Years ago, at a marriage retreat we were attending, the couple leading the talk made reference to the hugely bestselling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.They listed off the love languages — words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service or physical touch. Then they quickly added that neither of them had the love language of receiving gifts. As if that was a bad thing (to have that love language) and a good thing (to not have that love language).
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and glanced at my husband. Because … my name is Karen and receiving gifts is my love language.
I remember when we first completed the love language profile, the results rolled in and it felt like of all the love languages, I managed to get the most superficial, materialistic, greedy needy one. Of course, that is not how Gary Chapman intended it to be understood. He writes: “A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say ‘Look, he was thinking of me,’ or ‘She remembered me.’ The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is you thought of him.”
It was pretty much inevitable that a version of The Shack, the bestselling novel by Canadian-born author William Paul Young, would find its way to the big screen.
Any book boasting worldwide sales numbering close to 20 million has, in the lingo of the publishing and film industry, a huge platform – a large base of people likely to want to see the film. That said, the motivation to bring this project to screen is much less about its money-earning capacity than the passion of its supporters. The fruit of that labour debuts this weekend in theatres across North America.
What follows is a review of the film intended to assess its merits as a film and not, as much as possible, to be an assessment of its theology or its utility as an outreach tool.
I admit it. I was one of the few people, it seemed at the time, who didn’t quite love, love, love the New York Times bestselling book by Canada’s best known farmer’s wife: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I loved the concept (and the cover!) but I couldn’t quite relax with Voskamp’s unusual, and to me, too highly poetic, writing style.
When her new book The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life came out, I was eager to see if I could dive into this one a little easier. I could. I truly enjoyed the book and I jumped at the opportunity to interview Voskamp on her media tour that recently ended in Toronto. When I met her in the lobby of the Park Hyatt downtown, she had just landed back on Canadian soil and was relieved and happy to be heading home later that night after her final event.
We had a wonderful interview, which I taped, and we hope to make into one of our first ever podcasts (stay tuned for details in the near future!). The printed interview will appear in the Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today. If you are a Voskamp fan, I think you will enjoy hearing the heart behind The Broken Way.
(Watch for more on this topic in the Jan/Feb Faith Today!)
Less than a week before the U.S. presidential election, the presidents of EFC affiliate institutions met in Mississauga for the annual Presidents Day gathering. One of the speakers was Dr. Lee Beach, author of The Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom (Intervarsity Press, 2015). He asked, “As believers, how do we maintain our cultural identity in exile?” In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, this topic seems more timely than ever.
Beach said that today, Canadian Christians live in a place where our story is no longer known. More surprisingly, we’re losing sight of our identity as confessing Christians. A friend of Beach’s young son saw a nativity scene, and he asked what it was. Beach contrasted this with his own childhood biblical knowledge: even before becoming a Christian, he knew some Bible stories, such as Jonah and the whale.
With so few Canadians knowing the Christian story, we are starting to lose sense of who we are. Beach drew on the example of the Israelites in the Babylonian exile. They, too, faced challenges preserving their identities in exile:
The Babylonians were celebrating Marduk’s victory over Yahweh. The Israelites had to decide whether they believed that Yahweh would actually be with them.
The Israelites had to rediscover their identity in the midst of exile.
They had to rediscover a community distinctively opposed to the ways of the other nation.
And now for something a little bit different…The Sep/Oct Faith Today has been packed up and shipped off to the printers, to so speak, even while the ink still dries on the colour-me cover of the Jul/Aug issue. Many of you sent in your coloured versions of our unique cover. Thank you! (You can still send us in a picture (email@example.com) of your hand-coloured cover by Aug. 31, as well as subscribe and receive a free copy of Restore My Soul: a colouring book devotional journey).
In the Sep/Oct issue we dive into the deep waters of suffering. Doug Koop writes that cover story. He knows the nuances of trying to comfort the suffering. Doug is a veteran writer and editor who stepped away from journalism, enrolled in seminary and became a spiritual health practitioner in Winnipeg. There he visits with the sick, sometimes with the dying, and their loved ones. He listens, he speaks, he prays, and he is simply there as a comforting presence.
Koop writes that pain of “any sort is difficult to be around, even when it’s not your own. The anguish of any individual stirs something awkward in others. Suffering is something most of us would rather avoid. That’s why many people aim to stay clear of hospitals.”
He goes on to offer us insight and guidance into how we can be good company to those in need.
In Sep/Oct you’ll also read about what churches are learning as they sponsor refugees for the very first time. (Spoiler: they are learning a lot). Maybe you are part of a congregation who also sponsored Syrian refugees this year. We’d love to hear from you. Stop by www.Facebook.com/FaithToday and post what you and your sponsorship group are learning.
As always, the Sep/Oct Faith Today is full of other wonderful, rich stories to inspire, equip and challenge all of us. The summer Olympics have provided many great moments to be proud to be Canadian. We’ve loved it. And in matters of the heart and the mind, each issue of Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine makes us glad to be part of our vital and diverse Christian community in Canada.
The biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War Two has led to a huge outpouring of compassion. Canadian church organizations continue to be inundated with queries and offers to help Syrian refugees.
“It’s been non-stop,” says Serena Richardson, justice and compassion coordinator for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. “It’s been really amazing.”
The C&MA was already active in refugee work. The denomination began in 2014 to encourage some of its 450 churches to sponsor those fleeing the Syrian conflict.
Like many evangelical denominations, the C&MA is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), meaning it has an agreement with the federal government allowing it, primarily through local churches, to sponsor refugees.
Mennonite Central Committee and its five regional offices also have their hands full responding to requests from their affiliated churches. National migration and resettlement program coordinator Brian Dyck says the offices are accustomed to getting only occasional queries about sponsoring refugees. Now they get up to 10 a day. “And that’s the case in all the provincial offices.”