Engage: A spotlight on Christian Mission and Ministry
Check out the profiles on various Missions and Ministries. Click here.
Throughout her 39 years, Chit and her family have farmed near their remote village in Myanmar, raising a few cows and meagre crops. They were poor — too poor to even visit the big city of Bangkok in Thailand where opportunities lie. In fact, Chit was only able to attend up to grade four in school. She was married at nineteen and had four children before she was thirty. Her husband, a carpenter, got some occasional work but never anything secure. The family depended on themselves, selling some crops for income, but their farm was small, and there was never enough. They were often malnourished and sick.
Despite leaving school so early, Chit says, “I am always interested in learning, especially when I know that the training will benefit my children and the children of the village.” So last year, when she heard about the EMBRACE project, she joined immediately.
EMBRACE is a four-year project funded by the Government of Canada to improve the lives of approximately 100,000 people in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Rwanda, especially women and children.
The program trains community volunteers in better nutrition, healthcare and household agriculture and more. The program is facilitated by ADRA, a Canadian Christian charity, part of a global network of offices working to alleviate poverty.
Chit joined for the training in nutrition and gardening. But she was soon delighted to discover EMBRACE included much more, from maternal and child health and development, to vital aspects of cleanliness, to new ways of thinking about family.
Some were simple concepts that we take for granted in Canada, like creating a clean environment to keep water clean, or washing hands and food when preparing meals.
The impact on their lives was immediate and profound. “We were provided high quality seeds, some tools and supplies to help us get our garden going.” The farming lessons taught Chit to maximize what they have. For instance, how to make natural pesticides and use their cows’ dung to fertilize crops. They learned how to start seeds in small nursery beds in a protected area, sheltered from the hot sun.
Once the seedlings are robust enough, Chit transplants them into a properly spaced garden. “We have also learned how to raise chickens”, a potential health hazard itself, if not done right.
One lesson tied into another. That’s how it went with the cultural lessons, which boldly question accepted gender roles. “We learned that whatever women can do, men can also do … we should share household tasks and help each other. Even though my husband did not attend the EMBRACE training … he has started helping me a lot around the house … cooking meals and cleaning.” Groups frankly discussed the many levels of abuse. “I used to only know about sexual abuse.” EMBRACE taught them about physical, emotional, oral, economic, partner abuse and even cyber-bullying.
Today, Chit and her family cultivate carrots, pumpkins, squash, cabbage, tomatoes, long beans, egg plants and watercress. Some were new tastes for my family” which they love! Her kids also noticed how much better their own organic vegetables taste than those they used to purchase in the market.
The ADRA EMBRACE training has transformed life in Chit’s village. “We have learned so many things that have improved our lives. We hardly ever get sick anymore and are so much healthier.” She thanks all of Canada.
Learn more about EMBRACE at HeartForMaternalHealth.ca.
Some people think it is only “missionaries” who carry out the mission of God in the nations of the world. Truth is, those who remain behind can be equally involved.
By reading this publication, you are already engaging in mission – you are learning about what is happening in Canada and around the world.
You can expand that learning by obtaining a copy of Operation World and reading about all the countries in the world. Operation World will give you an overview of each country, including population size, political structure, religions practiced and challenges for prayer.
Another learning option is to read biographies of missionaries – those who have served and those who are still serving. Start with Canadians like Isobel Kuhn, who was from British Columbia, or Jonathon and Rosalind Goforth, who were from Ontario.
Taking Perspectives or Kairos courses will also give you a deeper understanding of the mission of God. Both courses are offered locally, generally through churches.
Another way to be involved in mission is by praying. R.A. Torrey said: The man or woman at home who prays often has as much to do with the effectiveness of the missionary on the field, and consequently with the results of his or her labours, as the missionary.
One of the greatest needs that mission agencies have is for more people to serve. The workers have always been few but Jesus said there is an answer for this problem: “Pray to the Lord of the Harvest.” How do you know what to pray? Use mission publications like this one as a guide and pray through what you read. Pray also in response to news stories you hear.
Oswald Smith, founder of The Peoples Church in Toronto, wanted to be a missionary but was considered too frail to serve. He said: “If I can’t go myself, I will send someone else.” As a result, Peoples Church, has given millions of dollars away in support of missionaries and their work.
By giving financially, people help mission organizations carry out the work God has called them to do. One small donation combined with others makes it possible for people to serve. One small donation combined with others makes it possible for a mission office to function.
But giving isn’t just about donations. You can also give of yourself:
• Use your professional expertise and volunteer to help in a mission office.
• Write letters or emails of encouragement to missionaries. Connect with them through your church, through friends or through a mission agency.
• Share a meal, loan a car or offer accommodation to missionaries who have returned home on furlough.
There is a fourth way to become involved in the mission of God. Whenever you can, encourage others to help advance God’s work in the world. You can start by giving someone a copy of this magazine!
– Linda Haist, Middle East Christian Outreach
Let’s say you are heading to Liberia and want to get a sense of the advancement of the Gospel there – where would you look? Or, God is asking your small group to pray for unreached people – do you have to develop your own prayer guide, or might there be one your group could use?
No matter how you’re called to participate in Christ’s mission, whether here at home, heading overseas for a vacation or leaving the country to live, there are resources you should become familiar with. They’ll help you participate in mission in a meaningful and informed way. Below are short descriptions of six great websites that will expand your knowledge and hopefully deepen your passion for following Christ into His world.
Centre for the Study of Global Christianity
The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary is best known for the World Christian Encyclopedia but has lots of great online resources for everyone. Their “Quick Facts” are interesting to peruse. If you’re looking for accessible statistics, check out their Infographics and Maps.
World Christian Encyclopedia
Dr. David B. Barrett was the originator of The World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE). He arrived as an Anglican missionary to Kenya in 1957. It was out of his work on church affiliations that the idea for this globe encompassing encyclopedia was born. The first edition of the WCE took over ten years to complete and included information on 22,000 denominations worldwide. The third edition of this publication will be out in early 2020. Passionate missiologists find it helpful to explore the demographic profiles of Christians in 234 countries and the quick reference tables with “country by country” statistics. A great resource for a church but a bit pricey for most people.
In 1974, at the Congress for World Evangelization in Lausanne Switzerland, Ralph Winters changed the strategic direction of Christian mission by suggesting that mission agencies needed to target people groups and not operate according to political boundaries. In 1976, Ralph Winters went on to start the U.S. Centre for World Missions in Pasadena, California. In 2015, the Centre for World Missions changed its name to become Frontier Ventures. Frontier Ventures is known for risk taking innovation and collaboration. Their website hosts a great blog, podcasts and links to affiliated organizations who have noteworthy resources in their own right.
The Joshua Project, an affiliated organization with Frontier Ventures, has an incredible variety of resources focussed on, “Bringing definition to the unfinished task.” Their people group profiles, and Vision Resources are particularly helpful for those who want to pray and invest strategically. They even have children’s resources so that the whole family can be involved in developing their missional IQ.
Every Christian should be aware of the Lausanne Movement. This movement was a seed planted in the heart of Billy Graham and showed its first sprouting leaves in the 1974 Congress on World Evangelization. The first documents produced by the movement, the Lausanne Covenant, were drafted by a committee chaired by John Stott. The meeting format that produced the Lausanne Covenant has been improved on and has resulted in several ground-breaking documents including the Manila Manifesto and the Cape Town Commitment, as well as dozens of occasional papers that are essential resources for missiologists around the globe. Visit www.lausanne.org and enjoy the huge gift this represents to Christians around the globe.
Linking Global Voices
It has been said that the future of mission is in networks. Networks are great platforms for joining together people, organizations and churches around common causes. Linking Global Voices provides access to hundreds of networks from around the world. Using their search engine allows you to search the world for networks where your passions are shared. If you or your church are interested in finding ways that you can contribute to Christ’s mission in the world, this is a great way to begin.
Almost every church supports missionaries, but few have a comprehensive program in place for their care while in the field, and maybe more importantly, after they return. Many missionaries struggle when they return to Canada. For children born overseas, the struggles can be even greater. That’s the beauty of the More Network. They have developed resources and programs to help your church support your missionaries at home and abroad. Over the last few years, they have even developed summer programs to help third culture kids process their move back to Canada and the loss that sometimes accompanies that transition.
This is just a sampling of some of the tools that can be a help as we follow Jesus. You can find links to these resources and more at www.missioncentral.ca. As Jesus said, “the fields are white.” I’d encourage you to dive in, explore and anticipate that God will nudge you to love a ‘neighbour’ you may never have been aware of.
As rich as these resources are, believe it or not more are needed. We could use long range studies on how effective we are at making new disciples; more information on shifting ways that Canadian’s are participating in Christ’s mission; more information on the impact of globalization and secularization on the church and mission here and abroad. If you’ve never supported a resource ministry before maybe, consider doing so in the coming year. Good data leads to good decisions and wise action.
by John Hall.
Mission Central and Missions Fest Vancouver exist to foster collaboration and networking of people who are passionate about serving Christ in his mission. For more information visit www.missioncentral.ca.
The beautiful Maldives archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean, is a popular holiday destination for sun-seekers and lovers of water sports. However, despite its external image as a luxury holiday destination, the Maldives is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a Christian. With a population of 450,000, less than 0.2% (less than 900) are Christian.
Islam is the only recognized religion and the tiny number of Maldivian Christians are ostracized, discriminated against and carefully watched. Non-Muslims are not permitted to hold public positions and many Muslim Maldivians harbour a negative image of Christianity, in part because of the perceived immorality of Western tourists.
In 1998, authorities initiated a brutal crackdown on Christianity. Police rounded up and arrested around 50 believers who were imprisoned and tortured. The constitution now states that “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives.” Propagation of any religion other than Islam is a criminal offense. Maldivian Christians found with a Bible in their home also face potential imprisonment.
In 2016, the government passed a Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act, which criminalized comments against “any tenet of Islam.” Anyone convicted faces a fine as high as 5 million rufiyaa (about $320,000), and those unable to pay can be imprisoned for 3 to 6 months. Restrictions on religious freedom apply to both those living in the country and to tourists. According to Maldivian law, “non-Muslims living in or visiting the country are prohibited from openly expressing their religious beliefs, holding public congregations to conduct religious activities or involving Maldivians in such activities.” Visitors who break the law can be fined or deported.
In December 2017, President Abdulla Yameen publicly stated that there is “no room for any other religion” than Islam in the Maldives.
A small community bus driver wrote us asking for help. “Groups of mostly boys board our buses and cause disruptions. Drugs, alcohol, profanity, aggression etc. Security is stretched… This looks like a prime opportunity to invite these boys to Battalion.” CSB’s Battalion ministry is certainly for young men. Its practical adventure brings God’s Word into the real world without being preachy. But Battalion and CSB need the partnership of local men. Few are willing to step up to lead these lost boys, and fewer churches are willing to support them. What does the Lord want? For us to reach out to these normal young men right where they are. And, it starts with manly action in Christ.
CSB builds Godly men of today and tomorrow. We provide resources, training and certification. Check out how you can partner with CSB at www.csbbc.org and start a Christ-centred midweek club in your community.
“At times while fetching [water], we would face bad men who would try to assault us. We are not free in this way,” Amina, a young Muslim student in Tanzania explains what life was like before a deep-capped water well was drilled in her village. In the past, she would have to walk a long distance to an old water point that put her safety at risk.
Amina is just one of six people whose stories will be shared in Global Aid Network’s (GAiN)’s first-ever documentary short film Beyond the Well. Visiting various villages in Togo, Tanzania and Benin, Toronto film crew Analog joined GAiN to capture powerful stories of individuals who experienced wholistic positive change after their village received a deep-capped water well from GAiN.
“I’m really excited about the upcoming documentary short film because it’s going to tell a story of what occurs in a village beyond the installation of a water well,” GAiN CEO and Executive Director, Ray Sawatsky shared. “We focus on water so much that we sometimes don’t take time to reflect on the amazing transformations that take place in a village, such as the spiritual, economic and social impact, which are benefits that follow the well.”
GAiN helps to reveal hope and restore life through relief and development initiatives for people living in crisis and injustice. Since 2004, over 2,000,000 people have been wholistically impacted by GAiN’s water and church mobilization strategy.
Beyond the Well will be shown at Metro Cinema in Edmonton on September 28. Patrice Lavagnon, GAiN’s country manager in Benin, will give a brief update on what’s happening in the field as well as an art exhibit featuring people and places GAiN serves internationally.
For more information, go to globalaid.net/events.
Harini, Aditi, and Saachi live in Bangalore, a city at the center of India’s high-tech industry. Awake at 4:30 am, they leave without breakfast to climb through dumpsters and walk the streets looking for bits of rags, paper and plastic they can turn into a few rupees. Known as “rag pickers,” they cover their faces with rags to protect them from the filth and stench – just to get a few cents every day so they can eat.
By mid-afternoon, they are begging, and by nightfall they may have to sell their bodies to make a few more rupees. When they finally get to rest, their little bones are too sore to turn over and their souls too wounded to dream. Tomorrow will be the same as the day before.
But because of child sponsorship, these sweet sisters have a brighter future. They are now enrolled at a Good Shepherd school where education unlocks their God-given potential. The girls walk to school – past the dump – with their heads held high, excited about the day ahead. They spend their day learning, laughing and playing, which heals their weary bodies and tired souls. They learn English and begin to dream about their future: they believe in tomorrow.
For 3,000 years, 250 million Dalits, just like these sisters, have lived under a caste system which has held them in such bondage and spiritual tyranny that there was never any hope – or any thought – of escaping.
Dalit Freedom Network’s mission is to bring hope and empowerment for India’s poor and low caste children, by proving access to quality Biblically based education in English, resulting in their spiritual and socio-economic freedom.
Join the movement today: dalitfreedom.ca.
Middle East Christian Outreach Canada, a.k.a. MECO Canada, is committed to seeing Jesus’ love and His “good news” shared with Middle Eastern people.
MECO Canada was founded in 1978 when three mission agencies amalgamated. Their history of service in the Middle East dated back to the 1800s and early 1900s. They had planted schools, churches, medical clinics, orphanages, as well as publishing and distributing Christian literature in Arabic. However, with their amalgamation came a change in ministry direction. Rather than lead in ministry, they opted to serve Middle Eastern churches – where needed and wanted – as the churches developed their own ministries.
MECO Canada still serves in this way, not only in the Middle East but also in Canada. Since 2015, we have been helping Canadian churches as they minister to their new neighbours from the Middle East. For more information about us, go to: www.mecocanada.ca.
Hope – Wang is a cargo ship captain from China. A Lighthouse chaplain met him aboard his ship at berth in North Vancouver. This senior officer was very pleasant and hospitable – Chinese tea was brought to the chaplain very soon after he sat down with Wang. The sailor said that he enjoyed working with his current company, largely it seemed, because of the good remuneration.
When it came to spiritual matters, the captain said that his family was Buddhist and, therefore, it was his belief as well. However, Wang didn’t seem to know the basic teachings of Buddhism, so time was spent with him explaining these, including the resulting extinction of life for those adhering to them. Also, the Gospel message was shared with the captain. After sitting quietly for some time, pondering all he had heard, Wang replied with one word regarding Jesus and salvation through faith in Him: “Hope.”
Working in Community
Matt Dirks has been with Communitas Supportive Care Society for nearly four years, currently serving as a program director. Since 1974, Communitas has supported people from across BC who live with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and acquired brain injury. Matt has a special connection to Communitas as his brother, Richard, lives in a Communitas home.
“Having an older brother with developmental disabilities has really impacted me,” Matt says. “I see God’s hand of blessing and his purpose in having Richard as my brother.”
Matt values the compassion of Richard’s caregivers and the genuine love they hold for his brother. As a staff person himself, he has come to love working in this field. When asked what he enjoys most about his work, he offered two things.
“One of the best parts of my job is being interrupted by the individuals we work with. I am so often encouraged and blessed by their enthusiasm and unconditional affection,” he says. “My second favourite part is working on spreadsheets.”
Being a program director gives him the opportunity to work alongside managers and support workers, ensuring that the individuals served by the organization receive the best person-centred care possible. It’s work that gives him great satisfaction.
“At Communitas, I have fun and work hard while engaging with significant issues facing society,” he says. “I enjoy coming to work as the culture is one which embodies the values of relationship, excellence, and community.”
For more information about careers at Communitas, visit CommunitasCare.com/careers
For some, the high school years are the best of their lives, while for others they are a gauntlet to be endured. And yet, no matter what our high school experience is like, the lessons learned in those halls and classrooms often impact our lives long beyond graduation.
Abundance Canada client, Robert Konrad, has stayed connected to his alma mater for several decades. He has many happy memories of his time as a student and, in the years since, has remained an active volunteer. “I am passionate about empowering and equipping the next generation,” says Robert. Something that he has put into practice.
“When my parents passed away, they left us a small but significant inheritance and we wanted to do something meaningful with the money,” Robert explains. The school seemed a natural fit. The Konrad family used their inheritance to establish a STEM fund for current and future students, supporting science, technology and math skills.
After the Konrads made their gift, donations from other supporters soon followed, making the fund sustainable. Robert says, “A community that is generous will look different than a community that is not.” A profound statement that is taking root in this community, literally from the ground up, as they invest in their students.
The ideas, lessons, and discoveries the program has made possible continue to provide a strong foundation for young Canadians. “Today, our grandchildren attend the school,” says Robert, “and it’s been really encouraging to see firsthand the impact of our donation.”
The school is not the only place to which the Konrads give generously of their resources, and they have used the services of Abundance Canada to simplify the administration of their gifts. What inspires this generosity? Robert’s wife, Lois, says simply, “Generosity makes this world a better place”. We couldn’t agree more.
Since 1974, Abundance Canada has helped individuals with their charitable giving in their lifetime and estate through our donor-advised model. Visit abundance.ca to learn more.