Category Archives: Editors Extra

Faith Today is going to Uganda

This week, one of Faith Today‘s senior editors, Karen Stiller, is flying to Uganda to visit refugee camps that are welcoming the seemingly never-ending flow of ordinary women, men and children fleeing the seemingly never-ending conflict in South Sudan.

“This is one of my favourite shots from the South Sudan trip five years ago,” says Stiller. “It reminds me that kids are kids no matter what, and joy happens, even when your life has been turned inside out.”

Samaritan’s Purse, an EFC affiliate, is there in the camp providing clean water, health care, improved sanitation and other programs, including a trauma healing program for the people who have lived through more than we can imagine.

It was roughly five years ago that we visited camps in South Sudan for the story “A Visit to the World’s Newest Country.” That situation was bad enough; internally displaced South Sudanese making their way to, and their homes in, the rough, temporary camps within their own country.  Back then, the world was still optimistic about South Sudan’s opportunity to build something new. But the conflict in recent months has just grown worse, and so has the possibility of a severe famine. Families are fleeing and they often end up in northern Uganda– a country that borders their young, struggling nation and receives the largest number of South Sudanese refugees in the world.

The team travelling to Uganda, which includes two or three other journalists, will visit two refugee settlements, as well as maternal/newborn health projects and a rehabilitation program that helps women and their children out of a life of prostitution.

“Today I’m packing my small bag for a week of what is usually pretty rough travel, but an incredible privilege to travel to spots like these and try to understand what people who are just like you and me are going through,” says Stiller. “When I visited South Sudan in 2012, I was also struck by the presence of Canadian workers in the camps and the incredible work they were doing. I’ll look for more of those stories as well, even as we focus on the most important story: the lives of the South Sudanese and how they are struggling to survive and flourish under such unimaginable pressure.”

We hope that Karen will be able to post blogs or photos from the field, but we know internet capability is not predictable in these circumstances. Watch for updates!

Faith Today is happy to be recognized as an excellent source of Christian journalism in Canada. By subscribing to Faith Today, you help keep journalism like ours healthy and ready to tell important stories like the ones you will read in recent months about the people being helped and the work being done in one of the world’s most troubled areas by a Canadian Christian organization. We tell the stories other people don’t tell, and ask the questions other people aren’t asking. Join us

Seven great reasons to grab hold of the May/Jun Faith Today

Hey folks! We are excited, as always, about the next issue of Faith Today. And we think you will be too. Here are seven great things coming up, and seven great reasons to subscribe today

(1) “Help Your Kids Embrace the Faith: Trading in picture-perfect faith for authentic experience with Jesus” is our cover essay from Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach of Ottawa. She is the author of the upcoming book Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow—and How Your Kids Can Too (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

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(2) “Voyeurism, Exploitation or Edgy Fiction? The mixed messages of Pure” looks at the new CBC TV series about a Mennonite mafia.

(3) The Five Love Languages turns 25: Our mini-interview with Gary Chapman. Is your love language words of affirmation? Quality time? Receiving gifts, acts of service or physical touch? It’s been 25 years since the release of Gary Chapman’s enormously best-selling book The Five Love Languages. Chapman had several Canadian speaking engagements this year to mark the milestone. He spoke with Faith Today about the book, its legacy and the new challenge to modern marriages.

(4) “How to Lead Well When Leading Is Hard: Agents of Change in a Resistant Culture” is an essay by Gary Nelson, president of Tyndale University College & Seminary.

(5) “The Shack Controversy: How the Label ‘Christian’ Can Lead Us All Astray” is a feature article by senior writer Patricia Paddey, addressing the new movie based on a controversial bestselling novel by Canadian born “missionary kid” William Paul Young.

(6) “Listening to the diaspora church: A conversation in Toronto leads to insights and knowledge about immigrants and the Church.” Staff from the Tyndale Intercultural Ministry Centre share what we all need to hear from a recent gathering of nine immigrant church planters at The People’s Church in Toronto.

(7) An investigative piece by Craig Macartney into why and how Compassion International was forced out of India after 48 years in that country. Compassion centres ran out of money because the government banned them from receiving any foreign funds—cutting off support for 145,000 children and their families. The move is part of a growing wave of nationalism that is spurring a sharp increase of Christian persecution.

Plus challenging columns by John G. Stackhouse, Jr., James A. Beverley, Carolyn Arends and Bruce Clemenger. Each issue of Faith Today now comes with a new copy of Love Is Moving, the EFC’s magazine for young adults. Subscribers are encouraged to enjoy it themselves or to give their copy to a young person you know and love.

Making peace with creation: the story behind the new film out of Regent College

In “Making Peace with Creation” poet and theologian Loren Wilkinson presents a compelling and compassionate vision for life in the 21st century.

by Iwan Russell-Jones

I knew that I had to make this film after my wife, Amanda, and I took part in the ‘Boat Course’, a remarkable educational experience that Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson devised and have been offering at Regent College for many years.

From the Wilkinson’s home on Galiano students and teachers set off together in two rowing boats on an 8-day voyage around the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, to think, study, discuss and meditate on the meaning of life on this our beautiful and fragile planet – to ponder Technology, Wilderness and Creation (to give the course its correct title).

It was an unforgettable trip – shipping our oars while a pod of Orcas crossed the channel just metres in front of us, standing in wonder on the beach in the dead of night as the sea was lit up by millions of plankton working their miracle of bioluminescence, reading the Scriptures and praying together using the rhythms of Celtic daily prayer in the stunning setting of the Pacific Northwest, contemplating the devastating long-term impact of the acidification of the oceans …  And weaving it all together with insight, poetry and passion was Loren himself, who has spent decades of his life thinking and teaching about the human experience and its relationship to a biblical understanding of creation.

Continue reading Making peace with creation: the story behind the new film out of Regent College

My conversation with a man whose wife died by assisted suicide

The other day I met a man whose wife had died by assisted suicide earlier this year. We sat beside each other on an airplane and struck up conversation, as people do. We discovered we were both writers of a sort, and that was our starting point.

I don’t really remember how it came up, but I must have asked him about his wife. He was an elderly man and something he said made me think he was widowed fairly recently. Then he told me this really enormous thing: that his wife had fought cancer for years and had entered a new, final phase of not winning the fight anymore and so she had chosen assisted suicide about four months ago, with his support.

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This seemed like a huge disclosure, a big, sad, tragic thing to share. I don’t know if the ease of his disclosure is a statement about how writers tend to go deep quickly with each other, or maybe it’s more a statement about the potential “ordinariness” of what we are now doing in Canada, by having assisted suicide.

Or, maybe, he was just sad and it was recent and so he blurted it out to a stranger. Then, almost right after he told me, this kind, quiet man asked me what kind of writing I do.

So, I told him I wrote mostly about faith things, and religious things, and that my husband is a minister. I’m not sure why I added that bit about my husband, but I think I said it because I wanted to assure him that I understood grief, and he was clearly grieving.
Continue reading My conversation with a man whose wife died by assisted suicide

The latest issue of Faith Today is out in the world

Politics is on everyone’s mind these days. It’s almost impossible to avoid, and why would we? As Christians we know we are citizens of another Kingdom, one we will welcome someday in its fullness. But in the meantime we are called to be good citizens here, engaged in caring for our neighbours, our communities and creation.

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Our cover article in the Mar/Apr issue of Faith Today provides challenging insights from a handful of different theologians on how our faith should not — and cannot — be separated from our politics. Canadians too easily assume politics is public and faith is private, but this article is a timely reminder to avoid that mistake.

Our interview with Loren Wilkinson presents another facet of citizenship — our call to care for creation. The B.C. poet and theologian, together with his wife Mary-Ruth Wilkinson, has devoted years to opening their home on Galiano Island to students who come to visit, feast together and get their hands dirty in creation’s soil around the island.

If the coming of spring isn’t already getting you thinking about gardening around your church, you probably will be after hearing from Wilkinson — and you’ll be reminded of its spiritual importance.

And that applies to sending kids to summer camp, as our advertising feature will no doubt remind you.
Continue reading The latest issue of Faith Today is out in the world

The beauty of church

There are a hundred reasons to dislike church. A thousand reasons to suspend your participation in one church, or swap it for attendance at another. I attend church every Sunday and I haven’t church shopped, swapped or dropped since I was in my early 20s (and that was a while ago). I’m married to an Anglican priest, so his church is my church, our family goes every week, and yes, there is bickering and badgering and we are often late.

Read Rod Wilson’s article on the circulation of the saints in the Jan/Feb Faith Today, available now.

As I’ve seen people in various churches over the years drop out for a time or for good, or switch churches (usually for a bigger or newer option, and yes, I totally get that there are lots of good reasons to leave a church), I’ve wondered what I would do if I had that freedom. Would I become a circulating saint, as Rod Wilson puts it in his recent Faith Today article? Would I regularly try out other churches to sample the offerings? Would I choose my couch and a good book on Sunday morning instead, and often? Would I let my kids throw in the worship towel because I just can’t stand the arguing? I can’t honestly answer “no” to those questions, because I just don’t know. I hope not, but it is possible that without my built-in church attendance motivation,  I might go to bedside Baptist, and poolside Presbyterian and be Lutheran at the lake, and all those other silly names.
Continue reading The beauty of church

An Interview with the authors of “Theology Matters” study

The recent study “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy” grabbed the attention of mainline media in Canada. The study showed that mainline churches that grow in Canada tend to be theologically  more conservative, led by pastors who engage more regularly in personal religious practices, and attended by Canadians who also engage more regularly in such practices.

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The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today digs into the study and asks questions we haven’t seen asked anywhere else — such as how mainline denominational leaders are responding to a study that shows church growth is found in the opposite direction theologically in which their denominations tend to be moving. We felt like readers might want even more than is in the article, so our FT team went back to two of the study’s authors (David Haskell and Kevin Flatt) and asked more questions. Here is our interview…
Continue reading An Interview with the authors of “Theology Matters” study

The Top Faith Today Blogs of 2016

Blog readers, we salute you. Thank you for paying attention and interacting with the Faith Today blog. Our intention with the blog is to provide you with even more excellent Christian journalism and thinking, to build on and expand on what you find in the pages of the print magazine. As we begin a new year of blogging, here’s a look back on the Top 10 Faith Today blog posts of 2016. 

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  1. Announcing a Faith Today contest to reward your pastor. This blog post invited Canadian congregations to nominate their pastors for a well-deserved break. Canadians loved this idea, because they love their pastors.
  2. Pornography most common sexual sin of men. We invited Kirk Giles, head of Promise Keepers Canada, to write for us after he appeared in the magazine as our featured Question and Answer subject. His topic was provocative and timely.
  3. Goodbye beautiful writer, our lovely friend. We said goodbye to Debra Fieguth, a beloved and highly experienced Canadian Christian journalist this year. The Christian writing and reading community celebrated her achievements while mourning her loss.
  4. Memories of the Christian Brethren. Faith Today readers enjoy John Stackhouse’s great writing and challenging insights. He offered us some warm memories in this more personal piece than we usually see from him.
  5. What I learned visiting churches in Moncton. Sometimes our ideas for blogs come from outside of our writing circles, and we love that. This one hit a nerve.
  6. The 17 year old girl forced to go to church shares her thoughts. Wow! This one really caused some waves. This blog from 2015 still made our 2016 Top Ten list. A 17-year-old daughter of one our editors tells it like it is.
  7. We know it will be messy: Trinity Western. Readers responded well to this behind the scenes look at the motivation behind Trinity Western University’s long, long struggle to have their law school students recognized across Canada.
  8. Writing the difficult story of Gospel for Asia. In this blog we explained more about our reasons for writing an investigative piece into one of the world’s largest Christian charities. Some of our readers had wondered if we were in the muck a bit with this one — we think not, and here we explained why.
  9. Faith Today writer shares what it’s like to have a sister in the Olympics. Sometimes a blog is just fun, light, wonderful reading, like this one.
  10. Dear Fundraiser, a letter from Christians who give. Our cover story writer on “Being, Doing, Having” (all about Christians and money) does a spin-off blog on fundraising, and readers enjoyed it.

Thanks again for reading the Faith Today blog. Subscribe to the print issue today and keep Christian print journalism alive and well in Canada.

What’s up with Jan/Feb Faith Today?

The Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today didn’t start out to be a church-themed issue, but that is where we ended up.

And why should that surprise us?

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For most Canadian Christians, church is a vital part of our lives. It’s where we find community with other believers. It’s where we teach and are taught, love and are loved, forgive and are forgiven, among many other beautiful and challenging things. It’s where we worship God and where we are restored.

Church is also under no small pressure these days, as our cover story written by Canadian scholar and author  Lee Beach says. “If it were true that at one time the Church occupied a place near the centre of Canadian culture, this is no longer the case,” he writes.

Yet, being “Church in exile” or on the margins also gives us a chance to reform, and do things differently and better than ever.

“Exile is forcing the Church to re-engage with its biblical identity as a missional people called by God to go into the world to bring a message of hope, and embody that hope,” says Beach.

What do you think of that?
Continue reading What’s up with Jan/Feb Faith Today?

A new kind of bucket list for a new year

Do you have a bucket list for 2017? Author Ann Voskamp (our Jan/Feb Faith Today Interview) in her latest book The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life, suggests we think bigger than that. “What if,” she writes, “living the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better?”

Author Ann Voskamp, our Jan/Feb in-depth interview in Faith Today, offers a new and refreshing take on the bucket list idea.

I thought of Voskamp’s take on the popular bucket list idea — where you plot out and list off the adventures and accomplishments you want to achieve before you “kick the bucket” — when I read a Globe and Mail article called “Kicking the Bucket List” on Dec. 30.

The article shares the history of “bucket lists,” and how that name entered the lexicon of popular culture about a decade ago. It also names one of the big weaknesses of the bucket list: “When however it comes to those things we value not for themselves but as markers of success and status, one thing can easily substitute for another. You finally get the specific job — the new title of junior assistant associate undersecretary — that you have been coveting. Two months later, it means nothing to you…”

Anyone who has ever crossed an accomplishment or the obtaining of some desired object off their list knows that feeling all too well. We always want more. We are rarely satisfied.

With Voskamp’s rewriting of the bucket list to a kind of “give it” list however, satisfaction is almost always guaranteed. “More than any bucket list of merely exploring the world, you could live an empty bucket list of expending all for the world.” She asks, “Where are the people ready to do the hard and holy things?”

I spoke more with Voskamp about this in the upcoming Faith Today interview for Jan/Feb. You won’t want to miss it. Meanwhile, why not spend a few moments creating a “give-it” list? What gifts and resources can you share with your community, and the world, in 2017? What might be hard and holy — and I’m guessing ultimately very fulfilling — for you this year?  What do you have to give? I’m sure that list is longer than you can imagine.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Subscribe today to not miss the Voskamp interview, and have access to some of the best Christian print journalism in Canada.