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Celebrating César

When I saw that César García had been appointed general secretary of MWC, lots of memories came to mind. I first met César during an ICOMB meeting in Paraguay, June 2004. Our friendship started to build during subsequent meetings in Osaka and Colombia. It was evident he had great passion for his country, his people, his church.

After a meeting in DR Congo, César and I boarded the same flight. I was thrilled and, although we had different seats, the flight attendant managed to put us together. For the next 7 hours, as we crossed the African continent, we had time to talk and share our lives together. César is going to do great work with MWC, and every time I see him I’ll celebrate. Thanks for being my friend, César!

José Manuel Arrais
Lisbon, Portugal

Yes, singles matter

Re “Do singles matter?” (Letters, June). What may be lacking in the church is not a singles ministry, but an understanding of the struggles of single men and women at different stages of life, and the courage to journey with them as brothers and sisters in God’s family.

Although I would like to receive support from my spiritual family, I would rather not be segregated in a singles ministry. I would like to be seen as a member of the church instead of a single person.

A church may not have the resources to reach out to singles within its congregation, but it shouldn’t deter singles from building a network of support with other churches.

Before asking for support, I would define what it looks like for me and articulate my needs to others. Otherwise, support may be an ambiguous term and create unnecessary misunderstanding. Singles must ask: How can the church effectively “reach out” to us? Can we communicate our needs to the church without putting it on the defensive? How do we place ourselves within the vision of outreach and evangelism in our church?

Linda Tang
Vancouver, B.C.

Singles have different needs

Re “Do singles matter?” (Letters, June). Being single in a church today is very difficult. Many churches don’t fully understand that singles have different needs than married couples. A singles ministry can provide the type of fellowship that is needed, something mixed ministries cannot. I have observed that many married couples feel uncomfortable fellowshipping with singles; there is often a jealousy factor involved.

In the 2006 Canadian census, there were more people between 19 and 90 recorded as being single than married. The body of Christ should get our head out of the sand and start focusing on bringing this segment of society back into the church by supplying the necessary ministries.

Rodney Philippson
Chilliwack, B.C.

Making God a liar

Re “Heaven and hell, here and now” (Crosscurrents, May). David Warkentin’s review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins covertly supports [the intention of Bell’s book] to annihilate hell. The truth of eternal punishment has been in God’s Word (spoken and written) for some 2,000 years. Since Bell claims there is no hell, he also overtly claims that God is a liar and that we don’t need a Saviour.

Gilbert Gerbrandt
Abbotsford, B.C.

The centre should help the edge

Re “Are the changes helping us?” (Re:View, June) I agree with Harold Jantz’s premise about the role of the MB conference in our churches, [that it should exhibit “a willingness to commit to common ministries.”]

My wife and I started an outreach ministry at our local church some seven years ago. Once a month, we hold a cowboy church service targeted at non-Christians and people who have left the church. We try to appeal to all ages and ethnicities, and the response has been overwhelming. The gospel is presented in song and message at every service. We also host special events, such as summer BBQs and Christmas banquets, but it’s often difficult to find speakers for these events because we are a small, rural community.

The Canadian conference could help by providing a directory of names on its website of men and women who are called and gifted in the area of presenting the gospel to non-believers.  The directory could also highlight other gifts in people, in other areas of church ministry.

This way, the centre could help the edge. The centre would see the different things the edge is doing, and the edge would get to know and utilize the strength of the centre.

Allen Kurucz
Vanderhoof, B.C.

Hockey heartbreak

I am heartbroken by the riot in downtown Vancouver after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. I feel a sense of failure over my prayers and the prayers of the church in Metro Vancouver. We could have been praying to prevent this. But it’s hard to rally people to pray for a hockey series – hockey isn’t spiritual. I wanted to stand in front of the church and say, “We need to pray for these playoffs. We know what happened 17 years ago. We need to pray for peace!”

Christians so often separate our activities into categories: spiritual, carnal, and maybe even neutral. But no one ever asked Jesus, “How are you doing spiritually?” His life was a complete package. He fed the hungry with bread, made the blind man see, and forgave sins. He paid the temple tax and went fishing. In everything he did, he did it all for the glory of God.

The day after the riot, as streets were swept and storefronts boarded up, a small answer to my prayer was realized. People wrote on the storefront boards. They wrote in sorrow. They wrote to express their pain and disgust over the violence. A corporate repentance occurred. Oh, Vancouver! How God longs to draw you into his arms! Your story isn’t over yet.

Verena Bergen
Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Celebrating professional sports?

It’s hard to ignore the increasing contribution professional sports is making to our Canadian national life. Here in B.C., the Vancouver Sun allowed such fulsome coverage of hockey news that it was hard to imagine anything else of significance occurring in our province, or the wider world for that matter. One can only wonder at the vigour NHL playoffs injected into our common church life. Consider, for instance, how hockey parlance enriched our discourse, making it self-evident that our church calendar needs to be adjusted to the convenience of NHL playoff games.

In this spirit of bonhomie, all long-suffering Manitobans must be congratulated on the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg. What an opportunity to purchase seasons tickets, rewarding those in our ranks needing to be commended for meritorious service! Especially so when one considers the promising fund for renewal that NHL hockey offers those strapped with hermeneutical responsibilities – sharp elbows, energetic checking, and vigorous boarding, let alone the rush of a goal creasing the opponent’s net, can so winsomely be spiritualized.

And such promising prospect will not be lost on our brother Brad Wall, premier of Saskatchewan. If the ever-enviable Albertans merit two NHL teams, the absence of one in Saskatchewan is a travesty calling for some spirited lobbying.

So, let’s hear it for professional sports. After all, the church must be relevant and speak to the interests of all its members.

David Giesbrecht
Abbotsford, B.C.

We are Christ’s arms

I commend you for publishing “Alone among believers” (May). This article poignantly addresses the marginalization that may be experienced by persons with intellectual disabilities and mental illness in spite of being in our churches.

Communitas Supportive Care Society – an organization that has grown from Anabaptist roots in B.C., and supports people with developmental and physical disabilities, mental illness, and dual diagnoses – has chosen “belonging” as its theme for the year. Belonging is a basic human need and we want to remember that we are the “arms of Christ” here on earth to surround those who are marginalized in our midst.

Marlyce Friesen
Chair of the board of directors
Communitas Supportive Care Society
Abbotsford, B.C.

Let’s care for seniors

Re “In the vestibule of heaven” (Sept. 2009). Edgar French’s article on caregiving is so good. Touch seniors who are so lonely, give them a hug and hold their hands, and share God’s redemptive love – no one is more open to the love of Christ than sick, lonely seniors who are at the portal of heaven.

Jake Klippenstein
Langley, B.C.

Applauding unpoular stance

Re “Opinions are road to irrelevancy” (Letters, July). As a woman who is a member of Northview Community Church, I feel freed by my church’s decision to make clear the biblical roles of men and women. My church encourages me to practice teaching and leadership in women’s and children’s ministry. I do not believe that serving women and children is “less than” teaching men. I applaud my church for taking the unpopular complementarian stance in an effort to remain biblically faithful. We must face Paul’s teaching on this matter head-on (1 Corinthians 14, Ephesians 5, & 1 Timothy 2), and stop coming up with hypotheticals to sidestep Scripture.

Jessica Ross
Abbotsford, B.C.

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