“How can we help you share your faith in Jesus?” Over the past year or so, I bombarded individuals and small groups of women from coast to Canadian coast with this specific question.
Our ministry is about stepping in at the grass roots level and empowering local women to be the change agents that our culture needs. Most people find it hard to share their faith in a culture where tolerance can be valued more highly than loving conviction. I do.
Of course there is no single answer to the question of how best to share our faith, but there were some clear themes expressed in the collective response. After meeting bright, beautiful, varied and talented followers of Jesus across the country, primarily known as Gen X’ers and Y’s, we have some conclusions you might relate to. Continue reading New Canadian Film Series Makes Faith Sharing Easier→
Canadians are compassionate – we’ve seen that again and again, most recently with the wildfires in Fort McMurray and the refugees resettled from Syria. But what about when an individual suffers and is not good at getting media attention with her call for help? How can we, especially Christians, do better in that kind of situation?
It’s something I just lived through, so let me tell you about it.
Here’s what I wrote in my journal in 2014: “I focus on bottle picking, selling my household items, and preparing for homelessness. I have no hope at all of lifting myself out of the situation. I am utterly alone and isolated.”
I wrote those words about a year after my husband, high on a cocktail of vodka and prescription drugs, assaulted me, choking me repeatedly and pummelling the back of my bleeding skull with blunt objects.
I scribbled that note trying to understand why so few people in my family, church and community understood. No one seemed to care that I could not work, or pay my bills, or that I was selling off furniture and picking bottles out of ditches to buy bread and bus fare.
Bureaucrats at the Canada/Alberta Service centre didn’t seem to understand that I was a crime victim, or that I struggled with a head injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Helping agencies, including outreach workers at the women’s shelter, said there was nothing they could to do. Continue reading Let’s do a better job of helping each other→
Even now, years later in order to spell it correctly, I have to look up the the word hemorrhaging each and every time I write it.
But that was the least of the worries around “Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults Are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church,” a report commissioned by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable and sponsored by the EFC, Great Commission Foundation, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, Stronger Together 2011 and Youth for Christ Canada.
My family is getting ready to say good-bye to a much loved family member. He is lingering longer than anticipated. The cancer has taken full hold of his body and days are now filled with pain, tears, frustration, anxiety and exhaustion. At times we pray for a speedy parting and yet we recognize the gift of being able to say good-bye.
Recently I came across this quote – it takes a minute to say hello and a life time to say goodbye. How true this is as we say good-bye to my dear uncle.
However, 20 years of working with the world’s displaced has taught me that the opposite is true for refugees.
Refugees have only minutes to say good-bye to their homes, family, countries, jobs – all that is familiar and all that they hold dear.
After 27 years of working inside as a chaplain, I wondered what it would be like overseeing a correspondence ministry. Would I miss the face to face contact? Would it be the same impact?
One of the first emails I received was from Raymond in Nigeria, “Dear People of Christ, My name is Raymond Ajagbe, from Nigeria. I was once an inmate at the Don Jail in Toronto between the year 1996-1997. I am very happy to tell you that your prison Bible courses were of help in developing me spiritually while I was there. I still have about 10 certificates in different bible courses your ministry gave to me. After leaving Don Jail in 1997, December I had to go back to my country Nigeria to start a new life. Today, I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a ministry that rehabilitate alcohol and drug addicts.”
Looking up Raymond, I saw he was featured in the Nigerian Tribune in March 2014 for his work with those who suffering with drug and alcohol issues.
Earlier this year, Angus Reid released the results of a poll that give us insight into the morals of men in Canada. According to this poll, 52% of men in Canada believe that watching pornography is always or usually morally acceptable. The report also indicates that 43% of Canadian men age 18-34 believe that buying sex is always or usually morally acceptable.
Sex seems to have always had a powerful hold in the lives of men. If we examine the Old Testament, we can read multiple stories of how men used women for their own sexual desires. It seems as though any man can become overwhelmed by their desires – from the common man to the king of Israel.
Today, the age of the internet has made it easier than ever for men to lust after a woman, and keep it a secret. In the work we do at Promise Keepers Canada, pornography is easily the most common form of sexual sin Christian men are participating in. There are men who are convinced it is sin, but they don’t know how (or even if they want) to get out. There are other men who are not as confident that viewing pornography is a sin, because it is private and they don’t feel like they are hurting anyone.
There are practical and biblical ways to address the sexual temptations confronting men when it comes to pornography.
Practically, men need to see that woman as somebody’s daughter or somebody’s sister. Something changes in a man’s thinking when he sees the woman on the screen as a person first. I have never met a man who is thrilled at the idea of other men lusting after their daughter or sister, but that is exactly what men are doing when they view pornography. Continue reading Pornography most common sexual sin of Christian men→
What counts as a flourishing congregation in Canada? What are the indicators of a flourishing congregation?
What would you say? Membership, baptism, conversion, or attendance figures? How “well” churchgoers love others? Good leadership? Strong community presence?
These are common and anticipated questions that our research team receives as we launch the new Flourishing Congregations Institute at Ambrose University. In reality, flourishing is a combination of all of the above, plus a series of other variables.
Our team recently facilitated two expert panel gatherings with nearly 20 church and denominational leaders of flourishing Catholic, mainline and conservative Protestant congregations in Calgary. Soon we will travel coast to coast, speaking with 50-75 additional leaders of flourishing congregations – and later in the study we will conduct in-depth case studies of some congregations, followed by a national survey with leaders and members of flourishing congregations.
In our initial explorations we ask leaders this open-ended question: “What comes to mind with the phrase “flourishing congregation”?” We also summarize and then solicit their response to five traits that emerge in the literature on healthy and vibrant churches: a clear self-identity; strong and committed leadership; a culture that desires growth (numeric as well as spiritual); a hospitable community;band vibrant spiritual life (see our earlier article in Faith Today) Continue reading What counts as a flourishing congregation in Canada?→
At Faith Today, we thought we would carry on the conversation about American and Canadian Evangelicals generated by our May/Jun cover story. So here we present the reaction of an American Evangelical to that story, and the response from our writer Sam Reimer.
It is encouraging to learn that we have so much in common with our northern brothers and sisters. It does make sense that theological similarity would unite us, given the social factors that have created the evangelical subculture that spans between the two countries.
Allow me to add another similarity that may not have been clear from the article. We Evangelicals in the U.S. are also astounded at the political success of Donald Trump. At least this is the case for those who take their faith seriously [as evidenced by church attendance]. For example, in the Missouri primary Cruz beat Trump 50 percent to 33 percent among Evangelicals who attend church at least weekly. On the other hand, among Evangelicals who attend church only a few times a year, Trump beat Cruz 48 percent to 29 percent.
This weekend Faith Today senior writer Debra Fieguth died, following a massive stroke. If you have read Faith Today over the years, you will have no doubt been influenced by Debra in your life and faith, even if you didn’t know it was her. She wrote from the busy intersection between life and faith, the living out of our beliefs — because that is really where she shone.
To be a senior writer for Faith Today means that writer is a “go-to” person for us. It means that we can assign that person almost any story and know it will be done well. Debra was a go-to person in her work. She was also most certainly that in her life.
Debra was an activist of the faith. She was someone intent on making the crooked straight, setting right what had been made wrong.
Debra was a go-to person for countless numbers of international students who found a home through weekly dinners and I’m guessing endless drop-in visits to their home in Kingston. Debra and her husband Ian lived and breathed hospitality. It’s just what they did. She wrote a book about it. Continue reading Goodbye beautiful writer, our lovely friend→
We first began to hear about the troubles facing Gospel for Asia through our readers.
We received several letters from Faith Today subscribers concerned that we were running advertisements from a charity facing serious questions about staff relations and financial issues.
Of course, Faith Today has a clear “we don’t necessarily agree with all our advertisers” stance, but that answer only goes so far.
We started to dig and discovered that one of the world’s largest Christian charities was indeed coming under serious fire. We had a decision on our hands. Do we do this story? Or do we let it play out for even more time? Or do we ignore it altogether?
We chose to dig in.
We certainly weighed the seriousness of trudging into a story full of contradictory statements, unproved or not-yet-proven allegations, and named the potential risk and sadness of adding to the societal skepticism of Christians acting wrong with people and with money.
But of course, we aren’t given the task of making each other look good. It is our job to bring truth to light as best we can. Not to sensationalize or diminish. Not to make things bigger, nor to make things smaller than they really are.
So, I read, dug, listened, asked, confirmed, fact-checked, worried, asked more questions, worried some more. And then wrote.
Both sides checked in with me with concern at different times in the course of this story, wanting to make sure that I really got it, that I understood what was at stake. I think they wanted to know they were safe and that they were believed. The best answer I could give them, and I believe this to be sadly true, is that no one is going to like this story.
Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Sign up for a free trial subscription, and receive the May/Jun Faith Today featuring “Tangled and Troubled Times at Gospel for Asia.”