Collegiate Day of Prayer — Canada

Man-In-Prayer-Christian-Stock-Photo

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I out to speak.” Colossians 4:2-4

I’m thankful for the window Scripture gives us to see into the hearts of God’s servants when we hear their requests for prayer. Whether its Jesus asking his disciples to accompany Him in His distress and time of prayer or its Paul requesting intercession for the mission to which God had called him, these records of their requests make me bolder.

Many in our network are praying today for university and college students on campuses across North America.  Its the 200th anniversary of a commitment to pray for students and campuses.

Our friend Mark, shares the following requests:

We are praying for students to come to know God through a relationship with Jesus.

We are praying for students to engage their campuses with the Gospel.

We are praying for students to be called to serve the nations and take the Gospel around the world.

We are praying for a spiritual awakening on our campuses.

Vancouver Requests

UBC and two other schools are on my heart today in Vancouver. I invite you to join us in praying for students and staff at:

The University of British Columbia

Langara College

Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Simon Fraser University

Douglas College

As well please pray for the leaders and ministry teams on campuses across Canada. Ask the Lord to open a door for the Gospel of Jesus, and to anoint them with His Spirit that they may communicate clearly and compassionately.

Campuses in Canada:

98 Universities in Canada.

190 Colleges in Canada.

Where the canary sings. Canada & the Office of Religious Freedom

When the canary quits singing, there’s trouble.  The phrase “canary in the coal-mine”  references a historical mining practice of taking canaries into a coal mine.  The canary  would show distress from carbon monoxide, methane, or carbon dioxide earlier than the miners working and breathing the same air.  The canary was their early warning system.

Religious liberty is our canary.  Where religious liberty falls, other freedoms will soon decline.

This week perhaps in recognition of the importance of religious liberty in our global conversation, Prime Ministry Stephen Harper announced the creation of Canada’s newest office:  The office of religious freedom.  Andrew Bennet a former professor and dean will be the director.

Religious liberty as a societal value is a complex set of beliefs and convictions.  Within Christian thought and practice, religious liberty for all is a philosophical position that evolved over many years after governments gave certain expressions of Christianity favoured-religion-status.  The network to which I belong points back to Roger Williams , founder of Rhode Island, as a leader that dramatically advanced the pursuit of liberty beyond “my group” to “for all.”  I am aware within my own tribe of baptists though, that our stated value for religious liberty is not often taught and is more often pragmatically neglected when confronted with our pluralistic and democratic society.  In those cases, the canary is under duress.

My hope for the Office of Religious Freedom is that it will take its small budget and multiply it by encouraging reflection, scholarship and praxis within Canada’s diverse cultures and religious communities to pursue a “for all” vision of religious liberty.  The global mix of Canada’s citizenry in our cities and our universities affords us the opportunity to create safe spaces for the intentional effort required.

Being the canary watcher is not enough.  It will not be enough for Canada to critique countries and governments that deny religious liberty.  We must learn to recognize the signs of duress and consider how to stimulate and support the hard work, thought, and sacrificial actions  required for liberty.

Canada and Haitian Adoptions–a different story?

Jordon Cooper writes today to tell the story of Jackie and Greg who have two sons in Haiti, but have not yet been able to get them to Canada.  Of this I am confident, Canada can write a different ending to this story.  International adoption is fraught with difficulty.  Unfortunately some of that difficulty is created in response to the unmitigated willingness to take advantage of the weakest in our societies.  Other aspects of the difficulty in international adoption  is created by our caution born out of a desire to protect ourselves or our interests.  Balance is a myth.  But I believe wisdom born out of compassion will put us on the joyful side of things more often.  “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…”  Philippians 2:4-5  This attitude creates better stories!

Hopefully the desire to fast-track adoptions that have already been approved will turn into results for these families.

get out to vote Canada

Today I join millions of other Canadians in voting in our federal election.  Exercising our democratic privilege is a great responsibility.  Its more important than the Hockey Night in Canada anthem!  I am joyful that there are many others around who believe tthoughtful participation in our own governance requires them to get up and vote.  If you head out to vote today remember that Elections Canada now requires identification that proves your address and your identity.