2010 Canada Mission - Day 6

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Blogs are supposed to conversations.  I post my thoughts, you post yours.  Has anything God is doing in Regina made an impression on you?  Has your heart been touched like mine?  If so, let's hear it!

Morning Activities

Morning Devo

Galon led our thoughts this morning again.  He encouraged us to be disciples and to walk with another in discipleship.  "See the plane."

The teens put on another skit for us.  Drama is a great way to convey Biblical truth through reenacting situations we face in real life.  Being a member of the Aggies for Christ (AFC), we put on skits almost everywhere we went.  It was a great experience to see and to participate in.

Galon closed by talking about what to do if a child tells you they they have been abused.  This is great advice everyone wishes they didn't need to know.

Youth Training

Beyond getting ready for VBS, the teens have been meeting in the mornings.  Just like in the dorms, the local youth blend together with the GO youth.  They break into groups, each of which is led by a teen.  They discuss the lesson, play games, and learn from each other.

Kevin Vance

Kevin VanceKevin blessed me with not one but two more interviews.

Living Missionally

God worked on Kevin through the gospel of Luke.  Luke the physician tells many stories about the poor, the sick, and the marginalized.  When reading the core message of the gospel, Kevin's heart was pricked by the how badly the community they lived in needed this message.

Kevin knew the community needed to hear this message and he began to pray.  The Steiners were the answer to the prayer.  When the Steiners had the first sleepover 3 days after moving into their new house, they knew something unusual was going on.  The "party" began with 5, increased to 35, moved to the elementary, and has increased to 84.  Through this process, Kevin had been president of WCC and didn't have time to spend devoting himself to the community ministry.  That's why he recently resigned his position with the school to devote himself to planting a church in the community.  All along the way, they acted on faith first and waited for God to show them the next step.  They didn't really know what planting a church meant or what shape it would take, but they wanted partner in God's work in Regina.

In some ways, I think of living missionally like time travel.   Yes, I believe we could theoretically travel through time (forwards, not backwards).  Yes, I believe in theory I could take steps on faith without knowing where my paycheck will come from, who my friends and neighbors will be, who my kids friends will be, etc.  The Vances and the Steiners are modern day examples of Abraham leaving Ur for a foreign land known only by God.  It just so happens the foreign land are their next door neighbors.  They show me that God provides for those He calls, not just in theory but in reality.

Culture

Anthropologically, a culture is "the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another".  Cultures exist within foreign countries, cities, families, churches, businesses, etc. - anywhere a group of people stay together over a long period of time.  Like people, cultures have both positive and negative traits.

In western history, colonial nations have attempted to fix the negative traits.  The English "civilized" many nations including the U.S., India, Hong Kong, several Caribbean islands, etc.  The U.S. has a long painful history of nation building.  The French & Belgians laid the foundation for the Rwanda genocide over a hundred years ago by segregating people into a privileged class.  

We see poverty, corruption, and hopelessness.  We feel compelled to fix these as fast as we can.  The most natural way of doing that is by using our resources to give the people things they don't already have for themselves.  These are usually good things, e.g., food, shelter, leadership, education, etc.

This colonial model has tended to create a new culture: one which stigmatizes and exterminates the old culture while creating a dependency from the indigenous people being helped onto those doing the helping.  Essentially, we've given them a fish instead of teaching them how to fish.  Giving them a fish isn't bad.  It is an easier solution and it accomplishes a good goal.  Adapting the gospel to a culture is difficult.  It is much easier just to export the North American style of church that brings with it long term financial and spiritual dependencies.  In the end, the goal should be a new self-sufficient culture that reflects God's heavenly kingdom seasoned with the good of the old culture.

One of Kevin's principles is to work "with" the community and not "for" the community.  He wants a partnership, not a dependencies.  While this can't be helped early on, they are taking steps towards this goal.  For example, instead of having a BBQ where He doesn't want the community to be dependent on him or the Steiners.  While this can't be helped in the short term, they want to develop a partnership.   While dependencies will exist early on, they are taking steps to mitigate the dependencies.  For example, instead of hosting a community BBQ where the church provides all the food & drinks, they asked for each family to bring 1 lb. of hamburger meat.

One of the myths of the poverty is that people can't do anything for themselves.  It's true that people can't afford the type of things I may be used to (or dependent on).  It is not true that they can't do anything for themselves.  Bringing food to a party is a way of saying that the party is ours collectively and not a gift from one group to another that might go away.  This is something that you can do with or without us.

Next Steps

A church cannot be built on children alone.  The VBSs and the addiction workshop have helped us to identify people of peace.  The next thing to do is to engage them in study and service.  It could be as easy as inviting a neighbor to help mow the lawn of someone who needs help.  It could be beginning a study with them.

They will not be planting a church.  They will be a church planting movement.  The idea is to ask someone to host a Bible study.  In that study, they will take scripture, write it in their own words, write what it means, and write what they are going to do about it.  The emphasis is on obedience to scripture.  After a few studies, the planter attends sporadically and then stops attending altogether.  If the study grows beyond a certain size, a new study is formed in someone else's home.  The planter mentors the leaders, but does not become the focal point of the church.  Planting new churches is a part of the DNA with the focus being on raising leaders within the community.

The idea of letting scripture directly speak to you without a middle man interpreting it for you is exciting to me.  I've been convicted by scripture many times in my life.  I'm interested to see how the church planting movement model turns out.  A large number of these churches fail.  But as Ben Franklin said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".  We can't continue to make the mistakes of the past and expect better results.

Partnership

One of the ways I've been blessed in my life is by maintaining contact with those I've encountered missionally.  I don't want to look in the mirror and forget what I look like.  I don't want to go on a mission trip, be touched, and then leave it behind when I go home.

Regina needs individuals willing to partner with them on this mission.  This partnership can take many forms - prayer partners, email, photo exchanges, training, individual expertise, networking, financial, etc.  In a partnership, both sides benefit.  Each contributes something unique that God blesses to become greater than the sum of the parts. 

Service Projects

From 1 to 3, we split into groups to conduct service projects. Everyone did a different project from yesterday. We'll continue to rotate them everyday.

Painting

The painting is done!  The crew put on two coats in 4 rooms this week.  Great job!

Construction

The bathroom tiling is done!  Amazing!

Community Garden

We've been going to a different garden everyday.  Our garden today was half planted but only had weeds in patches.  A few kids were there early on, but we didn't get to socialize with any neighbors.

Like some inner cities in the U.S., this part of Regina doesn't have a grocery store.  People live off of frozen food, fast food, and whatever is under the heat lamp at 7-11.  The community garden is intended to help people rediscover real food and the lost art of gardening.

People who are accustomed to eating junk food don't appreciate the taste of healthy food.  Their palettes have been numbed to the rich and nuanced flavors of the natural food God gives us.  When they try to start eating healthy, they don't see the benefits at first.  The food doesn't taste good and can upset their stomachs.  It takes a while for the toxins accumulated from years of unhealthy habits to be purged from our bodies.

The same can be said of spiritual food.  It takes time to replace the bad with the good.  Our spiritual palettes are recalibrated by the Holy Spirit.  God takes us where we are and transforms us into a new creation.

Habitat for Humanity

We did the same thing as yesterday - sweeping the parking lot, moving beams, knocking mortar out of bricks, etc.

Rescue House

We worked again at Souls Harbour Rescue House sorting clothes.  Everything is now sorted and up on hangers.

Addiction Seminar

A new person came today, but two others didn't come because of prior commitments.  Kirk asked if they wanted to continue to meet after this week and they enthusiastically said "yes".

A special workshop was also held at Glen Elm during the VBS tonight with 6 or 7 in attendance.  It was scheduled to end at 8, but it went on until 10 or so.  The people that attended were from the community around Glen Elm.  None were first nation, all were white middle class.

The great response has really shown the spotlight on a need in the community.  We need to pray that God enables someone to continue on this good work.

Evening Activities

VBS

The VBSs went well tonight.  The theme was sharing based on David's sharing of his wealth.

Henry

I was blessed with a conversation with Henry whom I mentioned yesterday.  He comes from a military family dating back to WWI. His daughter is currently serving in the U.S. Navy in Kuwait.  Henry has been sober for 10 years now and 7 years ago came to know the Lord.  He said he had tried everything else, so why not Christianity.  Since then, he has studied and taken night classes in Christianity in Fort Qu'Appelle.  He's trying his best to break the cycle of violence that has plagued his family.  All 4 brothers have died because of the choices they made.  Henry is an inspiration to us all.

Tod

I had a chance to talk to Tod at VBS.  Turns out, he spent all of Monday in Fort Qu'Appelle working with a couple of families on behalf of Mission Alive.  They realize their community is changing and want to adapt with it.  They attended the seminar last Saturday here and they had met on his previous visit too.  This was just a follow-up visit.

Canadian Pizza

The treat tonight after VBS was pizza.  I'm starting a rumor that we're all going to Tim Horton's before we leave.

Devo

At tonights devo, we sang and we sent shout outs.  Beyond the usual, we took some time to publicly acknowledge what's going on in our lives and to let other pray over us.  It is impossible not to be touched by what you've seen and heard.  For many of us, the horrors these kids face is difficult to deal with.  We all need your prayers and we all need to pray.

Bon Jovi

As I'm writing this, I'm listing to the Bon Jovi concert at the CFL RoughRider stadium a few miles away.  Kid Rock just got through playing and Bon Jovi is taking the stage.  I can hear everything word for word.

Greg has been tempted.  A woman at VBS tonight offered him a free ticket.  Will he succumb???