[Editor’s note: this is an advance peek at an important article we’ll be formally publishing in our Nov/Dec issue.]
Vancouver is rightly celebrated for being one of the most liveable urban regions in the world. Yet Vancouver’s very success has contributed to profound spiritual confusion and social dysfunction among its residents.
The gospel has always fallen on rocky ground here in “Lotus Land,” where religion is a four letter word and spirituality is merely an optional accessory for a self-fashioned life in the cultural convergence zone between West and East.
But fashioning a life here is immensely difficult. In this city of immigrants, where elementary schools have ESL rates as high as 65 per cent and the majority of residents move every five years, civic leaders consider loneliness and the lack of social cohesion to be more devastating than the fast-rising cost of housing.
Or at least they did until recently. The century-old joke that land speculation is the favourite blood sport of Vancouverites isn’t funny anymore. With offshore investors driving the composite benchmark price of all housing types in the metro area to $845,000 in April ($1.4 million for a detached house), even secular newspaper columnists are openly wondering if the “resort municipality” of Vancouver is “losing its soul” as it empties of families and young people. Continue reading How is God at work in Vancouver?→
I felt a little bit like a little old lady (sorry little old ladies!). I sat in the front row of a Christian writers conference in the States, beside my friend Patricia Paddey. One of the speakers swore a bit of a blue streak from the podium. To make her point. To make us laugh. To shock us.
It did all of those things, of course, as a well-placed cuss word can.
But it got us talking later about the looseness of language we hear more and more amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems to be more okay today than before to swear. We may have actually “tut tutted” a bit as we chatted about it.
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.”
Since that day in early September when the image of a tiny boy’s body washed up on a Turkish shore began circulating in the media, thousands of compassionate Canadians have been wondering what they can do to rescue families fleeing conflict.
Refugee sponsorship is a serious undertaking with many challenges and demands, but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.
Here are some points to consider for church groups thinking about sponsorship.
First, educate yourself about the crisis. The situation in Syria is complex and frightening. It has been going on for almost five years, since the Arab Spring of 2011, and has been compounded by the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are now some 4 million Syrians outside their own country, and another 8 million who are internally displaced. They are both Christians and Muslims. Half of them are children. Continue reading How Your Church can Sponsor Refugees→
Meeting the challenges of our time with intellectual rigour
By John G. Stackhouse Jr.
Much prayer, hard work, costly co-operation and considerable money – all are required of Christians to address the challenges of contemporary society. It has always been so – for those fighting world wars, enduring depression and dust bowl, facing epidemic or environmental disaster, immigrating to a new country.
Yet our present challenges have something in common – a complexity that means we can’t just pray and work and co-operate and spend our way out of our troubles, the way Canadians have solved problems since Confederation. We are going to have to think our way out of them too.
Canadian Evangelicals might seem poised for the serious and sustained analysis and reflection our moment requires. As a whole Canadians are among the best-educated people on earth, with a higher proportion of our population receiving postsecondary education than in any other country.