Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

We went to the Ash Wednesday service at church tonight. It's the first time WMB has held such a service and coming from a conservative evangelical background, it was never a part of my tradition growing up either. And that's a shame.

While there is nothing magical about having ashes spread on your forehead in the sign of a cross, it was a significant time for me as Stephanie, our youth program coordinator, said the traditional words, "This is a reminder that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Hearing those words softly spoken then opening my eyes and looking directly into the eyes of another believer was a holy moment. The intimacy of that brief exchange pared with the recognition that this same ceremony has taken place in the Church for over one thousand years, filled me with appreciation for the work of Christ in our midst. It was a very visceral reminder that we are all part of one family, one body, who are finding our way to God as best we can.

Equally significant was seeing each person return from the front of the church with the smudged cross visible and recognizing that we are all, every one of us, broken. Rather than despair, I take great comfort in that fact. No matter the quality of our clothes, the prestige of our jobs, or the amount of money we have in the bank, we all in the end but dust, which puts us all on a level playing field as we pursue Christ and are pursued by Him. That God should love us, creatures of dust, enough to die on a cross is mind boggling.

On this first day of Lent, I am thankful for the ashes of death that remind me of the Author of life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

War Child

We had an amazing time last night at the screening of War Child, the documentary film of Emmanuel Jal's journey from child soldier to international hip-hop artist and now humanitarian. That anyone, let a lone a young boy, could survive what he did and come out the other side still intact mentally and physically is remarkable. That he is now a wise, humble, and caring man who is speaking up on behalf of the other former child soldiers in southern Sudan is beyond belief. Perhaps most astounding of all is the deep Christian faith he clings to despite the horrors he has experienced.

One thing I especially appreciated was Emmanuel's lack of political correctness. Having been there, experiencing it first-hand, I trust what he has to say; I believe his perspective is an accurate one. Last night he made a very bold statement that ought to cause us all to sit up and take note. When asked for his perspective on what needs to happen in Sudan (or the rest of Africa for that matter) to improve the dire situation people are facing every day, he replied that it was up to you and I, not governments, not politicians, and especially not the U.N. because they are only looking out for their own interests. In the film itself, Jal makes another bold statement, insisting that what the world needs is leaders who are committed to serve their people, not be served by them. Mr. Mugabe...are you listening?

If you haven't yet seen the film, I recommend you do so or pick up the book which tells his story in even more detail. If you like hip-hop, go buy his album Warchild or download it from iTunes immediately. If you want to support a great cause, check out Gua Africa, Emmanuel's charity to build a school near his original home in southern Sudan. And if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, don't pass up the opportunity. You will be inspired.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Emmanuel Jal in Waterloo

Just an FYI that Emmanuel Jal is doing a reading from his new book War Child prior to a screening of his documentary film of the same name this Thursday night at the Princess Cinema in Waterloo. Click here for details and ticket info.

I'll be there...will you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Famine Time!

I just posted a link at the left that will take you to my 30-Hour Famine page. If anyone would like to make a donation, just push the Famine button. Thanks!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

"There is a misconception that the only way to help the poor is to give them charity. That's not what poor people need. Poor people need opportunity. The misconception is that they are incapable, but the poor are as capable, innovative, and creative as anybody in the world. All they need is the right kind of opportunity so that they can use this ability to discover their own capabilities and change their lives."

Muhammad Yunis, interviewed in GOOD magazine.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Are You Ready To Fight?

"When the end of poverty arrives, as it can and should in our own generation, it will be citizens in a million communities in rich and poor countries alike, rather than a handful of political leaders, who will have turned the tide. The fight for the end of poverty is a fight that all of us must join in out own way." Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty

Monday, February 09, 2009

A New Vision

It’s been ages since I posted anything of significance here, primarily because I’ve started a new job as Southwestern Ontario Rep for World Vision Canada. As you are well aware, the first month or two at a new job means there is a big learning curve and lots of things to get up to speed on. It’s been pretty hectic but completely rewarding as well. Especially as I’ve had opportunity to do presentations and work alongside students, teachers, and youth leaders in raising awareness of poverty and social justice issues in our broken world.
It’s been a four or five year journey that brought me to this place, but for the first time in my life I believe my God-given skills and my God-driven passion have come together in my career. I’m not a big believer in coincidences. The fact that the company I worked for went bankrupt and then the job I’d been seeking for two years just happened to come available smacks a little too much of divine intervention to be just a coincidence. I’m looking forward to what the year ahead holds and am honoured to be working on behalf of “the least of these.”