All posts by Karen Stiller

An Insider Glimpse Into the Ebola Crisis

Dr. Rick Sacra contracted the Ebola virus in September 2014, while working at ELWA Hospital in Liberia. Following several weeks of treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Sacra returned to Liberia. He shares his thoughts about ELWA’s response to the Ebola crisis, and the fulfilling nature of medical ministry.

By Dr. Rick Sacra

Monday morning, 9 February, was my last morning at ELWA Hospital – in just a few hours I would be heading for the airport. There was an appreciation program, with breakfast, for all of the hospital staff after our morning chapel gathering, recognizing those who had served so courageously during the worst of the Ebola crisis.

Dr. Rick Sacra with young baby Noah, a patient the hospital was able to treat because it stayed open.
Dr. Rick Sacra with young baby Noah, a patient the hospital was able to treat because it stayed open.

Along with Dr. Jerry Brown, our Medical Director, I was asked to say a few words. As I spoke, thanking our nurses, midwives, aides, and cleaners for coming to work during the toughest times (August-October 2014) my mind went back to a meeting with health care planners from an international NGO. They wanted to know: “What allowed ELWA to remain open when other hospitals closed?”
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My Difficult And Rich Experience Being A Pro-Life Campus Activist

by Karen Stiller

A Canadian university  campus just might be one of the most difficult  places to be actively pro-life. We’ve all heard the disturbing reports of pro-life groups being shut down by totalitarian-style student unions, of displays ripped to shreds, of cancelled events and banned speakers.1803098MidRes

As we gather  testimonials for a fascinating spread in our upcoming May/June Faith Today from students across the country who are actively pro-life on campus,  the years fall away and I’m back at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

It was 1989 -1990, the last two years of my undergraduate degree when I was swept into that city’s pro-life movement. The heat had risen because a Morgentaler clinic opened up. Pro-life activists in Halifax were galvanized for action.

I was new to being pro-life (in fact, had been just the opposite for many years). I was compelled to change my position because of my newly-committed life as a Christ-follower.  I could no longer reconcile abortion and its tragic lack of imagination as a solution for women and their children, with the compassionate Christ I now followed.

I went from being ardently pro-choice to picketing outside a clinic on the other side. How I hated that experience of picketing, which was the experience of being hated by those who disagreed.

Things accelerated on campus.

My boyfriend and I (now husband for 25 years) started Students for Life, a pro-life group at Dalhousie. Our posters (before they were ripped off the walls of course) attracted a motley crew who met together weekly to plot strategy. Our activism consisted mostly of information tables and posters. We used material from Feminists for Life because we thought it had the best intellectual appeal.
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The Power of Good Stories Well Told

By Karen Stiller

Last night I sat in a packed movie theatre in Oshawa watching The Drop Boxdrop_box

It is, of course, the inspiring story of Pastor Lee Jong-Rak who installs a dropbox for unwanted babies in the outside wall of his Seoul home. The little compartment is lined with a blanket, equipped with a warming light bulb and can be opened from outside the home — to deposit baby, sometimes with umbilical cord still attached — and  from inside the home to a bittersweet welcome. Bitter because no one is happy when a baby is abandoned. Sweet because the first thing Pastor Lee does is hold the child closely and thank God for the miracle in his hands.

There is a red glowing button that triggers a doorbell to alert Pastor Lee and his family (including at the time of filming about 15 children, many of them disabled) that someone new is about to enter this chaotic, messy, drooling, happy family.

I was struck with the expected things: the selflessness of the Pastor, his wife, daughter and the children who embrace the presence of each other. The value of “imperfect life” as seen in the severe handicap of the Pastor’s own son, a heartbreak that clearly broke the Pastor’s heart completely open, preparing it to receive what was to come: one after another after another less than perfect and less than wanted child, here perfectly loved, fully wanted.
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Awkward Interview Moments

So there I sat in a little cozy room at the Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto, chatting to Franklin Graham and his entourage about Eliza Doolittle. Yes, Eliza Doolittle.

Part of my very sophisticated pre-interview warm up strategy involves small talk. Small talk is hard with Franklin Graham. I was trying to relax myself primarily. This straight shooting Southern guy who I’m sure has been interviewed by a million people, did not seem in need of relaxation. But as I set up,  I explained how I would be taping the interview using an iPhone app I had learned about from a journalist, Eliza Doolittle, who had travelled with Graham to South Sudan. I had heard her speak and asked her about the app. And now I use it. (And isn’t that the most amazing coincidence, I chortled).
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Why I Will Never Be Head of the WEA

Geoff TunnicliffeI will never, ever, ever be head of the World Evangelical Alliance. I know this now. But for a brief second while interviewing outgoing head Geoff Tunnicliffe – the man I am not replacing – I did try to imagine what a dream job it would be.

Connecting with Evangelicals around the world. Making us seem less crazy to people like Alec Baldwin, (Geoff met the actor at a dinner. Baldwin wished him luck in his quest to rehabilitate the reputation of Evangelicals). Having lunch with the most popular Pope ever. Visiting villages and villas, mountain tops and movie sets. Being friends with Roma Downey and Mark Burnett! (Of course, I’m leaving out all the hard stuff).

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Why is Christian Art Sometimes So Schmaltzy?

Change of Season by Patty Kingsley
Change of Season by Patty Kingsley

My kids have a lovely relative who buys them Christian novels to read. Lately, I’ve noticed a growing skepticism on the part of my children. They are suspicious of the book if they think it is “Christian.”

At 18, 15 and 14, they have – without any help from me I will add – concluded that sometimes those books just aren’t as good as the ones you read at school or even more likely, pick up at Indigo.

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Writing the Walking Wounded

Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Linford

My assignment to write the Walking Wounded, the Faith Today story about soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder and how churches can help, was one of those journeys into the unknown.

All I knew about the topic was the headlines in the paper telling of what seemed to be a rash of soldier suicides in Canada. It seemed unbearably sad and unfair that those who served our country in awful situations overseas and survived would come home only to take their own life in private agony.

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How To Be Called a Bigot in One Easy Step

bob_kuhn
TWU President Bob Kuhn

I feel vulnerable every time I research and write something that brushes up against the issue of same-sex union, or anything that might be perceived to be any thing less than tolerant and loving of the LGBT community.

I feel nervous for two reasons: 1. I am a scaredy-cat who likes to be liked and I used to be cool (I think). 2. It is so incredibly difficult – maybe impossible – to be heard in today’s Canada as anything less than a bigoted homophobic crazy person on a rant.

That is one of the things that interested me about Bob Kuhn, president of embattled Trinity Western University, and why I was intrigued to speak to him for the May/June Faith Today Interview. In today’s Canada, how do you gird your loins sufficiently to lead a battle to have a law school at a Christian university that requires students to sign a community covenant pledging to keep sex in marriage between a man and a woman?

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