I went to the National Prayer Breakfast. And this is what I saw

By Lorianne Dueck

The morning sunlight blazed through Confederation Park. The tulip petals glowed.  We were on our way to pray.  

Over 400 men and women met in the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa for the 52nd National Prayer Breakfast in late May. I was able to join in for the purpose of collectively honouring and continuing to hold to our Christian heritage.

Lorianne Dueck just might have been one of the youngest people at the National Prayer Breakfast this year. In this blog she shares what she saw.

Amidst the conventional networking and table chit chat,  a deeper conversation took place.  The true point of discourse (not discord) at the National Prayer Breakfast is faith.

Some of the words that affected me deeply were spoken by Health Minister, Hon. Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.. She talked about the stress of question period. She said that MPs only  have about 35 seconds to respond, which is enough time for about three sentences. “How can I use those three sentences? What do I want people to see? What do I want them to remember?” Those are the questions Philpott asks herself. She tries to make her three sentences count:  I want to have a sentence of grace, a sentence of wisdom, and a sentence of courage. 

She asked us to pray to that end. Being a person of many words (often too many), I found Philpott’s questions profound. If the world heard me for 35 seconds, would they see grace, wisdom, and courage? I would be honoured if they did – and hopefully God would be glorified.

The main address of the morning came from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. As representative of Queen Elizabeth II, he structured his speech around faith, service, and love, drawing examples from her life (and his own) to illustrate each value. He quoted a speech by the Queen given on her 21st Birthday, published on April of 1947:

There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, “I serve”. […] I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. […] God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

With my 21st birthday less than seven months away, I can honestly say that Queen Elizabeth’s words are awe-inspiring, and daunting. This is a motto I long to say with the same conviction.

The morning ended with an a capella rendition of Amazing Grace, by Canadian band Hawk Nelson. Then, as the bagpipes played, we stood, watching our political leaders leave the room and return to their offices. We left soon after.

The sun was now higher in the sky, the flowers had lost their ethereal glow, and it was time to start the work day. I had to ask myself, did that breakfast really matter? Would the prayers have an impact?

Yes.

Because when the speeches are over, the applause subsided, the food  eaten, and the dishes cleared away, three things still do remain: Faith, hope, and love – and we all know that the greatest of these is love. God continues to build His Kingdom here in Canada.

Lorianne Dueck is an EFC research assistant and an international business student at Carleton University in Ottawa. 

Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

Today we hit ‘send’ on the latest issue of Faith Today, shooting it out of our computers directly to the printers’, almost right on schedule. The last few days of a magazine’s production cycle involve poring over pages and pdfs, tweaking design (although our designer is so good we rarely do any tweaking) and trying to pick up any last stray errors or omissions. And then finally saying, “Done!”

Here it is! A sneak peek at our Jul/Aug issue. We’d love it to be your first issue as a Faith Today subscriber.

In about two weeks we will have the glossy, deliciously real magazine in our hands, ready for distributing, reading, flipping, sharing with friends, and fanning out on coffee tables (or this time of year, maybe straight to the cottage?).

We know you will enjoy this “birthday issue” of Faith Today. Not our birthday of course, but Canada’s. When we began to sketch out the issue we knew we wanted a kind-of aerial view piece on the evangelical Church in Canada. Where have we come from? What are our milestones, even as our country celebrates a biggie? And, perhaps most intriguingly, where are we headed? This one story, by veteran writer and intrepid-challenger-of-the-status-quo, John G. Stackhouse Jr., takes the lion’s share of space in this issue, as it should. But it is balanced beautifully with an essay by Mark Buchanan, a writer whom we think is one of Canada’s best. He’s been thinking about King David a lot lately, and what David can teach us about friendship.

We met up with Christine MacMillan at a conference recently in Ottawa. She is a leader in the Church in Canada who is now on the global stage with the World Evangelical Alliance. She’s been in the pages of Faith Today before, but not as the lead interview. We’re so glad she sat down with us and opened up about what she is seeing going on in the evangelical Church worldwide, but also about her own recent journey with cancer, something she refers to as the “cross of the unexpected.”
Continue reading Off you go to the printers! See you soon.

Reconciliation involves listening. Blanket Exercise makes that easy.

I participated in my first Blanket Exercise recently on Parliament Hill.

The largest Blanket Exercise in Canada was held recently on Parliament Hill

I had heard of it only once before, when the earnest son of a friend, newly sensitized to Aboriginal issues, tried to walk his extended family through it at a barbecue, to mixed results. I knew it involved blankets and a history lesson, and in my friend’s case, an annoyed grandpa.

But it was much more than that.

Kairos Canada, who helps facilitate the exercise, describes it as a “participatory popular education methodology” with the goal of  building “understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada by walking through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance.” If you show up, you can be involved. The colourful blankets, in my case spread out beneath the stairs that lead up to the front doors of Parliament, represent pre-colonized Canada.

You’re invited to take your place on the blankets, and there it begins, a moving and enlightening walk-through of Canada’s history with our First Nations.

What struck me most, besides of course the realization of how much I don’t actually know  (or have forgotten) about my country’s own history, was the kindness of the facilitators. Volunteers strolled through the crowd offering kleenex to those moved to tears by the experience. Then, in a move that reminded me of Psalm 56:8 (God gathering our tears in a bottle), they collected the tissues back up again, because the tears were so important and not to be carelessly tossed aside.

Participants were warned they might find the exercise upsetting, learning in more detail than perhaps ever before about the harsh and sometimes fatal treatment of Indigenous peoples by the hand of government, Church, and history in general. But we were very kindly and gently asked to not feel shame or guilt, but to enter and exit the exercise with a healthy sense of hope and love for each other. It was about reconciliation. That beautiful spirit touched me as much as the actual shifting and sorting and bunching up of blankets that told this part of our history that we’d probably rather forget. But true reconciliation means remembering.

Next week, on Wednesday June 21, it is Aboriginal Day. If you can find some event in your community — maybe even a Blanket Exercise — to show your commitment to reconciliation and hope and love, try to attend.

Here at Faith Today, our Jul/Aug issue features an interview with Christine MacMillan, World Evangelical Alliance’s associate secretary general for public engagement. Here’s part of what she said about reconciliation in that soon to be published interview: “It’s being patient. It’s listening to the point where listening even of itself be- comes peace and reconciliation. It’s exploring “what will it take to bring peace?” – and as you explore in that way reconciliation starts to happen. The process is as important as the outcome. [Reconciliation doesn’t begin] until you get people feeling the trust in the room that allows them to tell the layers of their story. The Church must be that safe place, as well as that public place.”

Thanks for reading our blog! If you’d like to try out the magazine, let us know.

 

 

Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

An interview with Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, author of Faith Today‘s May/Jun cover story, “Help your kids embrace the faith: trading in picture-perfect faith for authentic experience.”

FT: Rebecca, you have a book coming out in the fall with Thomas Nelson called “Why I didn’t rebel.” How did this all come about?

RL: I wrote a blog post for my mom [writer Sheila Wray Gregoire] on the same topic. We had about a quarter of a million people in the first three weeks read it, and we had over a million people see it on Facebook. It was shared on pinterest. I was getting people sending me screenshots asking it if was me. When it blew up, I did all my interviews and made it into a book.

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is the writer of “Help your kids embrace the faith,” Faith Today’s May/Jun cover story.

FT: Why do you think your blog and ideas touched such a nerve?

RL: It’s a topic that touches everyone, right. Everyone knows a teenager or has a kid or has a family member like a grandchild or niece, just that kid at church that you take under your wing.

We’re also just really curious, and we’re all busybodies, that’s how humans are. So, when you hear “why I didn’t rebel,” you want to know. I did think about how I could word it in a way that made people interested.
Continue reading Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

Talk about pornography with your kids, you might be surprised what you hear

A few of us have taken home a copy of the EFC’s latest resource, “Battling Pornography: A Guide for Canadians.” The booklet is a collection of resources about the prevalence of online pornography, how it harms, and how we can help.

This is by no means a comprehensive survey, but so far 100% of our sons — when gently approached with the topic, booklet in hand, by their slightly embarrassed mothers — have immediately acknowledged that online pornography is an open and shameless secret among their peers. It’s almost a given. Another story from the trenches involves a husband, whose co-workers refuse to believe he doesn’t view pornography.

Here’s another way you can use these booklets. Scatter them on a table at your church. These particular ones were spotted at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Anglican church in downtown Ottawa.

Forty-nine percent of Canadians think pornography is “morally acceptable,” according to one of the stats in the booklet. Our chat over coffee at the EFC Ottawa office would suggest that number is probably a lot higher, or certainly will be in a few years when all these teenage boys reach adulthood. And they won’t reach adulthood unscarred by their exposure to online porn. Another colourful spread in the booklet graphically depicts “The brain on pornography.” It’s certainly colourful, but not a pretty picture. Pornography use is addictive and will distort how viewers understand sex, gender equality and change forever their own threshold for pleasure.

“Battling Pornography: A Guide for Canadians” is not meant to scare you (although it might). It’s meant to get the conversation going, in your homes and churches, just like it’s doing in ours. So, have us send you one or a few. Then make a cup of tea and sit down with your family.

Download a free copy of this resource, or if you’d like copies for your home and church, call us. 1-866-302-3362.

An EFC Intern Heads to a Christian Women’s conference. And this is what she saw

By Lorianne Dueck

As an enthusiastic, confident, and ambitious young woman, finding my place in Kingdom work can be exciting, but also complicated. Messages in culture clash with those in scripture and sometimes even the Biblical truths get blurred behind tradition and gender stereotypes.

“And when they said future, what they really meant was the next generation. Which includes me. A young woman who loves the Lord, an aspiring leader, a Canadian. “

Consequently, when presented with the opportunity to go to Gather’s Women of Faith: The Canadian Context conference, I was intrigued and slightly apprehensive.  I imagined that the conference could go one of two ways:

    • It could take the passive/defensive approach. Nostalgic and traditional, yet another plodding discussion on how to preserve evangelical womanhood in the midst of this radically liberal culture.
    • Or it could be an urban, fiery Christian feminist conference. The afternoon would be spent talking about how men have limited the power of women in the Church for much too long. The time to take charge is now – and we must look super chic in the process.

Continue reading An EFC Intern Heads to a Christian Women’s conference. And this is what she saw

Are pregnancy care centres anti-woman?

By Rebecca Peters

Pregnancy care centres have been accused of being anti-choice with hidden, secret agendas. Let’s take a look at the situation.

Most local pregnancy care centres are faith-based. But what does that mean? Quite simply, it means that everything they do is based on their love for God and the truth of the Bible – that all life has value. That’s it. Everyone that works at a centre, whether staff or volunteer, shares these beliefs. They don’t preach them. They simply live them, by loving and honouring all life and every person that walks through the door, regardless of that person’s age, race, gender, or religion.

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Pregnancy care centres offer medically accurate information on all three options available to a woman when she is pregnant – abortion, adoption, and parenting. The information is presented in a straightforward and unbiased way, because centres believe that when given accurate information, women are smart enough and fully capable of making the best decision for themselves. The only suggestion made to a woman facing a pregnancy decision is – take the time needed to make this important life decision.
Continue reading Are pregnancy care centres anti-woman?

One Sermon in 150+ Vancouver Churches on June 11

Mark Glanville is one of the organizers of the June 11 preaching event in Vancouver

by Mark Glanville

The same sermon theme will be preached in over 150 Vancouver churches on Sunday June 11.

Our theme: welcoming the stranger. I feel giddy with anticipation as I type! This is a response to what can sometimes be a fear-based political climate,  that breeds suspicion of outsiders. It is also a response to the isolation that many Vancouverites feel, daily. Together, we are sending a unified message to the city, a vision of the kingdom: the radical welcome of God, in Christ.

The idea for One City, One Message came initially from City Councillor Andrea Reimer at the Vancouver City Summit, a city-wide consultation of pastors interested in pursuing together the wellbeing of their neighbourhoods and the city.

The theme of welcoming the stranger is timely: survey-based research by the Vancouver Foundation shows that Vancouverites are experiencing a crisis of social isolation, a corrosion of care that results in a silo mentality. Our lives are bounded by ethnicity, culture, language, income, age, and geography. Isolation is experienced across Canada, not only in Vancouver. Maclean’s magazine reflected that a ‘good’ neighbor is experienced as someone who doesn’t bother you, either by disrupting your enjoyment of your home or by threatening your property value (August 2014).
Continue reading One Sermon in 150+ Vancouver Churches on June 11

Six things I wish I had learned in medical school

By Laura Lewis, MD

I wish I had learned…

That science can only describe the magnificence of life, not explain it. Despite learning about oocytes, spermatozoa, cell division and embryology, I failed to appreciate the complex blueprint of life, established in the early moments of conception.

During the course of her work as a frontline medical doctor, she saw the need for education, support and practical options for women and men facing unplanned pregnancies. In May of 2016, Dr. Lewis accepted the position of executive director of CAPSS.

That in the name of “choice” many women have no choice regarding their unplanned pregnancy.
I never appreciated that the scared, young woman sitting across from me in my doctor’s office also carried the fear and pressure of many others whose lives would be impacted by her decision. This fear is often laden with pressure, subtle and overt.

That many men and women live with great regret about their children lost to abortion.
As I began to work with our local pregnancy care centre, stories of deep and hidden sorrow began to emerge from post-abortive women and men. It made me question whether we have done an adequate job providing real choices. I know the answer without hesitation – we have not. True choice is when accurate information is provided on all options. True choice is made from a place of knowledge and confidence, not fear.

That despite our ability to treat a diseased heart, we have no cure for a broken one. 
We cannot fix a broken heart, but we should do all that we can to try and prevent it. I wish all women, men and families facing an unplanned pregnancy could hear the cries of regret from those who have walked before them. The physical, mental and emotional effects of abortion matter, whether it is 1% or 100% of patients affected.

That a microscope, while magnifying an image, can actually dull our focus.
A chromosome count cannot measure value. Prenatal testing cannot predict love or the impact and purpose of a life.

That when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, we often fail our patients. That is my word for it, failure. Our patients come to us for guidance, education and unbiased help during the chaos of an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, in our society and in medical circles, abortion provision, accessibility and availability are given a greater platform and emphasis than supportive alternatives such as adoption and pregnancy care support.

It is my hope there will be a change, in our society and in the medical profession. It is time for a new response to those facing an unplanned pregnancy, one where we look beyond the scientific process and we enter into a new conversation, one where all life is valued and protected.

Dr. Laura Lewis is a family physician and executive director of CAPSS (Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services). CAPSS is dedicated to establishing, equipping and encouraging local pregnancy care centres across Canada. Read Faith Today‘s recent Question & Answer interview with Dr. Lewis.

If you are faith-based group sponsoring refugees, you are doing them a great service

Privately-sponsored refugees are more likely than government-sponsored refugees to have Canadian friends for the long haul. That was one of the insights presented about immigration and refugees at the “Our Whole Society: Religion and Citizenship at Canada’s 150th” conference, held recently in Ottawa.

If you are part of a faith group sponsoring refugees, this will ring true for you, as private sponsors are normally very involved, at least in the beginning months, of a newcomer’s settlement experience into Canada. Driving someone to the dentist, going grocery shopping with them and helping their kids adjust to a new school are all potential ingredients for a life-long bond. Plus, you care.

“Faith and Settlement Partnership: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success” was the name of one workshop offered at the conference. A panel presented some of the initial findings of a multi-partner research project (of the same name as the workshop) going on now in Canada by the Centre for Community-Based Research.

The research is tackling three main questions:

  • To what extent are faith/settlement partnerships viewed positively?
  • What types of partnerships presently exist and how could they be improved?
  • How can effective partnerships be better facilitated?

Initial results show that faith groups tend to work better with short term focused projects. They are very effective at mobilizing for immediate action. Sometimes faith groups give out inaccurate information to newcomers, and settlement agencies have to clear things up when needed.

The research is showing that there needs to be more collaboration between government and faith groups, in order for faith groups to be more integrated in the world of sponsoring refugees in Canada, and for the sake of the refugee. Trust is key. A recurring theme to the research into partnerships between faith based groups and settlement agencies was the need to be friends, and nurture that relationship. And collaboration is key to responding to service gaps. Faith based services and organizations should be part of the settlement supports offered newcomers, suggest the research. Faith helps people overcome challenges and find meaning in difficulties. Faith is significant for the integration of newcomers, so clergy and faith based groups can and should be part of the settlement process. Settlement brings a lot of stressors, faith can be used to mitigate many of them.

The researchers feel there is energy and excitement around the prospect of a closer partnership. And incase you wondered, Mississauga, Ont.,  is the third most attractive city (after Montreal and Toronto) for recent immigrants born in Syria.

And, not surprisingly, less bureaucratic red tape would help everyone.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Read about the experience of some churches settling refugees in Canada for the first time. Subscribe today

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