Spring 2018 A publication of Canadian Baptist Ministries
Embrace What You Believe
inside cover photo : Shannon Brisco
Spring 2018 contents
cover photo: Johnny Lam
A Matter of Distance: Hopeful Perseverance 3 Terry Talks: Seeing Light in the Darkness For more profiles, see page 8.
Drawing on Hope
ichelle* loves to study and wants to become a doctor. With the love, care and tutoring at Casa de la Amistad (Friendship House), she has a good start in realizing her dream. (Pictured above.)
The Casa is a place of refuge for some of the most vulnerable children in Bolivia – children who have an incarcerated parent. For poorer families with no other options, many of the young ones also live in prison with their parent(s), but are free to attend school and come and go during the day. It’s a precarious life and children are more susceptible to abuse and exploitation. The Casa provides a safe place to learn, play and grow, with early childhood education, afterschool activities and tutoring, counselling, health and hygiene training and medical care. The highlight of the day is a hot, nutritious meal. For many it will be their only meal. Care is also provided to older youth and parents, from life and vocational skills training to family counselling and spiritual guidance. Continued on page 8.
8 Drawing on Hope: A Photo Essay 12 A Celebration of Transformation: Children of Hope 16 My Grandfather’s Prayers: A Reflection 18 Beloved Women: Creating Community for Arab Women Refugees 20 SENT: A City Story Working Together in Mission
7185 Millcreek Drive Mississauga, ON l5n 5r4 Tel: 905.821.3533 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
* name has been changed
Managing Editor Jennifer Lau Art Director Gordon Brew
Seeing Light in the Darkness M
argaret Clarkson was born in Melville, SK, in 1915. Her childhood was marred with juvenile arthritis, convulsive vomiting, scoliosis and debilitating migraines. Her parents, she said, had a “loveless and unhappy marriage” which ended in divorce when she was 12 years old. She suffered in her adult life through countless surgeries, unbearable pain and endless medical treatments. She died in Toronto, lost in a world of dementia, at the age of 93. She was a school teacher, a poet, a children’s writer, an outdoor enthusiast and artist, but Margaret is most well-known, though, as one of the greatest Canadian hymn-writers of all time. Despite her physical infirmities and broken family relations, she embraced a vibrant faith in the sovereignty of God who calls his people into mission, as evident in many of her hymns, the most well-known of which are God of the Ages, History’s Maker and So Send I You. Hers was the music of missionfests for decades to come. In a lesser known hymn, Lord of the Universe, she penned these words: Lord of the Universe, hope of the world, How your creation cries out for release! Looks for you, longs for you, watches and waits, Prays for your kingdom of justice and peace, Maker, Redeemer, Triumphant One, come! Writing from a personal experience of pain and brokenness, Margaret captures an important part of the Christian doctrine of hope. In the dark places of our life, we do not despair. The Lord of the universe extends deliverance to us in our darkest places. By faith, we believe it. In the words of John Calvin, “Hope expects that He will show us His veracity at the opportune time.” We embrace hope. But what exactly is it we take hold of in this embrace? Is it an ephemeral glimpse that says, “If only…?” Is it a wink and a nod that reminds us to keep our chin up? Things will get better soon. A naïve optimism or a utopic longing? Margaret’s 37-word description of hope is perhaps as complete and biblical as one could find. Our hope, as Christ-followers, is rooted in the Eternal One, who is himself the hope of the world. All the cosmos cries out for the King and his rule of peace and justice to appear. We embrace the coming of the triumphant one. The Apostle Paul said it this way:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? [Romans 8:22-24] In our work around the world, we encounter hope-filled people on a daily basis. Young people in China are seeking to know the God of creation. Vulnerable children in Africa, many of them in childheaded households, want to know the love of God and find hope for tomorrow. Aymara women in the Bolivian Andes are learning about redemption and forgiveness. Child soldiers in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo are discovering that their life can be made anew. Refugees from Syria and Iraq have been given reason to hope because of the love of a Christian community. Drug addicts are finding victory through Christ in Northern Thailand. Each edition of Mosaic brings you a little closer to God’s work in the world. This issue focuses on embracing hope, with stories from across Canada and around the world. We are particularly honoured to welcome Ruth Padilla DeBorst, an esteemed Latin American theologian who has experienced times of deep hurt and darkness. She shares a biblical framework for hope, rooted in the truth that God in Christ suffers with us and is redeeming all of creation to himself. And this truth leads us to “step out of the values of our society, so ingrained in us … and into the lives of people who are oppressed and become channels of God’s light and life and love in their lives.” In the dark places of this world, we bring hope. The New Testament reminds us that we are also called to explain the hope that is in us. As Margaret Clarkson wrote in the same hymn: “May we who know you obey your command, go with the grace of your gospel to all, bringing salvation and freedom and joy.” “Hope is being able to see the light despite all the darkness.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
Terry Smith CBM Executive Director
A Matter of Distance HOPEFUL PERSEVERANCE by Ruth Padilla DeBorst
hey called from morning till noon. They shouted. They danced. And nothing happened. So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears. And no one answered. Midday passed and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response. No one answered. No one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:26-29) “Shout louder,” taunted Elijah, “surely he is a god! Perhaps he’s deep in thought, or busy, or travelling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (27) The issue at stake was one of distance. This so-called god the prophets of Baal were calling upon, where was he? How close to his people did he remain? How in touch with their needs was he? Theirs was a hopeless perseverance.
those people he mentions later in the poem – blind, poor, imprisoned, oppressed, fatherless? How can he be so sure of himself? Actually, he is NOT sure of himself. His confidence has little to do with himself and even less to do with the circumstances he experiences. He actually cautions that trust in people – no matter how powerful they may be – is a dead-end road. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (3-4)
Candidates to public office walk back streets, ride public transport, don worker’s helmets. The image of closeness, of in-touch-ness, is vital to their candidacy.
It reminds me of politicians today who, during election times, strive to be shown among the people whose votes they want. Maybe these things don’t happen in your part of the world… They definitely do in mine, here in Latin America! Candidates to public office walk back streets, ride public transport, don worker’s helmets. The image of closeness, of in-touch-ness, is vital to their candidacy.
I invite you to walk with me through the verses of the jubilant poem we know as Psalm 146 where we are again confronted with this key issue of distance. First, notice the invitation: “Praise the Lord!” (1) It’s an open invitation, to all who may hear. But it then becomes more personal: “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” The poet is talking to himself, prodding himself, “Hey, wake up! Don’t just go through life as if you owed it to no one! Praise the Lord!” He then affirms: “I WILL praise the Lord all my life. I WILL sing praise to my God as long as I live!” (2) Such conviction. How come? What if things go from good to bad and from bad to worse? What if he loses everything? What if his loved one is murdered, or raped, or tortured? What if he becomes one of
Princes, rulers, the powerful of the world, unless they echo God’s heart of justice, are sadly the ones most able to engender slavery, dependency, blindness, discrimination, oppression, violence and death. They are not to be trusted. They cannot save. The psalmist, probably a king, is not sure of himself – in spite of his power, abilities, expertise, position, professionalism. His only source of confidence is outside himself: it rests on God.
“Well,” we could respond, “those prophets of the opening story, they also trusted their god. And they shouted, called, and slashed themselves all day to no avail! In what way is our God any different? Who is this God of ours?” “God is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them,” answers the psalmist. By God’s word all things that exist began to exist. God is the source of all. And on God depend all forms of life. God is far beyond and far above. Absolute in the splendor of God’s majesty. “Exactly,” you could say, “you are proving my point. God may be powerful. God may have unmeasured strength. But God is so far removed; God will never hear. God will never stoop to hear the cries of our hurting humanity!” But this God is also the God of Jacob, the psalmist reminds himself. One who not only creates the world, but involves Jesus in it. God intertwines His purposes with the history of a people, the people of Israel, and with the nations of the world. This is the God who calls
a people to God’s-self in order to transform them and to provide conditions for abundant life for all. This is the God who knows the pain of the ancient Israelites in Egypt and acts to free them. This is the God who, time and time again, in spite of the betrayal and pride of those very same people, renews and re-renews the covenant established with them, and remains faithful to it in spite of the pain their infidelity causes Him. People lack strength and perseverance. God is always present with His people. People shrink from pain. God suffers His creatures’ plight along with them. It is not just that God empathizes with the pain of His people and creation but that God suffers. God does not need to be called, shouted to from afar, cajoled into taking a glimpse at humanity. God is always near. And, supremely in Christ, God takes on the pain of broken humanity. In his life and death, Jesus made known God’s heart of love, a heart pained by the impact of sin on God’s creation. God is especially attentive to the people least favored by man-made systems of power and wealth.
God does not need to be called, shouted to from afar, cajoled into taking a glimpse at humanity. God is always near. And, supremely in Christ, God takes on the pain of broken humanity.
GOD’S HEART IS TORN BY THE PLIGHT OF: • the oppressed – like the Israelites in Egypt and the Nicaraguan workers exploited in Costa Rica. Jesus lived and died to uphold their cause. • the hungry – like the Israelites in the desert and the children in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Jesus lived and died in order to feed them. • the prisoners – like Joseph, John and Paul and the bonded slaves in textile factories. Jesus lived and died to set them free. • the blind – like the one who sought Jesus out and the thousands blinded by malnutrition, by illness, by consumerism. Jesus lived and died to give them sight. • those who are bowed down – like the prostitute who cried at Jesus’ feet and the girls forced into brothels around the world. Jesus lived and died in order to lift them up. • the alien – like Daniel and his friends in Babylon, the immigrants in border detention centers, and the Syrian refugees in Lebanese camps. Jesus lived and died to watch over them. • the fatherless and the widows – like the one Elijah encountered and the children left behind by modern progress and the war machinery. Jesus lived and died to sustain them.
The sustainer of all people upholds, gives, sets free, gives sight, lifts up, loves, watches over. But God does so, not from the grand throne of heaven. God does it from the dusty roads of a lost corner of the world through a simple carpenter and his ragged band of followers. And God does it supremely from the cross, as a victim, as someone unjustly tried, made to bow down, and treated as the most despicable criminal. Yes! It is all a matter of distance. God comes SO close to humanity that God becomes one of us. And through that identification, and God’s sacrificial love, God breaks the ropes that bind us to death and sin and injustice and oppression. God’s is the final word: God frustrates the ways of the wicked, affirms the psalmist. Our broken world, however, often leads us to ask, “Is that so? Is that really so?” The pain around us, the horror of a world in rebellion against its creator, is so horrendous, so bottomless, so dark, that the more we see, the more tempted we are. Tempted to give up hope. Tempted to lose faith and close our doors. Tempted to deafen our ears to the cry of men, women and children whose voices are imperceptible over the din of our crowded cities, our busy towns, our rush to consume. Tempted to blind our eyes to signs of oppression and injustice underneath the slick varnish of progress and technology. Tempted to see only numbers, victims, “the poor”.
Tempted to remain distant and self-righteous donors. Tempted to see merely statistics and projects, and miss recognizing Jesus’ face in the children, women and men whose humanity and dignity are robbed from them daily. Tempted to protect ourselves from the risk of inquiring further, getting more personally involved, opening our homes, our churches, our borders to those our world considers disposable. How can we – unlike those prophets of Baal – live in hopeful perseverance in spite of all the difficulties? The psalmist can determine to praise God no matter what because he knows God loves no matter what. He knows he can determine to praise God no matter what because he knows God is powerful. He can determine to praise God no matter what because he knows God is always near. He knows he can determine to praise God no matter what because he knows God remains king forever and God’s rule of love will some day be fully established. Again, it is all a matter of distance: Jesus humbled himself into our skin, olive skin, and in so doing broke the power of sin over all of us. He freed us from the oppression of sin and its obsessive selfishness. We are now free to love God and others. We are free to step out of the values of our society, so ingrained in us: security, comfort, progress, success for me and my family. We are free to step out of ourselves into the lives of people who are oppressed and become channels of God’s light and life and love in their lives. We are free to see and hear. We are free to take on the pain of others and to persevere against all odds. We are free to act as human shields, to offer ourselves up in the place of others, to struggle for freedom and basic human rights. Free to stand and shout to the four winds that there is no ideology so right, no religion so holy, no race so superior that it is ever okay to efface God’s image in God’s beloved creatures. We are free to love God and all of our neighbours, no matter what, because our hope is grounded in who God is; in Jesus’ final victory over all forms of oppression and in the Spirit’s constant presence within us. Amen.
Ruth Padilla DeBorst has been involved in leadership development and theological education in Latin America and beyond for several decades. She is the Provost of The Center for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies (CETI) and serves on the board of the Latin American Theological Fellowship. She lives in Costa Rica.
Free to stand and shout to the four winds that there is no ideology so right, no religion so holy, no race so superior that it is ever ok to efface God’s image in God’s beloved creatures.
Drawing on Hope A P H OT O E S S AY Photos by Gordon Brew
Casa de la Amistad (Friendship House) is a CBM project that is helping to strengthen families and improve life – including re-integration into the community. “I pray to God that I can improve my family’s situation and my dad can get out of prison,” says a nine-year-old boy at the Casa. “If there was not this place, I do not know what we would do, but I know that God will never leave my family.”
Nicolás He is 5 years old. When he grows up he hopes to be a dentist.
All names have been changed
Valeria She is 9 years old. When she grows up she hopes to be a doctor.
Isabella She is 6 years old. When she grows up she hopes to be a lawyer.
Alejandro He is 8 years old. When he grows up he hopes to be a police officer.
MatĂas He is 8 years old. When he grows up he hopes to be a soldier.
photo: Johnny Lam
A Celebration of Transformation CHILDREN OF HOPE by Gordon King and Bob Bahr
Two years into the program, the participants chose the name “Children of Hope”. They encouraged us to adopt this name because they were convinced that God had given them capacities to live full and meaningful lives.
hildren of hope. The phrase might evoke images in your mind. Perhaps the children of hope are young athletes identified as future Olympians. Alternatively, they could be intellectual prodigies enrolled in special education programs at private schools. We might think of the sons and daughters of privileged families. They carry the burden of their parents’ hopes, dreams and drive for achievement. The common factor of these three descriptions is the exceptional nature of the children and the support they receive to fulfill their dreams. Canadian Baptists participated with a very different social group known as Children of Hope. Initially, we used the term “orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)” in Rwanda to identify them. Over a period of eight years, our project worked with almost 2,000 children and adolescents in three regions of the
country. They lived in conditions of extreme poverty and social isolation. Two years into the program, the participants chose the name “Children of Hope”. They encouraged us to adopt this name because they were convinced that God had given them capacities to live full and meaningful lives. How did we get there? The story is one of God’s spirit working through churches and leaders in Rwanda and Canada. It is a wonderful story of hope which we feel privileged to have witnessed.
THE BACKGROUND In 2003, we were members of a short-term mission team to Rwanda along with several other people from Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto and St. John’s. Our group met Pastor Jonas Biklimanao in a small church outside of the capital city of Kigali. The area was notable for its extreme poverty and lack of basic services. We had been invited to a mid-week worship service for 150 people living with HIV/AIDS. Our group was overwhelmed by the compassion and faith of people living under a death sentence (before the introduction of modern anti-retroviral medicines). After the service, Jonas took us to visit child-led households. He knew the children, the places where they lived, and their desperation. A child-headed household is a family unit composed of children (generally siblings). In most cases the eldest child assumed the role of leadership in the family. In Rwanda, the combined evils of the genocide against the Tutsi and the AIDS pandemic had resulted in the death of so many adults in the prime of life. When we visited in 2003, it was
estimated that there were 250,000 orphans and 60,000 child-led households in Rwanda. It was impossible to build and manage enough orphanages. Furthermore, we learned that many African church leaders had reservations about orphanages as western institutions that separated children from their communities. However, the massive number of orphans in Rwanda had overwhelmed traditional response mechanisms of families and communities. Left on their own, childheaded households faced issues of grief, isolation, vulnerability, abuse, under-nutrition, lack of education and extreme poverty. We carry memories of the children we visited. They struggled to simply eat. School was out of the question for most. They spent their days carrying water for neighbours and working as day labourers. Childheaded households were defenceless against the predatory actions of relatives and neighbours who took advantage of their lack of adult protection. Some households had been forced to sell the tin sheets from their roofs so that they could have food to eat. A family of four sisters told us that their only happiness was to cast their burdens on the Lord. A sister and brother shared that they lay awake at night listening for noises outside their home. Members of our group returned to Canada with broken hearts. We held the hope that we could do something meaningful and compassionate to offer support to these children. We prayed to God asking for a way forward that would be more than tokenism and “feel good” charity. Over the next three years, we returned separately to Rwanda along with representatives of other Canadian Baptist churches. These trips strengthened the conviction that God required actions of justice, mercy and faith. Bob’s church, West Vancouver Baptist, and Emmanuel Baptist in Saskatoon became the first congregations to join CBM’s STEP program in 2004 with partnerships in Rwanda. Both churches expressed the desire for involvement in a response to the needs of child-led households.
BEGINNING OF HOPE
HOPE TAKES ROOT
Our hope to come alongside child-led households faced significant barriers of distance, language, cultural differences, budget challenges and the limitations of our Rwandan denominational church partner. We were aware that the developing world is littered with a paternalistic legacy of projects started and abandoned by Westerners. We did not want to raise false hope.
Laura Ward’s ground-breaking research was published in a peer reviewed journal. After graduation, she once again sensed God’s call to return to Rwanda to move from research to project design. She worked with a Rwandan team including Andre Sibomana, Michel Nsengiyumva, Pastor Jonas and Rev. Gato Munyamasoko. They began a new round of discussions with children, community members, local authorities and Baptist leaders in order to establish a more comprehensive baseline for the project. The proposal that emerged was limited in its geographical concentration, but ambitious in its proposed outcomes. It included child-headed households and other vulnerable children in communities.
The answer to the desperate prayers of people sometimes begins with the unexpected call of a person who steps out to serve God in a new way. Laura Ward was a Master Degree student in public health in Scotland in 2006. She approached CBM about doing field research in Africa to complete her degree. Laura embraced the call to work with child-led households in Rwanda. Laura and her Rwandan colleagues followed the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in giving children the right to express their opinions and to tell their stories. Her qualitative research methodologies facilitated the perspectives of different groupings based on age, gender and circumstances. A total of 104 children participated through group play and arts-based research activities, individual interviews and household visits. The research findings were sobering. Members of child-led households faced daunting challenges including extreme poverty, shelter, nutrition, health care, isolation, gender-based abuse, exploitation, lack of educational opportunities and fear of the future. Yet there was an amazing resiliency in the children who had been forced to care for each other in difficult circumstances. If you go two days without food and the young ones are all crying, could you say “No” to a man who gives you 200 Rwandan francs (forty cents)? I am not proud of it; I hate it. But what else can I do? ~ Claudine, 19-year-old female, head of household. 2006.
The project planners proposed that Canadian Baptists work in three regions through a community-based and household approach with an emphasis on: • School fees for primary and secondary students. Vocational training for older youth. • The selection of adult mentors by each household. They would be trained and supervised. • Enrollment of project participants in the national health plan so that they could access medical care. • Provision of spiritual and psychosocial support. • A response to the most urgent needs of adequate shelter. • Training of older youth to participate in savings and loan groups. We felt a strong sense of hope as the project design took shape. However, the issue of funding was critical and urgent. The STEP churches took up the challenge. By the fall of 2006, West Vancouver Baptist Church and Emmanuel Baptist Church had committed substantial support to provide a foundation for the project. There was confidence that it could move forward. The days to come, we do not think about. But we pray to God because we don’t even know if we will still be alive. It is only God who maybe can know. The future, we ourselves do not think about, because we don’t even think that we will be alive. ~ Justice, 15-year-old male, head of household, 2006.
PROGRAM LAUNCH AND DEVELOPMENT The Children of Hope program functioned between 2007 and 2015 in three areas of Rwanda – Kigali Rural, Kibungo and Butare. Over this period of eight years almost 2,000 children and youth were direct beneficiaries. The project was a mustard seed that grew into a tree. Other NGOs adopted the model and utilized it in different regions of the country. Project staff were invited to consult with agencies of the Rwandan government. Local congregations in the three program areas experienced significant growth. People commented that these congregations were transforming their communities.
There were many challenges during this eight-year period. Hope was put to the test by dramatic increases in costs of education and health insurance. Budgets had to be revised at mid-year to cope with unexpected expenses. Crop failures and spikes in food prices required special assistance. Vocational training along with savings and loan groups became increasingly important in helping households reach a level of sustainability. Legal action was required to protect abused children. The problem of adequate housing never went away. In retrospect, we realize that we underestimated the trauma and emotional wounds that required healing. There was always the feeling that we could have done more. The work that was accomplished was based on God’s grace. A network of adult mentors visited each household weekly to provide support and encouragement. Though never paid for their sacrificial services, the mentors were committed to their role and formed an important and enduring support network for the young families. Local community volunteers made bricks and participated in repairing homes. There were many other organizations and individuals who significantly contributed to the development of the Children of Hope program. We look back and celebrate that many of these children grew up to become university graduates, small business owners, veterinarians, teachers and police officers. Most are active Christians involved in local churches. But every good development project must come to an end. It is difficult to leave people with whom you have worked and built
relationships. This project had involved around 2,000 Children of Hope, adult mentors, local Baptist congregations, communities, and government officials. The Children of Hope program staff members, led by Esperance Niyigena, worked on an exit strategy over a three-year period. In 2016 the project moved to three new locations in Rwanda. We praise God for taking the hopes and dreams of many people and fashioning them into a meaningful witness to his rule. We leave the last words to a young woman named Rachel. She had been the eldest child of a child-headed household in Kigali Rural. She learned to be a tailor, fashion designer and sewing machine mechanic through the program. She was grateful to West Vancouver Baptist for providing her with a sewing machine. Within a few years, Rachel became a mentor to other households. She shared her story with a group of Canadians and closed with the following words: “Do not feel sorry for us. We are children of hope.”
Gord King recently retired from his role as CBM’s Resource Specialist and continues to teach and write. Bob Bahri was the Lead Pastor of West Vancouver Baptist Church for seven years, a position he retired from in 2008. He is now serving as their Pastoral Care Coordinator.
My Grandfather’s Prayers A REFLECTION
by Cheryl Bear
I write this, I’m sitting in my room in my community, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, at my late Grandpa Alec George’s house. Growing up, I spent many summers here and weekends in the winter. Grandpa’s house was our house and we were always welcome. There are memories of him all over the place. Last year, we tore down the old shed that held the winter’s wood for 70 years. My Grandpa built it well! I kept most of the shed panels to turn into a keepsake. Grandpa also had a 4x8 that he fashioned into a bench beside the house. There he would sit, with a great view of Nadleh River, the bridge and the mountain. He would watch us as we played soccer and baseball well into the warm, summer nights with our cousins from all over the Rez. Up north it stays light out forever! But one of my favourite memories is getting water from the river. Up until 1980, homes here had no running water. So Grandpa would take a barrel on his truck and dip it into the river. It sat in the kitchen – full of water for cooking, cleaning (dishes, the house and us) and drinking. There was a dipper hung from a nail in the wall to get water. It was good, clean water! There is also a big dipper in the sky. It was the only constellation I could ever find. People would point out other clusters of stars and try to make some sense of them to me, but they never looked like anything. But that dipper, I knew that dipper!
When the water started running from taps in the house, the barrel and the dipper were gone. The only thing left is the memory of them and the nail hole. My Grandpa worked hard all of his life. After Grandma died (when my mom was four years old) he raised his children as a single dad. He was well respected and a good example to many in the community. He was the first to buy a TV and a new car. When the weather dropped down into the -40’s, he would take the battery out of the car and bring it into the house for the night, to make sure it started so he could get to work. The closest “big” town is Vanderhoof, a half hour east. During the 1970’s there was a sign in a local business that said, “No Indians Allowed.” This is a shocking part of Canadian history. Shocking to me is that it was in my lifetime. We tend to believe segregation and racism only happened in the 1950’s, deep in the American South, but it was alive and well here as well. Another shocking part of Canadian history is the abuse of Indigenous students of the residential schools. They eventually won one of the world’s largest class action suits, against the Canadian Government. As part of their settlement, they asked for an apology and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), based on the South African model after apartheid.
nadleh photos : tommy alley
What gives me hope is to see change happening in my lifetime. Today no one would tolerate a sign saying, “No Indians Allowed” on a public building. But sometimes these signs still exist in the hearts of Canadians. [inset] Alec George, Cheryl Bear’s grandfather.
In 2008, residential school survivors received an apology from the Prime Minister of Canada. Unfortunately many, like my Grandpa, did not live long enough to hear this apology. I wonder what he would have thought about this. I was a witness at many TRC events held across Canada where former students shared their stories. Horror stories, mostly. Some of the disciplinary actions taken against Indigenous children can only be called torture. (Hear their stories at www.trc.ca) What gives me hope is to see change happening in my lifetime. Today no one would tolerate a sign saying, “No Indians Allowed” on a public building. But sometimes these signs still exist in the
hearts of Canadians. We have work to do to raise awareness of Indigenous worldview, culture and values because reconciliation starts in learning of the people whose land we are on. Thanks to the courage and tenacity of our Elders who never gave up the struggle to hold Canada accountable, we are living in a new day and the journey of reconciliation can begin. I remember my Grandpa when I look at the Nadleh River, this beautiful land, and the big dipper in a starlit sky. My Grandpa had a strong faith. I know he prayed for me and our beautiful Nadleh Whuten’ne. I believe that we are living in the days of answered prayers of our ancestors and that gives me great hope.
Dr. Cheryl Bear is a CBM Strategic Associate Field Staff, as well as an award-winning singer/songwriter and educator. In her capacity as Indigenous Relations Specialist, Cheryl is helping to educate and inspire churches to seek reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
Beloved Women C R E AT I N G C O M M U N I T Y FOR ARAB WOMEN REFUGEES
photo : ruby gatiera
by Anne Drost
Beloved Women comes alongside and helps Arab women understand their new Canadian culture and walks with them through all the things they need to learn.
“Our mission is that women learn that they are unique, loved by God, able to love and be loved, and ultimately reconcile with themselves, God and society.”
it Al Habayeb (Beloved Women) is a relatively new outreach ministry to Arab women in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who have found their way to Canada. These resilient women come from across the North Africa and Middle East region and are predominately Muslim. Eliane Massaad, the founder and chair, first began this ministry in her home country of Lebanon, before her family immigrated to Canada over 10 years ago. In Beirut, the ministry flourished with over 300 women benefitting. When she moved to Canada, she saw the same need. “God gave me the promise that Beloved Women could be part of my life in Canada, too. So many Arab women in the GTA didn’t have any support group to help them adjust to Canadian life. Beloved Women could bring hope to refugee women in Canada the way it had in Beirut.” Coming to Canada as a refugee is immensely challenging for anyone. There is new language, culture, food and customs to learn. The challenges are great especially for a woman who doesn’t have a job. “Children will be in school, a husband will find work and the woman is often left alone.” Beloved Women comes alongside and helps Arab women understand their new Canadian culture and walks with them through all the things they need to learn. “It usually takes between two to three years to integrate in a new society and begin to feel at home …it is helpful to have a place where you feel comfortable and at home to share the needs and challenges of everyday life.” Beloved Women provides that safe space for Arab women to tell their stories and find where they can get appropriate help, such as with health concerns, psychological needs, parenting challenges and
[left] Eliane Massaad, the founder and chair of Beloved Women.
other family issues. One mother left alone to care for her disabled child simply needed someone to talk to and a place where she could come and have respite for a few hours. Another woman had three children and was expecting her fourth. Her husband gambled and drank heavily and was abusive to her. The police were called, and so was Eliane. After the woman’s husband was imprisoned, Eliane provided care for the woman and continued to pray and share the gospel with her and the family. So far, Beloved Women has helped to bring hope and healing to over 200 women in the GTA. “Our mission is that women learn that they are unique, loved by God, able to love and be loved, and ultimately reconcile with themselves, God and society.” The organization now seeks to grow into a training centre where women can develop their abilities and reach their full potential. “Vocational training is a big need as most refugee women are poor …Arab women are amazing cooks and if they can somehow be helped to start a business (restaurant, catering, etc.), it would be helpful.” Currently, Beloved Women runs programs in Milton and Mississauga, in spaces that are easily accessible by public transit. They are also exploring opportunities in other cities. Volunteers are always welcome, especially those who can help with children, games, teaching (such as sewing, quilting, makeup/nails or English conversation), photography, fundraising, etc. Learn more at www.belovedwomenorg.com
Anne Drost is CBM’s Central Canada Representative, helping local churches in Ontario and Quebec connect with God’s work in other parts of the world. She has served with CBM for over 28 years in different capacities and continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of mission in any context.
photos : jon williams
SENT: A City Story by Stephanie Vizi
THREE CHU RCH E S IN H A MILTO N , O N TA RI O, D I SCOV ER A WAY TO WO RK TOGETHER I N MISSION . IT L E D TH E M H A LF WAY ARO U N D T HE WO RL D TO L EB A N ON .
his past March, a team of eight from three churches in Hamilton travelled to Lebanon to serve at a children’s day camp for Syrian refugee children along the Lebanon and Syria border. It’s a fascinating story of local and international partnership that has been growing among churches in the Hamilton area. The Lebanon connection began in 2016, when Leanne Friesen, Lead Pastor at Mount Hamilton Baptist, approached Wentworth Baptist Church and Little Bethel Community Church to partner with them in STEP [Serving, Training, Energizing Partnerships] - a CBM program that moves beyond the traditional ‘pay and pray’ funding model and facilitates a meaningful relationship between Canadian churches and international partners in the developing world. At the time, each of the three churches was looking for a meaningful way to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. Mount Hamilton is one of the city’s major churches with a congregation of over 300. As the leader, Leanne realized it would be difficult for smaller churches like Wentworth (avg. 75) and Little Bethel (avg. 30) to commit to STEP’s financial requirement of
$10,000 per year for three years, as well as the required short-term ministry trip to meet and serve alongside their international church partner. So, they asked, “Why not do this together?” Seán McGuire, Lead Pastor of Wentworth Baptist, agreed. He saw how the joint STEP partnership would create opportunities to serve in corners of the world previously unreachable to his congregation. “We were hearing about the Syrian refugee crisis and wondering, ‘How can we be God’s hands and feet in the midst of these crises that are happening in the Middle East?’ and then Lebanon came up.” Debbie Iverson, lead pastor of Little Bethel, was also on board and thankful for such an opportunity. “Little Bethel is a small church. We could never be a blessing like this,” she said, tearfully. “We have been given the possibility and Little Bethel is very grateful to be part of the blessing.” On a previous pastor’s trip to Lebanon, Leanne saw the plight of refugees and learned about the struggles of the host country overwhelmed with the large numbers in their midst and the challenges of historic animosities between Syrians and Lebanese – Syria sought to weaken the Lebanese government for regional
“We were hearing about the Syrian refugee crisis and wondering, ‘How can we be God’s hands and feet in the midst of these crises that are happening in the Middle East?’”
control, fuelling a 15-year civil war (1975-1990), the invasion of Lebanon in 1976 and the occupation of the country for 29 years (until 2005).
short-term ministry trip to Lebanon and ultimately created deeper connections spanning a city and tangible relationships across the world.
Currently, there are over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a small country with a total population of 6.2 million. As a result, the Church has stepped in to fill the gaps. “It was the Christian Church in Lebanon that said we have to meet this need and what’s really incredible is that they’ve had to love their enemies,” says Leanne, who witnessed this love firsthand during her trip.
This is Mount Hamilton’s second STEP partnership [its first was in Kenya], but it’s their first joint partnership. “It’s just been better with others. It’s been about what it means to be thinking about the kingdom and not our own work. And to see all kingdom work as our work. To see Wentworth and Little Bethel thriving in mission is really exciting for us,” says Leanne.
With the STEP partnership, 75 percent of the Canadian church’s contribution is allocated to areas of focus determined by CBM in consultation with the international partner and 25 percent of funds go directly to the area of focus chosen by the Canadian church partners.
STEP has also renewed her congregation’s enthusiasm for global mission, which had been dwindling in recent years. “I never thought I’d hear members of our church saying, ‘Did you hear what’s happening in Lebanon?’”
The Hamilton churches chose the day camps, led by Baptist Children and Youth Ministry (BCYM), because there are over 250,000 Syrian refugee children [Human Rights Watch] who are without education in Lebanon. The Lebanese government does not provide education to children in refugee camps. The day camps provide a crucial place for kids to learn, play and experience God’s love and care. The mission team looked forward to serving with BCYM, who run the camps almost every week of the year, and were in much need of a respite. The three Hamilton churches worked together to organize bake sales, music nights and soup Sundays to raise funds; planned a
Seán was co-leader of this year’s mission trip to Lebanon. It was his first short-term mission and he was thrilled to be able to share in the experience with his wife Jessica, who is the Youth Pastor at Mount Hamilton. Prior to becoming Lead Pastor at Wentworth, he interned as a student pastor under Leanne’s leadership at the church. But the connection doesn’t end there. Nearly a century ago, Wentworth Baptist, a downtown church, planted Mount Hamilton, on top of the city’s escarpment. “It’s been fantastic to serve alongside [the other churches],” says Seán. “It’s not just the story of our church, it’s the story of a few churches in Hamilton. It becomes a city story and a witness to the unity of the church, which in our day and age is a pretty important witness.”
TrueCity Hamilton Doing Local Mission Together The STEP partnership is not the first time these three churches (Mount Hamilton, Wentworth, Little Bethel) have banded together to serve. Every Christmas, they work together to fill hampers for those in need. This past year, they were inspired to expand their hamper program from 130 local hampers to include 30 hampers for those struggling in their Lebanese partner church’s congregation. They are among the 17 churches in Hamilton that work together through a movement called TrueCity – a shared vision for local churches to collaborate for the good of the city. Some of their initiatives have included work on the downtown bike lane development, running Ride for Refuge in support of ministries that serve the vulnerable and hosting an annual conference. The Hamilton City Council
has even been known to call upon a TrueCity representative to speak on behalf of the Church, from time to time. Wentworth Baptist’s TrueCity connection inspired the congregation to renovate its manse and begin a partnership with Micah House to give large refugee families coming to Canada access to affordable short-term housing. TrueCity is the reason I call Hamilton home, says Leanne Friesen, lead pastor at Mount Hamilton Baptist, and chair of this year’s TrueCity Conference. “I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a city where there’s such a deep and intentional camaraderie between churches…a sense of collective mission.” It was TrueCity partnerships that inspired Leanne to imagine the joint STEP partnership with Little Bethel and Wentworth. “[TrueCity] taught us to ask: Is there a way we can do this together?”
Stephanie Vizi is a documentary producer, filmmaker and journalist based in Toronto. Stephanie has traveled to remote villages in Southern Africa and Northern Indigenous communities to document portraits of the resilience of the human spirit. Her documentary short, Mistissini Healing was released last year.
RESHAPE your world?
Be SENT We are sent as Godâ€™s people living up to and into the call to be disciples in a world of injustice Be SENT out Challenge yourself to immerse, serve and learn in another culture
CURRENT TRIPS Bolivia
June 28 â€“ July 12, 2019
Dominican Republic March 2019
Be SENT back Become an advocate and put faith into action in your own community
Seize the opportunity Experience how to truly embrace what you believe
May - July 2019
Philippines Intensive For more information or to apply go to
Be a Champion! What does it take to become a CBM Champion? WHO? Champions are passionate advocates for global mission. Maybe you’re part of the mission committee or have had a life-changing short-term mission experience. No matter what your background may be, if you love mission, you’re the right person for this job. WHAT? The role of a Champion is to be the connector between your church and us. You can help ensure that CBM is producing relevant and useful media to support your church’s mission engagement. We want to hear from you what works and what doesn’t. Which campaigns your church wants to take part in. Need a video? Bulletin insert? Banners for your website? We want to know. WHY? We know that your pastor has multiple time commitments and other priorities. Champions help highlight important initiatives and make announcements about upcoming campaigns that your church can get involved with. WHEN? Successful Champions are dedicated people who are willing to make a long-term commitment. We ask every Champion for a two-year initial term, renewable annually after that. Having one person identified within your congregation as the CBM Champion enables your pastor and church to know who to ask about all CBM-related questions.
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You love mission and you have a heart for the world. Wondering how you can do more? Become a CBM Champion and help make your passion contagious. We are committed to helping local churches like yours engage in mission globally and locally. Our initiatives empower churches to reach those on the margins. When you become a CBM Champion, you help to strengthen the witness of your church on behalf of the vulnerable in our world.
HOW? Ready to sign-on as a Champion? Want to know more? Visit cbmchampions.cbmin.org to get started. Alternatively, give us a call. We’d love to talk to you about it.
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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This issue focuses on embracing hope, with stories from across Canada and around the world. We are particularly honoured to welcome Ruth Pad...
Published on May 16, 2018
This issue focuses on embracing hope, with stories from across Canada and around the world. We are particularly honoured to welcome Ruth Pad...