Thursday, October 10, 2013

Christian Persecution

Read an interesting and convicting article by Brian Mclaren. "Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Peace"

He explores the question of persecution and asks why is the western church so silent on this issue.
Brian offers six reasons

  1. Many Christians are too silent on the issue because they don’t want to add their voices to the growing numbers of Islamophobic voices in the Christian community.
  2. Some Christians are too silent on the issue because they already know that much anti-Christian violence is retaliation against hawkish American foreign policy.
  3. Many Christians know that a careless bias against Palestinians - many of whom, by the way, are committed Christians - has become a pre-requisite in some circles for being considered “pro-Israel.”
  4. American Christians - myself included - are part of a global oil-based economy, and as such, we are like addicts who depend on repressive Muslim governments for our carbon fix.
  5. Many of us have accepted superficial cliches (“They are evil” or “Their religion is evil”) and avoided the hard, often unsettling work of understanding how religious identity can be turned to violent ends - in any religion: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, even atheist.
  6. We don’t know what can be done practically, so we remain silent.
He ends by saying "Each of these reasons for silence, I believe, is indefensible."

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Talking to our kids about sex

Interesting article about discussing the sexualized nature of our world.
For the full article - "Miley Cyrus: Dealing with the 'sexualization of childhood"

A couple of highlights:

  • But family and media observers say the whole Miley Cyrus episode is a reminder that open communication with children from an early age can help them learn how to interpret the frenzied media world around them. 
  • Spinks says, they’ll need help to “understand that what they see isn’t necessarily OK for them to mimic or OK for them to want to copy.  The key to doing that, Spinks says, lies in early and ongoing two-way communication with children, which includes "being clear on what’s negotiable and what’s non-negotiable.”
  • "As they get older, they’re able to make more and more complex decisions but the more you teach them how to make decisions, the easier it will be help them understand and interpret the consequences of their decisions going forward."
  • When it comes to children’s exposure to media and the choices made around what they watch or absorb online, Spinks says the conversations about what’s appropriate and not appropriate at home, school or in the community are much simpler if they begin at an early age.  "It is much easier to start having those conversations when your kids are six, seven and eight than when they’re 12 and 13 … when you’re starting to get into the ‘You’re-not-the-boss-of-me’ stage. Well, yes, as a parent, you actually are and there are limits that parents need to set."
  • "Besides controlling the content, which of course is good, you’re also modelling the idea that media use is an active choice, that you choose to watch a TV show or a movie rather than just sitting down and turning on the TV."

Friday, September 20, 2013

To reach a postmodern world recover tradition and liturgy?

“The postmodern church could do nothing better than be ancient, that the most powerful way to reach a postmodern world is by recovering tradition, and that the most effective means of discipleships is found in liturgy.”  
(James K A Smith, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Talking Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault to church)

I have heard this claim many times.  It feels like there might be some truth to this.  However I have do have a couple of questions.

Is there any evidence that recovering tradition is a powerful way to reach the postmodern world?
In the many times I heard this bold claim I have not actually heard or seen evidence that recovering tradition has suddenly caused the postmodern world to become radical disciples of Jesus.  Certainly there are many who grew up in the church and were later estranged from the modern church who found renewal and a deep connection with God in the rediscovery of traditions.  But how many are actually being reached?  How many people who did not believe in Jesus are being reached?  Are there any statics showing that churches who have recovered tradition and liturgy are better are reaching the world?  To say “the most powerful way to reach a postmodern world” is a bold claim.  I would like some evidence to back it up.

What tradition or liturgy?
What tradition or liturgy are we talking about?  Catholic (Celtic, Italian), Orthodox (Greek, Russian), Mennonite (Swiss, Russian), Lutheran, or Anglican…?  There seems to be is a certain amount of picking and choosing when we “recover” tradition.  But can you really and truly do justice to a tradition if you are picking and choosing?

Is there any evidence that liturgy is “the most effective means of discipleship? 
In discussions about liturgy people can have rose coloured glasses when looking at the past.  Somehow there is this idea that the church went horribly wrong with modernism and if we can just get back to before modernism (pre-modern) then everything will be good.  Really?  A quick review of church history will let us know very rapidly there were saints and sinners in every age and time of the church (including the modern age).   It also is very clear that the pre-modern church was not a spotless wonder.  A couple of examples.  Constantine is viewed as one of the greatest blunders of the church, joining church and state together.  I agree this is a great blunder.  But Constantine was well before modernism.  He was in 300 AD.  Much of the liturgy and tradition we claim is going to save us was formed after this great blunder.  Another great blemish on Christianity is the crusades.  How could those claiming to follow Jesus engage in such a brutal and sinful thing?  The crusades were pre-modern as well.
These pre-modern churches were using the tradition and liturgy we are to recover to reach our world and make disciples.  So can we truly state that they were the “most effective” in creating disciples?

Is there any evidence that churches that have strong liturgy are more effective in creating disciples then churches that do not have liturgy?  
However discipleship is being defined can we show that on average a church that uses liturgy is truly better at forming disciples then a church that does not?

Simply put these bold claims need some substance to back it up not just feelings or intuition.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

EMMC – Mennonite

Low German, great food, and good last name (like Klassen or Schroeder) this is what it means to be Mennonite.  However there is another way to understand Mennonite.  After all the majority of people who refer to themselves as Mennonite do not speak low German (and none ancestors do either), eat farmer sausage, or have a name like Klassen.  In fact they live in Asia or Africa.
What is a Mennonite?

  1. Believers Church.  Only those who have decided to follow Jesus are truly part of the church.  Mennonites do not baptise infants because that cannot decide to follow Jesus.
  2. Separation of church and state.  The government has no business telling us what to believe.  The church does not use the government to force people to obey the bible.
  3. Discipleship.  Christians are those who follow Jesus.  We are saved by grace through faith which leads us to doing good works.
  4. Peace church.  The command to love God and others (including enemies) seems to lead to the conclusion that we should not use violence against others.  What does this actually mean is often discussed.
  5. Priesthood of all believers.  Every believer has direct access to God.  Every believer is a minister, bringing God to others.  Ordination, bible school, holding a certain position (deacon, elder, pastor) does not give a person special access to God.  We are all priests.  

The Anabaptist Vision written by Harold Bender strongly influenced these points.  And yes all these points are debated and argued in the Mennonite community.  But I think we are not abandoning any of these positions, more like trying to figure out how to apply them to the world right now.

Monday, September 09, 2013

EMMC – Evangelical

Evangelical Mennonite Mission Church.  Who are we?  Evangelical

There is a lot of debate or confusion about what “evangelical” means.

Tony Campolo states “there is little argument that the word evangelical conjures up an image of Christians who are anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, pro-war, pro-capital punishment, and conservative Republican.”  (page XI, Red Letter revolution, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo)

This seems a bit harsh, unfair and not a very good picture of evangelical.  This is not what we mean when we define ourselves as evangelical.

Wikipedia ( defines evangelical by four convictions which I think are helpful and good.

  1. Conversion.  There is a call for people to be “born again” (this comes out John 3).  A decision needs to be made.  A decision that is to bring a radical change into a person’s life
  2. Authority of the Bible.  The Bible is viewed as the authority for life and faith.  
  3. Jesus.  The birth, life, death and resurrection are central.  
  4. Makes a difference in life.  These are not simply beliefs that we are to hold in our heads rather they are supposed to deeply influence every part of our life (including politics)

Now linking ourselves to evangelical is interesting.  As Mennonites we would hold to the authority of the Bible, Jesus and discipleship very strongly.  In fact in some circles it is argued that as Mennonites we hold to these things more strongly than the average evangelical.

So I believe that when we said we are Evangelical this refers to the personal decision to follow Jesus.  A person is not a Christian because they were born into a Christian home or in a Christian nation or because they did so many good things.  To be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus.  To follow Jesus means we had to make a decision to follow him.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Last week update - Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him. 
This past week I have been visiting Cormorant a couple times and I have been making trips to the mall every so often to visit some folks I know that work in at a music store there. I made my last visit into Cormorant on Tuesday and it was a sad but good day for me. I felt very strongly that in order to be fully loving the people I meet they needed to hear the gospel. Otherwise, if I didn't share the greatest message in the world that would not be love even if they do not always respond or show interest. The locals here say that folks plain and simple need the gospel. That is what late missionary Cliff McComb did and he made a lasting impact.

So I shared the story of the thief on the cross with my friend Isaiah. Dennis shared the same story at our Sunday service at family camp, The thief did not take communion, get baptized or do anything else when he was on the cross except recognize that he was a sinner, he needed saving and Jesus was the Savior. And he was assured, "today you will be with me in paradise". That is all we need for faith. It is simple and in my opinion the story of the thief on the cross is a good way to share the gospel with folks in the North.

Family Camp went really well, there were many folks that came out and we had some very good discussions around the campfire. We also made bannock on the good!! On Sunday we had a service at our campsite and there were many folks there from Cormorant. Some that walk with God and others that do not. I was encouraged to see some of them there and I pray that they will come back to walk with God.

I really do not want to leave the folks in Cormorant because some of them are really lonely and there are things in their lives that are unfortunate and I want to be there for them. So it was with a heavy heart that I left yesterday. But God is still their shepherd as He is mine and He is still watching over them and loves them more than I do.

As I have sought to share the gospel with some folks here I believe that I have learned the simplicity of the gospel better than I did before. The problem is sin, we have it and we need to repent of it. In a recent sermon I listened to, the teacher was saying that the reason that some cannot understand the things of God is because of sin in our lives. We need to repent of sin first and then we will be able to understand the things of God. The gospel is an offensive message but it also crosses any culture and praise God for that.

One day Frank and Jack Ducharme, two folks from the church, took me fishing on Reed Lake. It was a treat and we caught many fish and big fish.

I am returning to the southern lands tomorrow and as much as I do not wish to say goodbye I also am excited to return to school. Pray for a good trip down and for the seeds planted in the North to grow and that God's work in the North will come to completion.

-Travis Harms

Update 9 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hi again. Well we are going into our last week here. A week from Tuesday we head home. We are excited about going home but also are not looking forward to leaving. We have met a lot of people and made many new friends during our time here. It will be hard to leave these friends but it will be good to see our friends at home again.
On Sunday during the evening service there was a child dedication for a 3 year old boy. At the baby/child dedications here the parents are asked to get two witnesses to stand with them during the dedication and sign the register. When the mother was asked for her witnesses she did not have any so she asked the pastors wife and me to be the witnesses for her. It is very humbling to be asked to participate in such a way. It is always very good when parents stand up and declare before God and their piers that will do their best to raise their children in a manner that is pleasing to God. This is one step along the way in raising Godly children and I felt very blessed to be able to participate in such a way.  
My classes have been going well and we are the point were we have time for review to clear up any questions that the students might have. We have a few pieces of equipment that we will need to get put back together as well. I have only planned to have classes on Monday and Tuesday next week which leaves Wednesday as an extra day in case we need some extra time to put things back together. Also we will need a couple of days to clean up some things and get packed up for our trip back to Canada. Please pray that we will be able to tie up all loose ends and leave here with nothing unfinished.
This week has been a hard one for me (Cheryl). Knowing that we are nearing, quickly, the end of our time here is a reality that I don’t want to face. I like it here. In spite of the heat and humidity that is a constant companion, the extra burdens of just day-to-day life, the extra care that needs to be taken with Jennifer (illness is always a threat here, in a very different and serious way than in Canada), the different culture here with not only the villagers, but also the foreigners that come to visit here, I still want to be here.
This morning in worship at church (Sunday, August 25, 2013) we sang “I Surrender All”. As we were singing, that’s what I did. I surrendered all. I’ve been thinking about moving back home to comfortable Canada, my comfy house, my neighbours down the street, friends and family, and, I surrendered that all. Gave it to God to do with what He wills. That’s where we are going back to on September 3rd, but after that, I really believe, that, sooner rather than later we’ll be hoppin’ a plane back here; to do whatever God has in mind for us to do.
So, that’s where I’m at. I’m content, knowing that God is in control. All I need to do is surrender, and wait. His timing is always best. For the next week and two days I will enjoy our time left here, and do my best to love like Jesus loves!
Jacolyn and Jennifer had a pretty good week. They are both feeling good for a change. Jennifer did slip and fall on a concrete side walk and got some nasty scrapes on her arm and her knees which need to be bandaged properly here due to the different types of "bugs" and infections that we do not have at home and our bodies have not got immunity to. It is nothing to be terribly concerned about but we need to keep a close eye on such injuries and be active in keeping them clean.
Jacolyn has been busy this week with the feeding program and cleaning up material for the sewing class. She has also been sewing some towels for the hair dressing class, running errands for the Pastor couple here and various other odd jobs that just didn't get done when they should have.
Thanks again for your support in prayer and please continue to pray for us as we face new challenges with wrapping things up here and as we prepare to travel back to Canada.

   God Bless
Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters. 

Further update: Jennifer has been feeling very sick.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Meditation – what is it?

So far I have discussed some of the fears that I have had regarding meditation.  I have also discussed quieting my mind.
Meditation is more than simply quieting my mind.  It is a filling of it.

Now to be honest I am struggling in learning how to meditate.  But here are a couple of ways that I have tried to meditate – there may be better ways to do this – I am open to suggestions.

First, meditation is linked with prayer and memorization.  I memorize a passage and then discuss what it means with Jesus.  I am not reading other books or internet sites.  Sitting and praying.  Trying to talk with Jesus.  Exploring and pondering what this means when it comes to the different parts of my life: my marriage or parenting or pastoring or friendships…

Second, is to just ponder one reality of God.  Letting it sink into my being.  For example meditating on his love.  Just sitting attempting to take in the fact that I am the beloved of God.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meditation – empty your mind?

Is meditation about emptying your mind?
Biblical meditation is more about filling your mind with one thing.

However meditation does involve quieting our minds.  There are some who would object to this claiming that this is just different words for emptying your mind.  But I know that my mind is often chattering. Thinking of the book I am reading, recalling the movie I watched last night, imagining the one I am waiting to come out, reviewing what I need to do today, replaying the conversation that didn’t go so well with my wife, worrying about my kids… and on and on it goes.  Chattering almost non-stop.
Sometimes I just need to quiet my mind so that I can listen better to Jesus.  Quiet my mind so that I can actually focus on what I am reading in the Bible.  Quiet my mind so I can meditate.

A couple of things that I have done that help quiet my mind.
Focus on my breathing for a couple of minutes.
Repeat a phrase.  One I use “Abba, I belong to you”.
When thoughts come in acknowledge my thoughts and then put them aside (sometimes even write them on note pad so I don’t have to worry about forgetting).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Meditation – an invitation for the devil

The way I responded to meditation most of my life.  What was I afraid of?

Empty your mind.  I was taught that this was the essence of meditation.
Empty your mind was to invite the devil in.  If I empty my mind a demon was lurking ready to pounce and take control.


I don’t see any biblical evidence for that.
This whole idea assumes that a Christian can “accidentally” be possessed by a demon.  And it would be “accidental”.  Meditating, even emptying your mind, is not actually violating any commandment.  There is no biblical command saying to not empty your mind.  Also it is not actually saying “Devil please take possession of me.”
So why was I taught this?
Not 100% sure.  Most likely two things were at play.  There was nervousness that meditation could lead us to base our faith on whatever we imagine instead of the bible.  Secondly a nervousness that if we started to meditate, since our church had no resources to teach us, we would go to eastern religions for guidance, ending up mixing our beliefs with theirs.

For the record I do not think that the essence of biblical meditation is emptying your mind.  I will talk about that in another post.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meditation – why are we afraid?

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2

I grew up being afraid of meditation.
There was always this sense of forbidding when it came to meditation. It was taboo.
Certainly everyone would say they believed in meditation.  After all it is in the bible.  But it was hardly mentioned.  When it was, it was in a hushed whispered way.  Not too loudly or clearly.  And move on to another topic quickly.  I learned to study the bible, memorize it, read it but never meditate on it.
Even today the word “meditate” sets off alarm bells for many people.  To say or encourage people to “meditate” is seen as liberal or emergent or New Age.
But there it sits in the bible.

Why are we afraid?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Update 8 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hello all. First off I want to thank you all for praying for us and for Oliver. In my last update I mentioned that Oliver (a 16 year old student in my class) had been involved in a motorcycle accident. The last update that I got from my interpreter was on Wednesday. Oliver had been taken off life support and was breathing on his own now. He had opened his eyes but had not been able to talk yet. The doctors are quite optimistic and think that he should recover quite well from his injuries. As far as his passenger though, he was taken off life support but had to be put back on as he was not breathing very well on his own. Please continue to hold these boys in your prayers.
I also want to thank you for praying for Jacolyn. She is doing much better and seems to back to her normal self. She has been feeling good and has not had the pain in her ear like she had for a while. Please pray that she will continue to stay healthy while we are here.
As we draw closer to the end of our mission here Jennifer is dealing with a lot of emotions. She is excited about going home in just over two weeks to see her friends at home but also sad that we are leaving her friends here. Please pray that she will not get to overwhelmed with the changes that we will be facing in the next two weeks.
Cheryl is doing quite well. She is the glue that is holding a lot of things together here. She is the one that is mostly effected by the emotions of the rest of the family and has been dealing with that very well. Patients is not one of my strongest points and she has the ability to be that emotional support that all of us need here now. I thank God that she is able to be that support and backing that we need. Please pray that God will give her continued health and strength to be the support that we so much need her to be.
We had another interesting, challenging and fulfilling week in the DR. On Monday in my afternoon class we got onto the topic of how husbands are to treat their wives. Here in the DR the women are not treated very well sometimes. Actually most of the time the women are not treated with a whole lot of respect at all. In my class we got onto this discussion again not intentionally but through a discussion about how one of my students called his wife to ask her to bring a coffee to the class for me. This guys' wife has been bringing me a cup of coffee nearly every afternoon. The coffee she brings is extremely strong and contains what seems to be about 2 tablespoons of sugar in approximately 3/4 cup of coffee. I never put sugar in my coffee but I just smile, say thank you and drink it anyway. Anyway when he used another students phone to call her he was very polite and treated her quite nicely so the other guys started joking with him that he should have been more stern with her and insisted that she bring the coffee immediately. When she brought the coffee the guys proceeded to tell her about their conversation. At this point I asked my class "who is the queen of your house?". To which they responded "well our wives of coarse.". I then asked "If she is the queen then who is the king in your house?". Their response "well we are.". To which I replied " If you are the king of your house and we are to model our lives after Christ, The King of Kings then we are to serve our wives and not rule over them sternly. If you want your wife to be a queen in your house you need to treat her as such.". There was silence in the room. This is a concept that isn't taught here and likely something these men have never heard before.
On Wednesday we I was teaching about electronics and Ohm's law when somehow the conversation got onto how much we had to pay for electricity. Here in the DR there is a very high percentage of homes that are hooked up to the electrical grid without a meter. This of coarse is done by the home owner by climbing the pole and hooking it up themselves. Not only is it dangerous it is also not legal. There was a lot of grumbling and complaining about how much it costs to have electricity. They asked how much we had to pay for electricity in Canada. I told them how much the average electric bill was. Then they asked if we have electric power there 24 hrs a day 7 days a week? I told them we did. They started to complain about the fact that they only had electricity 1/2 days at best. I stopped them and asked how many of the people in my class actually paid for ALL the power that they used. to which I got no response. I then explained to them that instead of complaining about not having power all day they should by thankful for the power that they are getting and that the power company does not cut the wires down to their houses. I told them that in reality they are stealing for the electric company (the government here). I also explained to them that stealing is stealing no matter if it is from the government, your neighbour or the church. They asked what we would call such a person in Canada. I told them they would be called a criminal or a thief. I guess I will see on Monday how many people come back to my class as they are not used to foreigners talking to them so bluntly.
This may not have anything to do with small engine repair but it does have a lot to do with integrity and that is something that is much needed here. God seems to be opening doors for all types of conversation and teaching that I am not expecting and have not specifically prepared for.
Wednesday was my last day of teaching for this week as the pastor couple that we are working with here decided to treat us for a three day mini holiday as a thank you for coming to work here with them. They took us to a couple of beaches along the south shore to the tip of the Samana Peninsula. It is only about 200 km from where we are living but with the roads here it takes about 4-5 hrs to drive. We got to see a lot of beautiful scenery and had a good time of relaxation and fellowship. We thank God for this time to refresh and regroup.
Thank you again for all your support and please keep us in your prayers. Please pray that all of us would be able to speak boldly when we need to be bold, tenderly when compassion is needed and the wisdom to know what to say.

Thank you and God Bless
  Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer

Friday, August 16, 2013

Awe of God

“Your wickedness will punish you;
Your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the LORD your God
and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty
Jeremiah 2:19

What does it mean to “have no awe of” God?

Awe invokes thoughts of: respect and honor, surprise and wonder, power and majesty.

To lose our awe of God means that we no longer respect and honor him.  God simply becomes a thing that we tell people we believe in.  But we pay no attention to him, except for possibly Sunday mornings.  There is no craving for his advice and guidance.  He is part of our lives, but in an unimportant way.

To lose our awe of God means that we are no longer surprised by him.  We are never caught in a place of absolute wonder.  Everything about God becomes predictable.  We know exactly how he would respond in all situations.  All mystery of God is removed.

To lose our awe of God means that we have no sense of his power and majesty.  God is treated like a kindly old grandfather.  Someone who is sweet but powerless.  We pray to him not because he is awesome and mighty.  We pray because we should, and it will make God feel so good.  Who cares what he thinks about how we live, after all what can he actually do?  Everything in life is filtered through what can we do, not what can God do.

It is “evil and bitter” for us when we “have no awe of” God.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 13ish - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 13ish update:
This past two weeks I have worked at Steeprock Bay Bible Camp and they were an exhausting but a rewarding two weeks. The first week I was counseling a cabin of guys from Sapotaweyak and one of them rededicated his life to the Lord. I saw a growing interest in the Bible and spiritual things in another lad. They all shared some of the hardships of living on the reserve and my heart breaks for some of them. One guy had lost a brother to drowning a few years back and others had it rough as well. I thought to myself that there is no way that I can help these kids with what they are dealing with. I cannot relate because I do not go through the same things day in and day out. The only thing I can do is love them and show that I care and pray for them. Another friend from Cormorant that came to camp with questions about God and heard the gospel, yet he is still held back by something and feels that he needs to be clean before he can come to God. I chatted with him on the bus ride back to the Pas. I will visit him in Cormorant and hope that he comes to faith.

The next week was teen's camp and I was the speaker. I did not get to know the kids as well that week compared to counseling but I was glad for the opportunity. Teens camp is different because there are kids that have come to camp for years and years and years and more are Christians than the junior weeks. I had some good talks with a two different guys from Sap and I am glad to see the Lord work in both of their lives. I notice in a lot of the kids that they want to succeed in life, they want to be strong and proud and make a bright future for themselves. Even if that means leaving the reserve and their families to get out of the environment that can be negative for young people.

On Thursday last week was the 8th Annual Bike Ride for Suicide Awareness put on by Phillip and Georgina Constant. Their family has been affected by suicide and so they started a bike ride to raise awareness and to show people that they care. The ride was well attended, I came up from camp to take part for the day. We rode from the Saskatchewan border to the Pas, 25 miles. There were many people that wrote names of people on the back of their shirts to show who they had lost to suicide. At the end was a barbecue and the mayor of the Pas came out. It was a good time of riding together and meeting people I wouldn't normally meet. I had a good chat with the Junior Chief about his dreams for his people.

At the bike ride I also observed the cultural practice of elders first. I sort of noticed it but when William "Shorty" Lathlin announced the beginning of eating, he said, "elders first" and then I remembered how I'd seen that practice before but that is when it clicked. Another practice is nicknames, William Lathlin is "Shorty", the bus driver is "Turtles". Sometimes folks do not even know someone's real name, only their nickname. It happens in the Pas and in Cormorant.

Family Camp is this week, I'll head back to Cormorant soon as well and prayers would be appreciated for that as I visit folks there again. Kene and Millie Jackson are coming out this week too. Should be exciting!!

-Travis Harms

Update 7 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hi again from Sosua, Dominican Republic.
This week again has been a somewhat difficult week. There have been quite a few raw emotions. With Jacolyn coming out of the hospital and recovering at home we were breathing a lot easier as things were starting to get back to normal. Then Monday we got news that Janelle Knutt was killed in a car accident. Janelle was a good friend of Jacolyn's. Janelle's parents Tony and Terry Knutt are good friends of ours and Tony has been Cheryl's boss for 5 years now. This news hit us all quite hard as Janelle was Jacolyn's age and it comes as a reminder of how fragile life really is. Please pray for the Knutt family as they deal with the loss of their daughter, sister, grand daughter.
On Tuesday we heard that Oliver (a 16 year old student in my class) had been in a motorcycle accident on Monday evening. He was passing an SUV and clipped the drivers side enough to bounce him into the oncoming traffic where he hit a big truck and he and his passenger ended up under the truck getting run over. Both boys were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Oliver had to have emergency surgery but started to regain consciousness the next day. Because of the nature of his injuries the doctors decided that putting him into an induced coma would be the best thing that they could do for him. On Friday we heard that he had opened his eyes but we do not know any more than that. Please pray for Oliver and his family as they are waiting for and praying for healing. Also we have not heard anything about the other boy that was his passenger. Please pray that he and his family will feel Gods presence in this time of trial.
On Wednesday we were informed that a 16 year old boy from Yakima Washington drowned during a church event near Yakima. We have quite a few friends that attend the church that he was a part of. In 2012 Cheryl and I went on a Medical/Dental mission with a group from this church. We ask that you please pray for his family and the church family as they deal with this tragedy.
On Wednesday evening we all attended church in Villa Paraiso again. It had been a couple of weeks since Jacolyn had been there and she was met with many smiles and hugs.
On a little different note I was back teaching this week and Cheryl and the girls were back to work in the village on Thursday. My classes are going very well. Due to some personal reasons my interpreter could not be with us for a couple of classes this week and I managed to have classes with out him there. It was not easy but it worked.
I also had the opportunity to share a part of my testimony with my class this week. It was not planned but some of the questions that were asked led us into a discussion about financial matters which led to the topic of saving and giving, which led to the topic of stewardship and ultimately to me giving part of my testimony. Funny how God can lead from teaching about fuel systems on gasoline engines to giving a personal testimony. We need to always be prepared.  1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. ..."(NIV).
Thank you for your support in prayer. God Bless and please continue to pray for us as we serve here in the Dominican Republic.

Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Monday, August 12, 2013

Return to God

If you, Israel, will return,
then return to me,”
Declares the LORD
Jeremiah 4:16

How many times in my life have I said “I am going to pray more”, “I am going to read my bible more”, “I am going to do…”?
How many times have these simply been words?  No actions.  None at all.

Stop just talking.  Stop saying “I will seek God, I will change my life, I will return to God.”

Just do it!

Friday, August 09, 2013

His loving eye

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8

It is in love that God disciplines us.

He is not exasperated, exhausted of our constant failure, reluctantly giving us “just one more chance”.

It is with his loving eye on us that he teaches and guides us.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Faith: loyalty

Loyalty is another translation for the Greek word pistis, often translated as faith.  (Citizenship: Paul on Peace and Politics, Gordon Zerbe).

To have faith in Jesus means that we are loyal to him.

Loyalty: willing to sacrifice, defend, obey, be there for, promote, and die for.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Update 6 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hi again from the north shore of the Dominican Republic. This week has been very different from the rest of our time here this far. Our daughter Jacolyn kept having a fever and was feeling continually worse over the week end after our last update. On Sunday night her fever was going very high (104 F) and the only way we could keep it in control was to give her Tylenol every 4 hours and we had to force her to take a shower to cool her down at one point. Monday morning I (Chris) went to the village to teach my class. At 10:30 in the morning Cheryl called me and told me that Jacolyn was still having high fevers and was starting to feel really bad. At noon We took Jacolyn to the emergency room at the Hospital in Cabarete where they gave her a quick wipe down to cool her off and put her on IV to rehydrate her. After doing some blood tests and checking her over they diagnosed her with Dengue Fever which is a virus that is spread by mosquito bites. She also still had an ear infection.
Some of the symptoms that accompany Dengue are high fever, severe head aches, severe arthritis type pain in the joints and over all lack of energy. With Dengue there is also usually a drop in white blood cells and platelets in the blood. In severe cases if left untreated the white cell count drops low enough to get to the point where you start bleeding internally. While we were there they had another young child that had come in with dangerously low levels and we found out that they nearly lost him.
Cheryl and I spent our week this week trading off with staying with Jacolyn at the hospital. Cheryl took the day shift and I took the nights. Needless to say the classes that I was going to teach this week were cancelled.
On Tuesday morning the doctor came in and told me that Jacolyn's white cell and Platelet counts were still going down but they thought she was going to start to improve soon. Wednesday morning they took another blood test and found that her white blood cells were starting to go up a bit but her platelet levels were still dropping. Her fever was gone now but she was getting a rash and her hands and feet were starting to get itchy. The doctor told us that the rash and the itching were likely a good sign as this frequently happens close to the end stages of the virus. In the afternoon they took Jacolyn for a chest X-ray to check for fluid in her lungs because she had been on IV and in bed for a couple of days. They also did an ultra sound to check her liver as one of the things that can happen with Dengue Fever is that the patient can develop what is referred to as Reactive Hepatitis which is a liver condition that clears up after a couple of months. Jacolyn's lungs were clear but the ultra sound did indicate that her liver was some what compromised. They also told us though that Jacolyn would have to stay in the hospital until her Platelet level started to go back up again.
On  Thursday morning after doing another blood test the doctor told us that not only had her platelet level started to come back up again, it was back in the normal range. They told Jacolyn that she would be discharged from the hospital but she had to stay at the house to recuperate for the next week. She needs to go in every day for three days to get an antibiotic injection and on the fourth day she needs to go in for a follow up blood test and another ultra sound to check her liver. She was told that she needs to stay away from greasy or deep fried foods for two months now to give her liver a chance to recover properly.
We were also told that we needed to be extra careful now when Jacolyn goes up to the village. She needs to wear long pants and use bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away as another bout of Dengue right now could get very serious very quickly.

Thank you to all who prayed for us as we went through this very difficult week. God is good, Jacolyn is getting better and is out of the hospital. Please continue to pray for complete healing and for protection from any further illness or infection for Jacolyn and the rest of the family.

Thank you and God Bless

Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters  

Friday, August 02, 2013

Faith: trust

Faith in Jesus means that we trust him.

Trust is more than belief.  It is risky.  We trust with our lives.

But to trust we need to believe.

  • Believe that Jesus actually cares about me.  If he doesn’t why trust him?
  • Believe that Jesus knows what he is doing.  This is my life.  I am not going to trust someone who is nice but clueless.
  • Believe that Jesus can actually help me.  I need help.  

I will risk my life and trust Jesus if I truly believe.

Update on Jacolyn

Hello everyone, I just wanted to update you all on Jacolyn's condition. The doctor told us today that not only did her platelet level start to come up, it is actually back in the normal range. She is well enough that she got discharged from the hospital. She needs to go back in every day for the next three days for an antibiotic injection and on Monday she needs to go back to the hospital for a follow up blood test and another ultrasound to check her liver. She was told to stay at the house for the next week to continue to recover. Also she needs to stay away from greasy foods (like french fries or anything deep fried) for the next two months to give her liver a chance to recover fully. The problem with her liver is something that is common with Dengue Fever and is temporary. She just needs to be careful what she eats for a while.
Jacolyn also has to be very careful to wear long pants and use mosquito repellent all the time while we are in the villages as another case of Dengue now could get very serious very quickly.

Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray for healing and for protection against further illness or infection.

Please also pray for the elders in the church in Villa Paraiso as two of them are sick right now and Pastor Jim's wife Debora is also suffering from head aches as well. There are a lot of cases of Dengue here now and severe headaches and over all body and joint pain are symptoms.

Thank you and God Bless
Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Thursday, August 01, 2013

What kind of reader are you?

I am most strongly a "library lover", "re-reader", "comfort reader" and "cross-under".

Please include attribution to Laura E. Kelly with this graphic. (Click to view at original large size.)
What Species of Reader Are You?--Infographic
Visit for more about books, reading, and authors.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Faith: believing

Belief is a core of faith.

Faith is impoverished when we fail to think about God and what we believe.

Failing to struggle and wrestle with theology gives us a weak faith.  A faith that we will give verbal ascent to but one that does not shape any part of our lives.

And most likely a faith that will crumble in the first sign of trouble.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Update - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hello everyone, we have been here for almost 5 weeks now so we are about half way through our planned time here. The classes are still going well. We did manage to get one of the donated engines running in the class. It runs quite well. After hearing the engine run the ministry that donated it asked if we could possibly check over another cement mixer engine for them. This engine also was not running and had not run for some time. I got the guys in my class to take the engine off the mixer and take it into the class. After some short diagnoses using some of the skills we learned in the class they were able to determine what was wrong with the engine, repair the problems (with no parts) and get it running. Two engines running in one week with out having to buy any parts equals many excited students. These engines both looked like they were ready for the scrap pile but now could be put back onto the cement mixers and get back to work. Praise God, He is providing the learning tools and the encouragement as we need it.
On Monday we got to help a team that came out from Texas prepare and serve the first meal in the new community kitchen in Villa Paraiso. After an evening dedication service for the kitchen and praising God for providing the materials and man power for the kitchen. We served approximately 200 people a meal of soup and garlic bread. It was a little hectic but the people got fed and we all had a good time with it.
Cheryl and the girls did not spend as much time in the village this week because Jacolyn is still sick and has been now for nearly a week. She has been having a fever on and off and has been feeling dizzy once in a while. She was having a lot of pain in her one ear for a while but we got her some antibiotics and her ear is a lot better. Please pray for complete healing for her.
We were asked by one of our missionary friends to help paint a new church building in one of the other villages. This building was built over top of their old building and has been a long project. The final part of the roof and the floor were done now and it was time for paint. We went out there this morning (Saturday) and helped with patching some flaws in the cement smooth coat and prime the new concrete. On Wednesday they are planning on finishing the paint. They are currently working on getting donations to pay for the tiles for on the floor to complete this project. It has been a long process but it will be a good building that will be used a lot. Currently they are having a church service nearly every evening and there are several women in the community that come to the church every morning to pray.
Thanks again for your continued prayer support. God Bless.

Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Friday, July 26, 2013

Faith: rational

Faith is not blind or irrational.
Sometimes people say “you just have to have faith.”  Often this means stop thinking and just believe.


Certainly there are some things that will be mysterious.  Things we cannot explain or fully understand.

But to have faith does not mean that you park your brain and just believe.
In fact we are commanded to love God with all our “mind”.  This implies that we should engage our minds and think deeply about God.

Faith is rational.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunday morning: concert or choir?

Is Sunday worship a concert or a massive choir?

In a concert everything is focused on stage.  Does the group sound good?  Are the instruments well blended?
In a choir everything is focused off the stage.  Can the people sing this song?  Is it in a good key for them to sing in?  Are they singing?

Concert and choir are two forms of worship.  Be clear on which one you are doing.  Don’t pretend to do one while doing the other.

On a Sunday morning you can do both.  A special feature – concert.  Congregational singing – choir.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Update 3 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hello again from the Dominican Republic.

Thank you all for your prayers for our safety during tropical storm Chantal. Chantal never did make it to hurricane status and went around to the south side of the island. We got quite a bit of rain, some thunder and lightning and some wind but it was very minor here. It was enough of a storm to cancel classes for one day and the weather did cool off to where it was actually quite comfortable for us. The people here thought it was cold but we were enjoying the cooler temperatures. On the south side of the island they did experience some flooding due to the heavy rains. Please pray for the people that were effected by the flooding.

I also want to thank you all for your prayers for God to provide a new translator for our class. Pastor James Tunnicliffe stepped in to translate on Monday and we had a new translator start on Tuesday. If he works out well he will be available to translate until we leave in September. I have had a number of people asking me if I would be teaching this class again after September. So far that is not on the schedule but we would appreciate your prayers in this matter as well. We do not know what Gods plans are for us after this so your prayers for clear direction are needed.

The classes are going very well and the attendance keeps increasing. I was told that usually after the first week some people tend to drop out and stop coming but so far that has not been the case.
God is providing everything that we have needed to do this course as we go along and the people here are really excited about it.

Jacolyn and Jennifer have been having some health issues here like ear infections and some minor stomach problems. Your continued prayer for physical, emotional and spiritual health are both needed and appreciated.

Jacolyn has been working in the village along side Pastor Jim's wife (Debra) with getting some long over due clean up done in the offices and helping her with some shopping for supplies.

Cheryl has been busy with tending to the health needs of Jennifer. This has been her priority for the past week again. She has been in the village giving the custodian in the schools some much needed guidance in proper work procedures and ethics. She has also been working with preparing food portions for the feeding programs.
Now she will also be helping with preparing the children's church and the supplies for a DVBS program.

Mostly we are doing well and are confident that God will give us the strength that we need to do the work that He has called us to do here.

  Thank you again for all your prayers and support.

  Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Week 9 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 9 update:
I am seeing the prevalence of the Word of Faith movement more in the North the more I am here. I met recently with a man from Cormorant and in a conversation about the Holy Spirit with him and I noticed several tenets of the Word of Faith movement in his theology. A problem with isolated communities is that when there is no solid Bible teaching church to go to, many people look to the television for their Bible teaching, often with disastrous results. They do it because there is no other option. Folks that cannot travel to a larger community for church are left with the feel good but malnourishing spiritual "food" on TV. The Word of Faith movement represents teachers such as Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee and Joel Osteen.

 This week I learned that things that bring out the worst in me are not bad. They are good. If circumstances in my life did not challenge  me to strive for Christian living then I would not be growing as a believer. I am speaking about past events at school and not in the Pas, but I am learning more about how God has worked in my life and is working to sanctify me and it is very exciting!

This week a woman that has been struggling with liver failure went home to be with the Lord. Thankfully she went quietly and peacefully and now she is in glory. We can celebrate that she walked with God and with hope many more folks, including her husband, will come to know God through her life.

I am glad to report that I was able to talk deeper with a fellow from Cormorant and pray he will come to the Lord yet this summer. I have found that folks do not mind so much that I am a Christian and so I hope to shine brightly and present the gospel to them at the right time and to continue to speak about spiritual things with them as they ask. Pray for my connections in Cormorant that fruit would grow!!

-Travis Harms

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Success of a worship service?

Is it success if a worship team sounds great but the congregation does not sing?

Is it success if a worship team sounds terrible but the congregation sings?

Of course ideally we want both.
But if I have to choose I would choose the congregation singing.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Update 2 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Well I finished my first week of teaching in the college. I have about 15 students in the two classes combined, (it seems to change daily). They range in age from 15-40 years old with the average at about 25. It has been a challenge to explain things first to my translator and then have him explain it to the class. This week I have been teaching basic engine design and fundamentals as well as some carburettor and fuel injection principles. I have been encouraging the guys to ask lots of questions so I can get an idea where they are at. The intelligence level is quite high but the there is a large variation in their knowledge level. I had one of the students ask me "what is a magnet?" when I started to introduce some ignition system theory. With the help of my translator we were able to explain what a magnet is so that he and the rest of the class had a good understanding.
 We have been starting each class with prayer and I have had no problem getting other guys to take a turn at praying. One of my afternoon classes got of to a bit of a frenzied start with people coming in at various times and we forgot to open with prayer. When I dismissed the class for the day one of my students said that no one was allowed to leave until he prayed for the class as we did not open with prayer. I was very humbled and encouraged by this.
  We have been faced with another challenge at the end of this week in that due to personal reasons our translator quit and we need to find another one to start Monday morning. Your prayers for God to provide a new translator are much needed and appreciated.
 Cheryl has been off to a bit of a rough start. Jennifer had an ear infection in her right ear with a fever and a lot of pain. We think it was caused by getting water into her ear (swimmers ear). We just got over that then her left ear did the same thing. With the pain and the fever she was just not happy at all and said she wanted to go home several times. This has been hard for Cheryl as she is Mom and usually Mom is what the children want when they are ill. Along with Jennifer being sick there is the culture shock and the changes in how we need to do things here. Everything is different from the way we do laundry to the way we wash and prepare food to the way we get drinking water for the house etc.
  We have been very encourage by our many missionary friends here. With out their experience and knowledge to draw from it would be much more difficult.
  The public transportation system here is much different than at home but we did manage to figure it out. I found a GuaGua (van) that picks us up close to our house (a 10 minute walk) and drops us of right in front of the college where I am teaching. It also picks us up there and brings us back in the evening. It is about a 15 minute drive so it takes about 1/2 hr from when we leave the house until we are there (if the bus is on time). It only costs us 100 pesos ($2.50) each way for the four of us.
  Could you please pray for complete healing for Jennifer's ears, continued health for all of us and for contentment and wisdom for us as we deal with the cultural differences and serve here?
Thank you and God Bless
Chris and Cheryl Peters


I love to sing in church.  Not up front (my voice is not the best).  As part of the congregation I love to sing.

There is something significant, powerful about standing with others and singing praise to God.

On a normal Sunday in the congregation there are some people I know and some are strangers.  But we stand united, singing the same words.

New songs are fantastic.  Just not too many on a Sunday because I want to sing not just listen.

Week 8 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 8 update:
My last visit to Cormorant was good in that it opened up opportunities for more visits. I got to know two new people in the community and I hope that I can especially connect with the one guy more in the coming weeks.

An issue in the town of Cormorant that I am seeing more and more is the sheer boredom. People there have next to nothing to do and kids are bored. There is vandalism and lots of break-ins there and the majority of them are because the youth in town are bored. I want to know what I can say or do for people that have nothing to do. Many people work outside of Cormorant in the mines or in the Pas. Boredom for lack of work is a lousy way to live.

Steeprock Bay Bible Camp is under way; the first week of camp started this week and staff training was this weekend. There is a long history there of ministry and because they have been going for 50 some years they are well known. The consistency of Steeprock has been a blessing to them. Keeping them in your prayers would be much appreciated.

While reading a book on Native issues, The Dispossessed, I am learning about some of the stories of people in the local area. I learned part of the Easterville story; about how developments such as hydro dams often ruin trap lines and hunting areas. This is important because one of my contacts from Cormorant is originally from Easterville. I have learned some of the history of the Pas as told from the Native perspective and this information helps me to understand why I see some of the things I do in the community.

Prayer for my visits in Cormorant for the connections I have made and for camp registration would be awesome!!

 -Travis Harms

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Update - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hello from the Dominican Republic. We made it here safely without incident, all in all a good experience. When our friend from Toronto area picked us up to stay at her place for the night on Monday she took us to Montana's for supper where we were surprised by several people from the team that we worked with in the DR on our last mission trip in January. It was really nice to connect with them and have supper together. Supper was followed by what seamed to be one of the shortest nights ever. We got to bed at around
11:45 and got up at 4:30 to be at the airport by 6. Our flight took off around 9AM and we got to the DR around 1:30PM. We picked up a few groceries so we could make supper, unpacked a few things and had an early night. We are pretty well settled into our house now.
We were in the village a few times this week to get the small engines class set up and have some orientation.
It looks like I will be teaching 2 classes of 10 men. One in the morning 8:30-12:00 and one in the afternoon 1:30-5:00.
Cheryl has met some of the people that she will be working with and has been given a schedule of what she will be doing. (Out here schedules are often subject to change.) I think we have the public transportation figured out. We will find out on Monday morning as that is when we start using it. Up to this point we have been getting the pastor in the village to pick us up and drive us there. We have been able to work with his schedule up to this point but starting Monday I have to be in the village before 8:00AM for the classes.
Please pray for our health and for wisdom as we minister here.
Thank you and God Bless
Chris and Cheryl Peters

Week 7 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 7 update:
During this week I made two visits to Cormorant and I am planning on making another soon. I have gotten to know a young man from Cormorant and I hope to get to know him better. He really likes fishing and I really like fishing so we are good that way. He is also super quiet and not all that open. But I hope that I can hear his story and be a good friend to him. Many in Cormorant are not walking the good path and I believe that he wants to walk the good path but doesn't have many friends into that.

I sometimes wish I was actually living in Cormorant because it would be easier to invite folks over if I actually had a house there. But this is good practice for the future. This maybe the only way to reach out to a village and so I hope to learn well from this experience. Its a frustrating issue but it forces me to be creative.

I was challenged yesterday by the genuine faith of a man Frank Ducharme. He suffers terribly with his back but he loves the Lord. Yesterday while praying he said, "I thank you Lord for who you are". He is just in awe of God. Faith is a simple thing, simply being in awe of God. Frank understands this. Things in life can distract us from God, but it is a beautiful thing to simply be in awe of God.

I have learned a good way to start conversations with random strangers, ask them about fishing or where someone lives. People are will courteously answer your questions.

I also preached last Sunday; I did not feel as though I was very dynamic. Dennis tells me the best way to learn to preach is to preach, so preach I did. He tells me a point I made about not labeling people stuck with him for the day. That is a good encouragement.

I have been doing a lot of work for speaking this summer at camp. Prayer for that would be greatly appreciated. Pray for staff training at Steeprock this weekend and for the summer weeks that are fast approaching!! Pray also for continued open doors in Cormorant to meet new people and connect over spiritual things and that kids from Cormorant would come to camp.

-Travis Harms

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Should churches do state weddings?

Found this interesting article on Jesus Creed - (originally here).
By Robin Dugall:

Ok - this is bound to be a bit "controversial" for some of you.  For others, it will be a no-brainer.  I believe it is time to separate the civil and "religious" ceremonies of marriage.  In light of the conversations, issues of civil rights and cultural discourse that has surrounded the issue of marriage for "centuries" (believe me, for you students of history, we are not the only people who have struggled with what marriage means - monogamous, man/woman, polygamy, etc. throughout history), it is time to revisit what some countries already practice - first, have EVERY couple seek a marriage license and a state marriage validation through the civil processes.  Get the Justices of the Peace busy with every wedding sought by people within whatever civil definition prevails.  Secondly, for those couples who would like to have a marriage "blessing" from the church (note that I used the small "c" because there is not even unanimity in opinions about the definition of marriage even among relgious communities), have them seek that wedding blessing from within the definition and faith/belief system to which they adhere.  That way, for those faith communities who believe that marriage IS defined by one woman/one man, these communities can continue to abide by their faith/doctrinal systems and embrace their definition of marraige from within the protection of religious liberty.  In this way, NO MORALITY is imposed on the culture in any manner.  In this way, faith communities can continue to practice what many of us feel is an issue that is non-negotiable, that being, a biblical worldview perspective, a biblical narrative/story perspective on the institution of marriage.  For some of my pals this might be seen as a bit dualistic.  I'm NOT trying to imply a separation of the spiritual and material realms.  I still believe we live in a God-soaked world in which there is NO separtion between the secular and sacred.  God's presence in reality as Ultimate reality implies that there is NO SUCH THING as secular space or pure secular living.  What this DOES DO  is give followers of Jesus an opportunity to practice our faith and celebrate our "culture's" adherance, commitments and obedience to our hermeneutic and application of the biblical story (in regards to human relationships, our understanding of family, marriage, etc.).  I don't think there was EVER an expectation within the biblical story that the faith community would be in agreement with cultural norms.  In fact, there are very clear perspectives throughout holy writ that imply that there WILL BE a differentiation with culture.  So, I think it is time to do this with marriage.  In actuality, I think I'm going to begin some discussions with my friends, faith community and fellow scholars about how this idea may take shape in creative action in the days to come.  In this way as well people of faith can support civil rights and NOT get bogged down by accusations of bigotry or hatred due to the legality of ONE issue.  I have compassion and humility with this issue...I also have strong feelings and long-held beliefs about what Christ followers are supposed to uphold when it comes to sexual and relational ethics.  By splitting the two "realities," we live in the best of both worlds.  So, push back anyone?  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Water tower?

I picture God’s love like a giant water tower.  It is full of love towards me.

However when I fail it is like I open up a tap and let out some of the water out.  Small failures is a sink faucet.  Large failures is a fire hose.

There is a lot of love.  So I don’t have worry about running out.  Right?

But the whole tower seems to have a lot of taps that are leaking (or spraying).  And the water (love) is getting lower and lower.

But possibly God’s love is not like a giant water tower, vast but still limited and slowly getting less and less.
Could his love be a river?
Vast and unlimited.
Always flowing and running.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Late night with the dog

My dog kept me up from 2:30-4:00 am.  Why?  He just wanted to play.

At 3:00 in the morning I took him for a walk hoping that this would calm him down and then he would sleep the rest of the night.

I was not pleased.  I enjoy my sleep.

Why on earth do I have a dog?  My kids finally sleep through the night and I go get a dog.  Am I stupid?  (No need to answer that)

Walking down the street I began to imagine tying my dog up in one of my neighbour’s yards.  A gift.  Very tempting.  But my dog is distinctive so my neighbours would figure out he was mine.  Then I would have to explain.  And still have my dog.

It was at this point that I realized I had a choice.

The night was beautiful.  It was calm.  The town silent.  No cars.  No people.  Just me and my dog.  And the stars.  The stars were breathtaking.  It is only in the dead of the night that the stars truly shine.

A choice.  Continue to whine and complain in my head.  Or enjoy the night.

Can’t do both.  I tried.  Which meant I whined and complained and failed to enjoy the night.

Friday, June 21, 2013


We hear many things.  Are we listening?
Juilian Treasure – 5 ways to listen better

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 6 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 6 update:
This week I have spent a lot of time planning for Sunday School and also planning a skit to perform along with George Constant and his wife, Janice. The promotional visit to the Cormorant Lake School went very well. There were many kids that came and we had a very good reception. All the kids had lots of fun and they took brochures home; hopefully they will come back and we can send some kids to camp!!

The Bible study at the Umperville church is going very well. It has directly spoken to me recently and we are growing in our walk with the Lord and learning about the Holy Spirit together. I am enjoying the small church community!

I have spent a large chunk of time this week preparing a sermon. Preaching is part of missionary work and I am learning about tailoring a sermon to where the audience is specifically at. My message is on Luke 8:26-39 and could potentially be a touchy subject for someone who believes in traditional religion. That is not where I want to tread but I want to be an encourager to the Umperville Church through sharing the Word.

I would appreciate prayer for one youth in our church, Phil. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes, which was a shock to the family. Hopefully he will adjust well with the necessary lifestyle changes and walk more closely with God through this experience.

Recently I have been learning about faithfulness; the rubber has met the road. There are times when I just want to stay home and not go out into the community. However, that is simply the task to which I have been called. If I am going to have any connection with folks here, staying the task is crucial. Dennis has faithfully lived here for forty years, I can continue to give.

Growing up in the south close to a reserve, the tendency is to focus on the differences between myself and my native friends. Amanda mentioned yesterday that focusing on what we have in common and see them not as native but as friends, does wonders for building relationships with others. She was absolutely right because that is how I used to live.

I still tend to lead as a white man, in a very direct way, the same way that I would lead while at school. This works well for me but the north is spontaneous. I am still learning about how to lead this way. Preparation is still important but things are just far more relaxed here. I suppose I am learning a more relaxed style of leadership.

-Travis Harms

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Listen to the Bible

The majority of Christians have been illiterate for most of history.
They could not read the bible.  They had to listen to someone read it.

The bible was probably written with the assumption that it would be primarily listened to, not read.
So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Deuteronomy 31:9-13
Listening to the bible is not less spiritual then reading it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Week 5 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 5 update:
Just a very short update for this week: The camp registration for Cormorant will hopefully be taking off soon. A fellow George and I are doing a presentation tomorrow in the school that should get kids thinking about camp and hopefully there will be a good handful of kids coming from Cormorant. So far the reception at the school has been good and so I am praying that tomorrow goes well.

George is also concerned for the youth of OCN and he is starting up a basketball night on Saturday at one of the schools here for the youth and I will also be there. George really hopes to make an impact amongst his family and the reserve as a whole through leading a basketball night.

There is also still some tension amongst some of the young believers concerning the prosperity gospel. Some folks are making great progress in rethinking their theologies but some others are very hesitant to change. I have become very thankful for the good theology that I was raised to know. People tend to change as little as possible and in this case the change could really hurt some people here; so pray that the changes go well!!

-Travis Harms

Friday, June 07, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Week 4 - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 4 update:
This last Tuesday I was able to visit Cormorant and I visited the usual circle of folks that I know there. These folks are Barney and Annie Ducharme and Barry and Lynette and Lynette and they have connection to our church.. I have gotten to know a few other folks in the community through the school and Steeprock registration and in that area God is opening doors. Next Friday I am scheduled to go into the school to do a presentation for camp and it will be an effective way to get the word out. However, I have found through word of mouth that not many folks in Cormorant have the resources to send their kids to camp. I just pray that parents in Cormorant will see this as useful and want to send their kids.

However, native folks are friendly and courteous but I really feel like a complete outsider when I visit. To many people I am a visitor, Native people have aloofness about strangers, and they wave but do not go out of their way. But I have found Native folks open up more with complete strangers than the average white man. I have found folks will share their story with a fellow that will listen. However, that said, the reality of time to build trust and to become a member of a community has become a reality to me.

Recently a friend Peter Constant has been introducing friends to a video series that shows the faults of the Word of Faith movement by Justin Peters Ministries. The dangerous thing is that as in my previous post, there are some that have different views of the Holy Spirit but there are also some health and wealth and traces of Word of Faith doctrines amongst believers in The Pas. Peter has been trying to help some of his friends that have been caught up in such, as he also once was. So far the reception has proved well. Pray that it continues to do so as it is shared with more folks in town.

I am learning to see the people that I visit and meet with dignity. I have noticed that folks in Cormorant and reserves in general, do not spend as much on their houses as on their truck, quad, snowmobile and boat. Folk’s houses are just average, some are very nice but most are average. However, many people have nice trucks, quads and boats. How does this apply to dignity? Well it’s just different than what I do. I would probably spend the other way around; but it is not wrong what they do here, just different.

I am learning to ask questions personally about what each person’s story is. I know an older fellow who drinks a lot. Why? What might he have experienced that I know nothing of? What might a residential school or otherwise have done to cause him to drink? There are others that have gone through the same and have healed. Some folks here seem very well off, emotionally, spiritually, financially; how did they grow up, good or bad and how might they have dealt with pain? I know some need to talk about it, some go to traditional religion, some find the Lord. And I pray that people here will find their healing in the Lord.
-Travis Harms

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Travis Update - Week Three

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is an update:
This week we have heard nothing about the suicide pact. It has not been brought up as of yet. I will take no news as good news.

I spent a few mornings at the soup kitchen and met a fellow from Pukatawagon who apparently I was able to comfort and to put at ease. He mentioned that he was really anxious about getting a job; we discussed residential schools and the harm done in the name of Christianity and we talked about faith also. Good guy, glad to have met him.

A theological issue that is very prevalent in The Pas is the working of the Holy Spirit. There are several churches that are promoting the “second filling” of the Holy Spirit and there are many new believers in this church. A fellow here, Peter Constant who is also a KBI student has been sharing with some of these young believers about what he has learned and he is concerned that they are not deceived or led astray. As Mennonites, the natural tendency has been to exclude the working of the Holy Spirit and we need to admit and repent of our guilt in that area. However, we also need to seek a biblical position of the Spirit; such a position likely includes speaking in tongues but likely also includes quiet promptings and workings within our hearts.

I have been learning that people here somewhat can seem aloof in general life. For example, at a gospel jamboree I sat next to a fellow that I had met at the soup kitchen, we both recognized each other but we did not chat between songs. However, the next time that I saw him he greeted me with a smile. People generally do not make eye contact or face each other when talking. This has taken some getting used to.

Prayer for Steeprock Bay Bible Camp registration in Moose Lake and Cormorant would be appreciated. Also keep a lady Louise who recently lost a son in your prayers. His body was just found in the river and his funeral will be soon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Update from Travis

Week Two

During this week, three days were spent at the NCEM Central Field Conference in Lumsden, SK. It was a good time to meet others that have spent their lives in Northern ministries and to learn from their experiences and wisdom. It was a blessing to see some of what NCEM is doing and how they are doing it. There was an emphasis on personal holiness and godliness that I really appreciated and inspired me to walk closer with my Lord. After I thanked the gentlemen who shared about holiness he said two very important words, “Apply it”. Holiness means nothing if it is not applied. Godliness is very important for mission work.

Another emphasis from the conference was shared by Florence Flett. She said that methods and programs are all secondary in trying to reach her people. Love is what mattered. Holding the door for someone or smiling and saying hello is what really count. This brings it all back to 1 Cor. 13:1-3; we can do anything but if we do not have love we will get nowhere.

After the conference I met a man in the mall here that was involved in traditional religion. He shared with me many things that I had not known about the historical Cree way of life and what certain things mean. He also said that all religions have the same God. I shared that I was interning as a missionary and he could see that I was not a local, (blond hair). However, he said that openness was the best policy for me to learn. Listening to people’s stories is a good policy; many are willing to share about their lives and what they are going through.

This week we also made it to Cormorant for the first time and I am learning about visitation culture and how they are conducted in the North. I may be going in again on Saturday. I have learned about the history of some who have ministered in Cormorant in the past. I really hope that I can get a Bible study going there. It is very overwhelming because I know very few people there and most people ask, “What is a guy like you doing here?” But God is faithful and He is opening doors to share about camp this summer in the school there and a connection with the recreation director. 

Pray that God would continue to open doors for connections in Cormorant and for getting a Bible study going. Pray also for health; many well known people from the area are sick with cancer and this is a strain on the people here. Pray also for the youth of Opaswayak Cree Nation, there were suicide attempts last week and there still is a suicide pact and people are concerned.

-Travis Harms

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Update - Travis Harms

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is an update:

This is my first week in the Pas; on Tuesday I could hardly believe what I was doing in driving myself up to live somewhere I had never been to before with people I did not know and not really knowing all that specifically what I would be doing. This week has consisted of orientation to a new area and a different culture.

During this week I attended a lecture series by Bill Jackson from Thursday night to Sunday morning on the topic of native spirituality and attended the Wednesday night Bible study here at the Riverside Bible Church. I have been blessed to get to know many of the people that live here. Many people came out and I was able to meet some folks from Cormorant, the town I will be visiting during summer, and the regulars of the church.

I was bit by a dog on Thursday when we were doing door to door invitations to the Bill Jackson meetings in our neighborhood. One lady from the church commented to me about the spiritual battle that we are in and I was reminded to “put on the full armor of God”. Taking ground from the enemy will always result in kick back.

I have learned about the importance of building trust and building relationships. It can take a long time to build trust in a reserve. It can take years of community presence to build that trust. The Anderson’s have been serving here since the 1980’s and they have the trust of the people. Relational influence is closely linked to trust. I was able to have some good conversation with a local fellow that has earned the trust of people close to him and how that is lived out in this culture. Integrity is very important, if trust is ever broken it will likely never be recovered in these communities.

Time is required for trust to be built and most people here are not overly friendly or talkative as we would consider in a western culture. However, as Bill Jackson and Amanda have both said “the gospel transcends cultures”. Knowing the people is important but you can always share the gospel and it still is effective. This is good encouragement for me.

I have also learned some about the spiritual realm here. Many houses on Opaskwayak Cree Nation have eagles painted on the outside of their houses. The eagle is a sign of good fortune in this culture.

Next week we are going to the NCEM Central field conference in Lumsden, SK and preparing for Steeprock Bay Bible Camp registration. Pray for open doors in Cormorant and continued building relationships with those in the church and community.