Do We Need Another Hero?

By Stephanie Unger

Fifteen years after buying an 11-bedroom rooming house in Winnipeg’s Spence neighbourhood, Stephanie, her husband Travis and their kids, Shadrach and Rachel, embarked on a sabbatical. They left Winnipeg, towing their sailboat Schemma down south, and splashed her into the Gulf of Mexico to sail around Florida, across to the Bahamas and managed to return six months later. For details, check out http://www.ungersail.com. This is the third of a series of four articles.

Long days at sea provide lots of time to read. I really love a good story and have been introduced to the world of young adult dystopian novels. This genre of fiction is filled with amazingly gifted, mature teenagers who, through their courage, sacrifice and prowess, save the world. A similar storyline, popular on the big screen these days, is that of the superhero. Young adults find themselves suddenly endowed with unusual ability and are thrown into an epic life-threatening adventure during which they must choose whether to use their power for good or evil. Continue reading Do We Need Another Hero?

HavenGroup Celebrates 75 Years of Senior Care

By Doris Penner

The HavenGroup organization in Steinbach, Man., had its beginnings 75 years ago, caring for six clients in an old “invalid home” on Hanover Street. Today, the organization is poised to open its doors to a new 143-bed facility for seniors who need nursing care. In addition, it provides suites for 400 more seniors in five residences. Continue reading HavenGroup Celebrates 75 Years of Senior Care

Palestinians and their history

by Alan M. Guenther,
Assistant Professor of History,
Briercrest College and Seminary

Christian opinions about the Middle East tend to be polarized. Some see Israel as the homeland for God’s chosen people, the Jews, and the Palestinians as the enemy committed to terrorism and the annihilation of the Israeli state. Others see the Palestinians as refugees who have lost their homes and lands, and the Israelis as the primary oppressors, encroaching on Palestinian territories with illegal settlements and attacking regularly with superior military force. As often happens in cases of such polarized opinions, many other Christians end up in a confused middle space, wondering if there might not be some truth in both positions. Continue reading Palestinians and their history

The Legacy of Supersessionism and Christian Theology Today

by Zacharie Klassen

I am a student of historic Christian theologies of Israel and Judaism and the ways those theologies have informed and continue to inform views of the land of Israel, Jewish people, and the practices of Judaism in Christian thought. I am also a member of a long-standing Jewish-Christian text discussion group that meets monthly to discuss texts of importance to the Jewish and Christian traditions. What I offer below is, I hope, a small bit of insight that I have garnered over the last 7 years of study into how Christians should think about our relationships with Jews today given the complicated history of our relationship over the last 2000 years. Given my reflections, I then end with a very brief suggestion for how we might begin to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Continue reading The Legacy of Supersessionism and Christian Theology Today

Peace Makers or Peace Fakers?

By Kevin Wiebe

Are we peace makers or peace fakers? There are times when, instead of doing the hard work of reconciliation and peacemaking, we sweep problems under the rug and equate a lack of outright confrontation with peace. When we fake peace, however, we may prolong the pain of the conflict, preventing the needed resolution because of our unwillingness to be brave and confront what is wrong. Continue reading Peace Makers or Peace Fakers?

The Case for a Low Pain Tolerance

By Rebecca Roman

In modern society, we seem to prize having a high pain tolerance. An inability to handle pain is almost seen as a character flaw; to be stoic in the face of pain is, in contrast, heroic.

Two articles in this issue deal with how the church has caused pain. In one case, it is the pain of betrayal through sexual and spiritual abuse by a trusted church leader (p. 6); in the other, it is the pain of Indigenous people, caused by the residential school system in Canada (p. 13). (Also included is a news item from Evangelical Fellowship of Canada that details resources for the reconciliation learning journey on page 28).

I tend to be uncomfortable with pain—mine, or the pain of those around me. I struggle to connect with my children in the midst of their pain, rather than be dismissive. It’s a challenge to set aside my task list to sit with them in their pain as long as they need.

How does the church handle people’s pain, whether caused by the church or some other institution? Russell Moore points out that churches have sometimes resorted to deflecting blame for abuse by making it about the victim’s reaction to the abuse rather than the abuse itself. “Sometimes that happens when a person critiques the particular way the victim brought forward the complaint,” he says, “or searches for other issues to pin on the victim” (“It Takes a Village to Escape a Toxic Leader,” Christianity Today).

At the root of victim blaming behaviour, I believe, is the desire to protect the image of the church. If sin is rampant in the church, what do we have to offer to the world? However, when we cover up sin, it only thrives and persists. It’s only when sin is brought to light that there can be repentance and healing (1 John 1:5–10).

In our bodies, pain is a signal to us that something is wrong. We ignore it at our peril. Similarly, people’s pain caused by the church is a signal that something is wrong within the church. It’s meant to make us uncomfortable, so we sit up and pay attention.

In the gospels, we see people thronging to Jesus to express their pain. Jesus responds with compassion and healing.

Revelation 21 gives us a snapshot of what is to come when God establishes his “Holy City”: “there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). If the church is to be a picture of God’s coming kingdom, how do we correctly respond to pain?

Obviously, we can’t abolish the reality of pain in this life—this is the “now, but not yet” reality of living out God’s kingdom on earth. But the church can become a safe place to express pain and a place to heal from pain. This means treating the pain as real, even if we don’t agree there “should” be pain. This also means being willing to listen to ways the painful situation might have been prevented, even if it reflects badly on us or the church. It may also mean apologizing and acknowledging wrong where that’s needed.

Within the EMC, and the broader church, let’s have a low pain tolerance!

The Way We Give

by Josiah Neufeld

It was mid-morning when I found Mamadou Traoré at his restaurant, a six-foot-square plywood kiosk painted baby blue, its shutters propped open with sticks, bar stools lined up at the window. His eyelids were drooping, and he was falling off his chair. He had worked all night selling omelettes and glasses of sticky-sweet Nescafé. In West Africa during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink all day, nights are good for business.

We hadn’t seen each other in four years.

I sat on a bar stool while he stirred sweetened condensed milk into a glass of coffee for me. He set a square plywood coaster over the mouth to keep out the flies and took out his cellphone to snap a photo. “Now all my customers will believe me when I tell them I have a white friend.” Continue reading The Way We Give

“Yiin–Lampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl!” “Look–five lamps!”

by Paul Thiessen

A dozen children pressed their noses against the screen of our porch staring into the white people’s house. “Look”, one of them said, “They have five kerosene lamps burning!” YiinLampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl! At their homes a family had only one lamp burning. These white foreigners were very wealthy indeed! Our kitchen stove, kerosene refrigerator, library of schoolbooks and our pickup truck set us apart from our neighbors in the village.

The result of our lifestyle also meant that we often had excess material belongings that we wanted to get rid of. Usually, it was when we were preparing to go back to Canada for a furlough that we sorted our stuff and came up with bags or boxes of household goods we wanted to clean up.

Continue reading “Yiin–Lampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl!” “Look–five lamps!”

A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference