A vehicle for a Christian community

BC Christian News CoverIt was just over 28 years ago, in October 1982, that the first issue of what is now BC Christian News was distributed to 300 Vancouver and Fraser Valley churches.

Some 5,000 copies of that first little black-and-white tabloid were printed. It was the beginning of an ambitious endeavour: to use a community newspaper to “link Christians in ministry and purpose.”

Many will attest to the impact BCCN has had across the Christian community in B.C. A good sampling of such responses are on pages 7 and 31.

During his 20-year tenure as editor, publisher and finally president, Flyn Ritchie was able to develop BCCN into an effective vehicle for unity and collaboration.

In his ‘retiring’ column in the December issue of BCCN, Ritchie noted:

I had a clear vision of the churches of Vancouver jointly sharing responsibility for the city -– being able to serve a block, or several blocks, depending on the church’s size. Naïve, no doubt – I was a very young Christian. But that image has not left me, and I often think that it takes a certain amount of applied naïvety to achieve anything for God’s kingdom.

Naivety or not, there is little doubt that the work of BCCN has built more linkages and brought more Christians into collaboration with each other -– and each others’ churches –- than might ever have been thought possible.

Like many Christian community newspapers throughout North America, BCCN’s genesis came alongside a Billy Graham mission. In our case, it was the 1984 eight-day Billy Graham visit to the then newly completed BC Place stadium. The mission and newspaper offices were adjacent to each other, just across the bridge from the stadium.

The little newspaper grew to a circulation of 30,000 –- give or take, depending on the times. It was distributed in 1,000 churches or more, not only in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley but also on Vancouver Island and the Okanagan/Thompson areas.

The paper’s original name was Christian Info – the same name as the provincially incorporated charity under which it operated, Christian Info Society (CIS). During the early 1990s, it operated briefly under the name Christian Info News, before taking on its present title.

The newspaper was not the only vehicle used by CIS to extend Christian communication throughout British Columbia and –- in some cases –- Canada.

In the early years, an outreach tabloid known as People … with a Reason was published occasionally by CIS, in cooperation with various churches. It told stories about people within those churches who ‘had a reason’ for their Christian faith. The People papers were distributed by the co-sponsoring churches into their neighbourhoods.

Through the years, other published entities joined BC Christian News, including Options (now Converge), a glossy nationally distributed magazine serving the 15-34 age demographic. Options grew out of a merger between the Christian Higher Education Magazine and Mission Fields.

Mission Fields was independent from Missions Fest Vancouver, which became the largest missions festival in North America; but the magazine served as an important communication vehicle for that annual conference, and for other Christian outreach activities in British Columbia.

For some years, in the late 1990s, CIS published Christian Resource Directories for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

As well, CIS produced Christian business directories, including some affiliated with Shepherd’s Guide. CIS also held the franchises for Shepherd’s Guide for several regions in British Columbia for several years, in the early part of this century.

Regional inserts -– Island Insight on Vancouver Island and Thompson/Okanagan Outlook –- have linked Christians in those areas, and kept them informed on what was happening in the wider Christian community. (Island Insight succeeded Sunday Magazine. It had been started as a separate entity, with CIS’s help, about 1984, under the title Christian Info Vancouver Island.)

A dynamic website, CanadianChristianity.com, was also developed. That site has attracted readers from across Canada, as well as the United States and other countries.

Christian Info Society and BC Christian News have had a series of highly capable leaders through the years.

The board chairs, publishers, editors and advertising sales managers are listed, in chronological order, below.

Board chairs: Samuel Taetz, John Howat, Geoffrey Still, Ken Smith, Peter Dueck, Mel Newth and Jeffrey Lowe.

Publishers: Rex Werts, Phil Hood, Bill Kent, Peter Dueck, Al Stanchi, Steve Almond and Flyn Ritchie.

Editors: Lloyd Mackey, Debra Fieguth and Flyn Ritchie.

Advertising sales managers: David Thomas, Dale Reimer, Peter Dueck and Bob Friesen.

There have been hundreds of other people involved in the newspaper’s history, both as staffers and volunteers. Money was always tight, and many of those who served could have done better financially elsewhere. Often it was the vision of helping connect Christians that attracted them to the work.

It should be noted that BC Christian News is one of about 60 similar Christian community newspapers or periodicals, functioning transdenominationally across North America. They keep in touch with each other through the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, which is part of the Evangelical Press Association.

After serving as the founding editor of BCCN, Lloyd Mackey moved to Ottawa in 1998 to develop Christian News Ottawa, which was absorbed some years later into ChristianWeek Ontario. He has continued to serve as editor-at-large for CIS.

Besides being a mentor for later editors and publishers, he wrote the weekly column OttawaWatch for canadianchristianity.com and produced a steady stream of stories for the website, BCCN, Island Insight and Okanagan Outlook.

The love of God

The Love of God

The love of God is the most wonderful, awesome, heart-warming, life-enriching truth that can ever engage human minds. Let us think it through from first principles, according to the teaching of the Bible.

What is love? Essentially, it is action – not words, not feelings (though both may enter into it), but purposeful, generous, creative action that seeks the good of a person or persons other than oneself. Love is known and measured by what it does – specifically, by what it gives and what it shares.

God’s love is the focal point of the Bible, binding together all the elements in the story of creation and redemption that Scripture tells. In the New Testament – which records, explains and celebrates the difference in the world’s life that the coming of Jesus has made – the love of God is front and centre, truly the master topic.

All we read there about the wisdom, power, faithfulness and justice of God is linked with, and framed by, what is said and shown of the divine love in the life and work of Jesus. The New Testament has a technical name for it: agape.

The bare bones of Christian belief about the love of God is as follows.

God – meaning the Father, with the Son and the Holy Spirit – first showed the creativity of His love by calling into being this world, along with the entire cosmic order of which it is part. He populated the planet with all forms of life, set the first humans at the head of things, saw that everything He had made was beautiful and good, and rejoiced in what He had achieved – that is, He loved it.

Then, facing human sin and the disorder it inflicted on His beloved creation, He set to work to restore creation.

He planned this project in a way that would show His love for His Son, whom He would exalt as the incarnate Lord of all, and as the Saviour of His people. God has carried out His plan – apart from its final phase, which is still future. Today, the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.

He is head of the church, which is His body, the fellowship of all believers; He is the mediator between us and God the Father; and He is our ever-present companion, our life and our hope – so that we can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

In short, He is both the embodiment and the executor of the love of God in our salvation, and the supreme demonstration of God’s ongoing love for the lost millions of our rebel race.

The New Testament writers rub it in. “This is how God loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us… God shows His love for us – in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:5,8).

Paul’s climactic prayer for Christians is “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to… know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19). And Paul’s climactic affirmation to us is that nothing in space, time or eternity “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Nor is this all. John categorically tells us, “God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us: that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:8-10).

John’s “God is love” does not, of course, mean that God has no other defining quality. After all, John began this letter by summarizing Jesus’ teaching as “God is light” (1 John 1:5) – that is, holiness, requiring of us repentance.

John’s point there is that all the attributes of God that Jesus’ teaching introduces are linked fundamentally with this call to holiness; and John’s point here is that all other truths about God’s ways are linked fundamentally with the reality of His redeeming love.

These should be constant thoughts in the heart of all of us who believe.

May it every be so.

J.I. Packer is the author of numerous books, including Hot Tub Religion, Knowing God and Beyond the Battle for the Bible. He is also Board of Governors Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver.

Final thoughts on BC Christian News

BC Christian News has been a unique gift to the province of B.C. in many ways. The paper has been instrumental in connecting the wide body of Christ, in its rich diversity of activity and opinion. No other media has come close to such an accomplishment.

Tom Cooper
President of City in Focus

BC Christian News has been a significant unifying and informative source over the years, for which I am grateful. I am praying in the spirit of Romans 8:28, that much good will emerge from this time of transition.

Ed Hird
Rector, St Simon’s North Vancouver

It’s very disappointing that BC Christian News is shutting down. Every writer and every publication is unique. It is very important to have a variety of periodicals.

Gail Reid
Editor, Faith Today

It was a ritual for me to pick up a copy of the latest BC Christian News from the back of First Baptist Church. I would spend time, usually on a Sunday afternoon, getting caught up with the news of what is happening in our region.

It was a significant paper, in connecting a significant cross section of the church — and keeping me personally up to date with people and ministries. Frequently, the only way I became aware of special ministry events was through the paper.

Carson Pue
CEO, Arrow Leadership

BC Christian News has done two things that no other medium and no other organization has done: acquaint British Columbian Christians with each other – and keep them informed about what each other were doing.

BC Christian News has prompted pastors, denominational leaders, ministry staff and others to notice what is going on in someone else’s work, someone else’s city, someone else’s mode. We thus have learned how to serve God better in our own vocation, and how God is active in ways we had never imagined. We got a sense of being part of something much bigger, more diverse and more effective than our own limited purview.

To lose BC Christian News is to lose a lot. I hope its directors find new ways to accomplish what the newspaper so worthily accomplished over these years of exemplary service.

John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
Professor, Regent College

I have had the opportunity to be involved with BC Christian News for many years — including a term on the CIS board. It has endured many challenges, and I am disappointed it is ceasing publication.

BC Christian News has made a very positive contribution to the Christian community.

I was always impressed with the quality of the content, and the balanced perspective, shared through a Christian editorial lens.

The articles challenged the reader to look beyond a superficial perspective, and to dig into a more meaningful evaluation of the spiritual aspects. Not everyone saw any given issue in the same light — but the newspaper challenged more critical thinking.

It will be missed!

Peter Fassbender
Mayor of Langley

BCCN has blessed me and countless others with a sense of community and common eternal purpose. It has provided a place to pick up the pulse of the bigger Christian community, and to exchange thoughts.

The editorial team identified and explored in depth a broad spectrum of current Christian topics — from serious challenges to the church, to entertainment and book reviews, missions and social concerns.

It shared the joy as well as the sufferings of members within the body; and it expanded our view of God’s Kingdom. It enlightened many whose Christian existences might be segregated by geographical or denominational barriers.

Bill Chu
Canadians For Reconciliation

Many newspapers focus on advertising, classified ads and the reporting of news items, while others focus on substantive articles and editorial reflections. Since moving to B.C. over 10 years ago, I found the niche that BC Christian News occupied to be a unique combination of these two trajectories. I will miss this publication.

Rod Wilson
President, Regent College

Thank you for the amazing run of BC Christian News. Having a regional publication for news and information from a Christian worldview has been a gift. You have been an integral networking resource for the wider church community — with regard to current events, social justice, missions, evangelism and the arts. Well done.

Brian Norton
Executive Director,
Christian Advocacy Society

I’m sorry this day has come. We at Regent have supported BC Christian News from the beginning, finding it to be the best way of connecting with local churches. We regularly had full-page ads letting people know of the many free events at Regent. I have known many of the staff; we have worked well together, and I have considered them friends.

Dal Schindell
Director of Publications, Regent College

The Light: a new Christian voice for B.C.

“As a new Christian, I prayed that God would lead me to the work He wanted me to do,” Steve Almond says. That belief led him to Christian Info Society (CIS) and BC Christian News (BCCN) in 1991.

That same sense of God’s direction has led him to launch a new Christian periodical for British Columbia in 2011.

The Light Magazine will produce its first issue in March, one month after the publication of the last issue of BC Christian News.

Almond started with CIS by selling ads for Christian Info News/BC Christian News; he eventually wound up serving as publisher/general manager. He left CIS in 2005 to go into Christian book publishing, as an account manager for David C. Cook.

Early last year, Almond says he felt God was calling him back into periodical publishing. Through a series of what he calls “Godly coincidences and circumstances,” he felt led to start a “Christian lifestyle magazine.”

This magazine was originally intended to complement, not compete with, BC Christian News. While BCCN has mainly focused on news and events, the new magazine would focus on personal life issues, local and global community needs and Christian faith.

Things took an unexpected turn in the fall of 2010. After the resignation of CIS president Flyn Ritchie, the CIS board asked Almond to come back as general manager and give leadership to CIS, with a mandate to redesign BC Christian News. He began this work December 1.

However, after further wrestling with the issues, in mid December the Board of CIS decided to close BCCN down.

When this happened, Almond returned to his plan of developing a Christian lifestyle magazine. However, now that BCCN was no longer operating, Almond concluded that he should fill the gap — and expanded the mandate of the new periodical so that it would also include a focus on news and events.

Several members of the current BC Christian News staff have already agreed to join the team of the new publication.

Like BC Christian News, The Light Magazine will be distributed free of charge in churches and community locations in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. There is also a possibility of later expansion into the BC interior. The paper distribution will be supplemented with a website.

The purpose of the new magazine, according to a news release, is to “inspire and encourage individuals and families with stories related to everyday life, family, Christian faith and community.”

The paper will cover a range of issues, including “marriage, relationships, parenting, divorce and remarriage, blended families, health, stress, finances, being single, as well as dealing with mid-life and seniors issues, adapting to changing media and culture — and much, much more.”

In addition, The Light Magazine will feature stories, testimonies and profiles of ordinary Christian individuals, as well as believers who have a more public profile. There will be features on local and global community concerns; and stories of individuals, churches and Christian ministries that are impacting these communities, suggesting ways that readers can be involved.

There will also be news stories, event listings and reviews of current Christian book, music and movie releases. Each month, a supplement will highlight a unique aspect of community life.

Almond is encouraging individuals and groups to contact him with inspirational stories, ideas for lifestyle features, information about upcoming events and advertising copy for businesses, ministries and events.

For more information: lightmagazine.ca or 778.893.8417

Teaching Christians to defend the faith

A historic event is coming to the Lower Mainland. Apologetics.com and Ethos, a young adult ministry, are collaborating with ministries, universities, seminaries and churches to present “Believers Thinking, Thinkers Believing,” the first Apologetics Canada Conference. Coquitlam Alliance Church will host the event March 4-5.

Confirmed speakers include Greg Koukl, Craig Hazen, Steven Collins, John Mark Reynolds, Paul Chamberlain, Andy Steiger, Jon Morrison, Chris Price, Harry Edwards, Lindsay Brooks, Steve Tsai, Dan Martin and Mikel Del Rosario.

Seminar topics will include: Answering the New Atheists, Confirming the Bible through Archeology, Evidence for the Resurrection, the War of Worldviews, Evidence for God, and Why Suffering?

Apologetics is based on 1 Peter 3:15, which tells Christians to always give an apologia, a defence of the Christian faith. Apologetics means to defend, discuss and show what faith is and how it is to be lived out. It is not apologizing nor arguing. It’s about Christians knowing what they believe and why, and learning how to share it by everything they say and do.

Apologetics is not a new trend but a Christian tradition. It has been a basic task of Christians for millennia. But it is even more important today, in what R.C. Sproul has called the most anti-intellectual period in the history of the church.

In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis writes, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”

For more information and to register: www.apologeticscanadaconference.ca

What’s the deal with Valentine’s Day?

Valentine's Day Chocolates
February 14 is well established as a day for people to express their affection for one another. Though Valentine’s Day is primarily seen as a time for expressing love between lovers and spouses, gestures of fondness are also given to teachers, parents and friends.

This year, over a billion cards will be sent, emailed or given out in person on Valentine’s Day. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of valentines, while men are said to spend on average twice as much money as women, just over $77 a person. After all, flowers and chocolates aren’t cheap.

How did this love day get started?

Although the story of St. Valentine is historically murky, legend has it that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. He was known for his daring exploits of authentic love. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his future soldiers.

Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Further, he is said to have smuggled Christians out of cruel Roman jails. When Valentine’s defiant actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

The story has it that Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting. While in prison, it is believed that he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote a letter sharing his affection for her, which he signed “From your Valentine” — an expression that lives on today. Valentine’s Day commemorates the anniversary of his death, which is believed to have occurred February 14, 270 AD.

Though Valentine’s Day seems to have such noble and romantic roots, how should we maximize this season of love? With two-thirds of men not making any plans for a romantic date with their sweethearts, and yet over half of women thinking that gestures of affection are primarily his responsibility, I think it’s time to sort some things out. So, here’s my Valentine’s Day advice for you in 2011:

Don’t miss the moment to proclaim your love. Whether you like it or not, or even if you think the event is over-commercialized or trivial, there is a cultural norm to express affection to your sweetheart. Don’t fight it. Seize the day — lavish your love on your dearest. And enough with the romantic inequity — men and women are mutually responsible for building into the relationship. You both should be looking for more opportunities to communicate your fondness.

Go the extra mile to portray your love. You can’t beat the investment of time and effort for demonstrating your lover’s importance. It will take planning and preparation, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Over the years, I have treasured my wife by observing the 12 days of Valentine’s, going away on a Valentine’s retreat and even creating Love Month — 28 days of romantic impact. Agree to take turns planning events, but always carve out time together — and not just on Valentine’s Day. The kind of connection you want is worth the work.

Use your own words to personalize your love. Write four or five lines of sincere appreciation in the card, create a love letter, prepare a quiz on why you love the other person, or even create your own card. Diversify your expression of affection to include an email, voice message, text or phone call. Take a walk, do coffee, flirt on Skype or announce on Facebook why you are the luckiest person alive. If you dare, declare your love on You-tube and send your loved one the link.

Take the steps needed to pardon your love. The closer you are to someone, the more you may have to forgive each other. Take the initiative to reconcile, whether you think it’s the other person’s fault or the other person feels it’s yours. Humbly own your mistakes, and apologize. Be equally generous with your forgiveness. Fight for each other, not against each other. There is no better time to turn things around, even if it means going for help to get your relationship back on track.

Restore the desire to prioritize your love. Rarely do relationships unravel overnight. We can get too busy with life to focus on each other. There are days of complacency and seasons of disconnect that can lead to frustration and a growing distance over time. Instead, let your spouse feel your respect and admiration consistently. That’s all part of God’s plan. Show your appreciation by more time, better treatment and loving tenacity. Put your relationships first… especially your marriage.

This Valentine’s Day is as good a time as any to start doing your relationships right. You’ll never regret putting your marriage and family life first.

Dave Currie is a marriage and family educator, counsellor and speaker, For information, see www.DoingFamilyRight.com

Finding your Valentine

Valentine’s Day can be exasperating for those who have not yet found their Valentine. Young adults are often haunted by questions such as: Will I find someone for me? What if I lose out on all the good ones? What if I marry the wrong one? What type of person am I looking for? Relationships can bring a lot of joy or a lot of heartache. Where does a person go to learn about this vital subject?

Here are ten skills for establishing a healthy dating relationship. They are intended for young people, but their principles apply to us all.

Create friends among the opposite sex. This will help you to feel comfortable with and learn to understand the opposite sex. Not everyone thinks the same way you do, and having a variety of friends will help you to gain a different perspective. Join youth groups or young adult groups and start expanding your spheres of influence. Learn how to be friendly and meet new people. The Bible tells us that “A man that has friends must show himself friendly.” (Proverbs 18:24, KJV)

Look for someone with similar goals. When you do find someone you might like to date, find out what that person’s future goals are to make sure that both of you are going down similar paths. One of the most frequent causes of divorce is that the couple no longer share any common interests. Ask and find out what his interests are, what she is passionate about, and where he sees himself in five years. Does she want children? If so, how many? Where does he want to live? Is she willing to move? Does he want to travel?

Know what type of person you want. Write a list of qualities you would look for in a future husband or wife. What are your top values? Do you want someone who is eager to serve the Lord and puts him first? Men, do you want a career woman or a wife who will stay at home with the children? Women, do you want a spiritual leader or are you not willing to be led? Be clear about the priorities that are important to you.

Understand what you will tolerate and what you will not. No one is perfect, and everyone has weaknesses. Do not marry a project — someone you hope to change. You must totally accept whoever you marry. Can you handle someone being late all the time or not? How about someone who has anger issues? Are you willing to tolerate someone who compromises? What if that person lies, yells at his/her parents or drinks alcohol?

Deal with hurts of the past. Make an appointment to see a professional who can help you forgive those who have hurt you. Break off all ungodly ties and admit all the painful events of your past so that you will not bring unfinished business into a new relationship.

Establish boundaries up front. Establish and communicate the guidelines for your relationship. What is acceptable and what is not? Will you hold hands or hug? How late at night will you stay out? Will you be alone in the dark? Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, so decide ahead of time what you will do. Don’t wait till you are in the middle of something to decide. The best advice is to stay as far away from the cliff edge as you can. Don’t allow yourself to be in a compromising position.

Communicate openly and assertively. Sometimes we are afraid to say what we really think for fear we might lose the other person. But if you can’t communicate openly with a potential spouse at the beginning, what makes you think you will be able to be honest later? It will not get any easier. Talk openly about your thoughts and feelings. Use “I” statements, and don’t blame other people for your mistakes. Take ownership of your own life. Speak up if you don’t agree with something. Offer your opinion, and share your ideas. Learn to talk in front of others. “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1, NIV)

Build trust. Stick to your word. Only promise what you can deliver. Be a team player by encouraging the input of others. Treat people fairly by being teachable and open to feedback.

Be yourself. There should be no surprises. Allow yourself the freedom to be who you are all the time. You should be the same person in public as you are in private.

Listen intently. Give your undivided attention when someone is talking to you instead of thinking about what you want to say. Make the most of every opportunity by enjoying the people you are talking with. Repeat back to them what they have said to make sure you understood completely.

Ask the Lord to lead you one step at a time, and be sensitive to his leading. Be a person of integrity and character by being everything God wants you to be. Maybe your Valentine is just around the corner.

How can we tell if a Christian school has been successful?

The Cross at SunsetWhat makes a Christian education successful? I have been principal of a Christian school for the past 15 years, and I have faced this critical and challenging question many times over the years.

Far too often I see parents put intensive pressure on their children to achieve academically, artistically and athletically. While an appropriate amount of pressure is certainly necessary to help our children achieve their full potential, I often find the goal is too focussed on the immediate, without enough focus on the long-term development of the students.

As parents, why do we push our children? Is it so that they will be more ‘successful’ than we are, so that they will have a great deal of money and be able to enjoy ‘the finer things in life’?

My short-term, worldly thinking may be tempted to answer ‘Yes’ to this question. However, as I consider the eternal purpose God has for every one of us, I need to remember that the education we provide our children should be preparing them for something much greater than the temporal life we have on this earth.

The Bible tells us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

The temptation for parents is to judge the education a child receives by present-day results. I contend that we should see the education our children receive as the foundation for how they will view the world as adults.

If we believe what Proverbs 22:6 states, then we as parents must understand that the Christ-centred education we provide our children at home, school and church is laying the foundation so that “when they are old, they will not depart from it.”

Even though we do our best to direct our children to follow God, there is no guarantee that the desired results will be immediate. Our children will sometimes test the waters and not listen to the wise counsel of their parents or teachers. The sinful nature can temporarily prevail and leave children believing that they know better than their teachers and parents. This can cause them to make inappropriate choices, yielding to temptation.

I would encourage parents not to be discouraged but to continue to pray and teach their children as God leads.

Over the years, I have seen many parents who, after straying from the Lord for much of their own youth, have chosen to enroll their children at our Christian school. They have come to realize the errors they have made. And they want to ensure that their children receive an education which reflects the Christian values they are now pursuing in the home.

So how will I know whether my Christian school has been successful? I will not find the answer to that question in the financials. I will not find the answer this week or this year. I will be able to judge this when I see my students 10 or 20 years after they have graduated from school.

I will look to see what kind of people they are. Are they involved in their church? Are they involved in their community, giving back to those in need? Is God their first priority? If they are married, are they committed to their spouse and children – loving and caring for them? Do their goals reflect an eternal value? Are their goals ultimately to glorify God?

If the answers to these questions are ‘Yes’ and our school has been part of this result, then I would say we have been successful.

May we all continue to be educated for God’s purposes!

Ian Jarvie is principal at BC Christian Academy in Port Coquitlam.

Don’t be a hooded horse

A hooded horseBack in the hazy days that I loosely refer to as high school, I distinctly remember a situation that went a long way toward changing the way that I thought about myself and the people around me.

I was in the midst of grade 13 (the last year of high school in Ontario then), a wonderful time of being too old for childish things and being absolutely too stupid to be considered an adult.

I was active in my school as student council president. I played on the football team, was involved in anything that even smelled like acting, was working far too many hours at my part time job and was looking forward to being out of high school. I can honestly say that I did not care about any of it.

Most of my teachers and I had come to an agreement: they would not try to teach me too much, and I would not disrupt their classes or force them into retirement. This generally worked out for both sides. I had very little actual work to do, and the teachers generally maintained their sanity.

One teacher had not read the memo. Dr. Marathe was a smallish Indian man with a thick accent and, in my opinion at the time and afterward, far too many brains to be teaching physics to me or anyone like me. Dr. Marathe kept demanding that I learn despite my repeated attempts to disrupt his classes. There was something about this man that made me feel almost regretful when I turned my attention to disruption. He seemed to care, and not just about his job or the curriculum; he seemed to care about me. This was strangely off-putting.

One day we were addressing the riveting combination of gravity and centripetal acceleration. In a nutshell, the lesson went something along these lines. Gravity is that force which draws all matter with mass together — the more mass, the more the gravity, the greater the force of attraction to that object. Centripetal acceleration is the change in speed that happens relative to a fixed object when another object is moving around it in a circular motion.

This didn’t really matter to me then — and doesn’t really matter now.

Being clever, I raised my hand and posed the following question: “If you were in a space ship orbiting a large planet, say Uranus (pronounced the traditional way), would you be able to build up enough acceleration to overcome the planet’s gravity?”

“No, you would not be able to get away from the planet.”

“So you would just keep going around and around Uranus?”

“Yes, you would not be able to get away from Uranus, no matter what you do.”

On cue, my classmates degenerated into snickers that progressed to full blown laughter. I managed to keep a straight face as the class ended and I walked away satisfied. A good day, very little learned.

About an hour later, as I walked past his office, I heard Dr. Marathe’s voice directed into the hall. “Mr. Stares, I want to talk to you.”

As I stopped, I noticed that he wasn’t angry with me — but he wasn’t finished either. “You are a very bad man, Mr. Stares. I know what you did. Yes, you are a very bad man.”

I smiled and had turned to walk away when he added, “Mr. Stares, don’t be a hooded horse.” He looked into my eyes and then walked back into his office. We never spoke about it again, but I never forgot it.

At first I mused about how quaint he had been to speak to me like that and how easy it had been to get away with the goofiness — but eventually his words started to bother me. What did he mean? What was he saying?

I started to do some talking to people who knew about horses and discovered that a horse will not walk into a dangerous situation if it can see what is going on. If a horse must be taken through danger, putting a hood over its eyes will overcome its strong drive for self preservation. I started to realize that I was the hooded horse and that I had put the hood on myself.

Eventually I became doubly annoyed — first because he had summed me up in so few words, and second because he had taught me perhaps the most important lesson I had learned in five years of high school. It took me several more years and the working of the Holy Spirit to realize how thick the hood had become and how firmly I had pulled it over my head — but I did.

At my ten year reunion, I spent several minutes apologizing to Dr. Marathe for being a hooded horse and thanking him for pointing it out to me.

He smiled in his way and graciously accepted my words as if he had always expected them.

Today I am a teacher. Every once in a while, a student will start sounding like I used to sound. I think that these students are a bit surprised when I head them off in their quest to disrupt and draw attention away from the lesson. Many don’t realize that I have already been where they are and know that it is not a good place to be.

It is then that I tell a story about a teacher who cared enough about me to tell me the truth.

In thankfulness to Dr. Marathe, I will gladly be a teacher who spends his days pulling hoods off horses.

D. Allan Stares is a secondary school teacher at Heritage Christian School in Jordan, Ontario. This article was first published May 27, 2009 in Christian Renewal.

Local church has thriving ministry in Cuba Local church has thriving ministry in Cuba Local church has thriving ministry in Cuba Local church has thriving ministry in Cuba

Streets of CubaA local church has been conducting a unique ministry for several years. Headed by bishop Charles Dorrington, the Reformed Episcopal Church in Saanichton is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); it is part of the Diocese of Western Canada, Alaska and Cuba.

The latter country is the focus of Dorrington and his wife. Their ministry has facilitated the creation of six churches in Cuba, with an estimated 525 members. Following are highlights from Claudia Dorrington’s account of the couple’s 2010 visit to the isolated communist country.

I was able to really appreciate the new church/house which we Canadians have contributed so much to. The locals are so proud of their work, as they should be.

They had neither the funds available nor the workmen that we are able to access here in Canada. The 21 plastic chairs were obtained on the black market for $13 per chair. The government price would have been $29 per chair; our Canadian costs would be $10.

What a joy for Dalvis to have new tiles, a new sink with a little stove and a new refrigerator. The government provides the refrigerators for all households, to save electricity. They are about half the size of ours. However, each person is made to repay the government.

The new church is named El Aposento Alto (The Upper Room). Archbishop Ramon has promised that since the house construction is so far along, he can now devote three days a week to pastoring the sheep and evangelizing outside his immediate neighbourhood. Already 10 young adults want to take religious studies from Ramon, to learn more about their faith and deepen their walk with Christ.

Dalvis was very pleased with all that we brought. It was like Christmas, as we unwrapped clothes and emptied shoes to reveal asthma medicine and other drugs, computer equipment and toys. Ramon would later tell us this was our best trip, supplying the things that were most needed

Soon, their daughter Lily, with whom I had prayed for a husband, arrived — five months pregnant — and introduced us to her new husband. They had met because he is her dentist. He has been learning about Our Lord, and has asked Bishop Charles to baptize him. This is very special for the whole family.

Ramon shared how difficult it is becoming for the people. Salaries are the same as they were 20 years ago, but food costs are higher. The government now takes 60 percent of everything the people grow and manufacture.

Foreign investment, except in the tourist industry, is forbidden. Private enterprise and investment is also forbidden, and licenses to sell commodities, especially outside cities and north of Havana, are almost impossible to obtain.

Life is more difficult; the government declares that it has no money, so hopeless restlessness is brewing, especially among the young.

Apparently, the Pentecostal church sends out many leaders — poorly trained, and with little support. However, God’s Spirit seems to be really moving in Cuba, among all the churches. An attitude is changing. Now, officials who are Christians can be in the Communist Party. But it is well known that these men are Christian liberal puppets.

Our churches are growing rapidly, so the needs are increasing. We are not a legal church in Cuba; and since the people are dissatisfied, the government is uneasy — and will use the slightest excuse to shut the churches down.

We would describe this trip as very fruitful under the hand of Almighty God. We have left behind a strong team of Cuban ministers. We feel satisfied that our church in Cuba is in good hands. Three of the congregations are in their own premises. The members are tithing, and their offerings help pay for many of the ongoing costs.

The Lord has been very good to us, and we thank all those people whose generosity and love for the Cuban people have made this possible. Charles and I never cease to be amazed at what the Lord has called us to do in His name.

Gloria Dios!