Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Discouraging Encouragement

The power in belief and encouragement really is remarkable. There are examples of this all around us. In the much beloved story of Peter Pan, all it takes to end the life of a fairy is for someone to announce they do not believe in such creatures. On the less fairy-tale side, one cannot help but notice a child run a little faster in a race when they hear their parents cheering from the sidelines "WE BELIEVE IN YOU".

I would just to thank everyone who has been an encouragement to me over these past weeks. Your e-mails, phone calls and most of all your prayers have been a source of strength and have encouraged me more than I can fully express. But I would like to take a moment to share some insight I experienced after receiving a discouraging piece of encouragement...

The other night I was out with a group of people from the church I have been attending. Two of the people in that group had actually spent some time in Vancouver completing their higher education. As Indian nationals who lived in Canada, they offered some intriguing insights. They described Canada and Canadians as "not wanting to offend anyone, so they allow everything", "the only thing that is wrong is telling someone they are wrong", "liberalists", and "hedonists". The most gut-wrenching moment came when they concluded that "it is easier to be a Christian believer in India than it is in Canada".

Though sharing a taxi with some friends that night, the drive to my accommodations was remarkably silent. I could not shake the term "post-Christian" from my thoughts. Could it be true that my nation was not only done with church but with God? Whatever happened to "He shall have dominion from sea to sea"? I found myself wondering why God would call me to foreign missions when there is such a huge need in my own back yard. Is it strange that my heart for Canada beats strongest when I am overseas?

After a great deal of thought, prayer and reflection I have been reminded of something foundational: God is still in control of the nations. He has called me to foreign missions and I have every confidence in that calling and the One who calls me. However, let me take a moment to provide some encouragement that came from my discouraging conversation. All of us, whether pastors or not, are called to influence those around us. It is foolish for anyone to believe that they do not influence others - we all do! I want to encourage you to impact those around you. Do not let moments slip past, but rather live out the Gospel. Canada, our home, is gaining an international reputation as a nation who has decided it no longer needs God.

So consider this a moment of role-reversal: the overseas missionary is encouraging the people at home! I BELIEVE that God is not through with Canada. We are His hands and we are His feet - let's be sure to make a difference. God told us to change the world around us in His name and He BELIEVES we can do it.