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Inspiring Faith

Praying boldly - Coronavirus 2020 by Darrell Johnson O God, stop the spreading of COVID-19! During the past days and weeks, many believers (and many not-yet believers!) have been praying over the alarming, disarming, disorienting, and for many folks, frightening, phenomenon of the coronavirus pandemic, and its associated disease, COVID-19. I have been deeply moved by the prayers I have heard and read, prayed with sensitivity to all the dimensions of the crisis. Prayers asking God to heal those who have contracted the disease; asking God to comfort those who cannot be near loved ones suffering from the disease; asking God to protect critical health servants; asking God to protect truck-drivers who are keeping the supply lines going; asking God to watch over Day-Care workers watching over little ones; asking God to give wisdom to government leaders needing to help masses of people navigate unchartered waters; asking God to hold those who have lost loved ones in His heart. And much more. Deeply moving. But I have not heard passionate pleading for the Living God to do what only He can do: stop the spreading of the virus! Oh, there have been a few voices crying out for what would have to be a massive miracle, but not as many as I would have expected, especially given the near helplessness of the situation.

His new heavens and new earth. And we say to ourselves that we simply have to accept the fact of brokenness for now and ask for the grace to endure and persevere. Why should we, in our time, think that we should not “just face the facts” and press on?

A reluctance Instead, I have sensed a seeming reluctance to boldly ask the Creator and Saviour of the world to simply stretch out His hand and put an end to the ‘pestilence’. Why is this? We are talking about it…and to…the One who, by simply speaking, called the universe into being. We are talking about it…and to…the One who, by simply speaking, holds the universe together moment-by-moment. The One who parted the waters of the Red Sea. The One who caused water – and honey! – to flow from a rock in the desert. The One who provided bread from heaven every morning for 40 years in the wilderness. On it goes. We are talking about it…and to…the One who incarnated Himself in our flesh, born into our world through the womb of a virgin. The One who healed leprosy and epilepsy. Who made the lame to walk, and the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. Who, simply by speaking, freed people long held in the grip of the demonic. Who, after giving Himself for the life of the world on a Roman cross, was raised from the dead! From the dead! Is there any greater enemy? Raised from the dead! Can this One not enter the crisis and stop the destroying plague? Well? Ah, maybe therein lies the reluctance. Maybe we do not believe He can. I hope that is not the case. I understand that it can be hard to believe. But given all that He has revealed about Himself through salvation history, I hope our reluctance to pray boldly is not due to lack of faith in His goodness and power. So, why then the reluctance? As I was walking the other day – appropriately socially distancing myself from other walkers – I thought of seven possible explanations for our holding back. See if you agree with them. See if any are true of you.

4. Or maybe, it is that we so hope for Jesus to come and bring about the new creation, that we are content to hold out until He comes. He could come at any time. “The time is near,” says the apostle John in The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Every passing day makes the Great Day of the Lord one day sooner. So we, rightly, live alive in that hope, and then, wrongly, just accept the way things are in the meantime.

Seven possibilities 1. We are reluctant because we think it presumptuous to be so bold. Fact is, we say, this is a broken world and will be until Jesus comes again, bringing with Him


April 2020

2. Related to the above, why should we, in our time, ask for such a miracle when people, God’s people, have suffered even worse crises in the past? Why should we in our time be exempted from such suffering? Are we that spoiled by the blessings of modern technological wonders that we think we can ask to be spared? 3. Or, going deeper, maybe our reluctance is actually nurtured by an addiction to the latest Breaking News. Oh, I hope not! But I think you know what I mean. There is a kind of “rush” that comes with being bombarded by the latest sensational development. I am not here speaking ill of the media. Most in the media are sincerely wanting to help us by keeping us informed. But many in the media are hooked on the hype and we catch the infection. So, is it possible that deep down in our soul, we secretly want the crisis to go on for awhile and so, do not pray for it all to end? No, Lord, let it not be so for us!

5. Or maybe – and here I am going to press into painful parts of our soul – maybe we prayed boldly about something else in the past and God did not come through as we had expected. We prayed for a loved one to be healed and it did not happen. We prayed to be protected from some harm and it came anyway. The earthquake destroyed our house. The fire swept through our neighbourhood. The floodwaters just kept rising. And we had to live with the consequences. So we are afraid to pray so boldly lest we are disappointed again. I understand this possibility. Unresolved disappointment in the secret place, keeping the heart from daring to try again to implore the Almighty to act in miraculous ways. 6. Or maybe we are concerned about God’s reputation in the world if we pray so boldly. We do not want in any way for His name to be shamed. So we say to ourselves, secretly, “what if we pray boldly before the watching world and God does not act as boldly as we boldly ask Him to act?” God loses face or so we fear. And thus we hold back. 7. There is one more possible reason for reluctance. Maybe we see in fact that God is, apparently, allowing the virus to spread, a form of His righteous judgment. The world is broken because we broke it. In the persons of Adam and Eve, we disobeyed God’s one good command to not try to live on our own, apart from dependence upon Him. God had warned our parents that to strike out on our own, to try to make life work on our terms and in our own ways, would result in disintegration, decay, death. Throughout the story of God with the world, there have been times when God has

let peoples “have their way,” resulting in wars and destruction and disease, doing so in the hope that allowing the consequences of sin would cause people to wake up from the illusion and turn back to Him. We think that maybe God is allowing the coronavirus to happen unto that end. And if this is the case, then to ask God to stop its spread would, or could, prematurely curtail the good to be achieved by the supposed judgment. So we hold back, waiting until it is clear that God has achieved the redemptive end. But how will we know when that time comes? How long might it take? We wrestle, grapple, muse, but not pray. Is any of the above making sense? And does any of it account for any reluctance in you to pray boldly? What’s next? So, where do we go? I can only speak for myself. I think we acknowledge any or all of the above, and still, pray! We go back to the basics of the Gospel of Jesus: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” Why? So that the world might know His life, eternal life. God loves the world. This world. A rebel world. An ignoring-the-ways-ofGod world. A broken-because-of-the-ignoring-and-rebelling world. In incomprehensible mercy, God loves this world! And so we – I – ask this God to do a miracle. Not in an arrogant way. Not in any entitled way. Not in a flamboyant way. But in humility and repentance. Coming with nothing to claim, throwing ourselves on the mercy manifested on Good Friday –”Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Crying out: “Oh God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Oh God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Your great mercy, please stop the spread of this virus. In the name of Him who died for the life of the world.” And as I rise from my knees, I pray that He would get the credit for the miracle. Amen. Darrell Johnson has been preaching Jesus Christ and His gospel for over 50 years. He has served a number of Presbyterian congregations in California, Union Church of Manila in the Philippines and Vancouver’s historic First Baptist Church. He is serving as teaching fellow at Regent College and is widely recognized for his positive leadership role in the broader church in Metro Vancouver. Reprinted with permission from Darrell’s It was also recently posted on


Inspiring Faith

Inspiring Faith


Engage: Spotlight on Mission

Social isolation, a pandemic

Holy Week:

A thunderclap of mercy

MCC inspires generations

and the Church’s response

Standing near

- a theology of suffering

of gratitude

by Danielle Martell

by Steve Bell

by Jack Taylor

by Laureen F. Guenther

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page 6

page 7

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Isolation in a time of fear Isolated behind closed doors. Cut off from the world. Death seeming too close for comfort. Confusion. Rumours swirling. Minds unsettled about what lies ahead. Indeed more than unsettled – downright fear-filled, fear keeping doors shut tighter than any lock ever could. COVID-19 has put our world exactly where those disciples were on the first day of the week after Jesus’ crucifixion. Shut into an Upper Room in the heart of Jerusalem, fear binding them, they were powerless to get past the death of the Master. Yet rumours of life and an empty tomb were stirring. How could it possibly be? If they could only think back just three nights earlier, they might have recalled a word, potent with promise, spoken three times over by Jesus into their troubled minds. For troubled they were, even then. He seemed to be hinting He was going away, and fear shot through their hearts. Confusion, too. What was He saying? What did He mean? Yet the word provided the antidote, if only they could receive it. That word, common enough, was loaded with meaning on the lips of the Master. “Peace.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). They, and we, might immediately say, “Jesus, that’s easy for you to say.” But of course it wasn’t easy. Jesus knew exactly what was coming next, though the disciples themselves were clueless. He knew he was going to the cross, there to bear the sin of a whole world on his own shoulders, carrying the guilt of every man, woman and child, those who’d come before and each one of us ever since. He knew. And yet He spoke the word.

Indeed, it was the cross itself that gave the word power. Later that same night, at the end of many reflections shared with His disciples, He would speak the word again. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Yes, the world then, the world now, is full of trouble. Chockablock. Increasing. Pressing. Unrelenting. Yet, there is this promisesoaked word, rising up above the trouble. Soaked, it turns out, in the very blood of the Saviour. “Peace” is one of the last words Jesus speaks to His disciples before He went to that death. He must have known they would need it. He must have known we would, too. And then the cross happened. And then the resurrection. When Jesus meets those same disciples again, on that first day of the week, hunkered down inside, isolated in fear, shut behind barred doors, He makes himself present with them once again, coming right into their midst, unexpected. And the first word out of His mouth – you guessed it – is “Peace.” “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) For us, all our experience (whether touched by COVID-19 or long before) is on this side of the cross, on this side of the resurrection. All of Jesus’ work, bearing our sin and conquering death, is fully completed. It is finished. Accomplished. Fear is met with saving grace. It has been overcome by peace. But it’s only Jesus’ peace itself that will do. Before the cross, He’d said, “in me you may have peace.” In me. That’s the key. He affirms it after death, fully alive, when He speaks the word again. He’s standing right in their

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midst. He himself is the key. Which draws us back to one other thing He said on that night before His death. “Remain in me … I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:4-5). It’s by connecting with Him, like a branch in the vine, that life flows and peace comes. We connect now, not in the heart of Jerusalem, but alone with our Lord, allowing ourselves to be present with the one who is eternally present with us. We open His word and feed on His truth – it’s crucial. We take time to listen to His voice, speaking into our present moment. We open our minds and hearts in prayer, presenting our needs, requesting His will be done, right here, right now. Here is the message of Easter: peace is alive in Jesus himself. So press in. Welcome the Master. Daily. Without fail. Yes, there will be many tangible things that need doing. But this “pressing-in” is foundational for anything we can offer a needy world. Adrian Dix, BC Minister of Health, announced in mid-March: “It’s not too late to join the fight … We are asking you to take part today, to take your civic responsibility …” He was urging us, each one, to embrace

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social distancing and other health protocols for the sake of the greater community. In the same way, but more profoundly, it’s in each of our hands to live in connected relationship with Jesus. It’s for our own good, yes. But also for the good of the world around us, a world desperately needing the peace which only Jesus can give. Tim McIntosh is the Senior Pastor at Heritage Alliance Church in Abbotsford. Check out his daily devotional ‘Eyes on Jesus (Through the Scriptures)’ at https://www.


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Inspiring Faith: Biography

Dr. J.I. Packer: Firestarter in Knowing God by Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird Dr. J.I. Packer wrote an unforgettable book, Knowing God, that has transformed and revived the hearts and minds of millions. Christianity Today readers named him one of the most influential theological writers of the last hundred years, second only to C.S. Lewis. He is known as a theological and spiritual giant. Born on July 22, 1926, Packer was raised in humble circumstances in the village of Twyning, near Gloucester, in southwest England. When chased by a schoolyard bully, he was struck by a passing bread van. This caused a serious head injury, requiring him to have brain surgery at the age of seven. The medical diagnosis was 'a depressed compound fracture of the frontal bone on the right-hand side of his forehead.’ During his long recovery, the naturally-shy Packer read widely, typing his earliest essays. When asked in his 80s about his strongest childhood memories, he replied, “Solitariness.” He was required to wear a black aluminum plate on his head, held in place by an elastic band. At age 15, he ‘went on strike’, refusing to wear the head plate any longer. Though raised Anglican, Packer did not know Christ personally. While attending Crypt High School, he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis’ two books, said Packer, ‘brought me, not indeed to faith in the full sense, but to mainstream Christian beliefs about God, man, and Jesus Christ, so that I was halfway there.' Because of his head injury, Packer was exempted from World War II military service. He became one of the few left who attended Oxford University during that time. On October 22, 1944, while attending an Oxford Christian Union meet-

ing (IVCF), Packer was soundly converted singing Just as I Am: “I had given my Dr. J.I. Packer life to Christ…When I went out of the church, I knew that I was a Christian.” Over the next few weeks of being discipled, Packer for the UK-based Evangelical Magazine. Intervarsity Press stopped viewing the Bible as just “a mixed bag of religious UK (IVP) passed up the chance to publish it, because they all-sorts, of which one could not accept more than the wanted Packer instead to write a book about charismatic general outlines.” He was happy to realize that the Bible is renewal. Instead, Hodder and Stoughton UK published it. It was in North America that Knowing God would have the Word of God. Over 66 years, he has taken many courageous stands, drawing others back to the Lordship of Jesus its greatest impact, when IVP USA published it. Best-selling author, Dr. John R.W. Stott, reviewed Knowing God, saying and the authority of the Bible. Reacting against the emotional excesses of the Keswick “The truth he handles fires the heart. At least it fired mine, holiness movement, Packer turned to the historic, spiritual and compelled me to turn aside to worship and to pray.” Dr. Alister McGrath comwisdom of the largelymented that reading Knowing forgotten Calvinist PuGod “is like going on a long ritans. George White“The truth he handles fires the heart. At least walk along a forest trail, rich in field (1714-1770), and it fired mine, and compelled me to turn aside to flora and fauna, nestling under the earlier John Owen worship and to pray.” the shadow of the great Rocky (1616-1683), became - Dr. John R.W. Stott Mountains.” significant mentors in Through the influence of Packer’s spiritual maMartyn Lloyd-Jones, Packer turing. He even did his Oxford doctorate on Richard Baxter, who symbolized the developed a passion for revival. In 1949, Packer and Lloydbest of the Puritans. Baxter (1615-1691) showed how to be Jones birthed the very influential Puritan Conferences, a puritan without being puritanical in the negative sense. which continued at Westminster Chapel in London until Packer’s Knowing God, published in 1973, is a populariza- 1970. In his foreword to Lloyd-Jones’ Revival book, he said, “No concern was dearer to his heart nor to mine.” Revival tion of his doctoral thesis on Baxter. Knowing God was originally written as a series of articles was the air they breathed. He observed, “Dr. Lloyd-Jones hoped for revival until he died. He is gone. The prophets are gone, but we should still be hoping for revival. Revival is a sovereign work of God. He fixes the timetable. The schedule is His, not ours.” As a Calvinist puritan, Packer taught that we cannot produce revival through our organizational skills. Before moving to Vancouver’s Regent College in 1979, Packer taught in several English theological settings including Oak Hill College, St. John’s Birmingham, Latimer House, Tyndale Hall, and Trinity College Bristol. As McGrath put it, Packer liked Vancouver, and he liked Canada, which seemed to him to be halfway between Britain and the United States. Regent offered Packer a much greater opportunity to write and speak at North American conferences. During his time at Regent, the student body has grown from 140 to over 800. In 1994, Packer was the chief architect of the Anglican Essentials movement in Canada which ultimately realigned many with the revival in the Global South. In 2000, he chaired the theological track at the World Conference on Evangelism convened by Billy Graham in Amsterdam. He also served for many years as general editor in the 2001 English Standard Version Bible. Packer had a passion for the revival of catechism, for teaching how to live out biblical truth. Revival, said Packer, means “power, constant sustained power from God’s Holy Spirit for life and service.” Revival is about knowing God. What might it take for us to long for the fire of revival? Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird are the Co-authors of Blue Sky novel


April 2020

Inspiring Faith

Social isolation, a pandemic, & the Church’s response by Danielle Martell In June of 2019, the Angus Reid Institute in conjunction with Cardus think tank, released the results of an online survey that explored the effects of social isolation on the lives of Canadians. The survey identified that long before the coronavirus pandemic, social isolation contributed to highly concerning feelings of loneliness among Canadians. The poll identified five specific areas showing that 23 percent of people find themselves desolate, 10 percent report feeling lonely but not isolated, 15 percent feel isolated but not lonely, 31 percent express feeling moderately connected, and 22 percent feel cherished. It further indicated that those who are married with families enjoy higher levels of connectedness, while lower income levels can be a factor for those who feel a sense of desolation. Additionally, loneliness has a stronger impact on visible minorities. The effect of faith-based activities According to the study, an important factor contributing to a sense of connectedness was evident in those who engaged in “faith-based activities, such as praying, church attendance and community outreach.” Another thing that helped people connect was using technology like, “social media, texting or video calling.” Health challenges of loneliness In January of 2018, Ceylan Yeginsu reported in the New York Times that Britain had decided to hire a Minister of Loneliness. The article also warned about the negative health impacts of loneliness. Yeginsu explained that “Mark Robinson, the chief officer of Age UK, Britain’s largest char-

ity working with older people, warned that the problem could kill.” According to that same article, Robinson contends that loneliness is “…proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” In June of 2019, Global news reported that “Britain considers loneliness an epidemic.” Clearly Britain has taken the condition of loneliness very seriously. The Angus Reid summary explains that though the feeling of loneliness is subjective, it is helpful to identify that simply because someone is in a crowd of people, this does not necessarily mean they feel connected.

significant barrier to connecting by texting, social media, video conferencing, and online church. Perhaps old-fashioned letters and phone calls to those we know and love is a good strategy to keep telling them we love them. The value of reaching out to strangers What about reaching out to strangers? Maybe a hand-written note is a good way to brighten someone’s day. Perhaps offering to walk with someone while remaining two meters apart, is a nice way to say, “I care.” What about our own wellbeing? Caring for others is a helpful way to help ourselves not feel so isolated. For those of us who engage The value of meaningful relationships frequently in technological communicaMeaningful relationships are necessary tions, now is the time, more than ever, to to our wellbeing and care as people. As hu- learn how to connect and stay connected. man beings, we are social by nature and we need one another for our support and en- The value of being connected to God joyment of life. We also help one another, There’s another way though too. For mentally, physically, emotionally, financial- Christians, our greatest support of connectly and spiritually. edness is rooted in God. As the church we What then does all this imply in a world are always connected to God himself by the faced with the crisis of the coronavirus pan- presence of the Holy Spirit who lives in us demic and the mandate we are under to so- through faith in Jesus Christ. We are never cially isolate in one form or another, even if alone. We always have someone to talk to, that means keeping a certain distance from and to have deep, meaningful conversation one another? How long will our cultural so- with, who wisely guides us in life. We hear cial isolation go on? How will this affect our God speak in His word through the Bible. If jobs, our mental health, our physical, social and spiritual wellbeing? What happens for the many people who live alone at this time, have minimal social networks and family support, especially those who cannot access technology to help them stay connected? Though social isolation affects every age range, we often think of seniors who, at this time, struggle to connect through technology. While many seniors are very savvy with technology, for others, there is still a

we don’t have a Bible at home, we can ask a friend to get us one, or we can access a free one online. Perhaps in our time alone, this is our time to be with God, not alone, but with God. We can read God’s word and we can pray. We can also pray with others on the phone and share the joy of Jesus with them. We can love others and keep telling people about God’s great love for them. Love is the remedy for a lonely heart Truly love must be the remedy for a lonely heart. For those of us who have access, we can also remain connected through online church, hearing God’s word taught and continuing to grow in faith. We need the broader church. We were never meant to be disciples of Jesus alone. Most churches today have gone to some form of online church service and are still seeking meaningful discipleship methods. Get connected. Get involved. And stay committed. Remember, as the body of Christ, we are never alone. We are still united by the same Holy Spirit and we join Christians across the world and throughout the centuries as we worship God together. It’s time for us to find ways to share God’s love and our connectedness with others.

Blue Sky by Reverend Dr. Ed & Janice Hird Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, WA, where her husband is pastoring a new church. Within weeks she finds out her children are not safe, which brings memories of trauma from her past. Then there is an attack. She is on the brink of losing everything; her faith in God, and the family she cherishes. Is healing possible with so many loved ones hurt? Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival... but for family.

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Inspiring Faith

Holy week: standing near by Steve Bell Is there one who would not weep, whelmed in miseries so deep… “Stabat Mater” Whereas Advent can be generally described as an ascent to light, Holy Week, by contrast, moves us in the opposite direction – in a descent into darkness. Even though we, by faith and hindsight, might see past the darkness of Good Friday to the bright dawn of Easter morn, we are invited to enter imaginatively into this time, suspending our foreknowledge of the Resurrection so that we, like Mary at the foot of the cross, may stand in solidarity with all those who know of no such hope, and for reasons that may surprise us. If you are like me, the temptation is to want to theologize our way past human suffering, thereby diminishing its horror in an attempt to shield ourselves from it. When our attempts to do so fail, we don’t like it. The story of Holy Week, briefly and flatly stated, is that shortly after Jesus made the bold statement, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and after encouraging His followers to therefore follow after Him, he went and got Himself killed. It’s a little abrupt, but that’s what happened. There’s more to the story, but it’s not hard to imagine how any claim to Jesus’ messiahship would be considered “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Indeed, most of us would expect and prefer our saviours to save us from death, not lead us into it. In a dream, I once found myself at the end of a scowling pirate’s sword, being pushed to the edge of a gangplank that cantilevered terrifyingly over a baited swirl of hungry sharks below. A sense of horror mixed with the deepest sadness overwhelmed as I realized that all hope was lost and that my untimely end would also be friendless, painful and unmarked. Suddenly, swinging in on a rope, came a swashbuckling saviour – a heroic Robin Hood figure – dashing and brave and sure to save, and I was overjoyed at the sudden possibility of an unforeseen way out of my calamity. But then, to my disbelief, rather than engage the menacing pirate in battle, my rescuer loosened the rope with a flick of his wrist and then wrapped it around the two of us before rushing us both headlong off the plank into the feeding frenzy below. All I could think as we tumbled to our bloody doom was (pardon my language), “What the hell?!” The dream was almost comical in its absurdity. But there you have it. Inasmuch as the dream reflects our own faith, the cornerstone on which the Christian story

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turns is understandably both foolishness and a stumbling block to anyone of reasonably good sense. Here I am reminded that our story, the Christ story, is not first and foremost about good sense. Rather, it is a mystery to be pondered and not a problem to be solved, or a calamity to be avoided. Our orientation towards it is more appropriately that of prayerful, patient attention than anything else. For, incomprehensibility aside, I am also convinced there is a gift here. During Holy Week, the tempo of our attention slows to a walking pace as we, with Jesus, turn our face towards Jerusalem, that most puzzling city where practical good sense is lauded and love is religiously opposed. We enter into the passion of Jesus who, after three years of active ministry throughout Galilee, suddenly and surprisingly turns passive (which is the archaic meaning of ‘passion’). He is no longer commanding seas, no longer healing limbs, no longer challenging powers. Instead, he becomes increasingly mute and docile as he allows himself to be humiliated and led where no one would ever wish to go. What then should our posture be as we enter reflectively into this week? John’s Gospel gives us a clue in its reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, with these simple words: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” (19:25). Scriptures say so little about Mary. However, given her significance in the drama of salvation, we should perk up and pay attention when they do. In the darkest hour, Mary – the blessed Theotokos (God-bearer), the first Christian and mother of the church – simply stood near the cross. Her response to the tragic circumstance, before anything else, was proximity. The agonizingly beautiful 13th century Latin hymn “Stabat Mater,” which commemorates Mary’s cosuffering presence at the cross, opens with these lines: At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to her Son to the last.

In the face of hopelessness and loss, let love overcome our horror. Let us, with Mary, stand near. Let us ponder these things in our own hearts and bear with patience the sorrows that the fruit of our compassion and love will transform into communion and joy. THE RIDDLE SONG music and lyrics by Ken Medema I’m on my way on a long, long journey And I don’t know where the road ends I’m on my way on a long, long journey Surprises await me around the bend Take my hand and walk beside me The road is long and brief the rest Take my hand and walk beside me The answer to this riddle is a quest And the riddle says: Finding leads to losing Losing lets you find Living leads to dying But life leaves death behind Losing leads to finding That’s all that I can say No one will find life any other way.

This is true compassion: ‘com’ meaning with, and Listen to the above song at ‘passion’ archaically cognate with the word passive, songs: Holy Week Chapter One. which reveals true compassion to be more of a suffering with the helplessly suffering rather than feeling sorry for Steve Bell is a storyteller through and through. For 30 them or actively seeking ways to alleviate their suffering. years, he has offered encouragement to audiences throughout North America through concerts, song-writing and teaching. With a vocational calling to “refresh Christian Erling Lassesen faith and spiritual tradition for the weary and the wary,” Manager Steve is known as much for his award-winning musical career as he is for his social commentary and theological Telecommunications Systems Integrators insights. He has written numerous articles for online and - Panasonic Authorized Dealer - 35355 McKee Road print publications and has penned books on Scripture and - Business Telephone Systems - Abbotsford, BC Canada V2S 8M1 the Liturgical Year. He lives with his wife Nanci in Winni- Access Control and CCTV - 604-556-0221 or peg, Treaty 1 Territory and homeland of the Métis Nation. - 24/7 Emergency Service - 877-283-3376 - Intercom Systems - Fax 888-789-7572 Steve’s Pilgrim Year series (Novalis Press) is a 7-volume collection of reflections based on the Christian calendar “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ Joshua 24:15b year. It is available for purchase at

Inspiring Faith

A thunderclap of mercy – a theology of suffering by Jack Taylor MAiD legislation is pushing some Chris- wreckage. Affliction and evil tians into a quandary around how to han- – universal as they are real – dle their end of life sufferings. Hospices, haunt us, stalk us, plague us.” like the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta, John Piper, in his recent podare facing the ire of governments for main- cast designed to make sense of taining a pro-life palliative care approach the corona virus, calls this moin managing suffering without taking ac- ment of suffering a thunderclap tive measures to end it. Has this become of divine mercy for the world. an issue of moral evil? Affirming Jesus’ absolute conAs we face this Easter season, and the trol over all things, he traces the focus on the suffering, death and resurrec- biblical narrative where God tion of Jesus, how does a theology of suffer- ordains biblical corruption, futility and ing help us understand our own approach death in response to the sin of Adam and to end of life issues? My own father’s death Eve. He sees that believers, who are envelvery recently, calls me to think beyond oped under this universal human experitheory. The Christian message is fixated ence, are incorporated into suffering as on living hope in a world of pain - a world purification rather than punishment. where God has never abandoned his mePaul Dirks, lead pastor at New West ticulous sovereignty. Community Church, says “Unlike the sufA retired Calgary physician focused on fering of the wicked, the righteous person palliative care, Dr. David Falk, states that who suffers does so in faith, hope, and “Palliative care roots were deeply embed- love towards the God who, in the form of ded with care of the soul, respect for hu- Christ, suffered immeasurably more than man life, and respect for the healing of he ever can. Just as the Lord Jesus thought the spiritual life of the individual. Unfor- the shame of the cross little compared to tunately, over the years, medical culture the glories of heaven, so too the Christian has intentionally or unintentionally made it more about the physical, with treatment of pain and symptoms, more In Christ, our current sadness will about the social with resoluone day become “gloriously untrue.” tion of relationships and personal business, and less about the care of the spirit.” He focuses on dislike of failure, a lack of belief is to consider the sufferings of this life in God, a worldview where life is more slight in comparison with the glory to be expendable and professional detachment revealed (Heb 12:2, Rom 8:18). from patients as reasons for the transition In some circles the idea of heavenly reof ‘care’. ward is not deemed a worthy motivation, Matt Smethurst, in his article ‘6 Pillars but the Lord Jesus not only motivated His of a Christian view on Suffering’ (June 2, disciples with visions of great reward (Mt 2013) starts off by saying that “ever since 19:29), He used it for motivation Himself the ancient revolt, suffering has been wo- (Jn 17:5). ven, with perplexity and pain, into the It is too convenient to dismiss suffering fabric of human experience. We all live and evil, like Christian Science, in saying it and move and have our being amid Eden’s is a state of mind. The ethical dilemma of

David Hume posing that suffering and evil presents God as weak or evil ignores the Biblical stance. C.S. Lewis once rejected Christianity because of cruelty but realized that atheism fell short once injustice was truly understood. When a believer faces suffering, they must wrestle with God’s justice, goodness, omniscience and omnipotence, plus his discipline or judgment. We wrestle with the enemy’s role in causing suffering. Human agents also make choices which cause suffering. Suffering comes with commitment to our following Jesus (Phil. 1:29; Matt. 16:24; Acts 14:22; I Pet. 5:8; Rom. 8:21-22; Rom. 7:19; 2 Cor. 12:8). The end of it all is faith. Paul’s perspective that “we rejoice in our sufferings” (Rom. 5:3-5) requires a mature faith as we contemplate endurance, character and a hope that doesn’t put us to shame. Suffering is the designated path toward Christlikeness. Barton Priebe, in his book, The Problem with Christianity (p. 150), states that understanding Jesus’ teaching that good and evil co-exist in our world “can spare us from a naïve optimism that thinks this evil world can be turned into a utopia, and from a despairing pessimism that thinks the evil world can never experience true change.” Why is there evil? “Jesus’ answer is that although the kingdom is already here, it has not yet fully come. Theologians call this “the already but not yet” of the kingdom.” Don Carson begins his lecture at Lanier

Theological Library titled, Going Beyond Cliches: Christian Reflection on Suffering and Evil, with a simple truth. “If you live long enough you will suffer.” Carson says “what Jesus seems to presuppose is that all the sufferings of the world – whether caused by malice or by accident – are not peculiar examples of judgment falling on the distinctively evil, but rather examples of the bare, stark fact that we are all under the sentence of death.” In Christ, our current sadness will one day become “gloriously untrue.” God desires our trust in a world of ambiguity “where we do not know the mind of God.” While God has every day ordained for us in his book, this sovereignty “never functions to mitigate human responsibility.” Even with the reality of the cross, we are uniquely comforted “because only the Christian God plunged into the suffering we experience.” Carson notes that while there have been more Christian conversions since 1800 than in the 1800 years preceding “there have been more Christian martyrs since 1800 than in the previous 1800 years combined.” A theology of suffering is something to be embraced prior to the onslaught of the dark valleys. We are not alone in our journey. Whether we hear the thunderclap of mercy, a gentle whisper of comfort or a passionate commitment to hope, can make all the difference as we face end of life choices.

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For those seeking Biblical discernment April 2020



Left with no choice! by Laura-Lynn Tyler Thomson Well…it’s another unexpected chapter as I am now facing possible criminal contempt charges for refusing to be silent as activist teachers, doctors, lawyers and judges are transitioning and sterilizing a 14 (now 15) year old girl without parental consent. If you’ve been following my journey on Facebook or YouTube, you will know that it’s been a rather harrowing ride. We knew that SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) would have victims and we knew these deceptive resources were making public schools a dangerous place to have our children. Young minds are vulnerable and innocent. If you tell them something ridiculous like Santa Claus comes down the chimney and delivers presents, they will believe you. Jesus knew these young minds were so precious and so malleable that we needed to become like them, in their virtuousness and purity, so that we could, by simple faith, enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That gift of innocence in a child is what we are called to protect and never abuse, or it would be better for us to have a millstone tied around our neck and be thrown into the depths of the ocean. However, that is not the motto of the psychologist in Vancouver who relishes his


gay activism and brags on the number of children he is transitioning and how young they are: 4 years-old. A father’s heart is broken and he has been the only family member to fight till it drew blood from his soul, against every parent’s personal nightmare: a child suddenly telling you they want to switch up their sex for the opposite one of what God gave them. Years ago, we would have said, “Don’t be silly, eat your Wheaties.” Growing up, most of us didn’t know anyone who wanted to be transgender or a transvestite, as we might have said. Now, in each and every school, there are children wanting to swap out their private parts for the opposite ones – because the schools are telling them they can. A social contagion is sweeping the entire world as referrals to gender clinics have risen 4,200 percent globally. The young, beautiful girl at the heart of this story cannot get a tattoo by law, or drive a car, or get married, as she is much too young for all of these decisions, yet she can decide to alter her body’s sex organs after seeing a video in grade 6 that told her she could be a boy. That very day, she cut her hair and the seeds of transgenderism took root. In time, the activist psychologist told the father that his daughter’s crushes on male teachers could be explained by her being gay. Yes, GASP, he really said that. So, it wasn’t that she had normal heterosexual feelings, it’s that she’s actually a gay boy having sexual attraction for men. Wrap your head around this insanity and you’ll feel your blood pressure rising. One referral to BC Children’s hospital to one endocrinologist, after one

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April 2020

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thomson visit, this one girl was offered testosterone. The mother was shocked and called the dad, from whom she was separated, and he told them to get out of there. They left the hospital at the father’s urgent request without succumbing to the drugs. The dad went to court to have this stopped, even as the mom kept talking to activist doctors who spoke of potential suicide if their daughter didn’t get the “help” she needed. Eventually, the courts ordered the pharmaceutical cocktail to be administered to the horror of a father’s dreams to see his girl grow up, fall in love, get married and have children. All of this was destroyed by a society that doesn’t care about parental rights, but rather political correctness in a world taken over by gender pride thumpers. The dad was told by an activist judge to call his daughter a boy and use the correct pronouns and new name or he would be guilty of “family violence”. He was told to shut up at all costs. If he did not remain silent on these details “publicly and privately”, he would be subject to “arrest without warrant.” A publication ban was imposed stating that there would be no public mention of the names of the key people, including doctors, involved. When the father decided he had no other choice, but to defy the court orders and tell his tragic story so that others would be warned, I also decided it was time to speak out on this matter of national, public importance. We now face the potential of 35 to 40 days in jail for telling the truth of what they are doing to our children. It is a privilege and honour to stand against the whole land and defy the absurdity of this assault on the identity of our children. Please pray for me as the good Lord leads you to do so.




A progressive and comprehensive promise? by Jack Taylor Labelling Canada’s Bill C-8 as “the most progressive and comprehensive in the world,” Canadian Attorney General Minister David Lametti introduced legislation for the government’s new ban on conversion therapy. The action, tabled along with Bardish Chagger, the minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, fulfilled a campaign promise many Christian leaders hoped would be forgotten. The Bill, titled, “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code” delineates five new criminal code offences including, ‘causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy; removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy; causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will; profiting from providing conversion therapy; and advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy.’ Advertising conversion therapy services would open up an organization to have these notices seized or removed. Paul Dirks, a researcher in the area of gender studies, says that “Bill C-8 is laughably unscientific. It states: “including the myth that a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity can change.” No one has ever changed sexual orientation or gender identity? How many studies do you need to show this is wrong? How many cases to contradict?” Cities like Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary have established their own bylaws on conversion therapy and provinces like Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have their own versions in play. Edmonton has a $10,000 fine for anyone offering conversion therapy. The federal initiative was a response to a petition with 18,000 signatures urging the government to outlaw the therapy. While the Liberals acknowledge what is seen as a harmful practice, up until now the governance of such practices has been seen to be under the umbrella of

the provinces and territories. The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) noted recently that conversion therapy bans, “prohibit particular methods of alleviating gender dysphoria, which an astonishing number of children now experience. In 2004, the number of referrals for transgender teens to clinics across Canada was in the single digits. By 2016, in just nine cities, over 1,000 teenagers were referred to ‘gender clinics’.” At this point, there seems to be no intent to criminalize private conversations where individuals are looking for support on their personal struggles with issues like identity, same-sex attraction or gender confusion. Clarity on what is or is not permitted will likely come through the courts. In a bill under consideration in BC (M218), conversion therapy is any “counselling, behaviour modification techniques, or the administration or prescription of medication or any other practice, treatment, or service provided with the purported objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, but does not include: a) services that provide acceptance, support or understanding of a person or that facilitate a person’s coping, social support or identity exploration or development, or b) a gender-confirming surgery or any related service.” Whether this first section only applies to medical professionals or to parents, pastors, teachers and counsellors is still to be clarified. The act does say that parents, guardians, substitute decision, or representative decision makers, “may not give consent on a minor’s behalf to the provision of conversion therapy by a person in a position of trust or authority in relation to the minor.” Christians generally agree with the intent of any legislation designed to elimi-

Blue Sky by Reverend Dr. Ed & Janice Hird Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, WA, where her husband is pastoring a new church. Within weeks she finds out her children are not safe, which brings memories of trauma from her past. Then there is an attack. She is on the brink of losing everything; her faith in God, and the family she cherishes. Is healing possible with so many loved ones hurt? Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival... but for family.

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nate harmful practices once practiced by therapists or medical personnel who performed lobotomies or shock therapy to adjust urges. The fear with current thinking is that a wide net has been cast which will eliminate helpful supports for those who genuinely desire change. Lucas Ramon Mendos of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), tracked 70 organizations like Journey Canada, the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity and the Campaign Coalition for Life. The monitoring and lobbying arm of the LGBTQ movement is in full court press. David Cooke, campaign manager for the latter says his organization believes “in helping people who want help with their unwanted same-sex attraction or unwanted gender dysphoria.” A church in Montreal, QC and one in Langley, BC, were also noted in the Mendos report. ARPA notes that “the heart of the debate over conversion therapy is the question of whether sexual orientation, gender identity, or biological sex can, or ought to, be changed. This question is difficult to answer, due to a lack of an objective definition of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual orientation, for example, is a multifaceted phenomenon that includes sexual attraction, sexual arousal, sexual fantasy, sexual behaviour, and sexual self-concept. The idea of an

innate and immutable (trans) gender identity or sexual orientation is a cultural and legal construct. These are not naturally-existing categories like male and female.” Despite Lametti’s claim that “conversion therapy is a cruel practice that can lead to a life-long trauma, particularly for young people,” Swedish researcher Ebba Lindqvist found that health deteriorates one year after a sex-change operation and by five years, “mental health, vitality, bodily pain, social function, emotional function, physical function, and general health” is poorer (cited by ARPA). Counseling is an attempt to bring wisdom into the emotional and psychological confusion of natural maturation before impulsive choices result in lasting regret and damage. Barry Bussey, President of the Canadian Council for Christian Charities, in an article entitled, The Controversy over Conversion Therapy, states that “Canadian society appears to be at a pivotal moment. Soon, Canada may decide whether or not it remains acceptable for religious communities to advocate a biblical understanding of sexuality that honours either celibacy or marriage between one man and one woman for life. We may well see prayer, Bible studies, or sermons labelled as “conversion therapy,” depending upon the wording of the legislation, and how the courts deal with claims of religious freedom under the Canadian Charter.”

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April 2020



Everyday Faith

by Simon Gibson

Confronting our fears Have a greatest fear? Something that produces involuntary shivers when you think about it? Most of us, I believe, have a fear (or two) that can make us anxious, even when our circumstances are relatively tranquil. We might like to regulate fears through denial or perhaps ineffective variations on positive thinking, but we know they are lurking there: just below the surface, and often invisible to others. These kinds of fears are innate and not easily contained; they are, however, dimensions of our personality – who we are when we are alone. But what about universal fears? Those that are common to humanity in general. Fears of earthquakes, unemployment, so-


April 2020

cial isolation and sickness, for example. Such fears are virtually out of our control, but knowing that, does not diminish the concern. Fears of this magnitude are pervasive and receive the rapt attention of journalists and the attractive people who fill our screens on the 24 hour news stations. News as drama: the antithesis of entertainment. You may be reading this and are reflecting on your own fears, inner anxieties that haunt you. But, today perhaps you are consumed by the bigger picture, those fears that capture international interest and involve the potential risk to thousands of citizens. If you don’t have a sense of purpose that can only be found in a relationship with

the living God, you’ll have little peace and threats to our way of life may be troubling to the extreme. Jesus, God’s only son, says of himself: “I am the way and the life, no one shall come to the Father but by me.” We know from the Bible that Jesus was perfect and through His death on a cross – once and for all – we are forgiven of our sins (all the bad things we have done) if we trust in Him. You may be familiar with this Bible verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Here is another wonderful verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every-

thing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your prayers to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Enduring peace – the opposite of fear – is the desire of all our hearts. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the stresses, we can call out to God and accept His offer of salvation because of Christ. We don’t know the future, or even the length of our life, but we can take refuge in the God who loves us deeply. Now would be the ideal time to call out to him and accept Him through Christ as Saviour and Lord. A final Bible verse of reassurance: “Don’t be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Family Matters

Alone in a crowded room: Showing compassion to prisoners in uncertain times by Erik Johnson The COVID-19 pandemic has upended society. Stuck at home, with jobs and lifestyles in limbo, we Canadians turn to the comforts and distractions of family and modern conveniences. The believers among us look to God and find solace and purpose in scripture. As we do this, let’s remember those who are most vulnerable – including people in prisons and on parole – and ask God to protect them during this crisis. Even on good days, prison is a lonely place. Many inmates struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, all of which can be intensified by feelings of isolation. Regular contact with friends, family, and volunteer mentors can help ease the mental and emotional strain of incarceration – and lower rates of recidivism, yet as our nation shuts down, people in prisons have lost access to a valuable resource: human connection. Last week, to help limit the spread of COVID-19, Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) and BC Corrections closed all federal and provincial institutions to visitors and volunteers. Presently, the only way for people in BC prisons to contact friends and family is through phone and video. Thankfully, CSC has waived the cost of phone calls while visits are on hold. In addition, many parole officers and chaplains are working from home.

According to Allyson Johnson, a Case Manager with M2/ W2 Association’s No One Leaves Alone (NOLA) program, the closures are taking an emotional toll on the prisoners and parolees she works with. “I spoke to one client on the phone for over an hour. She’s someone who deals with anxiety at the best of times, and right now, she feels like her support is cut off. She can’t offload. She’s due for release and is worried about finding housing and a job.” Meanwhile, recent parolees must find their way back into society and, at the same time, negotiate a wash of pandemic-related uncertainty. “The first few weeks are a crucial time for reintegration,” Johnson said. “It’s the time to look for work, find leisure activities, and connect with people in your community. You miss those opportunities when you’re stuck in your room all day.” Long periods of isolation are particularly hard for people who struggle with addiction – Christians among them. “I spoke to one client,” Johnson said, “who is feeling strong desires to use again. He has faith, and that helps him get through, but being alone makes it difficult.” For people in prisons, a tether to the outside world is essential, especially in a crisis. Engaging regularly with a mentor; that is, someone who’s not a guard, prison staff, or fellow inmate; can bring a prisoner closer to the community and provide the hope, purpose, and accountability

Andrew Wilkinson

that every human needs to be successful. Looming Health Care Crisis While #SocialDistancing and #SelfIsolation remind us to maintain physical distance from others, all the hashtags on the internet couldn’t help prisoners keep two metres apart. That kind of space simply isn’t available. Living in close contact with limited access to health care, prisoners are especially vulnerable to the spread of contagious diseases. Adding to this, of Canada’s over 14,000 federal inmates, one in four is over 50 years old. For most healthy, active Canadians, 50 might be the new 40, but life in prison can tack on 10 to 15 years of wear and tear, so a prisoner in her 50s might struggle with health issues associated with someone much older. These factors are troubling. Across the world, governments are taking various actions to protect prisoners from the pandemic, including releasing people who don’t pose a risk to society. In Canada, Ontario and Nova Scotia have released some provincial inmates, but CSC hasn’t yet announced plans to ease the crowding in federal institutions. Although at the time of writing this article, CSC has said it is considering the possibility. Erik Johnson is Communications and Marketing Lead at M2/W2 Association – Restorative Christian Ministries.

May everyone have a safe and happy Easter during this time of uncertainty. The BC Liberal Caucus is standing with you.

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April 2020


Family Matters

Social distancing or social exclusiveness: How forced changes of COVID-19 can improve your family by Dr. Dave Currie Our current health crisis has called for social distancing. We are to stay away from others… 6 feet away! We are to self-isolate and we are told the stricter the better. Already, these forced changes, because of COVID-19, are having a big impact on the nuclear family – both good and bad. Ask me, I’m a marriage and family counsellor. I’ve seen both already. It has impacted us too. We had to shut down our 10day holiday in Greece and then still had to spend fourteen days of self-quarantine as a result of being out of the country. Weddings of people close to us have been downsized or postponed. Sadly, memorials of dear friends have been delayed indefinitely. On a minor note, I have lost the

rest of my hockey season, ball tournaments have been cancelled and summer vacations and trips deferred. Our story is minor. You have your own story of viral impact. These external stresses can reveal internal flaws. We know that extra pressure on a dam in a time of flooding reveals and amplifies the size of the cracks in its wall. The same is true for the family. You soon learn under the stress of social distancing and isolation – being together a lot - where your relational difficulties are. It’s clear that the weaker the relational infrastructure, the shakier your family will be in times of crisis. The opposite mindset of social distancing is “social exclusiveness” - that is being with those that you have no choice but to be with – namely your family. This is your tribe – your exclusive circle. Therein lies one of your greatest opportunities. This COVID-19 threat and its resulting implications can either make or break your marriage and family unit. It is my hope that you will develop “Crisis Intimacy” – that your commitment to work through the tough times together will actually create a new and stronger bond between you and your circle. Like that dam, it’s clear that the stronger the relational infrastructure, the more durable your family will be in times of crisis. My intent is to help you keep sanity in your home and grow stronger as a family unit.

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April 2020

Pressures Let’s agree on some of the main concerns we are facing with the virus and its concurrent restrictions. Human Isolation is counter-intuitive to healthy individuals. Distancing from others is painful because we are social creatures. Mankind was made to interact, to talk, to connect and to touch. Just watch any kids at a play park.

They make new friends easily and often. Viral ignorance is common. Trying to understand this infectious disease and how it is spread is a challenge. Who do we believe? What is the truth? What source should we trust? How is the virus spread? We tend to move with hesitation. What is safe to touch? Who is safe? What is a safe distance? How paranoid should I be? How skeptical should I be of others? Should I even worry about contracting the virus from my extended family? Health fears too can be limitless. There are so many unknowns. Who do I trust? Am I foolish not to be worrying more? How sick does a person get? How many will die from the virus? Do I have the virus? Will I die if I get it? Will it touch those I love? These fears cause rash and selfish reactions in some and sacrificial, gracious actions in others. Financial losses could increase. Will I lose my job? Will I get it back? How long will I be out of work? Will I survive a cut in income? Will my business go under? Will prices go up? Will there be food shortages? Can we make ends meet? Will subsidies really be there and will they be enough? How long can we make it as a family? What happens if the economy tanks? How will these changes affect my investments? Freedoms lost are taxing. No one likes being told what they can or can’t do? We value making our own independent choices. Not so now. What happened to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’? Governments are now controlling our movement worldwide. They are shutting down borders, businesses, government services, sporting events, church meetings, airports, theatres, restaurants, weddings and gatherings and movement of almost every kind. Future uncertainty gnaws at you. What we are facing is unprecedented! We are operating in completely unknown territory with a lock-down virus that is shutting down life as we know it. What is going to happen? When will it all end? How will this end? Will we ever get back to normal? How concerned should I be about the future of my family? Publicity The media outlets love to tell us the worst! That makes good press! News feeds tend to sensationalize the undesirable possibilities about COVID-19. So, the average person endures a pervasive marination of all things virus – we get negatively tenderized with greater fear through public conversation, radio, TV, Internet news feeds, social media and beyond. What’s complicated is that we don’t know what we should believe and what is bunk!!! There is so much coming at us! If we’re not careful, we can become seriously phobic about having to know the latest stories, tragedies and statistics. A constant bombardment of dark news can preoccupy our minds. And with the phobia of knowing, comes an increase of anxious thinking. What’s the key? Balance. Select wise sources of input on the vi-

Family Matters

rus. After that, feast on truth not trauma! Spend far less time on the tales of Facebook and more time in the truths in the FaithBook! I am not a person given to worry or anxiety but I admit, I have had to change my media diet limiting how much I take in that is virus-centered. It can be overwhelming! Perspective Whether a person embraces a faith journey or hasn’t contemplated it much before, I think that in these crazy, uncertain times, having a good, open discussion about God and faith would be wise for anybody right now. We are all looking for answers. Here’s the faith outlook that anchors me – God is in control, not some virus! God didn’t go for coffee, come back and say, “Oh my goodness, -- what on earth happened down there while I was gone?” No, He is fully aware of this health crisis. And we have to be fully aware of our need to trust Him in the middle of it. Isn’t it true that our faith is tested in the crucible of reality? And today’s reality is COVID-19. Your faith is being tested now. I have also found that my greatest times of spiritual growth are in and through my times of greatest stress. It’s like the refiner’s fire. Surrender your life and family to God to bring out a better you – the pure gold you. Trust God through it all. As a person of faith, God doesn’t promise a life without trials. We don’t somehow get ‘bubble-wrapped’ by him making us untouchable from the bumps in life. Nope. God has promised He would be with us through the bumps! We need to rest in Him. Keep that perspective. Priorities You may have heard from people who have survived a health scare and because of their crisis, they began to look at life differently. Their values got re-aligned. What was truly important regains its rightful place. We live in a world of unlimited distractions that so easily can take priority in our lives: playing sports, coaching sports, watching sports. We chase after concerts, celebrities, comedians – entertainment of every variety! There are the parties, meals out, travel and leisure activities. Are you too centered on activities, events and things that are not your true values? This is your chance to get your priorities back in line. What does God say? What would He want for you and yours? Start now at home. This is your opportunity for enhancing and embracing social exclusiveness! Who you include in your inner circle, as advised by health authorities, is up to you. But do get your priorities straight. You can put your marriage and family back as number one. Be sure that your immediate family, your spouse and children get the best you – your best effort – and the resulting greatest growth in relational connection through the now-mandatory social distancing. It’s your chance to focus on those who are closest to you. Don’t miss it. Planning We don’t have any idea how long this season of limited

movement and restricted contact will last. Whether short or long, the key is to be intentional. You have time. It looks like lots of it with few or no outside distractions, so start some new routines that give ample, focused time to conect with your inner circle. Increase family time. Consider more family game times, sit down regularly for meals together and choose to have chunks of connection time without any devices. Add movie nights with popcorn being careful to not rely too much on digital distractions. Read stories. Colour, paint or play hide and seek. Work with what your children enjoy. Settle in with them. Put your phone away and be present. Find ways to get away from the masses through family hikes. Seek the fresh air. Children love to run, splash, skip, throw things, piggy back and picnic. Do things together. Target life development. You may not be an expert on home schooling, but you are an expert on life and what’s important. While you would be wise to work with local educational guidelines, focusing on reading and math. Beyond that, get out of the house to learn. Do science in the wild. Collect plants. Observe types of birds, insects and animals. Catch a frog. Colour and draw what you see. Sing together in the car. Create a list of the top five songs your family enjoys bellowing out. Help your children develop by experiencing a lot of new and different things. Value couple time. Use your extra moments to go deeper in your marital friendship. Granted, parents may get exhausted by a growing list of new duties and all the extra cooped-up time but finding a way to carve out ‘us’ time is significant. Try to each write ten questions you’d like to discuss together and put them in an envelope. Pull one out every day or so and share your thoughts on it. If your children are older, get away just the two of you. Tackle home projects. Don’t save it to do on a rainy day. You have time now. Talk with your spouse. Create your list. Discuss who is doing what. It might even be a family project. But finally, get to those improvements that you haven’t had time for. And I am going to say it - clean the garage. I know. Now, I am accountable to do it! Extend your care. Discuss and do one act of kindness for others as a family each week. Donalyn and I have already done Happy Isolation Cookies for our neighbours. We have made phones calls to encourage and to check on people. Consider praying with people over the phone. Facetime to show your love. Keep getting together with friends with Zoom or Skype. Leave encouraging and faith-building notes. Text support and interest. Ask God to lead you to those who might need you. Enhance spiritual growth. Don’t skip church. Engage online. Spend more time alone in God’s word. I would push you that you can be on social media each day equal to the time you read your Bible or other devotional material. Remember: More Faithbook and less Facebook! Pray together each day as a family and as a couple. Why not? You have less excuses now than ever. Why not even pick a verse for each month and work to memorize it as a family!

Patience This all sounds good but humanly, there will be days when you will feel overwhelmed. Living 24-7 in tight spaces – being your children’s new best friends, playmates, teachers and coaches sounds good at first. Even for a week or so, we think we can likely survive. but – what if this thing grinds on for months, not weeks? That’s without talking about how many will have to be working from home! This gets complicated quickly. Sometimes, you will want to walk out! OK. Sometimes it might be good to walk out…at least for a break before an explosion or a needed break after an explosion. Choose to stay positive. Be patient with one another. Apologize much quicker because you are going to need each other more than ever through this viral season. Talk through issues responsibly. Give each other down time and alone time. Take a chill pill as needed. Calm down. Respect one another. Encourage one another. Hug those in your circle. And above all, pray for grace to make it through one day at a time. Let’s get through this together. Care for one another, especially those who you are socially exclusive with. Maximize your time to love your inner circle. Be sure to remember: God is in control, not some virus.

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Caring for creation Prior to 1983, the concept of environmental stewardship was relatively unknown in Christian circles. A chance meeting by English Pastor Peter Harris and Zoologist Les Batty led to the first Christian Field Study Centre. Originally planned for Northern England, the centre opened in Portugal in 1986, hence the name A Rocha, which is the Portuguese word for rock. Before long, the organization was gaining international recognition. Today A Rocha has locations in 20 countries, focusing on conservation science, education and environmental stewardship. In 2000, A Rocha arrived in Canada and in 2003 set up its first environmental centre in South Surrey. In 2010, A Rocha moved operations to its present site. Brooksdale is located on a 27-acre property through which the Little Campbell River flows. There are two large homes on the property allowing for overnight visitors as the main guest house includes five bedrooms. The other home is used to house up to 15 Interns. Interns come from around the world and include university and post-grad students as well as families and high school graduates on a gap year. They come for a three month stay to gain work experience, but many agree they’ve gotten much more. “They say the experience transforms them,” says Leah Kostamo, the Spiritual Care Coordinator and Co-Founder of A Rocha Canada. “They’ve come to be trained in Conservation Biology or Environmental Education, and almost all say that living in community and learning to eat and cook seasonally from a garden is the most transformative, because it is through these activities they have experienced joy,” she explains. Luke Wilson, A Rocha Canada’s CEO adds, “Young adults join in spiritual rhythms of work, prayer, communal worship and meals. In the end, they experience a deeper hope in Christ, his love for Creation and clarity of

how to make a difference,” he says. A pillar of A Rocha Canada is Conservation Science. The Little Campbell River is one of the most endangered rivers in British Columbia and like other watersheds in the developed world, it is experiencing habitat loss because of development. Interns help to restore the sensitive habitat and they collect data to help determine the health and future of the river. “City of Surrey staff now rely on our data and even present it at City-sponsored meetings as information used to determine planning,” says Kostamo. Another initiative is protecting the Western Toad. The Western Toad is a native species that is considered a Species at Risk because of declining numbers due to habitat loss. A great number of these toads breed in a pond near the A Rocha Centre. Every spring, Interns conduct a ‘toad survey’. As well, the toads migrate in the spring from the woods to the pond and their route includes crossing a busy road. Volunteers and Interns have erected ‘toad fences’ to protect the little creatures as they migrate. “We funnel them though a culvert, so they won’t get squished by cars on the road,” says Kostamo. The Community Shared Agriculture Program (CSA) is another A Rocha project. On five acres, the organization’s farmers grow enough produce to feed an astounding 500 people a week. This produce is available to the community through the CSA. An individual or family can purchase a share, and this will provide them with a large bin of seasonal, organically-grown vegetables for 20 weeks. Beginning in May, there will be 150 shares available. Brooksdale offers spring and summer camps for chil-

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April 2020

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT This full-time position will provide leadership in developing and implementing strategies that generate awareness, relationships, engagement, support from the MCC BC constituency and the broader public. Qualifications: 3 years senior management, 5 years fundraising or related experience; excellent communication and interpersonal skills; effective strategic planner & entrepreneurial attitude; servant leader, strong networking ability and familiarity with MCC constituency. All MCC workers are expected to exhibit a commitment to personal Christian faith, active church affiliation and non-violent peacemaking. Anticipated start date: June 1, 2020 For full job description and to apply visit: For more information, contact Sophie Tiessen-Eigbike MCC BC HR Manager at 604-850-6639, Ext. 1129

Photo Credit: Brooke McAllister

by Lilianne Fuller

dren on the site. The large acreage has forests and fields and includes a large pond that is perfect for ‘pond dipping’. School field trips are available as well throughout the year and upward of 2,000 children are welcomed yearly. Brooksdale is the flagship project of A Rocha Canada but there are three more locations. In Northern BC, A Rocha manages the Upper Bulkley Valley Stream-keepers Project. The Boreal Ecology Centre in East Braintree, Manitoba includes a 220-acre boreal forest. Cedar Haven Eco-Centre in Hamilton, Ontario consists of six hectares of mixed forest for study and is a site for monitoring bumble bees. When tragedy struck in 2019, the A Rocha family was shaken. Peter Harris, his wife Miranda and A Rocha’s Executive Director, Chris Naylor and his wife Suzanna were involved in a car crash in South Africa. Everyone except Peter Harris died. “Peter is being cared for by close friends in the UK. The extent of his injuries and past health conditions make this a slower process. A Rocha International (ARI) and the Board of Trustees are searching for a new leader to replace Chris Naylor. They have also been working on a new covenant that re-imagines the way our A Rocha family works together,” reports Wilson. A Rocha Canada continues to see more interest in its programs. Wilson attributes this to a growing interest in the environment. “As a result, we are hearing from churches and groups in Calgary, Saskatoon, Halifax and others,” he says, “These groups are eager to start A Rocha sites or projects. We encourage these groups to mobilize their communities and glean from A Rocha, however in the short-term we are not accepting new A Rocha groups. We want to prepare well to serve new local places and our future is all about creating deeper roots before expanding our canopy, he explained. For more information about A Rocha Canada visit

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A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry April 2020 – A supplement in the light magazine

Victor: Volunteer MCC celebrates 100 Years

Rock Solid Refuge What are the goals you have for your teens? Healthy? Happy? Wealthy? Well liked? Marry rich? J At Rock Solid Refuge, we focus on what we believe every healthy home with kids and teens should focus on. Things that will make life rich in the long run and also make our teens lives make a positive impact on the world they live in. Here are our goals: Maturity, Responsibility, and Charity James 1:4 says “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” What are some other character qualities that help us work towards those goals? Respect, honesty, and obedience. These

qualities are what we want as the cultural norms in our homes and to which we hold our kids and teens accountable. Think about all the rules that you create fitting under one of those headings in order to simplify the panorama of expectations. What are the approaches to work these qualities into our children’s and youth’s’ lives? Role model, relational influence, and authority in appropriate balance. Our kids will listen to what they see more than what we say. Rules without relationship cause rebellion. Relationship without rules also causes rebellion. For more on this, or other parenting topics, go to resources.

April 2020


A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry

MCC Celebrates 100 years: Victor Neumann: a life of service MCC volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, young and old. They serve with a common goal: to bring Christ to the world through relief, development and peace. Victor Neumann is one of these volunteers, serving at Clothing Etc. in Abbotsford. His connection to MCC began as a child from the Ukraine, fleeing the devastation of WWII in a horse-drawn wagon. After reaching an MCC refugee facility in Holland, MCC helped them emigrate to Saskatchewan where Victor had a Canadian uncle. In the 1970s while a school principal, Victor heard of the plight of the boat people and was moved, remembering his refugee journey. He says, “After I became a Christian, I had to ask myself the question: ‘well, why was my life saved during that time?’ Maybe it was my turn now to help someone who was in a similar condition.” He quit his job and went to Thailand to see where he could help. Victor started by teaching English in the refugee camps, then arranged to work with MCC. Soon he was put in charge of Songkhla camp, which was rewarding but difficult work. “It was a

very emotional experience. Sometimes I came home, and I broke down,” Victor remembers. He spent seven years caring for the “boat people”. Later, Victor returned to Thailand, spending another 13 years organizing and running camps for Burmese refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing before returning to British Columbia. While there, he took an orphaned boy under his wing, and later sponsored his move to Canada through MCC. Timothy now lives in BC with his wife and children. Victor says, “When I first left, my family thought I was a bit cuckoo in leaving a good paying job, principal of a school, making lots of money. But I felt that I had been a refugee once myself, and now that I look back, I have no regrets.” Back in Abbotsford, he has volunteered regularly at the Clothing Etc. thrift store for nearly 20 years. As National Volunteer Week approaches, we celebrate all the volunteers, like Victor, who make a difference in various ways throughout MCC. Their work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed, and we are grateful. To find out more or get involved, visit

History Brethren groups formed a “central committee” in July 1920 to co-ordinate their responses to this crisis. Together, they pledged to help hungry people, including those who were suffering in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine). Over the next several years, the committee, which took on the name Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), provided food for as many as 25,000 people at times, as well as shipping in tractors and seeds to plant for the future. One century later, MCC is celebrating the ministry that grew from that first endeavour. Throughout 2020, the public is invited to explore MCC’s history by participating in commemoration events, comforter making, giving opportunities, storytelling and more. Today, MCC serves in more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, providing humanitarian relief, encouraging sustainable development and strengthening peace-building initiatives. “The origins of MCC are rooted in a desire to see God’s justice and peace brought to those being oppressed or harmed,” says Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC Canada. “It is a privilege to celebrate all those who began this work and all those who supported it.” Thousands of people have served with MCC at home or in other countries; contributed to vital efforts such as meat canning, relief sales, thrift shops and material resources centres; supported MCC with gifts of money, kits and comforters; and in other ways experienced MCC’s work firsthand.

They have stories to tell, too. (see page 20). Anyone who wants to share a photo, video or a short vignette about their MCC experience can do so on the share your story page. Saulo Padilla, MCC U.S. immigration education co-ordinator, shares how he arrived in Calgary, Alberta, in 1986 as an immigrant from Guatemala, and the son of a political refugee. Later, he signed up for an MCC skills training, which he called “a window to self-awareness and a path to new life opportunities.” To continue MCC’s work and to expand it beyond this centennial year, MCC is encouraging people to give an extra financial gift through the Our Faith, Our Future centennial fundraising campaign. MCC was called into being to help people who had been forced to leave their homes. Supporting displaced people has been a central part of the work for 100 years. Support for this centennial campaign will help expand that work, reaching even more people who have been uprooted by conflict and disaster. To donate, visit Our Faith, Our Future or call 1-888-622-6337. “There would be no MCC without each person who has supported us in any number of ways these last 100 years,” says Bauman. “Every prayer, every dollar, every minute offered has been absolutely essential to the continued success of MCC’s mission.” As MCC celebrates 100 years, in the coming months we will look at how MCC has expanded beyond its beginnings. We will explore the many ministries serving locally, nationally and globally.

The Messianic Times


Are you in touch with what God is doing with the Jewish people? Are you seeking Jewish roots studies? The Messianic Times has the distinction of being the only international Messianic Jewish newspaper in the world. The newspaper began in 1990 with a vision that coincided with the explosive growth of the end time revival of the Jewish People which continues to this very day. Six issues per year jam packed with everything messianic and Jewish-roots oriented to serve the ever-expanding Messianic Jewish Community and the growing Evangelical Christian community, who fully supports the work that the Lord has done in Israel, North America and worldwide. ***Articles on biblical holidays - messianic celebrations and recipes Special Messianic Israel Section, Israeli current events and analysis Current Messianic books, music, Messianic leaders teaching articles and much more... We provide accurate, authoritative, and current information to unite the international Messianic Jewish community, teach Christians the Jewish roots of their faith, and proclaim that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. Our newly designed state-of-the-art website provides a format that reaches beyond our many readers and supporters. Check us out at and read our constantly updated blogs from Jerusalem. As we begin this new decade, we feel it is time that we expand the nature, and reach of The Messianic Times ministry by launching a new outreach initiative called, Times of the Messiah (TOTM), actively supporting individuals who desperately need assistance. As a publication, our desire is to continue our mission and purpose by adding depth to the impact we are able to make in the community. Enjoy your free copy, see our ad, sign up, receive free gift offers.Call toll free: 1-866612-7770

April 2020

A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry

Samaritan’s Purse “I want my children to have a healthier life” Canadians like you are providing families with safe water through Samaritan’s Purse. Clara watched the chlorine tablets dissolve into a pail of murky water. She had just scooped the cloudy liquid from a shallow, open well near her home in rural El Salvador. She hoped the tablets worked. They didn’t always. But for Clara, that water was her only option. More often than not, the 52-year-old widow watched her two daughters and three grandchildren suffer terribly from the parasites lurking within. Her nine-year-old grandson, Diego, suffered the most. His stomach pain left him lying in bed, unable to go to school or be the active kid he was. With what little money she had, Clara took him for treatment. “It helps for a while until the parasites return,” she said. “His school grades have gone down, and I’m worried about his future,” Clara whispered with concern. “I want my children and grandchildren to have a healthier life.” Your gift of safe water, made through Samaritan’s Purse, can make it a reality. Please visit to learn more about how you can provide safe water in the developing world.

In Clara’s community, Canadian donors made it possible for churches to partner with Samaritan’s Purse to install a BioSand Water Filter in her home. These filters, a Canadian invention, are low-maintenance, require no power source and have no parts to break down. Thanks to generous people like you, Samaritan’s Purse has been installing BioSand filters for more than 20 years. Even the earliest installations are still providing safe water for families in the developing world. “With a filter, we won’t have anything bad in our water and I’ll have more peace of mind,” Clara said. Clara learned how her filter works, how to care for it, and how to teach her family disease-preventing hygiene practices like handwashing. She even helped construct filters for her neighbors. Through it all, she became close with believers in her village, which led to conversations about water more important than what came out of her filter—the Living Water of Jesus Christ. In 2019, 111 people like Clara were discipled and learned more about Jesus through the installation of BioSand Water Filters in El Salvador. Praise God!

BioSand Filters, like this one being installed in rural El Salvador, last for many years, require no power supply, and have no moving parts to wear out. Many thousands of families in the developing world are awaiting the lifesaving safe water that these filters provide.

Abundance Canada Faith generosity by Yvonne Douma Joe and Tammy Franklin (pseudonyms) grew up in a rural community where generous giving was the norm. Neighbours often went out of their way to help one another with seeding, equipment, or harvest. Their families both attended church where they put a weekly offering into the collection plate. Sunday school teachers taught them about money and generosity from a biblical perspective, and their parents continued the teaching at home, sometimes foregoing extras so the family could meet their charitable goals. After they got married, Joe started his own farming business while Tammy worked as a teacher. They continued to live by their deeply-held beliefs about how they should earn, spend, and save their money following the

principles modelled in the Bible. Over time, it became clear that their children were not growing up with the same kind of community they had known. Joe and Tammy worried that generosity was being squeezed out of their modern life. Families, including their own, were incredibly busy. The couple asked their financial advisor about how they might increase their charitable donations. Their financial advisor referred them to Abundance Canada to talk about a Generosity Plan™.

get involved in charitable giving. Each family member contributes what they can to the fund, and then everyone gets together at regular intervals to recommend the charities they want to support. The younger members of the family benefit from seeing the adults in their lives prioritize charitable giving as they grow into making their own donations, and everyone gets to experience the joy of giving to causes they care about. Even as the family has expanded, the foundation has helped to keep everyone connected. Abundance Canada is a faith-based public foundation, Practicing Generosity Together registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. We help peoThe Franklins wanted to model the principle of giving ple realize their philanthropy and giving potential in their their “first fruits” to honour God and help others. I helped lifetime and beyond. Visit to learn more. them set up a Gifting Fund™ that lets the entire family Charity registration number: 12925-3308-RR0001.

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Generosity changes everything April 2020


A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry

The last Christian on Earth by John Hall, Executive Director, Mission Central If you were the last Christian on the earth and the final directive you received was, “Plant a church!”, would Christianity die with you? Well, let’s assume you‘re a motivated individual. The first thing you might do is take a public speaking course to up your preaching game. Then, if you’re anything like me, you’d find someone who could sing and possibly play an instrument, so that your worship time wouldn’t bomb. As someone who is adept at taking advantage of hindsight, you realize that children are the future. (You probably heard that in a song, but it still seems true…) Accordingly, you make a priority of finding someone to lead the children’s program. Unfortunately, you’re not married so you can’t get your wife to do it. Getting people to make donations to the church might be a problem because the government revoked charitable status for churches a few years earlier, but, hey, you never know until you ask. In the short term, you don’t think you need a building because your group is small – just “me, myself and I”, as someone once said. Even with the low attendance, you think it was worth the cost to invest in the LED light bar, because in your clubbing experience, lighting has a huge impact on mood. With a nod to the importance of hospitality, you bake some fresh cookies and rinse with Listerine and open your door promptly at 10am on Sunday morning. There is no doubt in your mind that the model is sound, and that within twelve months you’ll have a smashing success— or will you? At the recent Evangelical Missiological Society meeting, one of the phrases that jumped out at me was, “We’re planting services, not churches.” This is the cautionary statement that prompted the story above and is worth taking note of. One of the core

characteristics of Christ’s mission is that it results in disciples being made. In Canada, in 1996, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada study, God and Society in North America, indicated that “12 percent of Canadians were evangelical affiliates.” In 2015, that percentage dropped to 9 per cent and continued to decline, reaching 6 per cent today. This numerical decline is seen across all Christian traditions in Canada, but is most shocking among Evangelicals because, after all, aren’t we supposed to be the evangelistic ones? The declining number of affiliates is not the only indicator that we may have a problem. According to Lifeway Research, the maturity of disciples is where we need to focus our attention, because maturity levels in the church are low. Lifeway suggests that, for too long, we’ve been measuring the wrong thing. We’ve taken our cue from organizational culture and measured things like attendance and giving for a sense of the health of our churches. Alternatively, Lifeway suggests that we measure the maturity of disciples. Their research identified eight attributes that “consistently show up in the lives of maturing disciples: Bible engagement, obeying God and denying self, serving God and others, sharing Christ, exercising faith, seeking God, building relationships, and being unashamed (transparency).” There are also two behaviours that impact all areas of a disciple’s maturity: regular confession of sins and Bible reading. I’ve been aware of this research for a while. When I raise the issue with Christians, I get an acknowledgement of the importance of the attributes of a mature disciple for the health of the church. But, in the same breath, I usually hear that people are too busy to make a change to their lives. I admit that life is busy, but we can usually make time for the things we value.

Give the Word

Equipping Canada for outreach, with Bibles designed for outreach.



April 2020

Each one reach one Imagine the impact we, as believers, would have if every single one of us would take opportunities to share the gospel. This world would look so much different. And yet, this is EXACTLY what Jesus has asked of every single believer. Not a single believer is exempt from the task of sharing the gospel. Many of us ask God for opportunities to share our faith but when the opportunity comes, we shy away or consider it “too awkward”. I get that we are not all evangelists at heart. Some of us are a little more introverted....but is there anything at all that is preventing you from giving someone the Word of God? Jesus often preceded his gospel message with an act of service, love, or a miracle, which then gave Him an opening to share the gospel. What if we would do that? Go and do something so outrageous for someone that is causes them to ask you, “Why would you do that for me”? And then tell them and give them a Bible. It’s that simple, and it works. If you need a Bible to give away, we’ll send you one. 204-803-5773

The numbers seem to indicate that most of us value interaction on our devices more than maturity in Christ. As Rick Hiemstra says, in his Faith Today article, Not Christian Anymore, “The content on our devices might actually be good. But there’s an opportunity cost and it is important to consider that cost might be church, prayer, Bible reading, and small group. What if recovering our agency from the nudges – and consciously choosing the way our souls will be formed – could be a significant part of changing the trendlines?” To conclude my diatribe, I want to share an analogy on the state of mission in the church. It struck me that the state of mission in the church has a parallel in Alberta’s economy. Two main points: First, in Alberta, there has been a steady reduction in the number of barrels of oil that are produced annually. This puts a strain on the whole economy. Systems related to oil production get more streamlined but eventually you can’t get the system to work any better. What you need is more oil or higher prices. Second, there is a growing awareness that for longterm stability, there must be a shift from an oil-based economy to a new energy industry, such as renewables. Making this shift takes time and money, both of which are in short supply. The same seems to be true for the disciple-making part of the mission of the church. Fewer mature disciples – the “energy” of the church – means that the part that produces more mature disciples is under greater and greater strain. The only solution is to change our focus of ministry, or “industry”, to another. Continuing to invest time and money into a dying industry, hoping that something is going to change, is foolish. We need a plan to shift to a renewable form of energy. Somehow, we must stop planting services and start making disciples. So, you love Jesus and you don’t want the church to die – what are you going to do about it? Mission Central is a catalyst that inspires churches to be missional communities and individuals to become mature disciples of Jesus. Visit us at: www. .

A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry

Missionaries also bearing COVID-19’s burden by S. Daniel Smith

Roy and Nancy Jones arrived in Spain as missionaries in 1978, starting three fellowships in Madrid suburbs between then and 2020. The most recent church plant is a roughly fifty-person fellowship in the town of Torres de la Alameda. Unfortunately, in the weeks since COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic and ravaged Spain’s culture and economy, the Jones family has struggled to minister to a culture that needs the love of Jesus Christ now more than ever. The Jones family is not alone in feeling the pinch associated with the virus’ impact on Spanish culture. Mario and Paola Iglesias, working in the small town of Sopela, also face stiff measures designed to halt COVID-19’s spread, but unintentionally affect mission work as well. Their struggle gives a window into the life of missionaries during a pandemic and provides a possible foreshadowing for ministers in the western hemisphere. A new virus strikes First appearing in Wuhan, China in late 2019, COVID-19 made its way quickly across the globe. Before full quarantine measures could take effect, it struck victims not only in China, but in at least one

hundred countries around the globe. Spain, along with Italy, have borne the brunt of Europe’s tragedy. Missionaries Mario and Paola Iglesias, working in Sopela, know of two pastors who have died due to COVID-19. “We have brothers from the Church in the hospital as well,” reports Mario. The Iglesias family, SEND International missionaries, with their two children, purposely chose Sopela because it had no evangelical presence. Since COVID-19 struck, the family has had to take all ministry online. Like many parents in North America, they’ve also had to start homeschooling their children. Sopela is in Spain’s Basque region and is approximately 420km from Madrid, where Roy and Nancy Jones minister with ABWE. Quarantine measures affect life and work Quarantine measures have placed heavy strains on the Jones family ministry. “I tend to be pretty optimistic,” says Roy from his home in Campo Real (a Madrid suburb), “but in this case we are pretty much at the mercy of the government here and they’re not saying much.

So far, they have been extending [the measures] by fifteen-day increments. We just have to wait and see how this develops.” A country that used to be largely open and democratic before COVID-19’s increasing death rate, Roy now laments, “I got stopped by the Civil Guard the other day because I took the trash to a container that was farther away from our home.” Mario Iglesias adds, “It is forbidden to go out; you can only go out to buy food and [go to the] pharmacy.” The strict measures create uncertainty on the mission field. “We haven’t had church services since March 15th and don’t know when we’ll be able to have them again,” reports Roy. Missionary Hopefuls also Affected Missionary hopefuls are also feeling the effects of the COVID-19 scare. Jordan and Jenny Standridge, missionary hopefuls to Italy, find that their move to Rome may be on hold because they can’t get out to churches in order to raise financial support. “We’ve had to cancel a few church visits,” says Jordan, who still hopes to move his family to Rome to begin language training in the summer

Mission to Seafarers We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but ‘in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ’ Ephesians 2:13. You have been brought near so that you can encounter the risen Lord and follow his example, ‘love one another as I have loved you’ John 13:34. Your response has been made essential in showing God’s

love for the world. The work of seafarers in supplying us with what we need esp. in times of crisis means that they offer an essential service to all of us and we acknowledge that at the Mission to Seafarers and your prayers and other ways you can say and show thanks do too. Go to to learn more.

despite the virus’ impact on fundraising. Another concern is the rapidly growing jobless rates in America due to COVID-19. “If people lose their primary source of income, they might not be able to support us.” COVID-19 may be causing delays and roadblocks to ministry, but the Standridges are undeterred in their end goal. “Some wisdom is called for,” he says.” COVID-19’s long-term impact on the Spanish people remains to be seen. Mario and Paola Iglesias know they will be needed once COVID-19’s threat diminishes, noting that many, “will need a hug from God and a lot of comfort,” when that day comes. Likewise, Roy Jones believes that the Spanish culture will rebound and looks forward to a day when he can oversee the Torres de la Alameda flock in person. “We have no plans to leave,” said Roy. “This is our home.” S. Daniel Smith is a freelance writer living in San Diego, California, with his wife of 19 years. They have three children and a beloved family cat. Dan blogs at his website:

To promote and provide for the spiritual, moral, physical and mental wellbeing of all seafarers and their families. Ph: 604-253-4421 Email: Facebook: @mission2seafarers Twitter:@MtSVancouver

401 East Waterfront Rd Vancouver BC V6A 4G9

Iron Sharpens Iron – CSB Men’s Network In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” We are told to spread the Good News, no matter the circumstances. In Matthew 10:16 says, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” This is the time for us to

be wise. In Romans 8:28, the Bible assures us “…that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” COVID-19 has disrupted our world; it is for HIS purpose. Our plans have changed, but not our purpose, or yours. We build men of every generation. ISI-2020 has been postponed. Go to mens-network.

Lighthouse Harbour Ministries Reaching the Sufferingt Sometimes ministry to seafarers involves visiting sick crew members. At the beginning of March a Lighthouse chaplain learned of a Burmese seafarer, Saw, who was in a local hospital. Saw had apparently experienced some type of stroke. At about fifty years of age this engine fitter (welder, fabricator) is the income earner for his wife and two children. If he is not able to completely recover from his stroke, his family will suffer significant financial hardship. So, his problem is

serious. While ministering to Saw, the chaplain tried to encourage the him with some spicy food and small items intended to lessen his boredom. Most importantly, however, some Gospel materials in Burmese were given to Saw. One of them, an audio player, was of particular interest to the seafarer and he said he liked to listen to it at night. Please pray for Saw’s salvation and full recovery from his stroke.

April 2020


A Spotlight on Christian mission and ministry

The Persecuted Church

edited by Al Coats

Eritrea (the North Korea of Africa) Meet one of the worst governments in the world, where missionaries are hunted and pastors imprisoned. Eritrea is under a communist system which is controlled by a brutal dictator, Isaias Afwerki. For years, the little-known her­mit country in Africa has been a terror to Christians and non-Christians alike. Employing some of the most inhumane policies on the continent, Eritrea has enforced indentured servitude to the military, zero freedom of speech or press, and complete control over all religious institutions. Making matters worse, offend­ ers in Eritrea often face arrest and detention without due process. Ten percent of the population has fled the country, seeking asylum elsewhere. Christians, including the rightful leader of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, have suffered decadeslong imprisonment in unsanitary prisons. Prisoners are incarcerated in various types of places includ-

ing warehouses, and shipping containers which are placed out in the desert where temperatures can reach almost 50 degrees Celcius during the day, and almost freezing at night, with no ventilation or sanitation. Many have died due to malnutrition, lack of healthcare, and abuse. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have borne the brunt of the tyranny. There are only three legal Christian denominations: Lutheran, Eritrean Orthodox, and Catholic. All others are banned. To join one of these three legal denominations, one must make four promises: they are not to be “born again”, they will be loyal only to the government, they will not carry a Bible outside of their home or church, and if an applicant finds any missionaries, they will report the missionary to the police. In 2019, hundreds of Christians were arrested. Many of them will likely never be freed from their

MCC inspires generations of gratitude

“If it wasn’t for MCC, I wouldn’t be here,” says Renita Hamm. “My grandparents were starving. MCC saved their lives.” In 1918, Sara Reimer and Heinrich Kornelsen, Hamm’s maternal grandparents, lived with their parents in what was then Alexanderkrone, Ukraine. The Russian Revolution had occurred in 1917, and anarchy reigned. The Red and White Armies engaged in a civil war, and the Reimer and Kornelsen families lived near the warfront. Soldiers moved in and out of the villages, stealing or destroying whatever they wanted. During the 1918-1919 winter, Sara Kornelsen wrote in her memoirs, their family had overnight ‘guests’ – soldiers from the Red Army, or the White – every night for five months. Soldiers of both armies, and bands of robbers, demanded food and stole belongings, destroyed property and assaulted girls and women, and murdered hundreds of people. “The invasion of the (soldiers) also brought lice and an epidemic of typhus, which caused many deaths,” Sara remembered. “We had no choice. The soldiers made themselves at home in our homes.” Then famine added starvation to their sorrow. The summer of 1919 brought total crop failure. “The sun was so hot the grain burned before it could fill out,” Sara wrote. “Our vegetable crop was poor too.” At the end of the summer, when Sara and her mother harvested their half-acre of potatoes, they carried the entire harvest home in one trip. They started the winter with some flour and barley, but not enough to bake bread. In the attic, where they’d stored grain, they swept up the left-behind kernels, mixed with roof plaster and mouse droppings. They sorted out the grain, washed it and boiled it, then mixed that with ground beets to make flat loaves of bread. It wasn’t enough, but it was all they had. “When we were sitting at the table with our meager rations, Russian children from the villages looked in the window and begged, ‘For God’s sake, a piece of bread,’” Sara remembered. “It was so hard to say no. We were all so hungry too. We took to drawing


April 2020

the window shades so no one could see when we were eating.” Sara’s brothers found crows’ eggs, which were baked into the bread. Then they all ate the family cat. After Easter, Sara’s oldest brother, who’d emigrated to Chicago, sent a package of flour, rice, sugar and tea. “How delighted we all were when that parcel arrived and we could, for once, all satisfy our hunger,” Sara wrote. In spring, the hens began to lay again, and the perennial herbs began to grow. In summer of 1920, four Mennonite men from Ukraine went to western Europe and North America, to tell their fellow Mennonites of Russia’s troubles and to plead for help. At that time, small local Mennonite relief commissions were working in various locations. When they heard the stories from Russia, they decided to join forces. The Mennonite Central Committee held its first official meeting in September 1920, but it was more than a year before the Soviet government allowed MCC to enter Russia. Hamm says her grandfather, Heinrich Kornelsen, was on the committee distributing the first food and clothing. MCC also set up soup kitchens and fed thousands of starving Russians. Later, they brought in tractors to replace the Mennonites’ horses, lost to war and starvation. In 1923, Sara Reimer and Heinrich Kornelsen were married. There was food again, and relative peace, but Russia was still unsettled. That same year, Heinrich left his parents and siblings and emigrated with his new wife to Canada, settling in Coaldale, Alberta. Hamm’s mother Elvira was their second daughter, born in 1926. Elvira Kornelson married John J. Dueck. Renita (Dueck) Hamm is their seventh child. At family and church gatherings throughout Hamm’s childhood, she heard her grandparents begin every prayer with a heartfelt outpouring of, “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You again that You brought us here (to Canada).” “Those prayers were heard every Sunday in church,” she says. “It resonated (with me) for a long time.”

illegal incarceration, but will suffer for years at the hands of their violent and hateful leaders. At one time, there were an estimated 3,000 Christians imprisoned for their faith. However, we believe in hope for Eritrea. International Christian Concern has been distributing Scripture to hungry readers in the country and aiding victims of persecution at the hands of the government. Please join us in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea. Source:

by Laureen F. Guenther

Renita Hamm’s grandparents, Heinrich and Tina Kornelson, stand behind Heinrich’s family on their wedding day.

Hamm’s mother, Elvira Dueck, never forgot what her parents had suffered, and how MCC had helped them. She volunteered at the MCC Thrift Store in Lethbridge, for over 50 years. She also volunteered at her church, the hospital and other community organizations. She passed away in 2019, at the age of 92. Hamm and her husband Bill have four grown children and two grandchildren. As her mother did, Hamm still supports MCC. Recently, she participated in an MCC quilt-making project that provides comforters for displaced persons. And like her mother, Hamm gives to her church and community. “Thank you for listening to the Spirit,” she’d like to say to the MCC founders and volunteers who rescued her grandparents. “Thank you for (paying attention to) the news. Thank you for caring. Thank you for getting organizations like CPRail and International Harvester to come onboard and help, and for providing ways for Canada to welcome us. Thank you for asking everyone to pay attention. Thank you.” To those of her children’s and grandchildren’s generations, she hopes to pass on another message. “We’re all God’s children,” she says. “The world is just a big, inter-connected community and we’d better pay attention to all its members. We’re not alone in this world. There’s a debt that must be paid forward. In doing that, we honour our past and our future.”

Spotlight on Retreats

Bowen Island Lodge Bowen Island Lodge, an ideal seaside venue for group retreats. 380 Cardena Drive Bowen Island, B.C., V0N 1G1 1.877.947.2129

Located just 30 minutes away and a short ferry ride from Vancouver, Bowen Island Lodge is surrounded by natural beauty overlooking Deep Bay’s shoreline. With 24 guest rooms and 3 well-appointed meeting rooms, the Lodge can host events of up to 200 guests. An ideal setting for spiritual retreats or summer camps, the extensive grounds at Bowen Island Lodge leave plenty of space for exploring and enjoying relaxing activities such as kayaking, cycling,

bocce, or yoga to name a few. Our meeting space, the Bowen Room, offers ample natural light with incredible views of Howe Sound. Featuring a cozy fireplace to enjoy a quiet evening among friends, the Bowen Room also provides direct access to an outdoor patio equipped with a comfortable lounging area. Visit our website or contact us to get inspired at Bowen Island Lodge., 1-877-947-2129.

Columbia Conferences at Columbia Bible College Conveniently located close to the highway in the Fraser Valley, the Columbia Bible College Conference Centre offers unique, versatile, and affordable rental spaces for events of all kinds. Looking for a polished and professional meeting space? Try our sleek Metzger boardroom, fully equipped to meet your audio/visual needs. Hoping to find a wedding venue that doesn’t break the bank? We have a beautiful chapel that holds over 300 people and onsite catering to make your

day special. And if you’re planning your church retreat or kids’ camp, don’t forget that all of our dorm buildings are available to rent from May to August of every year! No matter what your event looks like, the Conferences staff at Columbia and Columbia Gourmet Catering are happy to help you bring your vision to life. We are now booking through Summer 2021. Contact us at conferences@ or visit our website today!

The Firs Retreat Center 5. Create a team. Share ownership of the retreat as pect of the retreat, including the planning and implewell as the many tasks involved in planning, imple- mentation stages, and during the retreat itself. menting, and following up after the retreat. An effective retreat does not typically happen by ac6. Pray. Prayer needs to be foundational to every cident. All the variables need to be carefully planned in advance and expertly executed to ensure that retreat attendees will enjoy themselves and disengage from daily distractions so that they can engage with the leaders, the other attendees, and the spiritual objectives of the retreat. To this end, retreat planners need to consider the following: 1. Know why you are holding the retreat. Define the specific goals and objectives of your retreat and ensure that all the elements of the retreat support them. 2. Know your retreat attendees. Know their needs and expectations so you can design your retreat to maximize the opportunity for them to engage with the spiritual objectives of the retreat. 3. Choose a site carefully. The site and facilities must support both the needs of those coming and your objectives. 4. Plan carefully and extensively. A lack of planning on your part will mean that the outcome will be harder to ensure. Six Steps to an Effective Retreat, by Kirk Potter, The Firs Retreat Center

April 2020


Camp Spotlight

TWU Summer Camps Go to to register

Trinity Western Camps are back again for another year, with more fun than ever. Kids can jump into day camps in a positive, fun Christian environment. The fun includes the popular Spartan Complete Champion Camps for those interested in soccer, volleyball, basketball, rugby or track and field camps. We also offer our popular Multi-Sport and Adventure Camps. Join us at Art Camp where your week will be an exciting mix of art, dance and theatre. For those looking to

Camp Qwanoes The best thing you could do with your summer Each summer in Canada, Christian camps are providing an unparalleled opportunity for life-changing impact in the lives of children, high school students, and young adults. Just over 4,200 campers visited Camp Qwanoes on Vancouver Island last summer. At camp, kids had the chance to experience thrilling adventures like stepping out on the Sky Station high in the trees or wakeboarding behind a boat or flying through the air on a giant swing with two new friends. While having the time of their lives, kids discovered that they are loved unconditionally and they gained hope and a vision for their lives. In the midst of the excitement of summer camp, Christian camps are providing leadership training to hundreds and hundreds of high school students and young adults. The high school years can be very difficult for Christian youth to navigate successfully, in a society that has turned far away from God. Leadership programs at camps are meeting a vital need in the lives of youth, helping them choose to stick with their faith and be able to withstand the many pressures they face. In 2019, over 140 students took part in three different summer leadership programs at Camp Qwanoes. Since the Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program began in 1983, approximately 2,400 high


April 2020

school students and young adults have been trained and discipled in leadership programs at the camp. In camp leadership programs, students grow personally and spiritually, develop positive friendships, and acquire valuable skills in leadership and ministry. Camps provide an ideal environment for valuable mentoring relationships to be established. The report Renegotiating Faith: The Delay in Young Adult Identity Formation and What It Means for the Church in Canada, published in 2018, notes that “with mentors, mentees grow up more quickly and are more likely to embrace faith.” In the words of a Qwanoes leadership program participant, “Spending a part or all of your summer in a camp leadership training program is the best thing you could do with your summer. From the friends you make, to the hands on training, and the close encouraging relationships you build with your mentors; it builds practical life skills in communication, leading by example, comradeship, excellence, and service.” Find out more about summer camp and leadership program opportunities at ~ Written by Julie Bayley, Qwanoes’ Associate Director

do a little bit of everything and have a ton of fun, FunZone is the camp for you! Want to test your mettle in the wilderness? Go on a canoe trip! We also have our unique University Camp which has been re-designed for a fuller, richer university experience for those looking to experience a day in the life of a Trinity Western student. To sign-up, please visit or email

Camp Spotlight

Ukrainian Chiledlism Ukrainian Children’s Fund evang e Children’s CHRISTIAN FUND Ukrain in

You can help us: • • • • •

Support our Ukrainian co-workers Teen, Junior, Foster Family Camps VBS in villages, Bibles/Christian literature Support Christian Home Orphanage Show Christ’s love to needy families

10340 Freshwater Drive Richmond, BC V7E 4H7 Ph: 604-278-0692 Fax: 604-279-9080

Our UCCF co-workers in Ukraine are praying and preparing for another busy summer, running Junior Camp on the Azov Sea, Teen Camp by a lovely river in the Poltava region, DVBS in the villages, and supporting Foster Family Camp. Our camp Director wrote recently: “It is so impressive what God is doing here. Every time I see a teenager’s life change, I know I am witnessing a miracle!” After ‘Ruslana’ came to faith in Christ, she wrote - “I am so glad my

counsellor helped me invite our great God into my life - this God who will guide us through our lives. I am so thankful for the camp and the opportunity to be changed...” We make it possible for many children who live in difficult home situations to come to camp; they have little love in their lives and no one to pray for them. Please join with us in prayer for children of Ukraine!

Camp Luther The Power of the High Five We know the feeling. The butterflies driving down the road to camp, the fingers pressed up against the window looking out to see the lake, or the sweaty palms clenched tightly as they leave their parents for their first time at Summer Camp. Whether this is the first or fourth time going to camp, we want every camper to experience real relationships and real love that will follow them home into real life. Every detail is thought out, articulated and dreamt up to create a place that is safe, fun and full of God’s love – down to every single High-Five. Personally, I didn’t learn how to high-five until I started working at camp. You see, A High-Five is so much more than a simple gesture. It is a rapid way of communicating to a person that they are important, loved and welcomed.

Something happens when you highfive another person. Endorphins are released, trust is formed and memories are made. We here at Camp Luther believe in the power of the high-five and our desire is that each camper feels like Camp Luther is their personal home away from home. Our staff are some of the best and take every opportunity to make an impact in a camper’s life. Through chapels, time at the waterfront, team-bonding games, hilarious songs, adventurous archery, campfires and so much more – your camper will experience life in a truly unforgettable way. The Power of the High-Five knows no barriers. We are dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus through every single highfive we make this summer. Join us as we celebrate our 70th year in Camp Ministry! April 2020


Spotlight on Higher Education

Capernwray Harbour Bible School Nestled among the Gulf Islands of British Columbia’s west coast, Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre on Thetis Island offers students and guests a unique learning experience! From September through to May, Capernwray Harbour runs a One Year Bible School programme where sound, practical Bible teaching focusing on both the Old and New Testament scriptures in which God reveals the indwelling, resurrected Christ as the Christian Life is given. Students gain an experiential knowledge of Christ and how His presence practically applies to daily living. Through classroom studies, tutorial, dialogue-


April 2020

based small group studies, and summary journals, students have opportunities to share from the written Word what God is teaching them & how He is working in their lives. Many outreach opportunities located in surrounding communities and cities are available for students to participate in as well as international, short-term missions trips. Capernwray Harbour welcomes people of all denominational backgrounds and nationalities. The student body of approximately 100 students joins the full-time staff to create a community intent on knowing Jesus Christ as LIFE. The desire of every staff member at Capernwray Harbour is to prepare

each student for “full time Christian service, regardless of occupation”. During the summer months, Capernwray Harbour makes its facilities available for various groups as a full-service venue to hold their conference or retreat. In addition, Capernwray Harbour hosts Ladies’ & Mens’ Conference Weekends, Family Holiday Bible Weeks as well as youth weekends where men, women, youth & children can be encouraged in their walk with the Lord Jesus amidst an island, holiday setting. Capernwray Harbour proclaiming Jesus Christ as Life!

Spotlight on Higher Education

Columbia Bible College Become a Health Care Assistant at Columbia Bible College An aging population in the Greater Vancouver region means a growing demand for skilled, compassionate care aides. To help meet the needs of our seniors and their families, Columbia Bible College now offers a Health Care Assistant program. Students in Columbia’s HCA program benefit from quality instruction in person-centred care and strong partnerships with local faith-based care organizations such as Menno Place, Tabor Home, and Baptist Housing. They also enjoy the unique privilege of learning within a Christ-centred community and receiving guidance from their instructors on integrating their faith within a healthcare setting. Classes are Monday to

Thursday on campus, with hands-on skills training taking place on Fridays in a dedicated lab at nearby Menno Place. Jacob Esau, current HCA student, shared: “My enrolment as a Heath Care Assistant student at Columbia Bible College is an opportunity to pursue my desire to serve others, bringing my gifts and passion along. Taking it at CBC adds a biblical perspective for this vocation, and the blessing of learning in a Christian environment.” Columbia is now accepting HCA applications for its September intake, which will be capped at 16 students. Learn more at

Introducing the Health Care Assistant Program Quality Health Care Training with a Christian Perspective

Regent College Paul’s Most Cosmic Epistle: An Interview with Dr. Darrell Johnson This summer, Darrell Johnson is teaching a 1-week course, The Whole Gospel & The Whole People of God: Living the Letter to the Ephesians. An online learning option is available. Learn more about this and other courses at You have talked about Ephesians as having a grand scope. What do you mean by this?


In his letter from a jail cell, Paul places the person and work of Jesus in its and His cosmic setting: “from the foundation of the world,” to “the summing up of all things,” as he puts it in his magnificently-crafted first sentence. The Saviour is there before the beginning of all things, and thereafter He brings all things into their created fullness! What is something most people don’t know about Ephesians? Although most versions of the Bible refer to it as “the letter to the saints that are at Ephesus,” most early versions of the epistle do not have that phrase, meaning that although the letter came to be primarily identified with that particular congregation, Paul actually addressed it to the whole church, to your congregation and to mine. Which explains, in part, why every congregation is drawn to its message! What is a word you think Ephesians has to speak to the North American church today? Lots and lots of words! But most fundamentally, calling us to our true location in the cosmos – “in the heavenly places, in Christ.” We live and move and have our being in a Person, in that other dimension of reality so very close at hand. From that location, we live and serve in this dimension of reality with extraordinary wisdom and love. What is your favourite passage from Ephesians?


Hands down, 3:19, Paul’s prayer that we “be filled up to all the fullness of God.” That our hearts be so filled that the fullness can only be measured by all that makes God be God. And to think Paul prays it from the pit of prison. Double mercy. April 2020



Laila Biali – finding light in darkness

Sorrow, sickness and self-doubt Living in New York at the time of the suicide, it wasn’t until they moved back to Toronto that Biali and her husband could actually take time to process all the complexity that came along with such a devastating loss. Biali never intended to write a song about it. Her husband, Ben Wittman (producer, composer, drummer) had written a poem at the time but held it close. As they were collaborating on the songs for Out of Dust, he shared it with her and the poem became foundational for the lyrics of “Glass House”. It begins, “Last night angels wept,” and talks about leaving so many things unsaid; still, the song concludes on a redemptive note. After moving back to Toronto from New York, Biali began having health issues. The cause of her illness eluded her team of practitioners. They tried everything, but nothing seemed to be helping long term. Over the past four years, Biali has negotiated periods of slight improvement, so kept pressing on with live engagements and recording. “I kept forging ahead – it’s part of my DNA, perhaps to a fault,” she admits. But behind the scenes, she was notic-

ing a reduced breathing capacity and tiredness, at times experiencing intense dizzy spells during live performances, or gasping for air midsentence while hosting Saturday Night Jazz. Eventually, they followed up on a suggestion to test the house they were renting – only to discover mould in the basement walls where she and Ben were working long days in the recording studio. They created a makeshift studio upstairs to finish background vocal for Out of Dust. The spore levels have since been taken down - as a temporary measure only - so they’re praying for a new place to live (no small request in Toronto, in these turbulent times). Sometimes she faces questions of whether she’ll be able to continue the musical career for which she’s prepared her entire life - and yet, Biali is sure of her calling. In 2005, Biali met Wendy Nelles - a “wonderful salt-ofthe-earth person who became a friend, a mentor and a supporter.” Biali lost her friend to renal cell carcinoma in 2018. The diagnosis came as a huge shock. Wendy was, for Biali, one of those indomitable people who would always be there. “Wendy’s Song” is a loving tribute to her legacy of faith and love. Biali included Gregory Porter’s “Take Me to the Alley” (Wendy’s favourite song) portraying Jesus’ compassion for the poor, the sick, the marginalized. Out of Dust is dedicated to the memory of Wendy Nelles.

standing for a pregnant or elderly woman – “something that small touches me,” she says. Some might identify this as a reason for renewed faith in humanity, but Biali says, “All goodness comes from God…that person, whether they knew it or not, was, in that moment, the hands and feet of Christ.” While some of the material on Out of Dust comes from a hard journey, “Sugar” celebrates a little bit of indulgence while “Take the Day Off ”, which Biali co-wrote with Joshua, her 9-year-old son, gives permission to take time for healing. “Revival” is a call to speak to social and political issues – to live what we believe. It’s easy to understand Biali’s award-winning status. Her lyrics are thought-provoking. Her melodies are anything but predictable; her limber, rich Beauty from ashes As time passed, Biali noticed something that fascinated vocals are complemented by innovative instrumentation her. God was using Wendy’s life for good even after her and fresh background vocals. death. “It was quite something to see that even her legacy – the memory of who she was and how her friends car- Security in unsettled times She admits it might sound like a trite Christian response, ried that memory forward – continued to bear fruit. That’s but in the midst of uncertainty, Biali is convinced that God where this idea, this seed – Out of Dust – started to really crystalize. As tough as these various losses and circum- redeems all things, and will work all things to our good. She stances have been, I just know something good is going to concludes, “We’re all in this together and nothing can rob come out of this.” Biali refers to ‘beauty for ashes’ (Isaiah us of how loved we are, and by extension, nothing can rob 61:3) and the online image that went viral in the aftermath us of our capacity to love, no matter how dire things beof the Australian fires – pink and green shoots emerging come.” Her mind travels back to Wendy who, to her very last from a burned-out stump. Photographer Murray Lowe, breath, in her own unique way facilitated an environment walking on puffs of ash in the eerie silence and stillness, felt that was transforming lives. In these troubled times, Biali talks about people who hope upon seeing these bright, tender shoots in stark conhold an outward posture towards their neighbours, to be trast to the charred remains. voices of reason and encouragement, to look out for those around them. Those who give of themselves, whether or Inspiration To refresh and renew, Biali finds refuge in creation and not they believe it, point to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, its profound beauty, thankful for the Canadian landscape. which we will soon commemorate. Regardless of how fire She also is inspired at a very fundamental level by glimpses blackens the landscape, we are reminded of Isaiah’s hopeful of graciousness people show for one another. Even tiny metaphor. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of random acts of kindness – perhaps as simple as someone Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)

Looking for a church or a ministry, perhaps a Christian school or camp, or maybe a plumber or a realtor, check out the Christian community directory at 26

April 2020

Photo Credit: Julia Hembre

by Marion Van Driel She’s a Vancouver-born-and-raised jazz/pop artist, a Juno Award singer-songwriter and pianist. She hosts CBC’s Saturday Night Jazz in Toronto. She’s recorded with Sting and opened for Chris Botti; she’s performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and Beijing’s Center for the Performing Arts. She has held the position of Music Director at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. She’s warm, humble and grounded. Laila Biali just released her newest album, Out of Dust, on March 27, and while there were plans for a release concert in Vancouver on May 2, this will likely be postponed to a later date (confirm at “Out of Dust is by far the most personal album I have ever made,” says Biali. “After a difficult period in which I experienced immense grief and self-doubt, I felt compelled to share my journey to help inspire others to seek joy amidst pain. My hope is that this album will serve as a reminder that even when life brings you to your knees, there is light to be found within the darkness.” Biali has been through the fire. In recent years, she’s lost a family member to suicide and a very dear friend to cancer. In the midst of this, she was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases that threaten her musical career. Out of Dust came as Biali sat at her piano, pouring her heart’s sorrow and longing into music. Writing the songs gave voice to her questions and generated hope in despair. Biali offers honest, uplifting lyrics that define our human resilience on this earthly journey. for events.

Please note that most, if not all, events have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 virus spread. We will endeavour to keep our website calendar up-to-date. Please check for updated events. If you have an update on an event, please let us know at

Books - Recommended by Lando Klassen at House of James, Abbotsford Jerusalem Assassin by Joel Rosenberg Tyndale House

The enemy is invisible and moving fast. The body count is rising. And time is running out. President Andrew Clarke is determined to announce his historic peace plan from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But when senior American officials who support the plan begin violently dying, Clarke orders Ryker and his team of CIA operatives to hunt down those responsible and bring the killing spree to an end. I have read almost all of Joel Rosenberg’s novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. They read as if they are ripped right from the Middle East newspapers before they are published. Rosenberg is well-studied in international events and brings a fascinating tale as to how things might develop. This is in the series with Kremlin Conspiracy and Persian Gamble.

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig Bethany House

Ronie knows how to write thrillers- this one is based on 3 different groups, not all good, trying to find the lost book called The Book of Wars- whoever finds it will have an incredible advantage in taking over the world. It is non-stop action and gives us an amazing look into the world of the CIA, Navy Seals and double-crossing operatives. I have always loved her books.

Fearfully and Wonderfully by Philip Yancey & Dr. Paul Brand Intervarsity Press

The updated and combined version of the earlier volumes- In His Image and Fearfully and Wonder-

fully Made. Philip felt he wanted to reintroduce these books to a new audience and has done a masterful job doing so. We had the incredible opportunity of having Philip visit House of James for an afternoon Q&A in our coffeehouse in February.

A More Christlike Way by Bradley Jersak Plain Truth Ministries

Abbotsford Theologian brings us the follow up to his groundbreaking title, A More Christlike God. He deconstructs some popular views and explores seven facets of the Jesus Way. Christ’s radical revelation of true humanity beckons us, “Would you be human? Take up your cross and follow me.”

Newly revised and available in trade paper to coincide with Lionsgate’s film release, I Still Believe shares Jeremy Camp’s journey of finding hope and healing through life’s toughest moments and the songs that came from his journey that have inspired a generation. When Jeremy Camp lost his beloved wife, Melissa, just months after their wedding, the last thing he wanted to do was sing praise to God. But even as he struggled through unimaginable grief and fought to hold on to his faith, God had other plans: Pick up your guitar. I have something for you to write. Jeremy obeyed, pouring out his heart, writing about the hope that God was still there, even in his deepest grief. The song he wrote that day, “I Still Believe,” has gone on to inspire millions around the world. This is the story behind that song and the movie that was inspired by it. It’s an inside look at Jeremy’s life – from his difficult childhood and teenage years to the tragic passing of Melissa and the spiritual journey that followed.


by Ruth Chou Simons & Troy Simons Harvest House

This beautifully laid out book will help you direct your family one day at a time as you explore 12 key truths that will help connect your children’s hearts- and yours - to the heart of God. With a simple, chapter-a-day format that includes Scripture, devotional thoughts, meditations, and discussion questions.

I Still Believe: A Memoir by Jeremy Camp and David Thomas Thomas Nelson

House of James is closed but Lando is still sending out books, or you can arrange for pick-up at the store. or call 1-800-665-8828 (For recommendations from Regent Bookstore, see our website

Please order from your local Christian bookstore - All accepting online and/or phone orders House of James, Abbotsford - - 604-852-3701 InHouse Christian Books, Surrey - - 604-584-0727 Regent College Bookstore, Vancouver - Christian Book and Music, Victoria - - 250-384-7534

April 2020


Everyday Life: Finances

Start the car! A COVID-19 response by Arnold Machel “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have getting her goods for? I can’t even remember what the ad peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I was for, but I remember the ad itself. And that’s precisely have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 (NIV) how I feel about equity markets right now. They are on sale at prices we haven’t been able to get for 3 years and it’s unBefore I say anything else, let’s remember that God is still likely we’ll ever be able to buy them at such a low price ever in control during these anxious times. He is not surprised again. or worried. Cling to His love. He is still there. I’ve only said this a few times in my 25-year career... On July 8, 1932 the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an While it’s always possible they could go down further, I intraday low of 40.56. At the time of writing, the Dow is believe we are at or near the bottom and equities are on around 21,200 – up over 500-fold since that intraday low such a deal that investors should load up as much as they (and that’s not even including the regular and increasing possibly can. This is a “START THE CAR” kind of sale. dividends paid), but down from its high by almost 30 perI have learned that in times like these, one of the healthicent. est things to do is to focus on what I can control and not to Do you remember that “Start the car” ad? The one where worry about the things I can’t. For example… the wife came running out to her husband yelling, “Start Things I can’t control the car” because she couldn’t believe how cheap she was • The global spread of Covid-19 • Other’s reactions to the spread (hoarding, etc.) • Stock market gyrations Things I can control • Hygiene - I can wash my hands more and I can sneeze, cough, etc. into a tissue or my sleeve • Social distancing – I can avoid others who may be sick • My investment behaviour – I can buy low, sell high rather than the other way around By focusing on what I can control, I can make proactive, Programs change every month wise and healthy decisions that will likely impact me positively in the long run. Whether that’s my physical health or my financial health, it applies to both. It’s hard, because the news inundates me with things I simply cannot control, such as the rapid spread of the virus and its mortality rate, the craExpect More with a ziness at the grocery stores and wild stock market fluctuaPersonalized Wealth Management Solution tions. And for some people, that makes them feel helpless. The way to combat that feeling is to come back to focusing on our sphere of control and our sphere of influence. To For more information, contact: simply do what we can and forget about the rest. We can Arnold Machel, CFP® be more careful around others. We can sanitize regularly and especially when we’re out and about. And we can take advantage of the market gyrations.

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April 2020

Some History Since 1926, there have been 15 other instances where the U.S. benchmark was down 10 percent or more from a Friday close to a Friday close. Some of these include: The Great Depression: a cluster of nine weeks between 1929-33 March 1938: the outworking of the infamous Federal Reserve policy mistake of 1937 May 1940: when Nazi Germany enacted the Manstein Plan to conquer most of Northwest Europe October 1987: Black Monday April 2000: Dot-Com Bust September 2001: 9/11 terrorist attacks October 2008: Lehmann Brothers declare bankruptcy There is little pattern in terms of what happens next. Of the 15 instances, six experienced further negative performance over the subsequent twelve months and nine were positive. The worst-case scenario was -25 percent, the best +117 percent. Which might it be this time around? My belief is that it’s more likely to be positive, but even if it’s negative over the next 12 months, long term investors have always been ultimately rewarded and there’s no reason to believe that this time will be any different. In my 25 years in the industry and my 10 years as a DIY investor prior to that, I’ve been through dozens of declines, a handful of which were of this magnitude. They happen

relatively often (about every 5 years or so on average) and every time, some aspects are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, but also some aspects are very similar. This one actually reminds me most of an event that occurred when I was just a baby – the Cuban Trade Embargo and the Cuban Missile Crisis ending in October of 1962, in the sense that it was a world-wide existential crisis – watch the movie “13 Days” if you get a chance. The Dow hit a low of 535.76 that year. In other ways, it reminds me a bit of 9/11. We were clipping along just fine, until all of a sudden, we got blindsided with a big event causing the Dow to drop to 8,920. We believed (and in some ways we were right) that the world would never be the same again. These are just a couple of terrible events the world has come through. We’ll get through this one too. What should we be doing? First off, don’t panic – your portfolio is probably designed for this, but check with your adviser. Most advisers build a portfolio, knowing that a bear market will come along eventually (in fact, regularly). The best advisers create asset allocation, re-balancing strategies and defensive strategies and build them into the portfolios they utilize to help mitigate declines while still taking advantage of opportunities. Talk to your adviser. They will be happy to share those strategies with you. Second, do what you can to add to your portfolios. The best thing you can do is add cash right now. If you have money sitting idle in the bank or GICs available to cash in, history has strongly rewarded savvy shoppers buying equities while they are on sale. Lastly, consider adjusting your asset allocation. You may be thinking, “I don’t have any more money to add. All of my money is already invested.” There is still something you can do to take advantage of the situation. This isn’t necessarily the right thing for everyone, but if you have a long-term time horizon and an account that you are not drawing down on and you’re willing to take on a bit more risk to take advantage of this market, then you may want to consider slightly increasing the equity component of your portfolio. For example, investors in a conservative portfolio may wish to move up to balanced, those in a balanced portfolio may want to move up to growth and those with growth portfolios may want to go all in to an all equity portfolio. These are not decisions that one should take lightly, but if you want to take advantage of this market and if you think you might be willing to bump up your risk profile a bit, then call your adviser and ask their opinion. I’ve been through several bear markets. Every time, they recover. Every time, people say “I should have bought more while it was so cheap”. Don’t let that be you. Arnold Machel, CFP® lives, works and worships in the White Rock/South Surrey area where he attends Gracepoint Community Church. He is a Certified Financial Planner with IPC Investment Corporation and Visionvest Financial Planning & Services. Questions and comments can be directed to him at or through his website at www. Please note that all comments are of a general nature and should not be relied upon as individual advice. The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Arnold Machel and may not necessarily reflect those of IPC Investment Corporation. While every attempt is made to ensure accuracy, facts and figures are not guaranteed.

Senior Life

The three pillars of healthy aging: - creativity, - social connectivity - and spirituality by Dorothy Lowrie For the last four years, I have been developing and delivering presentations and courses designed to promote healthy aging. Each of the presentations and courses refer to what I have come to term, the three pillars of healthy aging: creativity, social connectivity and spirituality. In truth however, I would propose that these pillars apply to healthy living in general. So even if you do not consider yourself part of the aging or senior population, you may want to read on, since people of all ages are questioning how to stay healthy at this time of self-isolation due to the Coronavirus. There are many self-help books and health-related books that I could cite to support my assertion that creativity, social connectivity and spirituality are the three critical areas of focus for healthy aging. But I would refer those who may question their validity to a book that remains, even today, the best seller of all times: The Bible. In terms of creativity, the Bible gives reference to our responsibility to find and apply our God-given abilities well throughout our life. From scripture that encourages us to “not let our abilities tarnish” (Ex 28:3) to numerous passages that refer to our responsibility to use our abilities well and to view our skills and abilities as God-given and therefore, given to us as a ‘gift’ to be used ‘wisely’. In applying these skills as we age, and particularly once we retire from our ca-

reers, we have a huge opportunity. Many people struggle with the loss of the career that might have defined them up until retirement. In our society, much of our identity is tied to our career. We can see the change in that identity as a loss or we can get creative and find a new identity through carefully considering our Godgiven abilities and how we might apply them to enrich not only our lives, but also the lives of others. When it comes to social connectivity, isolation for the aging population is a serious problem. The Bible contains many scripture passages that support the importance of social connectivity, although at the time the terminology differed. From relationships ‘being more important than accomplishments’ (Ezr 3:12) to the great change Christ can make in your relationships (Phlm 1:16) or simply the need to love our neighbour as ourselves (Lk 10 2737), all of us have a key role to play in ensuring we are members of a healthy, connected social network. As we age, this social network can become an important cornerstone of our lives. Our social network could well be the difference between us staying in our own homes or needing to go into care. Even if we have children, we cannot necessarily rely on their support as often their lives are centered in other cities or are already hectic and filled with their own responsi-

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bilities. Through the social networks we join, external to our families, we may also find the key to unlocking our creativity. The idea from organizational learning that diversity often leads to creative problem solving applies to social groups as well as the corporate world. And finally, and to my thinking, the most important aspect of healthy aging: spirituality. References to the importance of taking care of our spirit, how to apply our spiritual gifts, how to grow or find spiritual rebirth are numerous in Bible scriptures. Whenever I speak about spirit in my program, I ensure however, that I acknowledge that what we mean when we say spirituality may differ for each of us. For some, it may mean being out in nature. For others, they are still active within organized religion. For others, it means to care for their families, for their neighbours, or for their important social groups. To explore your three pillars, I suggest you get creative. Find yourself three empty jars. Make a label and paste it on each jar: one for creativity, one for social connectivity and one for spirituality. Then, using strips of paper, do a brain-storm exercise (meaning, write whatever comes to mind

without questioning it) in terms of what activities you currently have in your life relative to each area. Put them in the jars. Why write them down in this manner? When we write, we actually trigger the same parts of the brain that an expert musician does when they play their instrument or when the accomplished athlete participates in their sport. The act of writing itself will make you feel engaged and empowered! The result of your efforts will be three jars and the ability to visually identify which of the three pillars need your most attention. Or perhaps you may find that all your jars are too full which could be the reason you feel exhausted or scattered. Then the question is, what could you take out of the jars to become more balanced? If you would like to explore these areas further, I recommend that you refer to the best self-help book I know, The Bible. The first and most important step is that you saw the title of this article and felt it worth reading…I hope that you embrace these three pillars as guide to owning your own process of healthy aging. Dorothy Lowrie, PMP, BAdmin, MAdEd is the CEO of Human Learning Architecture Inc.

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April 2020


Senior Life

Caring for seniors amid a crisis by Sharon Simpson Editor’s note: Each month, for many years now with amazing loyalty, Sharon Simpson posts an article to give our seniors hope and encouragement. At times, her articles have brought me to tears, at other times they have drawn laughter, often I am left pondering some important spiritual truth. This month, she is unable to send us such an article, and instead gave us permission to repost her recent Facebook post. She is working long days to keep seniors safe and cared for. If you would like Sharon to know you are praying for her, please send me a note to From Sharon Simpson – Facebook post Thank you to all who have asked how I am doing at work - if you don’t know, I work at the largest campus of care for seniors in British Columbia, 700 seniors. My job includes communications and overseeing the community enrichment and nursing care for the Apartments (350 seniors). First off, thank you for praying – please continue. Pray for wisdom, strength and endurance for myself and our staff. Some days have been better than others for me. It is a bit of a roller coaster, as can be expected, as we try to figure out what needs to be done and what needs to be communicated. I am constantly in gratitude for the people around me who work with amazing competency and a heart that is all-in for our seniors. These last few weeks have involved a lot of decisions on the turn of a dime. This can be chaotic for people who are trying to follow directions and especially for seniors who may not understand what is changing, or why. When we went on lockdown last week, it was a relief for the protection of our seniors and our staff - and families. It was a relief for me. It has been hard on the families and we are seeing how very much love there is between families and the seniors. This has been very emotional for me. The idea to deliver messages to our seniors came to me one evening and we launched that online on Thursday. In the past 36 hours, we have 131 messages from families to their loved ones. We are printing these out and delivering

them, along with attached photos. This has brought about a lot of tears from residents who are not connected on the internet. They know they are loved. It sparked within our Menno Place families the desire to pass along messages to those who aren’t getting any. That will be a real ministry and blessing as well once I get that up and running. And we have people who want to help and seniors who need help. We will have to work out a system to match these people together. That is next week’s work, along with helping seniors learn technology so that they aren’t so alone. We can livestream onto all televisions across our campus, so that programming is something for us to figure out so that we can bring encouragement and entertainment and updates and spiritual support into the apartments of our seniors. So, it goes like that... much to do and much to decide. At the end of each day, I think about my own family and the people I love and pray God’s protection on you all. I worry about Bennett in Calgary. Hard to be so far away. I am grateful for Gary Simpson who is a source of spiritual strength and plays Beatles songs on the piano to entertain us both. I phone my mom on my drive home (she’s awesome) and pray for the BCMB church where I


provide leadership as Moderator for BC. I’m a person of faith - if you know me, you know that. My life is a calling. I’ve always lived that way, even when times have been very difficult for me. God has been a source of strength even when I don’t understand how He operates in this world, He gives me peace. I am emboldened by God’s Spirit to do not only what is required, but what God prompts me to do for others. This doesn’t change in a pandemic. I am prepared to serve others and to care not only for the body, but for the spirit. I pray that I will be able to do this well during the stressful times that are upon us and the ones to come. Thank you for caring and for asking about me. I am blessed to have you as friends - and you are a blessing to me. I think we’ll find that out more and more in the days to come. Sharon Simpson is the Director of Community Enrichment at Menno Home in Abbotsford, BC.

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A COMMUNITY THAT CARES Elim Village is based on the belief that Christian faith and service go hand in hand. The founding vision was to build a village for the ever-changing needs of seniors, and where spouses face minimal separation as they journey through life. Together, as individuals, we have built a strong community where residents can form, build and expand their personal connections. Today, Elim Village has a campus of care model that supports residents while keeping loved ones and friends close together. This unique model consists of 250 independent living homes, 109 assisted/supported living suites and 193 full care suites. By living at Elim Village, you have not only found a home, but a community that cares.

GET IN TOUCH WITH US TODAY! Due to social distancing requirements and for the protection of those living at Elim Village during COVID-19 , we are unable to arrange physical appointments. We will continue to be available by phone and email to answer your questions.

A UNIQUE CHRISTIAN RETIREMENT COMMUNITY PRESENTATION CENTRE 9025 160th Street, Surrey, BC V4N 2X7 Email: info@ 604.582.5579 This is not an offering for sale which can only be made with a disclosure statement. E.&O.E. FHA NUMBER: BHAN-7J2P6W


DISCOVER ELIM VILLAGE. Now selling The Douglas − Contemporary styled, spacious 1 to 2 bedroom and den condominium homes in the picturesque community of Garrison Crossing.

WHY CHOOSE ELIM VILLAGE? “What drew us in was community. It’s more than a condominium. We’ve met more people here in less than a year than 16 years at our previous home. It gives us peace knowing this is home for the rest of our lives.” – NORM & DAVINA NOW SELLING THE DOUGLAS. 75% OF UNITS SOLD! Due to social distancing requirements and for the protection of those living at Elim Village during COVID-19 , we are unable to arrange physical appointments. We will continue to be available by phone and email to answer your questions. GARRISONCROSSING@ELIMVILLAGE.COM RE/MAX 2000 REALTY David Herman 604 582 5579


RE/MAX NYDA REALTY Kelly Lerigny 604 858 7179

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April 2020 Light Magazine  

April 2020 Light Magazine  


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