All posts by Karen Stiller

Because it is Right and Just: Voices From Canada’s Pro-Life Movement

The National March for Life will hit the streets next week on May 14. In honour of that event, and in recognition of the ongoing efforts by countless Canadians to remind us that Canada does not have any legislative restrictions around abortion, Faith Today presents the voices of pro-life activists from across the country. Click here for more quotes from campus activists.

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“I stay involved in the pro-life movement because it is right and just.” Jeffrey Belanger, London, Ont.

“The thing I would like Canadians to know about abortion is that it hurts women and kills children. Women deserve better than abortion.” Christina Alaimo, Campaign Life Coalition Youth Coordinator, Toronto

“I stay involved in the pro-life movement in Canada because without true commitment and dedication to the movement, the status quo surrounding abortion will not change. Innocent human beings will continue to be murdered, and mothers will continue to be exploited. I stay involved in the movement because I want to see a day that abortion is abolished in Canada; a day when human life is protected from its earliest stage; a day when Canadians sanctify human life rather than destroy it.” Carter Grant, Campaign Life Coalition Toronto

“I stay involved in the pro-life movement in Canada because the pay is below average, levels of stress is high, I work days, evenings, weekends, and I haven’t had a real vacation in 3 years. I question my involvement in the movement every day and after almost 4 years of working for Campaign Life Coalition, I still don’t know why I keep coming back, but I do.” Matthew Wojciechowski, Campaign Life Coalition Communication Director, Toronto

“I can help end abortion in my lifetime. In Canada alone, 300 children are killed every single day throughout all nine months of pregnancy, paid for by your tax dollars.” Yvonne Boon, Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, Calgary
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A Phone Call From Nepal: Local Leader Shares What Life is Like now

Luke McKee is Communications Coordinator  for Partners International Canada. This week, he hosted a phone call with Bhim Lai, a partner in Nepal.  Bhim Lal shared what life is like right now in the earthquake-stricken nation.

Since early in the morning on April 25, 2015, Bhim Lal’s life has changed. As the director of Good Friends of Nepal he has dedicated much of his life to sharing the love of Christ to a country that has not heard the Good News.

Bhim Lal in better days in Nepal.
Bhim Lal in better days in Nepal.

Since 1996 Bhim Lal and Good Friends of Nepal has grown from four Church plants to over 150, with hundreds of baptisms taking place. They have also been able to operate an orphanage, as well as reach others through the development of a literacy class. Bhim Lal’s work and life have made an incredible impact on the community that surrounds him. The New Vision Orphanage Home serves 20 children in Kathmandu, providing them with food, clothing and education. Good Friends of Nepal was expanding, transforming hearts and lives around the country.

On April 25th that all changed.

As a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck near Kathmandu in Nepal, Bhim Lal and his family were forced into the streets as houses began to crumble and thousands were trapped in the rubble, calling out for help.

In the days that would follow, aftershocks and tremors between 4.0 and 6.1 magnitude continued to devastate Kathmandu destroying homes, streets and lives.

We were able to connect with Bhim Lal from the Partners International Canada headquarters in Brampton within hours of earthquake striking and the scene that he described to us was a scene of sadness and loss.

With all of the building damages, Bhim Lal and his family were amongst the thousands who would spend the night in the streets, with his children sleeping inside of their car while he and his wife slept outside.

In our phone conversation Bhim Lal said he could hear people crying out for help, the situation remained chaotic and people began to simply try and survive as they waited for help to arrive.

Aid agencies across the country immediately mobilized to provide relief to those in Nepal.

For some organizations that means serving the immediate needs of those on the ground, for others plans began to take shape that promote mid to long term recovery.
Continue reading A Phone Call From Nepal: Local Leader Shares What Life is Like now

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

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?

Continue reading How To Be Called a Bigot in One Easy Step