Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Why it’s so important to pray for the persecuted church

by Open Doors Canada

Many people today think of the persecuted Church as some foreign entity in a distant land. But the persecuted Church is the body of Christ – they’re a part of us.

A believer praying in Indonesia. "For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV).
A believer praying in Indonesia. “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV).

When a pastor is thrown in jail for witnessing about Jesus, that’s our brother being imprisoned. When a woman is ostracised from her community for being a Christian, that’s our sister being rejected. When a young girl is violated for her faith, that’s our daughter being violated. And when a teenage boy has to flee his home for converting to Christianity, that’s our son fleeing.

So we want to invite you to join us in interceding for our persecuted family, during our International Day of Prayer (IDOP) on November 13, 2016.

Meet your brothers and sisters…

In Iraq

“Living as a Christian in a Muslim world isn’t easy. I have to hide my Bible, but the contact with my fellow believers makes me strong.” – Believer from a Kurdish Background.
Continue reading Why it’s so important to pray for the persecuted church

Faith Today writer shares what it’s like to have a sister in the Olympics

By Julie Fitz-Gerald

For three days straight, my computer was my lifeline to one of the most important events my family has experienced. A lifetime of dedication, faith, perseverance and training led my sister, Jessica Phoenix, to the Rio Olympics – her second Olympic Games and another roller coaster of emotion for our family cheering from home.

Julie Fitz-Gerald shares what it was like to cheer on her Olympian sister.
Julie Fitz-Gerald shares what it was like to cheer on her Olympian sister.

Jessie has competed in the equestrian sport of eventing since she was 11 years old. It’s the triathlon of equestrian sport, where horse and rider contest dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping over three days. On cross-country day the element of danger runs high as horse and rider gallop across acres of fields jumping solid obstacles that make my blood run cold – think five-foot ditches, formidable banks and large drops into water. Crossing the finish line is a feat in itself, with a third of the contingent usually falling off or retiring on course. As her sister,  the number one thing on my mind is Jessie’s safety.
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What we might not know about the Amazon

By Kevin McKay

The Amazon basin, also known as the Green Window, is the hidden home to thousands of indigenous tribes and communities.  The people there live in what could be deemed primitive conditions and extreme levels of poverty, often struggling for survival.

pi-canada-marcio-garcia-interacts-with-local-villagerThe Green Window has also become home to riverside communities of Portuguese-speaking peoples living in similar conditions to the hidden indigenous tribes. Though they share the same obstacles to development, these Brazilian communities are often marginalized and have become vulnerable because they are not recognized and protected by the government.

Indigenous tribes do not self identify as Brazilians. They are usually hostile to outsiders and have their own unique culture and way of life. In recent years they have faced great risk from exposure to the darker elements of modern society. Drugs, alcohol and various other vices have reached these communities. The Brazilian government has wisely recognized the need to protect their culture and has developed certain rights and protections allowing local tribes a slightly better opportunity to avoid exploitation.
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“This is where the light went on for me…” Videographer Shares Experience in Aftermath of Fort McMurray Fires

by Kurtis Kristianson

In June and July I was asked to travel to Fort McMurray for three days at a time to connect with survivors of the wildfires and document their stories for Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada.  Imagine you and 40 other people on your street have returned from an evacuation order a month earlier, and your homes are a pile of ash that could fit into the bed of a pickup truck. That is the situation I entered into with my camera this summer.

One of the shots captured by our blog writer this summer in Fort McMurray. One big lesson he learned? How to listen.
One of the shots captured by our blog writer this summer in Fort McMurray. One big lesson he learned? It’s important to listen.

As excited as I was for such an amazing opportunity, I soon experienced the reality of the situation and the level of destruction the people of Fort Mac faced. Even with 20 years experience in disaster response, fire fighting and highway rescue, I was not prepared for what I saw. And that is a large part of why it can be difficult working in disaster response: every new disaster brings with it a new set of challenges, and you can bet that the next one will be different again. Being in the response zone in a new communications role, I had to be flexible, open to learning as I went, and most importantly, rely on God to lead me in my task.
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Church Planting Report Reveals Differences Between Canadian and American Plants

by James Watson

Studying church plants is a bit like the “whack-a-mole” game at the local carnival. While you are getting a good look at the one that has just popped up in front of you, two more have popped up in different places and one has suddenly disappeared.

The “Pray, Equip, Share Jesus: 2015 Canadian Church Planting Survey” report is ground breaking in that it has collected information from 141 leaders involved in planting across Canada between 2005 and 2015.

This new study of Canadian church plants offers fascinating insights.
This new study of Canadian church plants offers fascinating insights.

While there are a number of different factors they examine, of particular interest for those of us who have been reading, listening and contributing to the ongoing drama of planting in Canada are comparisons made with the U.S.

The Canadian analysis parallels a 2015 American study also conducted by LifeWay Research. As a Canadian church planting catalyzer, it is refreshing to read in print that U.S. plants grow more quickly, have more first-time confessions of faith in early development and reach self-sufficiency more quickly. Not necessarily encouraging, but refreshing. It affirms some of the angst I feel when reading stories of American plants that seem suspiciously successful compared to what I experience as I work alongside Canadian planters.
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Why Colouring Matters

By Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, I saw a cartoon with the caption: “Colouring page for lazy people.” It featured a zebra, a panda and a penguin sitting together on a snow bank. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I couldn’t help grinning as I thought of certain friends who have not joined the adult colouring craze of the last year or so.

Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.
Subscribe to Faith Today in July/August to receive a free copy of Restore My Soul.

The cartoon also reminded me that, without colour, this world would probably be a stark black and white or grayscale landscape. When you stop to think about it, colour plays a crucial role in our lives. It has both practical and esthetic purposes. We constantly distinguish between colours—when we get dressed or apply make-up, when we cook, in our gardens, while driving. Colour choices have great impact in fashion, décor and marketing because colour affects our mood.

The two rooms I spend the most time in at home—my studio and my bedroom—both feature wood furniture and a homey, cottage-y look, but they have completely different colour schemes. My studio is bright with mostly red accents and splashes of yellow and green. My bedroom walls are vintage blue and the décor accents are white or beige. The colours in my studio stimulate and inspire me, which is perfect for the creative work I do. My bedroom colours help me feel restful.

What we sometimes forget, when we get caught up in our colour choices, is that God created colour! He made it an intricate part of our lives, not only in the natural world around us—think of the brilliant foliage we enjoy every fall in Canada or a bowl of ripe fruit—but also in everything we touch. Our books, furniture, bedding, cars, shoes and toothbrushes all had colours chosen for them before they were manufactured.
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Trinity Western University: “We know it will be messy”

“Some have asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to just make the Covenant voluntary?’ Of course it would. But this question misses the point.”

by Amy Robertson

My boss is from the U.S. We see a few things a little differently—the name of a winter hat and the last letter of the alphabet, for example. (Just for the record, “toque” and “zed.”) A couple of weeks ago, he made a connection I never would have: the relevance of Canada’s national anthem to Trinity Western University’s law school journey.

Read the latest insights into the TWU case in the Jul/Aug Faith Today.
Read the latest insights into the TWU case in the Jul/Aug Faith Today. www.faithtoday.ca/subscription

God keep our land glorious and free—what an amazing line!” he said.

I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated a fresh perspective so completely.

I’ve probably sung and heard “O Canada” thousands of times in my lifetime—yet I rarely think about the words. They’re powerful, aren’t they?

Freedom is what made Canada great from the very beginning. So much of what we’re privileged to enjoy as Canadians comes from freedom. It means we can expect our elected officials to represent our interests. It means we can speak our minds without fear of being arrested—and so can our neighbours, even if they see things differently. It means we can expect to shape our own future.
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How Christians Can Get out of Debt

By Michael Veenstra

Debt is a huge part of North American culture. 50% of Canadians say they worry about their finances (2013 CICA Financial Priorities Survey).

How can we get out of debt? Mar/Apr Faith Today took a hard look at the numbers.
How can we get out of debt? Mar/Apr Faith Today took a hard look at the numbers.

The average consumer debt load in Canada is over $27,000 (2013, TransUnion). We are obsessed with having a good credit score, with upward mobility, with climbing the ladder to ‘success’ – often using debt and credit as a rung on which to climb higher, trying to stay level with the Joneses.

It does not have to be this way.  Matthew 6 has plenty to say about how we should conduct ourselves, and what we should and shouldn’t worry about.

Debt brings with it stress and frustration. 27% of Canadians say financial stress has left a negative impact on their relationship (Feb 2013, Ipsos Reid).

Dealing with debt pro-actively and intentionally is a great decision on all fronts. It will benefit you financially, it will benefit your marriage, it will give you peace of mind, and the ability to be more generous. It will be difficult, but it will be worth it. Here are some steps you can take to address your debt situation:
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New Canadian Film Series Makes Faith Sharing Easier

by Donna Lamothe

“How can we help you share your faith in Jesus?” Over the past year or so, I bombarded individuals and small groups of women from coast to Canadian coast with this specific question.

You can win this entire set of Canadian-made dvd resources.
You can win this entire set of Canadian-made dvd resources.

Our ministry is about stepping in at the grass roots level and empowering local women to be the change agents that our culture needs. Most people find it hard to share their faith in a culture where tolerance can be valued more highly than loving conviction. I do.

Of course there is no single answer to the question of how best to share our faith, but there were some clear themes expressed in the collective response. After meeting bright, beautiful, varied and talented followers of Jesus across the country, primarily known as Gen X’ers and Y’s, we have some conclusions you might relate to.
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Let’s do a better job of helping each other

By Jane Harris

Canadians are compassionate – we’ve seen that again and again, most recently with the wildfires in Fort McMurray and the refugees resettled from Syria. But what about when an individual suffers and is not good at getting media attention with her call for help? How can we, especially Christians, do better in that kind of situation?

Jane Harris encourages us all to do better by each other, even as we respond compassionately to disasters.
Jane Harris encourages us all to do better by each other, even as we respond compassionately to disasters.

It’s something I just lived through, so let me tell you about it.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal in 2014: “I focus on bottle picking, selling my household items, and preparing for homelessness. I have no hope at all of lifting myself out of the situation. I am utterly alone and isolated.”

I wrote those words about a year after my husband, high on a cocktail of vodka and prescription drugs, assaulted me, choking me repeatedly and pummelling the back of my bleeding skull with blunt objects.

I scribbled that note trying to understand why so few people in my family, church and community understood. No one seemed to care that I could not work, or pay my bills, or that I was selling off furniture and picking bottles out of ditches to buy bread and bus fare.

Bureaucrats at the Canada/Alberta Service centre didn’t seem to understand that I was a crime victim, or that I struggled with a head injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Helping agencies, including outreach workers at the women’s shelter, said there was nothing they could to do.
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