in urban ministry) says, “Until our heart is liberated by Jesus, we will all be oppressors.” The Bible uses at least 40 different Hebrew and Greek words to describe the various forms of injustice we inflict on each other. Injustice is, in and of itself, a major body of biblical literature that we have skillfully avoided. Knowing our own shortcomings, maybe it is easier to shy away from social justice and lose ourselves in “personal spirituality.” Yet despite our own scars and sins we are called to stand against injustice and to stand for justice.
“Getting personally close to people who suffer injustice helps us to better understand the issues. We can all find a way to volunteer and serve.”
MOSAIC: FOR A CHURCH THAT WANTS TO MOVE FROM COMPASSION TO JUSTICE, WHAT IS SOMETHING PRACTICAL THEY CAN DO? HOW CAN THEY BEGIN?
RICK: First and foremost, as people of faith, we pray. Perhaps the core of our prayer is that God will soften our hearts towards individuals and groups who have been victimized by injustice. Perhaps we pray that God anoints us with the grace to see the beauty and worth of all people. Dare we pray all life will be precious to us? Secondly, we study, starting with the Scriptures. How much personal time or pulpit time is given to issues of justice or even compassion? Quite bluntly, I think that given the enormous amount of Scripture – something like 2,000 references dedicated to the issue of poverty – churches should tithe their pulpit time and other teaching times. If you have 100 sermons a year, let 10 of them touch on issues of poverty, compassion and justice. Thirdly, we need to have actual involvement. Getting personally close to people who suffer injustice helps us to better understand the issues. We can all find a way to volunteer and serve. And out of our actions should come some questions for reflection: Who are the poor and oppressed in our community? What are the injustices they face? What is God calling us to? And finally, speak! Recently, Cheryl Bear (CBM’s Indigenous Relations Specialist) posted a quote shared by Melissa McEwan (founder of a political and cultural blog): “There are times when you must speak, not because you are going to change the other person, but because if you don’t speak they have changed you.” We stand in the great prophetic preaching tradition of the evangelical Church. How can we be silent?
MOSAIC: WHAT ABOUT CHURCHES THAT FIND IT HARD TO CONSIDER ADVOCACY OR MAYBE FEEL THAT IT IS TOO POLITICAL, THAT CHRISTIANS SHOULDN’T BE INVOLVED?
RICK: The gospel doesn’t force us to engage; it invites us. So we have the right to disengage or remain disengaged. However, we can’t ignore one of the largest bodies of biblical teaching and still claim to be living a biblical faith. Again, almost 2,000 verses of Scripture call us to action. In calling us to justice and to advocacy, the Bible focuses on four groups beyond all others – aliens, widows, orphans and the poor – who are deemed most susceptible
to injustice and therefore are to be the prime recipients of our justice-related activities. This is not to suggest that other justice issues are of no consequence. We stand against injustice wherever and whenever it raises its evil head. Still there is a biblical understanding that these four groups are particularly prone to be excluded, preyed upon and deemed less than worthy. I wasn’t at Yonge Street Mission long when I learned that not all widows lost their husband to death and not all orphans lost their parents to death. Women become widowed when their men disappear or when they are forced to flee domestic violence. Children become orphaned when parental neglect or abuse leaves them to fend for themselves. Often the children we call “runaways” are, in truth, orphans. But it is interesting that the alien, stranger or foreigner are most often named first in God’s call to compassionate intervention. The Israelite did not get to say, “We care for our own first!” Biblical hospitality demanded that the sojourner in the land was first when care was to be extended – an interesting concept in an age when many contend to exclude the refugee! MOSAIC: THE PROPHETS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WERE ALWAYS CHALLENGING THEIR SOCIETY, THEIR PEOPLE, WITH GOD’S DESIRE TO SEE JUSTICE DONE. WHAT IS YOUR CHALLENGE TO THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY TODAY?
RICK: I think my number one challenge would be to “plead the cause.” King Josiah would be my example. In Jeremiah 22, we see that King Josiah lived a just life – he was personally just in all of his dealings. But we also see that he did justice. He intervened on behalf of the poor and oppressed. However, he not only acted, but out of his actions he spoke. He pled the cause; he became an advocate – for all of the oppressed and needy. He was active in addressing systemic injustices in his society. The message is clear. “He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me? declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 22:16) Perhaps our failure to speak gives birth to the question, “Do they know the Lord?” EDITOR’S NOTE:
The Winter 2019 issue of Mosaic featured the first part of the conversation with Rick Tobias. Visit cbmin.org/mosaic to read the full interview.
Christmas is a time of joy!
Our Hopeful Gifts for Change Gift Catalogue is an easy and fun way to do that. Get together with friends and family and shop together for Christmas gifts. Go solo and surprise your loved ones with gifts that change lives. Come together as a church community to bless a family in need across the world. With the Yuletide season fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to start checking things off your gift list!
It is a season to celebrate the hope, love, and peace that Jesus brings.
Choose gifts that align with the causes that move you. Look for these icons as you browse through the catalogue:
BUILD THE CHURCH
Shop online: 1. 2. 3. 4.
ORDER ONLINE: All gifts available at
Go to hopefulgifts.ca Select a cause. Put items in your cart. Once done, check out, input your details and hit “place order”.
KIDS AT RISK
Connect with us! Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get real-time updates and information about Hopeful Gifts for Change. Plus, check in regularly to see our featured Gift of the Week!
Get a booklet:
Get a copy of Hopeful Gifts for Change at your church or request one from firstname.lastname@example.org.
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photo: Johnny Lam
Unique Gifts for Teachers
CHRISTMAS CARDS Hopeful Gifts make the best Christmas gifts. When you order an item for a loved one, you can send them a Christmas card to let them know they’re helping others in need this season.
NEW IN 2019! LET US SEND YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR YOU! 1
Personalize your own Christmas cards online
Your Kids’ Teacher Can Go Global!
1. Choose from different images, Bible verses, and customize your 2 message.
Teachers make a difference in their students’ lives. With unique gifts for teachers, your kids’ educators not only impact their local community, they can also help those in marginalized communities in different parts of the world.
2. We will print and customize the envelope to the recipient’s address. 3. Canada Post will deliver the card straight to your loved one.
Each gift comes with a complimentary Christmas card.
To personalize and order your card/s online, visit hopefulgifts.ca
To personalize and order your card/s online, visit hopefulgifts.ca
GREAT new gift items!
$20 N -O ADDea! id
Stock a Fish Pond
Purchase a Bible
Give a whole community in India a pond of fish! This can serve as both food and source of income.
Help women in the Mising tribe in Nagaland India by gifting them with weaving materials. Proceeds from the sale of these traditional shawls help increase family income levels.
Gift the Lahu community in Thailand with a buffalo.
Make your animal gift even more sustainable by providing for all the work that goes with procuring and distributing animals, including training on sustainable husbandry.
Many churches in South Sudan hold services without access to Bibles. Gift partner congregations with Bibles so that church members can read the Word of God.
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK
8:30 A.M. TO 4 P.M.
TYNDALE UNIVERSITY 3377 Bayview Avenue, North York, ON
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE TIM CENTRE AND WORSHIP @ WORK
Early Bird Tickets
CBM 7185 Millcreek Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5N 5R4
NOVEMBER 23, 2019
R. PAUL STEVENS Professor Emeritus, Marketplace Theology and Leadership · Regent College AUTHOR OF:
Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace Seven Days of Faith: Every Day Alive with God Doing God’s Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Marketplace
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.
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