Ontario Edition November 2010 Volume 24 | Number 13 $3.50 (Complimentary copy)
Haitian recovery remains fragile
Charitable status: A cautionary tale
Focus on Higher Education
Religious intolerance in Indonesia
Christian talk personality Why I help addicts up considers quitting faith shoot A Christian defence of harm reduction “I’m just a guy standing in front of a God, asking Him to love me.”
Courtesy The Drew Marshall Show
Vancouver’s supervised injection site aims to help addicts find safer, healthier ways of dealing with their problems.
by Meera Bai with John Stackhouse
Christian and his search for meaning intensified. “The people I’m working with and the company that I am working with [became even more] important,” he said. He worked for a large engineering company at the time.
t’s evening, and I’m walking where a middle-class, university-educated woman normally wouldn’t walk alone, if ever. I’m in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), home to the poorest postal code in Canada. And I’m going to work. I approach the electronically secured doors at my job, and a staff member buzzes me in past what to most would appear to be a mess of ragged people, dirty bicycles and bottle-filled shopping carts. I work at InSite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site for IV drug users. It’s where I choose to work as a nurse—and as a Christian. Trying to follow the command of God to seek out and care for those in need of mercy has led me to find grace and pass it on among these people in the streets of the Downtown Eastside, the very definition of a marginalized population. Walking through the waiting area and entering the injection room, I chat briefly with the day staff, asking them how their shift has gone. “There’s some bad dope going around,” one of them says. Some dealer has laced the heroin. Drug dealers often take advantage of people living with addictions, knowing that they will buy and use drugs even though they know there is a chance they may overdose or be hurt by contamination. Instead of allowing such people to die on the street, however, InSite staff have intervened in hundreds of overdoses, bad trips and poisonings, preventing every single potential death on InSite ground. A participant walks up to me and gives me a hug. She comes in to use drugs multiple times a day to feed the habit gnawing away at her. The previous week, she had overdosed and stopped breathing, her whole body shaking with a seizure. Now, she has returned to thank us. “You guys saved my life!” Then she adds, more quietly, “Sometimes I think that’s not worth anything—what’s the point? I’m just gonna use again anyways.” A moment passes, and her face brightens a little. “Well, at least I got hope, I got another day, another start, another chance.” This is a woman who understands grace.
Please see Stewards on page 9
Please see InSite on page 12
Drew Marshall, on the set of his radio show, is considering giving up his faith.
Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
OAKVILLE, ON—Radio personality Drew Marshall has asked a lot of questions in his career. But none, he says, were more sincere than when he challenged God to make a personal appearance. Comparing himself to a son longing for word from an absentee father, the
host of JOY 1250’s “The Drew Marshall Show” recently told listeners he is considering giving up the Christian faith he’s held for 30 years. “I want to believe,” Marshall says. “I really do. I’m just at the point where hearing the story ain’t good enough.” “The Drew Marshall Show,” broadcast on CJYE, is heard by 100,000 people around Southern Ontario and
by online listeners in more than 100 countries. Marshall first admitted he was doubting the existence of God during a radio interview with apologist Ravi Zacharias in July. After the show’s summer break, he came back determined to be open about his spiritual quest, taking his listeners and guests with him. Please see Drew on page 6
Volunteer work a life-calling Sandra Reimer Special to ChristianWeek
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2 • November 2010 •
Award honours sister’s Situation in Haiti dedication to others Helena Smrcek Special to ChristianWeek
GUELPH, ON—Already the recipient of the Order of Canada and the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, Christine Leyser has added the 2010 Ignatius Jesuit Centre Award to her list of honours. Known around town as Sister Christine, Leyser is the founder and director of the Welcome Drop-In Centre in Guelph. “Christine’s strong leadership skills and her great compassion were challenged to the limit in what was a very new way of life for her, but she certainly rose to the occasion,” says Bill Clarke, spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. “She is truly an inspiring woman.” The Ignatius Jesuit Centre Award, initiated in 2008, is given to a person or group whose life and faith contributes to either the centre or the community-at-large.
Leyser made her vows with Toronto’s Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and joined the Loretto Sisters in 1954. Formerly a teacher, she moved to the Loretto Convent in Guelph in the mid-1970s. In 1983 Leyser opened the Welcome Drop-In Centre. It was followed in 1984 by The Dwelling Place, in 1986 by the Stepping Stone and in 1991 by Yorkhaven. In 2003 Elizabeth Place completed the network. Leyser was a vital part of the Ignatius Farm Community at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, home to men and women from prisons and other difficult situations. She also opened a second community farm at the Centre called the Farm House. “Christine will be 79 in November,” says Nelson, a longtime volunteer at The Drop-In Center. “She gets up around 3 a.m. every day, and opens the centre at five.
“When she finishes her day here at noon, she visits people in hospitals and shelters, and does a whole lot of other stuff. She is totally remarkable.” With no government support the Drop-In Center is funded by United Way, a number of local churches, clubs, organizations, school and members of the community. “We’re open seven days a week,” says Leyser, “365 days a year including Christmas. That is certainly a day we cannot close. Where would the people go?” The centre is able to serve up to 400 people daily. “The people who use the centre often become volunteers and help out,” says Leyser. “When I see how they live their lives, and how they want to help others they inspire me. We all have our calling and whenever you follow what you are supposed to do, it gives you vitality and life, and we are all called to vitality, life and laughter.”
Cardus celebrates a decade at the intersection of faith and public policy Robert White ChristianWeek Staff
HAMILTON, ON—Ten years ago Canadian think tank Cardus had one employee and $44,000 in the bank. Today the “fairly vibrant” organization has a staff of 10, a number of senior fellows and a budget of $1.6 million. Cardus’ core mission, says Cardus’ director of research Ray Pennings, is to serve at the intersection of public policy and faith and to provide constructive solutions. The think tank, which began as the Work Research Foundation (WRF) in 1974, was at first a charity that published the occasional book or paper. Pennings, based in Calgary, was asked to take part in a major project in 1996. By the late 1990s the WRF realized “the need for a think thank that fit a niche in the Canadian context,” says Pennings. “In Europe and the United States there’s quite a political culture that tends to support and encourage the investment of think tanks,” says former MP Preston Manning, head of the Manning Centre for Democracy and the keynote speaker for Cardus’ anniversary banquet in September. “In Australia and Canada for some reason it seems a lot more difficult.” Difficult or not, Cardus took off when Michael van Pelt was hired as president in September 2000. Pennings joined the team a year later. “The focus was social architecture,” says Pennings, noting Cardus staff saw a lack of focus
between institutions [including churches], individuals and governments. “On the left, every public policy problem solution started with ‘government should.’ On the right [it was] ‘government shouldn’t’ with a reliance on market forces.” By 2006 the group decided its name—Work Research Foundation—needed to change. “Our name was confusing to people,” says Pennings. “Work” was only one of the areas the think tank worked on. And technically it wasn’t a foundation. “It led people to think we had money when we needed money.” The group chose “Cardus” as its new name, after Cardo Maximus, the main road where “city, government and church came together.” And for Cardus, the faith issue is key.
“ We ’ r e e x p l i c i t , ” s a y s Pennings. “We don’t hide our faith presumptions which are clearly Christian.” While Cardus has grown, it’s only about two-thirds of the “size we see as a mature Cardus,” says Pennings. The think tank doesn’t intend to “grow all kinds of expertise in-house,” he adds. Instead Cardus plans to partner with other organizations, such as the recent merger with the Centre for Cultural Renewal, which annually sponsors the Hill Lecture in Ottawa. Cardus’ decade of growth brings praise from Manning. “The fact that Cardus has been established, has survived grown, and prospered is really something deserving of celebration,” Manning says. “It doesn’t happen a lot in Canada and only happens in Canada because of a lot of hard work and support.”
Frank Stirk Special to ChristianWeek
MARKHAM, ON—Ten months after a massive earthquake devestated Haiti, World Vision Canada’s Sabrina Pourmand says “things are coming along” as aid agencies and governments continue to help the small nation get back on its feet. But as a freak storm on September 24 clearly showed, recovery remains fragile. “The fact that a 10-to-15-minute storm caused anywhere between five to seven deaths,” says Pourmand, who has been serving in Haiti since May 1, “very much shows that we’re still in an acute phase. If a hurricane or a strong tropical storm were to move through Haiti, this population could be greatly at risk.” Ed Epp, executive director of Christian Blind Mission Canada, who visited Haiti within weeks of the earthquake, agrees that “things are starting to come together. But it’s taking the time that everyone who was on the ground expected it to take.” Some signs of progress, says Pourmand, are a slight easing in “As camps close, the demand for essentials and an increased ability to use local suppliers, which is speeding up World Vision’s construction and our ability to water sanitation projects. But the flow of outside aid remains slow, due to Haitian government red-tape and streets still littered continue to serve with rubble. As well, Pourmand says the tent cities that sprang up following those people the earthquake are now “in flux” as people either choose or are forced to move out. “As camps close, our ability to continue to always gets more serve those people always gets more complicated,” she says. Ontario Conservative MP Paul Calandra has not been to Haiti, complicated.” but he has seen the aftermath of the earthquake that destroyed L’Aquila in Italy in 2009. Recently, he invited several aid agencies—most of them Christian—to meet with Peter Kent, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), to assess Canada’s response to the disaster. “We owe it to the people in Haiti to see if we can improve, or where we have done good, to make sure that when a situation like this happens [elsewhere] in the future, we follow the same type of protocol,” Calandra says. “I really like that kind of cooperation,” says Epp, who was at the meeting. “People had a chance to voice their issues clearly. They were heard.” Noting that the earthquake only added to the already high number of Haitians who are physically disabled, Epp urged the government to help ensure their needs are met as Haiti begins to rebuild. “Virtually all the schools in Port-au-Prince have to be rebuilt,” he says. “There were students in those schools before the earthquake that can’t go in if they’re not going to be accessible, because they were disabled because of the earthquake.” Calandra says participants offered a lot of positive feedback, such as “how the Canadian Armed Forces was able to protect them, open up some roads and offer immediate relief.” “If the way that the Canadian government and Canadians have supported Haiti is an indication of how they do things in other disasters,” says Pourmand, “I would say, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing.’” Even so, Calandra says he would like to see the international community explore ways to be better coordinated in delivering initial supplies of emergency aid. Calandra hopes they can meet again “in a few months” to work on some recommendations to the government. All agreed, he says, “that we have to keep Haiti in the minds of Canadians. We can’t allow this to just fade away. And I don’t think we will.” “People in Haiti who live in the tent cities and have had an amputation,” says Epp, “they don’t have the luxury of forgetting.”
“Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. You are called to live in peace and always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
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• November 2010 • 3
On the Record
Bold and beautiful
A lesson on evangelism from Saint Paul and friends
fear the raised eyebrow almost more than I fear the raised fist,” he said. It was a startling admission from a veteran Christian leader who lives in a place where his faith is unwelcome and expressing it publicly is usually illegal. He works in areas where believers are oppressed and their worship severely restricted. Yet he and his team often find opportunities to speak and to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who consider Christians the enemy. Some team members have been jailed and interrogated. The threat of persecution is a constant presence. Yet they persist. Curiously, he says the threatening circumstances are not his biggest problem. Adverse conditions actually have a way of galvanizing the team and nurturing a sense of divine vocation. In this group’s experience, God has a way of showing up most tangibly when human inadequacy is most evident. Especially in the hard places, God rewards their faith with deep encouragement. Here is where they find their spirits strengthened. But this clarity of calling can easily be lost when the pressure isn’t on. Why is it hard to speak comfortably about God in simple conversations with people who seem largely indifferent to faith concerns? Why does the desire to be accepted or respected suppress our confidence in the simple power of the gospel? Why is our spiritual edge so dulled in the absence of confrontation and when comforts abound? The Christian leader quoted earlier works in an area of the world governed by grave religious constraints, yet the heart of his concern speaks directly to the Canadian condition where a secular society pushes faith to the periphery. Because religion has a way of disrupting polite society, we readily suppress our evangelistic mandate. To be on the skewered end of the ironic eyebrow shuts us up more effectively than active hostility.
Know your neighbours, love your neighbours Dave Toycen ChristianWeek Columnist
Bold and clear, please
Strangely, the apostle Paul may have suffered from the same malaise. In his prayers, Paul frequently calls on God to respond to the concerns of Christian believers. He asks for many things and much grace on their behalf. Yet only rarely (12 occasions) does Paul request prayer for himself. And when he does, the dominant theme is that he would be bold and clear with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How’s that? Are we really talking about apostle who seemed to court confrontation with Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike? This is the author who wrote a third of the New Testament and articulated the foundations of Christian doctrine, isn’t it? Aren’t we referring to the man who took the gospel message by ship and foot on several missionary journeys throughout the Roman world? Wasn’t he imprisoned (and ultimately executed) precisely for communicating a bold and clear gospel? It’s quite possible that Paul wasn’t doing just what came naturally to him. He may not have particularly liked confrontation. He could have had moments of doubt about the reckless wisdom that propelled him. Perhaps the Macedonian call seemed like a vague dream the morning after. Paul certainly knew his own weaknesses, which are matters that we can only speculate about. But we can acknowledge that the characteristics for which he is most remembered reflect the substance of the prayers he requested on his own behalf. And no doubt the experience of God’s presence in the midst of adversities—flogging, prison, stoning, shipwreck, squabbles with colleagues, etc.—encouraged his faith, affirmed his calling and strengthened his resolve. Hostile circumstances helped to galvanize the group. Many of us, especially in the West, are all-too-content to be people pleasers. We shy away from the dreaded prospect of being on the receiving end of disdainful glances from colleagues, friends and neighbours. We are not bold with gospel, and neither are we clear. As Paul modeled, this is likely a good thing for us to be praying for. Requesting boldness and clarity in advancing the gospel does not mean becoming belligerent, unduly aggressive or unloving in any way. But it does suggest that we need to be secure enough in our own commitment to believe that Jesus Christ really is good news for all people. Clarity isn’t much of an issue if the message doesn’t really matter. Boldness is not necessary without the presence of fear. — Doug Koop
hen news broke this summer of plans to build an Islamic community centre and mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City, the media gave ample voice to the sorts of tensions that can arise in democratic societies when values differ. The debate quickly focused on freedom of religion on one side, and calls for sensitivity and decency on the other, but it was the reality and needs associated with increasing religious pluralism in the United States that gave rise to the dilemma. Religious pluralism is a fact of life throughout the Western world, including here in Canada. And while statistics tell us our nation still adheres predominantly to the Christian faith, other religious groups are growing in terms of both size and influence. According to recent projections from Statistics Canada, by 2031 the number of people having a non-Christian religion in Canada is expected to almost double from eight per cent of the population in 2006 to 14 per cent in 2031. The non-Christian population is expected to experience unprecedented growth between 2001 and 2017 especially. Among non-Christian faiths, the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh religions are
expected to see their membership increase by 145 per cent, 92 per cent and 72 per cent respectively. According to the projections, the proportion of the Canadian population with a Christian religion will decline from 75 per cent to about 65 per cent. The share with no religion will rise from about 17 per cent to 21 per cent. So as communities representing religious minorities become more visible, the need to reflect on how we are interacting with them becomes more pressing; in order to love our neighbour, it is helpful to know our neighbour. It’s also important to remember that from the earliest days of church history, Christians have lived, worked and ministered in pluralistic environments. “The Roman Empire covered a huge area, making it a society with many different social, racial and religious groups,” says Hans Foerster, a specialist in New Testament and early church history at the University of Vienna. “Christian missionaries had to understand the society and intellectual climate they were working in. There was no ‘one size fits all’ solution for spreading the good news.” While the percentage of Christians in Canada is likely to continue its decline, and there are aspects that will be problematic for us, it doesn’t mean that we should lose hope. Christians can operate in pluralistic contexts; contexts which Dallas Willard describes as “not a bad arrangement … [and] a social expression of the kind of respect and care for the individual that is dictated by trust in God and love of neighbour.”
Pluralism does not have to mean relativism. It is possible to bear witness to Christ, while still caring deeply for those with whom we might fundamentally disagree. How do we know this to be true? Jesus’ teachings to “do to others as you would have them do to you,” and to “love your neighbour as yourself” provide a solid foundation on which to build interfaith efforts. One of my heroes—and favourite devotional authors—is E. Stanley Jones. A world evangelist and missionary to India, his relationship with Gandhi was an intriguing one. One of the most poignant conversations he had with Gandhi saw Jones ask India’s pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of the time what it would take for Christianity to grow in India. Gandhi is reported to have replied, “First, I would suggest that all Christians … begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice it without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity. Fourth, study the non–Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.” Ghandi’s words could be taken as a prescription for living our Christian faith well in any pluralistic context. They remind us that all human beings are God’s children, and if God loves people of other faiths or of no faith at all, then we must do the same. Dave Toycen is president and CEO of World Vision Canada. To sponsor a child, visit www.blessachild.ca
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A low grade sense Canada bids adieu to beloved Governor General of failure Only one evaluation counts, and that hasn’t happened yet Darryl Dash ChristianWeek Columnist cw@DashHouse.com
don’t envy them: the pastors with big names and book deals and conference circuits. Well, that’s not completely true. I do envy them. They have been blessed with charisma and gifts and success; I haven’t. Yet I know enough about the stresses they face to realize that I don’t really want what they have
no matter how good it looks. But most pastors I know aren’t trying to cope with success. I met with an older pastor yesterday and saw hurt in his eyes. He seems to feel lonely and pushed aside. If I wrote a book on pastoral faithfulness, I’d have to include a chapter on his life. Yet I get the sense that he wonders if his ministry has amounted to much. He’s not alone. It’s also true of churches. Many are smaller than they used to be. Their cinderblock cement rooms in the basement used to be full of children. The wooden pews were crammed even on Sunday nights, even in the sticky heat of summer before there was air conditioning. Now they’re mostly empty, and the people discouraged. Some of my heroes in ministry are doing exactly the right things, yet suffer from a low-grade sense of ministerial (or church) failure. I don’t want to ignore our problems, but I do have something to say about this situation. Let’s start with dismantling our warped view of success. A cosmetics company launched a Campaign for Real Beauty. “We want to free ourselves and the next generation from beauty stereotypes.” I’m thinking of starting a similar campaign for churches. We need to get rid of the airbrushed pictures of churches that exist in our minds but have never existed in reality. Simply put, churches are a mess. They have always been messy, but they won’t always be. That gives me hope. We need to redefine beauty in churches, because a lot of our churches are more beautiful than they first appear if we see them from the right perspective. It’s like what Derek Webb says: “I’ve found that often success looks more like failure, riches more like poverty, and real life often feels more like death.” Things aren’t always what they appear to be. Also, we can’t ignore our context. A couple of years ago a pastor from Africa visited our church. He was puzzled by the lack of spiritual vibrancy in Canada. We thought we had it good compared to him; he set us straight. If ministry is like catching a wind, we have to admit that the gusts seem to be stronger in other parts of the world right now. Mostly, we need to be careful of evaluating. We’re simply not up to the job. My evaluations of successful ministry are probably going to be different than God’s. Maybe that’s what Paul meant when he said that he didn’t judge himself. It’s the Lord’s judgment that counts. “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time,” he wrote. I planted grass seed last month. I always have a hard time believing that the grass is going to grow. For a week I feel like I’m watering mud, and the joke is on me. Then I start to see some grass blades poking through. I’m always amazed. You’d think I’d learn by now, but I’m always surprised. I’m not good at evaluating the progress of grass seed four days after it’s planted; I’m probably not a good judge of ministry success over the course of a lifetime. There’s no question: we live in challenging times. And we are engaged in Christian ministry, which itself is beyond anyone’s competence. And we work with people, who are just as frustrating sometimes as we are to ourselves. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. But let’s look for the beauty that’s found in ordinary pastors and churches. Let’s pray that we’ll catch a strong wind again, and let’s do everything we can to serve effectively. Let’s resist the temptation to evaluate things prematurely and to get discouraged. There’s only one evaluation that counts, and it hasn’t happened yet. Darryl Dash is the senior pastor of Richview Baptist Church in Etobicoke, Ontario.
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Janet Epp Buckingham ChristianWeek Columnist
t was a thrilling moment for me to sit in the front row of the Senate chamber on October 1 to witness the swearing in of the 29th governor general of Canada. The ceremony itself is replete with historic references, linking the governor general back 400 years to Samuel de Champlain, the king’s vice-roi in New France. But there are other very historic Canadian offices, like the Usher of the Black Rod for example, who are pretty much completely unknown outside of Ottawa. History alone does not do it for Canadians. The governor general, on the other hand, has had a remarkable resurgence. The media was full of stories of the last few days of Michaëlle Jean, the outgoing governor general. Jean was much beloved by Canadians. She carved out a unique niche in an era when elected politicians have not been personally popular in Canada. The appointment of David Johnston, however, signals a new era for the office of governor general. Until 1952, governors general were minor British royalty assigned to the task by the British monarch. Vincent Massey, appointed in 1952, was the first born in Canada and started the next phase. Until Adrienne Clarkson’s appointment in 1999, all governor gen-
erals were born in Canada and had a political or military background. Clarkson was unique in that she was born outside Canada, in Hong Kong, and was a media personality. Given that the role of the governor general was largely ceremonial, this seemed to be a good choice. Jean is Haitian-born and worked for Radio Canada. The media background helped both Clarkson and Jean to have a positive public profile and develop the stature of the office. But two recent events have made the office much more visible. First is the war in Afghanistan. One of the roles of the governor general is Commanderin-Chief of the Armed Forces. With the Canadian military serving a significant role in that conflict, the Commanderin-Chief becomes more visible and important. Even if the governor general does not make any real decisions, it becomes a more important office. Jean took the role of Commanderin-Chief very seriously. She attended repatriation ceremonies and quickly earned the respect of the military. She wore military dress uniforms, particularly notable during the 2009 Remembrance Day ceremony. The military gave Jean a big send-off just days before she stepped down as governor general. The Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natyncyk is reported to have whispered, “You will always be in our hearts,” to Jean. Second is, of course, the role Jean played in granting the prime minister’s unusual request for prorogation in December 2008. Jean did not have
constitutional knowledge to draw on and sought out advisors. While Jean ultimately granted the request, she left the prime minister waiting while she considered it. Not only did she communicate gravitas but let Canadians know that it was her decision. David Johnston’s appointment is again an evolution of the office. Prime Minister Stephen Harper named a committee of six eminent persons to provide a short list of candidates. The committee included non-partisan persons associated with politics and academics from across Canada. This was an attempt to put the governor general beyond partisan politics but ensure that the candidates would be able to fulfill the constitutional mandate of the office. With on going minority governments in Canada, it is likely that the governor general will be called upon to make important decisions that require constitutional finesse. So, back to the front row seat in the Senate chamber for the swearing in; will Johnston be able to garner the respect of the military, make constitutional decisions and earn the love of the Canadian people? Probably not all three. This governor general will make the office his own and put his stamp on the role. The ceremony itself showed a man who is warm and generous and willing to laugh at his own mistakes. That is a good start for any public figure. Janet Epp Buckingham is the director of the Laurentian Leadership Centre, the Ottawa program of Trinity Western University.
Letter From the Editor
ChristianWeek editor scores in publishing contest
favourite activity as a teen Robert White was meeting ChristianWeek Staff friends and family at the local pizza parlour. As the only place in town I could go to that had a juke box, I used to spend quarter after quarter listening to two songs: Styx’s “Come Sail Away” and Kansas’“Dust in the Wind.” As I sang along with the line “all we are is dust in the wind” I didn’t know that nearly four decades later I’d have a book published based on a biblical book that echoes Kansas’ thoughts—or was it Kansas echoing one of the main themes of Ecclesiastes? Work on Chasing the Wind: Finding Meaningful Answers in Ancient Wisdom began 18 years ago when I started studying Ecclesiastes scant months before two major life events: the birth of my son and the death of my father. Through the years, various incarnations and rejections, Chasing the Wind morphed into a look at the Ecclesiastes’ three themes: “meaningless, meaningless,” “chasing the wind” and “under the sun.” Within each theme, the book examines everything from wisdom, wishes and work to desires and deeds to toil, treasure and termination. After another rejection last year, I’d almost given up hope. While self-publishing was a possibility, my lack of marketing skills discouraged me from going that route. I wasn’t willing to fill my basement with boxes of books that
talked about meaningless pursuits. Then along came the 2010 Word Alive Press Free Publishing Contest. I almost didn’t enter —my tight, journalistic style led to a manuscript that fell short of the contest’s word count. After an encouragement from Word Alive staff at the Write! Canada conference, I rushed home on Friday night and put together an entry. In late September, I danced a happy dance after finding out Chasing the Wind won the non-fiction category in the Word Alive Press contest. Again, I’d given up hope, reading of a few friends who’d been shortlisted—while I’d heard nothing. What’s neat is that I share this win with fellow Guelph resident Sara Davison, who won the fiction prize for her novel The Watcher—a story about understanding what one needs to hold on to and what to let go and the unseen forces that help along the way. Not only do Sara and I both live in Guelph, we also attend Lakeside Church and, a few years ago, were founding members of GW-ELF (Guelph writers—encouraging, learning and fun). This writers’ circle—again an outcome of a Write! Canada conference—became a support and encouragement to us as we both worked on the books that became prize winners. A month has passed since Sara and I were told of our win. I don’t know about her but I’m still excited about it. And somewhat filled with trepidation as the work editing and rewriting, marketing and promoting looms. But all will be worth it once I hold a copy of Chasing the Wind in my hands.
• November 2010 • 5
Cautionary tale warns churches, charities CRA can revoke charitable status over receipting errors Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
OTTAWA, ON—If you give money to your church or charities, be prepared to prove it at tax time. That’s the message the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is sending after several Ontario Christian charities lost their charitable status over receipting discrepancies. This fall, Markham-based tax preparer Faiz Khan pled guilty to issuing false receipts for almost $2 million worth of donations for churches and charities between 2004 and 2008. Four of the organizations for which Khan prepared taxes have had their charitable status revoked— City Chapel Ministries International, Destiny Ministries International, Ave Development Foundation and Pan Africa Canadian Multi-cultural Centre. Another mentioned in the proceedings—Full Faith Gospel Tabernacle—retained their charitable status. None of the charities involved were available for comment. “We see cases like these all the time,” says Wayne Kroeker, manager of member support at the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. “Sometimes it’s due to an internal issue with an employee
or volunteer making up receipts. Other times the charity is being taken advantage of. But a lot of the audits we’re seeing right now are targeting receipting. Because if you claim to have made a donation, and you haven’t, it’s fraud.” The CRA also recently issued intent to revoke the charitable status of Christ Apostolic Church International in Toronto after the charity failed to provide proof of donations for which they had issued receipts. According to the CRA the church had issued receipts for over $250,000 in donations in 2007, but had only deposited $80,000 into its bank account. The CRA reported, “Of the receipts provided by the organization, serious discrepancies were noted including taxpayer names and donation amounts that did not match the receipts as filed by the taxpayers.” Their defense, according to the CRA, is that they issued receipts for the donation of practical items, many of which the CRA claims “did not qualify as gifts.” ChristianWeek was unable to reach the church for comment. Legal nightmare
Issuing receipts for gifts-in-kind can be a legal nightmare, according
to Kroeker. “Sometimes people donate things like artwork and jewelry to charity,” he says, “things that charities don’t actually need, and then ask them to sign a piece of paper saying it’s worth a certain amount. Then you would have to show that you received that much on your books, even if you could not sell it for that amount. Plus, a church shouldn’t be in the business of buying and selling jewelry anyway.” One of the charities named in the Khan case, Ave Development Foundation, is soliciting on their website for “cash donations, used equipment, computers, used books and any other related items” for their work in providing education, healthcare and microfinance work in Ghana. “The vast majority of Canadians and registered charities comply with the law,” says CRA spokesperson Philippe Brideau. “However, there are also those individuals and organizations who seek to exploit the various tax incentives put in place to support charitable giving.” Brideau says it is especially important for individuals who file online to remember to hold on to their receipts. The CRA can request to see receipts up
to six years after the original donation was made. “The CRA takes all forms of fraud seriously,” he adds. “Any registered charity found to have knowingly or negligently abused its tax receipting privileges by issuing receipts for inflated amounts or for transactions that do not qualify as gifts, may be subject to monetary penalties and have its registration revoked.” Kroeker says that one way in which the CRA seems to be tackling the problem of false receipting is through auditing donors. “They are going after individuals,” he says. “People like you and me. If you say you’ve given something to a church or charity they want detailed proof. Like a letter on the charity’s letterhead detailing when and how you gave.” His son, Daryl Kroeker, was recently audited by the CRA when he filed back charity receipts after graduating university. “It was frustrating,” Daryl says. “It felt like I was being second guessed, and that people weren’t trusting me. The donations in question included money he’d given to Camp Crossroads near Gravenhurst, and his home church, Waterloo Mennonite Brethren. He says
Missional more than a buzzword
Real-life stories inspire churches to connect with their communities Robert White ChristianWeek Staff
PORT PERRY, ON—Missional is more than a buzzword for 13 churches writer Karen Stiller recently interviewed. “It’s the newest oldest thing,” says Stiller, who co-authored her new book Going Missional with Willard Metzger. “It’s just being who the Church is called to be.” A joint project between World Vision Canada and Willow Creek Canada’s Leadership Centre, Going Missional is written for church leaders looking for new ways of being church in their community, says Stiller. The veteran, award-winning freelance journalist—and associate editor of Faith Today—has produced easy-to-read stories of churches that will inspire congregations of all sizes to find ways of connecting with their communities.
“It was important to me as a writer—and a church-going person—to find stories that might not have been told before in this way,” says Stiller. “There are amazing and huge churches across Canada doing great things we may have already heard about. We wanted to present churches some people may not have heard about and might relate to a little more.” Subtitled Conversations with 13 Churches Who Have Embraced Missional Life, the book includes stories such as that of Duncan, B . C . ’s N e w L i f e C h u r c h , which used the 2008 North American Indigenous Games, hosted by the local Cowichan Tribes, to create an atmosphere of reconciliation between local natives and nonnatives. The book also chronicles Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, whose
church communities in the Niagara region include some of the neediest people in society.
Going Missional will spur discussion and encouragement for churcheswho may be feeling weary and irrelevant in communities. Co-author Metzger, formerly the director of church relations for World Vision Canada, intro-
duces each chapter, highlighting key challenges churches may have “going missional.” For Stiller, the biggest surprise came in talking to “typical evangelical churches” who weren’t going missional as a churchgrowth strategy. “When peeled away it wasn’t strategy cloaked in words of service—to show how nice and great they were so people would come. But to share love and see their place in community as one of service—whether recipient comes to church or not.” With its discussion questions and takeaway points, Stiller hopes Going Missional “will spur discussion and encouragement for churches who may be feeling weary and irrelevant in communities.”
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the groups worked with him to get the proof he needed. Daryl now works as a satellite director for Niagara youth for YFC Youth Unlimited, where he is involved in fundraising initiatives. He adds the experience of being audited has helped him appreciate the strong system of accountability Youth Unlimited has in place for their receipting. “Anything under $100 I am able to do myself,” he says. “Anything over that has to be done by head office, and they’re always double checking everything I do. It’s never just me looking over the details. “There’s no reason not to donate,” he adds. “There’s just a system in place and we need to adhere to it.” Wayne Kroeker adds, “You need to make sure there are good checks and balances in place. Lock up your receipt books and don’t give unauthorized access to them. It’s also really critical that we educate charities not to lend out their charitable number. I know it’s hard for us to understand, especially those of us who can’t imagine wanting to cheat, but if you get a call from someone saying they need your charity number, you should not give it out.”
But not everyone has reacted well to his honesty, Marshall says. Many Continued from page 1 of the listener responses have been critical, including one who wrote, “You should resign [and] Joy 1250 should stop carrying you and your show…Christianity is not easy but we strive toward the goal instead of crying about how hard it is…I pray you truly repent, humble yourself and start lifting high the name of our God, Jesus Christ, and leave Drew Marshall behind.” Since “coming out” as a doubter, Marshall has also had more than a dozen meetings with faith leaders. “Some want to resave me,” he says. “Some want to share their stories of doubt. Some want to just figure out where I fit in their theology.” Bruxy Cavey, pastor of the Meeting House, has joined “Drew’s search for God,” known in cyberspace as “Droogle” and is in ongoing, public discussion with Marshall over Twitter. “U say God should reveal himself in a way you can’t rationalize or explain away,” Cavey tweeted recently. “Does that way exist? We’re good at rationalizing. Remember, the gospels record certain people had personal encounters w Jesus’ divine power and yet rationalized away the evidence.” [sic] Marshall says he grew up “doing church” and made a commitment to Jesus at Teen Ranch when he was 13. He later went on to become program director at Teen Ranch Canada, and then associate pastor at Glenbrook Baptist Church, He also attended Tyndale College and Seminary and Morland College in Australia. But, Marshall says, he never had an obvious, undeniable encounter with the presence of God. “And I asked for it!” he says. “I honestly asked for it. Several
“I’m just a guy standing in front of a God asking Him to love me.” times over. I’m at the point of saying that if God shows up and you somehow miss it or forget it, you must be thick! “The number one thing that has ticked me off about this whole thing,” he adds, “is when people say it’s just a ratings booster. Or that I’m just doing something radical for the sense of being radical. This happens to be a big thing that I’m going through. It’s a legitimate, 100 per cent bona fide journey that I’ve never been on before. “I’m just a guy standing in front of a God asking Him to love me.”
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Mike Janzen links family, faith and jazz in newest offering Courtesy Mike Janzen
Bruce Soderholm Special to ChristianWeek
TORONTO, ON—At first blush, there’s no immediate connection between Broadway show tunes, jazz and the theology of family, but a conversation with Mike Janzen might connect the dots for many. Janzen is a versatile composer, arranger and piano talent whose bona fides are well established on the Toronto jazz scene. His trio was the house band for a recent Haiti benefit concert featuring such jazz luminaries as Holly Cole, Don Thompson and Laila Biali. He also penned the opening track, “There’s No Escaping Spring” for the twodisc Jazz For Haiti album, the proceeds of which will be used for relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated country. Janzen’s latest CD, Try To Remember, features Broadway standards such as “Maybe” (Annie) and “Consider Yourself” (Oliver). The instrumentation is strictly rhythm-section, mining the talents of George Koller (bass), Ben Riley (drums) and Janzen (piano), but lacks nothing in sophistication. Janzen, who
Mike Janzen sees jazz and improvisation as reflection of God’s creation.
also loves to sing, provides vocals on eight of the eleven tracks. “You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em… and I love them,” he observes, undeterred by those who disparage Broadway musicals. Aside from his appreciation for Broadway generally, the genesis of this recording is rooted in the anticipation Janzen and his wife Jodi shared a few years ago when they decided to start a family via adoption. He wanted to prepare for the event by exploring songs embracing ideas of family and belonging. When adoption plans fell through, the project was set on the back burner. But the momentous news
earlier this year that Jodi was pregnant became the impetus for Janzen to complete the lion’s share of the project by the time their daughter was born in early September. “It’s a fun family album; but it has a deeper spiritual thread to it.” He notes the parallel of welcoming a child into your home to God’s initiative to accept us for who we are and to say to us, “You belong here—this is your place.” Janzen has no doubts that his music ministers to people. “I see jazz and improvisation…as a reflection of the improvisation that’s alive in God’s creation.”
After-school program adopts schools for Christ Emily Wierenga Special to ChristianWeek
STRATFORD, ON—What started out as a churchrun after-school program is now the impetus behind a province-wide initiative helping churches “adopt” schools. Following a six-week mission trip to Brazil in 2005, Helen Harrison, a 61-year-old retired elementary school teacher, came up with idea to run an after-school club for kids in her own neighbourhood. With the help of her congregation, Memorial Baptist Church, she launched Kid’s Company, an after-school program that teaches a short Bible lesson in addition to basic life skills. “My church has developed a wonderful rapport between our neighbourhood elementary school and members of our church who volunteer regularly,” says Harrison, a mother of two grown sons. More than 100 children attend Kid’s Company— the only Christian contact for 90 per cent and the sole after-school activity for 80 per cent—every Wednesday afternoon. When Hamilton-based Bible Centred Ministries
(BCM) caught wind of Harrison’s program and found out she had written a manual for other churches wanting to start a similar program, it piqued their interest. BCM runs Adopt A School, a program that encourages churches to become involved in local schools by setting up Bible-based extracurricular clubs. BCM asked Harrison to join their team to recruit Ontario churches to get involved with school adoption. Harrison is has taken BCM’s orientation and is now fundraising for her new role. “We’re excited to have Helen join BCM Canada ministries to facilitate this exciting ministry for us in Ontario,” says Bill Ricketts, BCM executive director. Harrison says her dream is to one day see Kid’s Company become a prototype for children’s ministry across Canada. “By assisting churches to think outside of the box and to view their neighbourhoods as their mission field...I pray we can be a positive influence to help reach this generation for Christ,” she says.
Don’t forget Remembrance Day Keeping the memories alive key to avoiding past mistakes Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
Fun family album carries deeper spiritual thread
GUELPH, ON—Tim White looks forward to that moment on November 11 when the room will fall silent and he will raise a trumpet to his lips. This will be the second year that Tim, 18, is playing “Last Post” and “Reveille” during the Remembrance Day service at Centennial CVI. “It kind of freaked me out last year,” he says, “because I thought I was going to be completely in the dark. They didn’t tell me that a giant spotlight was going to shine on me, which was kind of nerve wracking. “But I feel very honoured to be playing it, because it’s such a well known and memorable part of the ceremony. It’s kind of moving.”
“It’s important to pay attention and remember that, whether you believe in the rightness or wrongness of any given war, there are people who have chosen—or were chosen—to make the ultimate sacrifice.” It’s not every family that looks forward to Remembrance Day. But for Robert White, editor of the Ontario edition of ChristianWeek and host of “Faith Journal” on Kitchener’s Faith FM, it’s important that his children feel a sense of connection to those who have gone before. “I grew up in a time where Remembrance Day was an actual holiday,” he says. “We had time off school. It was seen as important and significant and there were still a good number of veterans around. I guess that as each generation passes on, we have to make sure that we remember for them and keep the memories alive. Especially as we’re dealing with wars in new places, like Afghanistan, it’s important to pay attention and remember that, whether you believe in the rightness or wrongness of any given war, there are people who have chosen—or were chosen—to make the ultimate sacrifice.” Robert’s great-grandfather served with the Canadian corps in Loos, Belgium during the First
Tim White (above) and Kathleen White.
World War. Other family members have served in the military over the years, including a cousin who was recently stationed in Afghanistan. “My great-grandfather, Ivan White, is actually buried in one of the war cemeteries in Belgium,” Robert says. “Knowing that creates a personal connection to the whole remembering of the past.” Robert’s daughter, Kathleen, muses that most of her peers have relatives who have fought in past wars, but that too few know about them. The 16-year-old will be taking her Beaver Scout troupe to visit McCrae House. It is the former home of John McCrae, who penned “In Flanders Fields.” “It’s important to remember the people who fought and died to save our country,” she says, “because wars are still going on, and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be as free.” “If we forget about the past we are bound to repeat it,” adds Tim. “Remembrance Day was created to remember a war that was created by trivial rivalries and countries trying to best each other. And if we remember the reasons why it started, and look at the amount of casualties, the suffering, the destruction, then we shouldn’t have to go through that again.”
Bank pledge benefits the needy HALIFAX, NS—The Salvation Army and CIBC Bank are celebrating a $100,000 commitment to providing food, support and shelter to the needy in Nova Scotia. The five-year pledge made by CIBC to The Salvation Army’s “Operation: Building Hope” campaign is being used to renovate the Centre of Hope in Halifax, Family Resource Centre in Spryfield and Scotian Glen Camp near New Glasgow. “CIBC’s outstanding gift to our ‘Operation: Building Hope’ capital campaign has made a huge difference,” says Major Larry Martin, divisional commander of The Salvation Army. The pledge, originally made in 2007, is being celebrated this fall in honour of CIBC’s 185th anniversary in Halifax, and The Salvation Army’s 125th anniversary in the Maritimes. The bank’s commitment to The Salvation Army’s work in the region goes further than just finances. Terry Gardiner, CIBC’s vice-president for the Atlantic region, has served on The Salvation Army’s capital campaign cabinet and is also chair of the advisory board.
• November 2010 • 7
World falling short on Millennium Development Goals Churches have opportunity to step up to the plate
Dave Toycen says too many children die from things that are easily preventable.
of five die every year from things which are easily preventable, like diarrhea and malnutrition. Less than half of the women in the world have a midwife by their side when they give birth. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that for women in developing countries, it is the most dangerous time in their life.” World Vision International committed $1.5 billion in resources to address problems of maternal and child health. World leaders and organizations pledged $40 billion. “The good news is that commitments have been made,” says Toycen. “The bad news is that, if we look to the past, there is really a lack of follow through… We need to pray that everyone who has a heart for this will really do what they say they are going to do.” John McArthur is CEO of Millennium Promise. Based in New York City, the international not-for-profit organization works to support the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. He says there is much to celebrate, including major breakthroughs made by developing countries around the world. However, many of the world’s richest countries are far behind in making good on
their monetary pledges. “The G8 is about $20 billion behind on what it promised, this year, in support of poorer questions,” McArthur says. “That’s a huge gap, which translates into a lot of bed nets, a lot of teachers, a lot of nurses and a lot of medicine that won’t be there as a result.” McArthur, who is Canadian born, says Canada has failed significantly to live up to what it has promised. “One of the ironies in the Canadian context,” he says, “is that, paradoxically, Canadians are so committed to many of these issues, but don’t realize that Canada is not yet pulling its fair share as far as helping developing countries reach these goals. Canada is not fulfilling its
pledges… and there is such a great leadership role Canada can play.” Canada’s churches and faith communities can do a lot to help Canada step up, he adds. “We’ve seen so many community and faith leaders play really pivotal roles on all sorts of levels,” he says. “Many faith leaders have had a major hand in things like turning the tide against malaria, the fight against AIDS and keeping political leaders accountable. “On a far more granular level, faith leaders in the developing world play a key role in pioneering new forms of service delivery and outreach to the poorest and the most marginalized. They form the connective tissue which helps services reach communities.” Robyn Bright, national coordinator of Micah Challenge, says that what makes Christian involvement so vital in the fight against extreme poverty is the strong mandate our faith provides. Micah Challenge has spearheaded several events in support of the Millennium Development Goals, including the Run Out of Poverty in Ottawa, the Global Day of Action in October and a special worship service in New York during Courtesy World Vision
MISSISSAUGA, ON—They may be uneven, unfinished and even off target, but we have a clear mandate to keep moving forward. That’s the assessment of many faith and development leaders following the recent Review Summit to track the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The eight international development goals were set in 1990, with a view to making significant strides in combating extreme poverty by the year 2015. All 192 United Nation member states and two dozen international organizations signed on to the goals. With only five years left to go, the review conference was held late September at UN headquarters in New York. Goals four and five—which relate to mother and child mortality rates—were high on the Canadian ministerial delegation’s agenda, following Canada’s recent $1.1 billion pledge to maternal and child health at the G8 this summer. Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada, attended as an official member of the Canadian delegation. He says the pledges relating to mother and child health were among the most underfunded and underachieved of the goals. Far from having reduced mother and child mortality by the targeted 66 per cent, child mortality is down by 40 per cent, and maternal death only by 11 per cent. “This is an issue that’s very close to our hearts,” adds Toycen. “To give dimension to what this means, nearly nine million children under the age
Courtesy World Vision
Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
the Summit. “There is such a strong precedence of advocacy on behalf of the poor throughout scripture,” she says. “I think the Millennium Development Goals provide a clear consensus, rallying point for the conversation
and a real opportunity for us to show leadership. “But even when poverty is not on the radar, we as Christians should continue to work to usher in the Kingdom of God. Whether it’s popular or not, we continue to be faithful.”
Millennium Development Goals: How are we stacking up? 1. End Hunger
Goal: Halve the proportion of people living on less than $1 US a day. Progress: The number of hungry people worldwide has actually risen from 842 million to 1.02 billion in the past 20 years. However, while Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia have seen an increase in the proportion of hungry people since the Millennium Development Goals were set, developing nations are on track to meet the target. 2. Universal Primary Education
Goal: Ensure that all children, irrespective of gender or economic situation, complete a full course of primary education by 2015. Progress: Great progress has been made in some parts of Africa and Southern Asia. The elimination of school fees and the provision of free school lunches have helped increase enrollment in some areas. However, much of the world still does not have the needed investment in teachers or resources and this target is unlikely to be met. 3. Promote Gender Equality
Goal: Eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education. Progress: Gaps between the percentage of males and females enrolled in education have narrowed in some areas. However in others, like the Oceanic region, levels have worsened since 1990. 4. Reduce Child Mortality
Dave Toycen says world leads need to follow through on their commitments to developing countries.
Goal: Reduce by two-thirds the number of children under the age of five, who die from preventable causes. Progress: While death rates are falling overall, it is well short of the target set. Rates have more than halved in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and North Africa. But they remain high in parts of Southern Asia, and the number of preventable child deaths has increased in Sub-Saharan Africa. 5. Improve Maternal Health
Goal: Reduce by two-thirds the number of women who die due to complications due to childbirth. Progress: While some progress has been made, maternal death rates are still alarmingly high, especially among teen mothers. 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Goal: Achieve universal access to health care and treatment for infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Progress: The spread of HIV/AIDS has stabilized in many areas, with a better rate of access to anti-viral drugs. Tuberculosis infection rates have improved. But funding for malaria is still falling behind what is needed to prevent spread of the disease. 7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal: Halve the number of people without access to appropriate drinking water and sanitation facilities. Progress: The world is expected to meet the healthy water target, but half of those living in developing nations are still without access to sanitation facilities. 8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Goal: Through global partnerships, develop sustainable economic systems for developing nations. This involves all countries donating one per cent of national gross income towards development assistance. Progress: Many developed nations donors—including Canada—are far below target in promised aid and assistance. (With files from the BBC)
8 • November 2010 •
Ordinary people make big impact through sponsorship C
Stewards Continued from page 1
In 1993 Taylor began volunteering at a drop-in centre, working with people struggling with poverty. Later he took a one-year leave of absence from his engineering job to volunteer full time at a ministry for men with addictions. To free up even more time for volunteer work, at his next job Taylor negotiated a contract that allowed for regular leaves of absence. But there were consequences. “Each time I returned [from a volunteer opportunity], I was in a smaller office with less responsibility,” he said. In 2000, Taylor started Enviro-Stewards—an engineering consulting firm that evaluates the manufacturing processes of North American companies and recommends ways to reduce water and energy consumption as well as harmful waste. This gave him more control over his work and time. The next year, Taylor went to El Salvador where a group helped
“We take the approach [to child sponsorship] that if you develop people, they in turn will develop their communities.” But then Obrero was registered at the San Lorenzo Student Centre, a Compassion project running in partnership with Sarrat Bible Baptist Church. Soon after, he was sponsored by Edward and Mary Endicott, a couple from the United Kingdom. It has made all the difference in Obrero’s life. He has been able to attain a Bachelor’s degree in Education, a Master of Holistic Child Development and a Master of
Six-year-old Fred was born with a cleft palate, but has since had surgery, provided by cbm’s Child Sponsorship Program.
Theology. He is the senior pastor at the Sarrat Bible Baptist Church, the same church that helped to sponsor him when he was a child. Obrero has given back to his community since he was sponsored. “We take the approach [to child sponsorship] that if you develop people, they in turn will develop their communities,” says Compassion Canada president Barry Slauenwhite. This approach is transformational development, says Slauenwhite. “It is a process by
which people become whole physically, socially, cognitively and spiritually. “We don’t want to just develop communities, we want to transform them through the saving
power of Jesus Christ.” Mark Lukowski, chief executive officer of CCF, says child sponsorship is important for a host of reasons. “Child sponsorship helps us
provide freedom of continuity. When we work in a community, we try to be there for a long time. Because we’re there for a long time, not only are we able to provide them with education by building schools, improving health by building medical clinics, and improving sanitation by building latrines.” CCF has been working in more than 50 countries for about 50 years as a global organized network. “We are also helping in community development... [in a way that allows individuals] to improve the community and take some ownership over how they can make their community better,” says Lukowski. Lukowski, who has traveled to many countries where CCF is active, has witnessed firsthand how child sponsorship works and the gratitude of the recipients. “Let me assure you, the aid is appreciated,” says Lukowski.
anadians can become missionaries, aid workers, friends and support teams for people in a developing country without ever leaving home. Through many child sponsorship organizations, including cbm (Christian Blind Mission), Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) and Compassion Canada, ordinary Canadians can have huge impact in a child’s life, their family’s lives and their community’s life. One of those children is Fred, a six-year-old from Uganda who was born with a cleft palate. Fred barely survived infections and malnutrition due to his disfigurement. He was also mocked and teased, leaving him too scared to go to school or out in public. Then cbm came alongside him through their Forgotten Child Sponsorship Program (FCSP), took care of his basic needs and provided him with a surgery that boosted his selfconfidence, allowed him to attend school, eat properly, go out in public and be happy. “He wakes up and gets a mirror. He looks and smiles. He touches his mouth, lips and nose and feels happy,” says Fred’s mother, Sissy. Cbm works to take away the stigma of disabilities in developing communities, because this stigma prevents children from being permitted to attend school, and it prevents people from acquiring jobs, says director of communications and marketing Beth Jost-Reimer. “People have impairments, communities turn that impairment into a disability,” she says. Cbm works in 90 of the poorest countries in the world in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
A sponsor also had an impact on Daniel Obrero’s life. Obrero was a sponsored child many years ago, when he and his family were suffering from abject poverty in one of the poorest communities in the Phillippines. His father, a fisherman, sometimes couldn’t make enough money to put food on the table.
Rachel Bergen Special to ChristianWeek
Daniel Obero recently completed a Bechelor’s degree in education and a Master of Holistic Child Development, as well as a Master of Theology.
rebuild homes after devastating earthquakes. On a subsequent trip, Taylor used his engineering expertise to help a coffee plantation reduce waste through drying leftover coffee beans and feeding them to cows.
“Each time I returned [from a volunteer opportunity], I was in a smaller office with less responsibility.” His vision for caring for people while improving the environment strengthened through work with an orphanage in southern Sudan. Taylor watched women caring for 150 to 200 orphans walk three miles daily to fetch water because a nearby stream was too dirty. On a 2006 visit, when Taylor brought a filter to purify the stream water, the locals asked him, “Can you teach us how to build these?” He gladly built a simple biosand filter that could be constructed with local materials and Enviro-Stewards staff provided
Cicilia Ide and her son with a water filter in southern Sudan.
free training. The orphanage now purifies its own water. In addition, a Sudanese charitable organization purifies water and sells it in glass bottles as well as manufactures the bio-filters for residential use. Today, Taylor’s desire to help people is well-integrated with his engineering expertise. He and his staff regularly make time for volunteer work—including an annual Habitat for Humanity build. Enviro-Stewards also encourages clients to give back to their communities and to consider the social impact of their work.
• November 2010 • 9
Religious intolerance grows in Indonesia Geoffrey P. Johnston ChristianWeek Columnist
merican president Barack Obama makes a trip to Indonesia this month, returning to the country he called home for several years during
his childhood. Obama’s goodwill mission to the world’s most populace Muslim-majority country comes at a time when Islamic extremism is on the rise in the Indonesian archipelago, where Christians are targets of government harassment and militant violence. According to the 2009 census, approximately 86 per cent of the 230 million people in the Southeast Asian country identify themselves as Muslim. Christians, who make up 8.7 per cent of the population, are the largest religious minority. The secular republic’s constitution is based on the pluralistic national philosophy known as the Pancasila, which has five core principles: belief in God, justice, national unity, democracy and social justice. Since 1998, Indonesia has been making the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Human rights groups acknowledge that the country has made progress under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the current president. “However, during his presidency, religious minorities have experienced harassment, intimidation, discrimination and even violence perpetrated by groups espousing intolerance and extremism under the banner of Islamic orthodoxy,” states the 2010 annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a non-partisan human rights body established by the U.S. Congress. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an international human rights organization based in London and Brussels, says Indonesia’s long tradition of pluralism is in jeopardy. “Essentially, the rise of
religious intolerance in Indonesia has been caused by the infiltration of Indonesia by Wahhabism [the most extreme branch of Islam], largely from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East,” explains CSW’s Indonesia expert, who cannot be identified for reasons of personal safety. The Christian community is most harassed in West Java province, Andreas Yewangoe, chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, told ChristianWeek.
“He should give Indonesia credit for its long tradition of religious freedom and pluralism enshrined in the Pancasila, but should warn Indonesia that this is under threat.” While the Christian community has “a very good relationship” with the “mainline Islamist groups in Indonesia,” says Yewangoe, small extremist groups employ violence in their campaign to impose Sharia or Islamic law on Christians. “Militia groups like FPI [Islamic Defender Front] pose a threat to religious minorities and Indonesia’s democracy,” wrote Leonard Leo, chair of the USCIRF, in a statement to ChristianWeek. Even though the constitution recognizes Christianity as one of Indonesia’s officially sanctioned religions, government harassment of Christians is common.
Four years ago, the Ministry of Religion issued the Joint Ministerial Decree, which forces religious groups to win the approval of 60 local residents for any plans to construct or expand a house of worship. According to Human Rights Watch, Muslim clerics and extremists invoke the 2006 decree as “justification for blocking the building and operation of Christian churches.” The ongoing harassment and intimidation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church at Bekasi City, West Java, is the latest manifestation of religious intolerance. Having been denied a permit to build a church, the Batak congregation gathered in a housing complex to worship. Enraged Muslim mobs demonstrated against the Christians’ presence. Local officials responded by banning the congregation from meeting in that location. The congregation then moved Sunday services to a proposed building site, an open field owned by the church. According to CSW, a mob attacked the Christians during a service in August. The militant violence escalated September 12, when a church elder was stabbed in the chest and stomach as he made his way to Sunday services. When Reverend Luspida Simanjurtak attempted to rescue the elder, she was struck about the head, face and back with a wooden block. Both survived the attack, but were hospitalized. “Our constitution states that Indonesia guarantees the freedom to all Indonesian citizens to worship based on their faith or belief, without any discrimination,” says Yewangoe. “However, what has happened clearly show us that the government in Bekasi is violating the constitution.” So far this year, reports the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, 30 churches have been attacked in Indonesia. When Obama visits Jakarta later this month, says the CSW expert, “he should give Indonesia credit for its long tradition of religious freedom and pluralism enshrined in the Pancasila, but should warn Indonesia that this is under threat.” Canadian Christians can help by praying for the persecuted church in Indonesia, says Yewangoe. He also urges Canadians to lobby the Canadian government “to push the Indonesian government to strengthen the law enforcement in Indonesia, without any discrimination.” “Meanwhile,” says the Christian leader, “we are building a good relationships with the local communities where the churches are.” Geoffrey P. Johnston is a freelance writer based in Southern Ontario.
10 • November 2010 •
Evangelicals on the cusp Conference delves into future of Canadian church Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
TORONTO, ON—Canadian evangelicals are at a pivotal juncture in history, says Aileen Van Ginkel of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). Recently she’s been visiting Christian seminaries, colleges, institutions and leaders across Canada, mapping out some of the challenges and changes they are dealing with as evangelicals. She will report on her findings about the Canadian evangelical landscape at “Hinge: National Church and Mission Dialogue.” The November 16-18 Toronto conference, will look at the point that Canadian evangelicals are at in history, and how God might be calling the Church to go forward. “We’re at a time in evangelical church history when we recognize there’s a lot of change that we’re already engaged in, and further change coming down the pipe,” says Van Ginkel. “What is God calling us to be doing as evangelicals in Canada?
What is going to help us in terms of our thinking and our practices?” Other speakers include Glenn Smith of Christian Direction in Montreal and author of The Forgotten Ways, EFC president Bruce Clemenger and Rick Hiemstra, director of the Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism. “It was really interesting to get a sense of what was being said locally,” says Van Ginkel. “There was a lot of overlap. Such as the themes of spiritual formation; what we mean by gospel and the Kingdom of God; the nature and purpose of the Church and what kind of leadership we are looking for in these changing times. “The Hinge conference is for reflective practitioners,” she says, “people who are engaged with the church, who recognize there are changes taking place, and are going to benefit from having conversations with other people to distill their own thinking, to network and to support one another in the ongoing conversation.”
Aid agency celebrates three-plus decades of radical ideas Mags Storey Ontario Correspondent
STOUFFVILLE, ON—Emmanuel Relief and Rehabilitation International is celebrating 35 years of partnering with churches in the developing world to meet the needs of their own communities. “It was a radical concept back then,” says outgoing director Andy Atkins. “The goal was to give local churches a hand in their community outreach. We facilitated everything from leadership training, to discipleship, to water and sanitation, to providing chickens, rabbits and sewing classes. It all depended on the needs of the community.” Middleton founded Emmanuel International in 1975. Atkins joined the organization four years
later. “We were known as ‘George’s wild and crazy youth’ with a heart for the Lord,” Atkins says. “Back in the day our whole emphasis on going to countries and finding partner churches was kind of revolutionary. Things that the development world today is completely sold on—like teaching people healthcare and building outhouses—were what we cut our teeth on.” Emmanuel International currently has projects running in eight countries around the world, including Haiti, Sudan, Tanzania and the Philippines. Atkins steps down as international director this fall. He is replaced by Doug Anderson. “The best way, I believe, to break the cycle of poverty is through the local churches,” Atkins says. “They are going to still be there long after we are gone.”
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Church focuses on unpaid ministers Ali Symons Anglican Church of Canada
rchdeacon Adam Halkett has a broad smile and a firm handshake. The 54-yearold Cree man from Montreal Lake, Saskatchewan works just like other Anglican ministers: he preaches the Word, presides at weddings and funerals and takes emergency calls in the middle of the night. Yet Halkett does not get paid. “I love my ministry,” he says. “I know I could leave, but I don’t know what would happen.” He shrugs and laughs. His wife Theresa, an addictions counsellor, shares more of the challenges. Halkett works in an area with a high rate of suicide and incarceration. He is responsible for regular visits to 13 communities. Only some of these communities can help cover travel costs. His situation is not unique. Halkett is one of dozens of Canadian Anglican ministers— mainly Aboriginal—who do not earn a living wage for their work. He was in Toronto September 13 for a meeting on the issue that the church calls “non-stipendiary ministry.” The problem of non-stipendiary ministry was brought to light at the first national Native Convocation in 1988. Since then, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Council of the North (Canada’s 10 northern dioceses) have kept the issue in the foreground. Clergy stipends are usually determined on a diocesan scale but some poorer dioceses lack the funds to pay a full living wage
to all ministers. These “non-stipendiary” ministers might work in another job part time, or rely on a spouse’s income. In 2002, a House of Bishops task force on non-stipendiary ministry reported some sobering facts: the majority of non-stipendiary ministers are Aboriginal; most non-Aboriginal clergy are seminary trained while most Aboriginal clergy are not. In fact, there are no common educational standards for non-stipendiary ministers. In May 2010, national Indigenous Ministries staff convened a diverse group of stakeholders to work on the complex issue. The September Church House meeting was the second such meeting. The group did a Gospel-based discipleship Bible study before delving into tough questions, like, “How can the principle of self-determination help us solve this problem?” and “How can we get accurate statistics on non-stipendiary ministers?” “This is a problem that the whole church shares,” says National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, who chaired the meeting. He says the Church shares not only the moral responsibility of addressing this injustice but also in reconsidering the mission practices that have fostered it. He notes, as an example, that Anglican churches have historically been expensive to build and maintain. “We have become a church the poor can no longer afford,” says MacDonald. “Why is it that such a thing as Christian community needs so much of a physical structure and a financial structure to make it happen?
That doesn’t seem right. Indeed, if the early Christians had needed what we need in order to be a church, Christianity would’ve been roadkill.” While meetings roll along at Church House, these non-stipendiary ministers are busy serving among the marginalized. This is the flip side of the issue: many of these ministries are vibrant and growing because they have sprung from real need. Halkett spends much of his time giving the sacraments to Aboriginal communities that hold them sacred. Many families in his area choose to have their children baptized and he takes great joy in performing this service. For him, receiving a stipend would mean that this ministry is expanded. “It would mean more presence in the communities, more visibility to the First Nations communities where I could serve and minister to youth, adults and elders,” he says. MacDonald says some Inuit non-stipendiary ministers call themselves an Inuktitut word that means “abundance.” “They see themselves as surviving on God’s storehouse and goodness,” says MacDonald. “I think that a lot of non-stipendiary clergy work in that way. They don’t complain. They don’t get angry. They’re amazing. I think that they rely upon God’s storehouse much more than most of us in the church do.”
This article was first published by the Anglican Church of Canada. Used with permission.
Worship Pastor The Worship Pastor at Trinity is someone with a deep love for Jesus Christ and His people; someone with a passion for music and the role it plays in congregational worship; someone who is able to thrive in a team environment; and someone who is able to envision and energize a community that is grounded in the many expressions of worship. Trinity is a vibrant church that will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011. Our Senior Pastor, Wayne Alguire was called to be our senior leader in 2008. Our purpose as a church is clearly defined by our mission statement; Love God, Love Others, Change the World through Christ. Trinity is located in Kelowna, British Columbia which has a community of approximately 160,000. Trinity currently has 3 worship services on weekends, each with their own style and personality. We are striving to continually align our worship style to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Visit the Career Forum at www.christianweek.org for the full job posting, including: core responsibilities, competencies and qualifications. Please send resume along with sound clips and/or You Tube posting with an example of your worship style to: John Ringness, Executive Pastor email@example.com www.trinitybaptist.net
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Lead Pastor Fairview MB Church is seeking a qualified pastor to provide spiritual oversight and visionary leadership to Fairview’s ministries and congregation. The successful candidate will be submitted to Christ, committed to equipping others to live in Christ and applying the truth of God’s Word in practical ways. Fairview is a mutigenerational church of 220 people that meet in a renovated facility in St Catharines, Ontario. For more information, please review our website at www.fairviewmb.ca or email your resume to the Pastoral Search Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (905) 934-3398
Project Manager/ Construction Superintendent Seeking a Project Manager/Construction Superintendent for Hyde Park Canada for a new retirement community in the west-end of Ottawa, Ontario. We are looking for someone with a minimum of 10 years experience. Preference will be given to those with ICI qualifications. Start Date: IMMEDIATE. Please state your salary expectations. Send resume to: email@example.com. No telephone inquiries, please. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
• November 2010 • 11
Something about seeing people at their lowest and most desperContinued from page 1 ate, half-clothed from turning tricks for drugs while hating themselves for it, opens into a profound level of intimacy. I am blessed to enter the darkest place of people whose sins are far more public than those of the rest of us. Constant humiliation makes the people I work with especially vulnerable, and vulnerable in almost every way: to violence, to exploitation, to false hope and finally to despair. When allowed into these dark places, it is my privilege, and that of all InSite staff, to communicate worth and love instead of judgment and scorn. The day nurse asks me to keep an eye out for a specific participant—a regular who comes in several times a day. She hadn’t been seen yet. Later that night, the woman finally comes in, and she’s beaming. “I went to see my daughter today! And I didn’t use all day! F---, soon I’m gonna get off this s---!” We break out in applause and cheers, celebrating her triumphs with her—as she mixes her drugs to take in a few minutes in our facility. Other participants in the room are excited as well; two of them come over to hug her. Another regular later chats with me in the treatment room as I dress his abscess, trying not to cringe away from the overwhelming odour he emanates. “It would have been my anniversary with my wife today, if she hadn’t gone missing. We’ve both been down and out, but she took care of me out here. Now, I got nobody to talk to. This is the first human touch I’ve had today.” I look up, startled. I am wearing gloves, holding my breath, cleaning his sores with a 10-inch sterile Q-tip. Even this, my deficient attempt to heal, is taken as love by a man desperate for human connection. I am ashamed. I finish dressing the wound, clean up, remove my gloves and give him a hug. I hop up on the treatment bench next to him and we sit together and talk for another 15 minutes: about life, love and faith. He says goodbye, and then asks for a referral to an exit program. I give it to him. He knows the referral is merely one point along our journey together, and that I will listen to his story whether he goes to the program or not. As a Christian, I know that his life is part of God’s real story of redemption. InSite is one of the few places where I get to hear it openly spoken, with trust, without judgment. Having witnessed three generations of the same family shoot up in the same room, I have come to understand that injection drug use is far from being the result of one bad decision. It is the outcome of a complex of systemic, familial and individual influences that must not be oversimplified to “It’s their fault. They should
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12 • November 2010 •
just quit and get a job.” I am still shocked by the stories of abuse that I hear at InSite. Some of the people I respect the most in my life are injection drug users. Having heard what they have survived, I realize that they have far more strength then they are usually given credit for. I can understand why they turn to drugs as a coping mechanism amid the devastation they have endured. Dulling the pain has become a way of survival for many who come to InSite. Appreciating this simple fact leads to love and compassion, which leads to grace, given as freely as it has been received. Often, participants at InSite are forced to sleep outside at night. Not having a warm, safe bed takes its toll on bodies, and special care is needed for feet. An InSite staff member chats with me behind the desk as he fills up a basin of warm, soapy water. Kneeling on the floor, he gently strips a damp sock off the swollen foot of a participant and lowers the foot into the soothing water. Washing feet here isn’t an oddity from a discomfiting Bible story, but a regular occurrence. Foot baths are healing—for body and soul. As I fill up another basin, I marvel at the timelessness of this act of community. The humility necessary for all involved in washing feet produces beautiful vulnerability and relationship, which, unsurprisingly, creates change. So why am I here? Aren’t I enabling drug users to continue their awful habits? Aren’t I wasting charitable funds that could be directed to other projects (and, let’s acknowledge the implication, more “worthy” recipients)? InSite has been shown to be a successful public health initiative in more than 30 scientific research reports published in peerreviewed medical journals. Such reports demonstrate that InSite users are more likely to seek long-term addiction treatment and to stay off the street, than users who choose to inject outside. The HIV rates in the DTES are on par with many African nations. Such blood-borne diseases are spread by sharing needles—something that is banned at InSite. And instead of using puddle water from urine-soaked alleys, participants are provided with sterile water, which reduces various kinds of horrific infection. Clean supplies, safe rooms, friendly staff supervision during injection and compassionate nursing care help injection drug users to learn how to value their bodies, and thus themselves, even as our society generally tells them they are worse than useless. The choice to stop using drugs is a decision that many addicts cannot even imagine making, but InSite provides reachable steps toward a healthier life, offering participants a chance at redemption of both body and soul. Despite the overwhelming evidence in support of Insite, however, it is currently having to fight before the Supreme Court of Canada for the right to stay open. The Harper government—one supported by many otherwise compassionate Christians—has been seeking to shut down this initiative, pressing its case at tremendous expense despite
losing in lower courts. Why are they doing so? It is part of their policy to turn away from harm reduction and put more money instead into policing and prisons. Better, it seems, to spend much more money locking up addicts or filling up waiting rooms in the ER, than making their difficult lives a little easier, a little safer, a little more graced by care. The potential loss of this pioneering charitable work, the first supervised injection site in North America, should alarm Christians. Participating in God’s redemption of Canada requires a multipronged approach, one that must include the basic principle of harm reduction. Do we wish all addicts were off drugs and healthily contributing to society? Of course we do. But wishing dosen’t make it so. And in the real world—the only world there is and the world Christ calls us to love—sometimes the best we can do, at least immediately, is make things less bad—and in the case of InSite, much less bad. InSite offers more than that, however. InSite offers not only the great gift of harm reduction, but the greater gifts of recognition, compassion, stability, safety and hope. In short, it offers love to people not well loved by Canadian society—or by most Canadian churches. The Harper government must stop its wrongheaded hostility to InSite. Instead, it should look at why so many Christians, as well as other citizens, support it, and then work with municipalities to multiply it wherever necessary—along with, of course, proper funding for public safety, mental health, homes for the homeless and a judicial and policing system that will come down harder on drug pushers and pimps. Will you tell your MP that the Harper government should drop its opposition and instead support InSite? Near the end of my shift, I watch in horror as a regular participant stabs wildly into his neck with a needle. He has been trying desperately to inject into his neck in order to find his jugular vein. When I intervene, he consents to letting me try to find him one in his arm. Midway through, however, he changes his mind and grabs my arm. “Don’t!” he says. “I’m not worth it.” I look him in the eye. “Yes, you are.” He glares at me…and holds out his arm. I tie the tourniquet wordlessly and find him a much safer vein. He injects himself, and then gruffly thanks me, tears welling up in eyes that refuse to meet mine. This is grace, manifest in care of desperate persons, flesh and spirit. This is harm reduction. And I do it because it is simply the Christian thing to do. Meera Bai is a graduate of the University of Calgary School of Nursing, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Christian studies at Regent College, Vancouver. John Stackhouse is the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent.
Letters - What others are saying about InSite This article appeared in the October 15 National Edition of ChristianWeek, as well as on our website at www.christianweek.org. Here’s what other readers are saying about this topic. No solution RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) This article is very well written. And I accept the compassion with which the author serves. Yet I ask: Is the provision of non-medicinal drugs to people a good and honourable solution to a complicated issue? There are several levels of discussion. Is it really reducing harm? Is it addressing the complex social issues in the lives of addicts? Is it a ministry of Christ to inject non-prescription narcotics into the bodies of men and women? “In the name of Jesus, be filled with this horribly destructive chemical?” The centre is not a ministry where all who are serve are also provided with a dose of gospel truth and prayer. It is purely a secular response to a terrible travesty to men, women and children. On a spiritual level, is it a ministry leading to the wholeness of the person? Does this connect people to redemption through God, and healing of body and soul? I am sorry, but I still do not see this as a credible solution to a devastating addiction. Good intentions are not always enough to redeem the actions of a society. Roy Bedford St. Albert, AB
Life-saving compassion RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) I was so touched by what I read. I am over two years clean and sober. I am from East Van. I was a regular client at InSite, and I was also at OnSite. I am so grateful for InSite and all the wonderful staff whom I call my angels. They saved my life. I don’t live in Vancouver anymore. I live in Kelowna. I was very fortunate to get out while I could. Gratitude, compassion, and empathy are huge in my life today. It is so important to keep InSite open. I was one of the people who shot up using mud puddles in back alleys and shared needles. I am lucky to not be dead and I never felt like I belonged anywhere in life. Jackie Douglas Kelowna, BC
Giving chances RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Thank you for publishing this article. I think that as Christians it is our responsibility to love those who are lost and demonstrate the love of Christ. This is how some people are demonstrating the love of Christ, and it is moving. How many of us would be willing to do something so controversial as this in the name of love? Not too many, I can guess. As a social worker I have briefly worked with people who struggle with addictions and know first hand that the way to recovery is through grace, mercy and forgiveness. These things cannot be experienced in an environment of judgment. What they are doing in East Side Vancouver is giving people a chance to see that they have worth, that they are precious and that God loves them. Tracy McMullin Winnipeg, MB
Be the hope RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Exquisitely written article. Thank you for this. I truly believe that harm reduction is the way to go. Who on earth are we to judge each other’s pain? I don’t know a single soul who does not have an addiction of some sort or another. Addiction is simply a way of self-medicating. Those at InSite are truly blessed to have someone like those workers be their hope for this moment in time. Sue-Ann Vancouver, BC
Shout out RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) This article should not be hidden in a Christian paper... it should be sent, printed screamed to anyone and everyone who can hear! Lois Hunter Toronto, ON
Working together RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Long before he took the boy to Jesus, no doubt the man with the tormented son used to try to keep him away from flames and lakes, would no doubt hold him as he rocked and foamed at the mouth. Continued on next page
World Vision Gambling profits exploit the poor and weak launches birth W certificate campaign
hen governments dangle new grant Mike Strathdee opportunities in front of ChristianWeek Columnist charities, cash-strapped email@example.com organizations are quick to take notice. I recently got an e-mail from an acquaintance who is on the board of a seniors’ complex. He asked me how Christian organizations were responding to a program funded by gambling revenue. That question was ringing in my ears a few days later as I listened to a Transport for Christ speaker at a men’s rally. The chaplain told the story of an anguished trucker who came to see him, lamenting having spent $450 he couldn’t afford to lose at a casino. Some colleagues refer to gambling as a tax on people who are bad at math, or just plain unwise. Where many people of faith see danger, the Ontario government sees opportunity. Ontario’s government has approved an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) plan to offer online gambling, beginning in 2012. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says Ontario is losing $400 million a year to offshore gambling websites. The OLG hopes to make $100 million a year in profits from Internet gaming within five years. Government officials promise the new scheme will provide a secure environment to protect young people and problem gamblers. Given the poor job casinos have done in keeping out people who have signed self-exclusion orders, this claim would be laughable, were it not so sad. Gambling earned $1.7 billion for the Ontario government in 2009. The OLG spent $558 million on marketing and promotion last year, including efforts to entice people to gamble more. They spent less than 10 per cent of that amount dealing with the damage caused by gambling.
It’s not hard to see how some charities are tempted to apply for money being offered by the Trillium Foundation, the vehicle the province uses to launder its gambling profits. But anyone looking at those dollars should reflect on some other numbers as well. In 2007, gambling revenues across Canada mounted to $440 a person. Donations to charity averaged $341 a person that year. More than 332,000 Ontarians are experiencing problems as a result of gambling. About 3.4 per cent have moderate to severe gambling problems. Twice as many males as females have gambling problems. Almost seven per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds have moderate to severe gambling problems. Most problem and pathological gamblers tend to be under age 30. A 2005 study found that 36 per cent of gambling revenues come from problem gamblers. In the U.S., some studies suggest there are twice as many compulsive gamblers as alcoholics. Video lottery terminals are often called the crack cocaine of gambling, twice as addictive as other forms. Add in the privacy and anonymity that Internet gaming provides, and you have a truly dangerous brew. In his book Whose Money Is It Anyways, John McArthur argues that gambling builds on the exploitation of others, and violates the Tenth Commandment. A Brethren in Christ publication on gambling suggests gambling flourishes “because it appeals to base, selfish instincts of greed, covetousness, thrill seeking, entertainment dependency as a lifestyle and the desire to get something for nothing.” How can our leaders be so blind?
Continued from previous page
Yes, we need more pressure on our governments and civic leaders to see what the real needs are, and we need to generate a conversation among Christian leaders to understand the issues that plague the most marginalized and broken populations in our society. Thanks to ChristianWeek for taking this on!
There is a right time for healing. Even the first attempt, when he brought the boy to the disciples, was unsuccessful. As a strong believer in 12-step recovery programs, I am also a strong believer in harm reduction strategies. It’s not either/or it’s both/and. I applaud ChristianWeek for this article. Bill Millar Winnipeg, MB
Where’s the power? RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) When a person receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit will clean them up. We see addicts set free, gain their lives back and restore broken relationships. This is the plan Jesus has for their lives. When people don’t know their Scriptures or the power of the Spirit, they operate in worldly ways (1 Cor. 2:14) and addicts stay addicts. It’s a shame. Kate O’Neill Orton, ON
Truth telling RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) This is one of the best articles I have read. The truth is in it. I am a Christian and I support the nurse, the program and harm reduction. Jesus came for people who needed Him, not those with their so called [lives] together. Good on you for the article. Charlotte Vancouver, BC
The thing to do RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Thanks for this well-written, moving and compassionate story. This is indeed the Christian thing to do. Josiah Neufeld Winnipeg, MB
Understand the issues RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) My wife used to bring home stories like this when she worked as a street nurse. When she transitioned to something more like a nurse chaplain on staff at Metro (Church) in downtown Kelowna, the stories changed somewhat—but they still involve offering grace to a group of people who have little experience of compassion in the impersonal, sometimes dehumanizing system we maintain with our tax dollars.
A certified financial planner, Mike Strathdee works for a faith-based, national charitable foundation.
Frank Stirk Special to ChristianWeek
MISSISSAUGA, ON—Something as simple as having an official certificate may be one of the strongest protections that children in the developing world can have to guard against falling victim to human traffickers—and yet millions are without one. “It seems like such a simple thing. It even seems kind of mundane. But it absolutely can stem the tide of things like trafficking and exploitation,” says World Vision Canada spokesperson Molly Finlay. “A child becomes a person once they have a birth certificate.” New this year to World Vision’s Christmas gift guide is a $50 pledge that will go toward raising public awareness of the many benefits of making birth registration more accessible. Every year, about 50 million births go unregistered, because many parents “simply don’t even know that this is something that’s important,” says Finlay. “We will be pushing governments,” she adds, “to lower the cost of birth certificates. In the Dominican Republic, the fee for birth registration is $120 US. That’s a lot of money for us, never mind if you lived in the Dominican Republic.” Having a birth certificate helps children gain access to such basic necessities as health care and education—and receive potentially life-saving information about how to prevent contracting HIV and AIDS—as well as allow them to migrate legally. That too reduces the risk that they could fall into the hands of modern-day slave-traders. Finlay says this campaign reflects World Vision’s newfound emphasis on advocacy on behalf of people in impoverished countries. In some cases, at least, it appears to be making a difference. “In Mozambique, where it has been a challenge, apparently they have mobile birth registries now where the government will send an official to remote communities,” she says. “These are the kinds of things we’re working alongside governments to make happen.”
Len Hjalmarson Kelowna, BC
What’s the word? RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Harm reduction is a good goal. The debate concerning InSite is over appropriate means to achieve that goal in the IV drug industry. If InSite is an appropriate means in DTES, then it’s also an appropriate means in other similar locations across Canada. Is that appropriate? What do our street-level ministries across Canada say? Al Hiebert Steinbach, MB
Overturned ideology RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Thank you for this honest, heartfelt story of how Christ’s love and grace penetrates the dark underworld of drug addiction, and how it overturns the ideology and rhetoric of people who know nothing about drug addicts. Richelle Wiseman Calgary, AB
Gentle but compelling RE: Why I help addicts shoot up (October 15, 2010) Thank you for publishing this! It was so well written, and lays out the case for harm prevention gently, but compellingly. Andy Madsen Livermore, CA
Your Writing Could Win a Prize. The Word Guild presents awards every year in more than 35 categories for writers who are Christian, from veteran to beginner. If something you have written has been published since January 1, 2010, you could submit it in the first round of 2011 contest entries—deadline November 15, 2010. Go to www.thewordguild.com for contest details and to enter. Click on “awards.” Also check the God Uses Ink contest for novice writers— deadline January 15, 2011. Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts accepted.
ChristianWeek welcomes letters to the editor. Please include name, address and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for brevity, clarity, legality and taste. Shorter letters have a better chance of being included than longer letters. Send to: Letters to the Editor c/o ChristianWeek Box 725, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 2K3 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 204-947-5632
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Quicktakes Tutu retires CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA—Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and major player in the end of apartheid in South Africa, retired from public life in early October. American president Barack Obama hailed the 79-year-old as a “moral titan” and an “extraordinary example of pursuing a path to forgiveness and reconciliation” in South Africa. For more than 35 years, Tutu has been an outspoken voice for freedom and justice in countries across the globe; a defender of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; and an advocate for treatment and prevention programs to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. (allafrica.com, Office of the White House)
Remember to pray Canadian Christians will join others around the globe for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) on November 14 to pray for those who, because of their faith in Jesus, fear for their safety and freedom. This year’s theme, “Hearing Their Cry,” is based on Psalm 10:17: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” IDOP takes place annually in churches around the world. IDOP Canada partners produce resources including a resource kit and DVD video (available as a free download) for use by churches across the country. Partners include The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) Religious Liberty Commission, Open Doors with Brother Andrew (Canada), The Voice of the Martyrs (Canada), Intercede International and International Christian Response. (www.idop.ca)
Native leader remembered WASKAGANISH, QC—A Quebec native leader who led his people through negotiations that would result in the historic James Bay Agreement has died. Billy Diamond, former Grand Chief of the Quebec Cree and an evangelical Christian, passed away September 30 following an apparent heart attack. He was 61. Diamond was just 22 years old when he, and other native leaders, took on the Quebec government in the mid-1970s over the protection of native land threatened by the James Bay hydroelectric project. Ultimately, the James Bay Agreement—signed in 1975—saw the Cree and other northern native communities compensated for lands lost to Hydro-Quebec. Over the years Diamond became a skilled negotiator and remained a staunch advocate for his people. More recently, Diamond was a member of a group of 24 elders and residential school survivors, who met privately with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend forgiveness on the anniversary of the prime minister’s historic apology for Canada’s role in running native residential schools. (Montreal Gazette, ChristianWeek files)
Thanks for tanks CALGARY, AB—Operation Eyesight Universal is challenging local trades and businesses in
Desmond Tutu retired from public life in early October.
Calgary to help wipe out unnecessary blindness in Kenya. The new “Thanks for Tanks” campaign aims to provide 1,000 latrines to families in the African country by the end of October, at the cost of $65 each. OEU is asking trades, homebuilders, major retail and other corporations for their support. “Most Calgarians take basic sanitation for granted; yet toilets and blindness are directly connected,” says OEU president and CEO Pat Ferguson. “Sanitation and clean water are in short supply throughout Africa, which leads to serious health problems, including a high rate of unnecessary blindness.” Trachoma, caused by bacterial infection, is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. The “Thanks for Tanks” campaign will help support OEU’s trachoma elimination project in Kenya. (www.operationeyesight.com)
Exploring arts and ministry GUELPH, ON—Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) Canada is hoping a one-day conference will inspire Christians with artistic inclinations to use their skills to tell others about God. “Called to Create” will feature Byron Spradlin, Warwick Cooper and Robert White on topics of ministry, mission and the arts. The conference runs November 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre. (www.iaact.org/c2c)
Bibles allowed at Canadian Citizenship Courts Bible Society welcomes restoration of Citizenship Bible Lloyd Mackey Special to ChristianWeek
OTTAWA, ON—Canadian Bible Society national director Ted Seres is pretty happy these days, now that Bibles and holy books from other religions are allowed at dozens of Citizenship Courts across Canada. Seres is not sure exactly what form the Bible Society’s
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Citizenship Bible project will take. But he welcomes the opportunity to restore the program, which was disbanded in 2004. In early September, current Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney announced that a bulletin would be distributed to the courts, permitting religious groups to have holy books available at citizenship ceremonies for new citizens to pick up prior
to taking the citizenship oath. During the six year ban, people wanting to swear their oath on a holy book were permitted to bring their own copies. But Seres says “many new immigrants welcomed the idea of a keepsake Bible of their own that they could keep as a souvenir after the citizenship ceremony.” Some 25,000 copies of the
special Bibles were distributed in 2004. The Bible Society’s ministry to newcomers to Canada began in the early 1900s when representatives of the Society were present at Pier 21 in Halifax, greeting immigrants arriving on ships. By the end of the 1950s, Bible distribution had widely spread into Citizenship Courts across the country.
Kenney says the holy books at Citizenship Courts were restored restoration at the urging of MPs from at least three political parties. He gave particular credit to two from the opposition ranks, Peter Stoffer of the NDP and Liberal John McKay. Local Citizenship Court offices will be free to set up the kinds of arrangements that they want, he adds.
“It restores the practice of pluralism. But it is not a licence for proselytizing. People will not be handed books or pamphleted,” the minister says. Kenney, himself a devout Catholic, says the restoration of the practice “pays respect to the fact that for many, their faith is central to their lives.” In preparing to issue the guidelines for the use of holy books, the minister says he and his ministry had consulted widely among the diversity of religious groups represented in Canada. Don Miller, head of the Bible Society’s Ottawa and Eastern Ontario district, notes that, while the organization does not presently stock the Citizenship Bibles, they could likely make available the Welcome Bibles that have been used in recent years in churchsponsored English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. The ESL Bibles, plus those used for presentation to inmates and military personnel, have become major parts of the Bible Society development and distribution activities, especially since the organization has moved away from retail Bible store operations. Bible Society officials indicate that the development of a new Citizenship Bible would like require broadening the organization’s donor base to its various projects. The new court guidelines call for the books to be in English or French.
Spotlight on Mission Positive stories. Valuable work.
Restored dignity fights poverty Salvation Army strives to give voice to the marginalized Renée Joette Friesen Special to ChristianWeek
he Salvation Army’s donation kettles will be out on street corners and in shopping malls this Christmas season, but the annual charitable campaign will have a new underlying message—to restore hope and dignity. “Poverty is the root cause that takes away dignity,” says Andrew Burditt, national public relations director. “People who are struggling often have to make a choice between eating a healthy meal and paying utilities.” According to Statistics Canada, one in 11 people live in poverty, Burditt says. “We want to focus the public’s attention so that we can restore hope and dignity among the poor. “It’s not just about giving people what they need; it’s helping them help themselves.” The Salvation Army is an international organization driven by Christ’s command to “love your neighbour.” It helps hundreds of thousands of Canadians each year. The Salvation Army has reached out to the poor and marginalized for the past 128 years. It provides people with food, shelter, drug rehabilitation, employment skills, computer training and other services.
It also provides camps for kids and recently opened a 10-bed shelter in Vancouver for women being rescued from sexual human trafficking. “The programs we run are designed to serve the person as a whole,” Burditt says, adding The Salvation Army strives to not just feed the hungry, but to provide a setting where people can sit down
at a table and experience sharing a meal with peers, counsellors and others. “In society we can take for granted the impact of the family meal,” Burditt says, adding part of
restoring dignity is making the meal experience available to the poor. The concept of dignity will be introduced during the Christmas kettle campaign and will lead up to the official launch of the Dignity Project in early 2011—a movement to encourage Canadians to educate themselves about the marginalized. The Salvation Army will tell the stories of people who struggle with poverty to show Canadians what it means to live without dignity. Community events will also be held across the nation. Sleep in the park events, vigils for the poor and blanket giveaways are among the projects being planned to kick off the three-year Dignity Project. With the effects of the global economic recession still being felt, more people are relying on social services like The Salvation Army to meet their basic human needs and to find some sense of dignity. The Salvation Army is now the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Canada, yet with only 12 to 14 per cent of funds raised covering administration costs, the majority of the work is done voluntarily. “Support for charitable giving is important, but more important is that people get involved,” Burditt says of volunteering. For more information about The Salvation Army, visit salvationarmy.ca.
Spots • Over 1.6 million people were helped by The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda last year. • The Salvation Army in Canada served 2.8 million meals last year. • The Army helped 1,095,000 people with food, clothing or practical assistance last year. • 4,800 children went to Salvation Army camps last year. • When disaster struck, the Army helped more than 33,000 people.
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