Engaging in Mission
Cross Cultural Cuisine at West Point Grey Baptist
How to make sushi rice: 1. Rinse rice several times until cold water runs clear. 2. Using a 1:1 ratio, steam rice with water in a rice cooker. (For stovetop: cover rice and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, keeping the lid on). 3. While the rice is resting in the covered pot, make the sugar and vinegar mixture. The sauce ratio: Use about 1½ tsp rice vinegar, 2¼ tsp sugar, and ¾ tsp kosher salt per cup of (dry) rice. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Make sure not to let the mixture boil. When the sugar and salt are dissolved, turn off the heat.
This is the kind of thing you might learn on a Friday morning at West Point Grey Baptist Church in Vancouver. At Cross Cultural Cuisine, between thirty and fifty people come to learn each other’s cuisine two Fridays a month.
It started about five years ago with a connection between the church and the Chinese Parent Advisory Committee at the nearby Lord Byng High School. The idea was to give people a social connection over a common denominator: food!
There are a lot of Chinese mothers in the neighbourhood who had moved here with one or two children for school, while their partner stayed in China to work. Many of them had left careers as engineers, doctors or entrepreneurs, and due to the language barrier it’s a struggle to build satisfying work here.
Cross Cultural Cuisine has provided one place to make friends, learn new foods and find a community. It started with Canadians teaching their foods – bread, soup, pie, cakes – and before long it turned into an exchange of food from different cultures. Sushi was a particularly popular week.
What began as a food-focused social event quickly developed into a safe space to talk about the challenges of raising teenagers in a different culture.
“There is a disconnect between generations,” says Myrnal Hawes, a West Point Grey member who has been involved in CCC from the beginning, along with her husband David.
“They come here to learn English, but so many of their classmates speak Mandarin. They’re used to stresses and pressures of the Chinese school system, but coming here they see Canadian kids who don’t face those pressures and yet they still get into universities. They become almost unreachable by both cultures. They’re displaced from China, and yet don’t quite fit in as Canadians.”
It’s an added challenge for the parents, who are already dealing with the challenges of raising teenagers. In a foreign country. Without their partners. So a little support goes a long way.
Consequently, they started adding talks to the cooking lessons.
“[The talks are] about what we want for their kids, and what values we have. We try to be respectful about where they may be at with spirituality,” Myrnal says.
A bond has formed between the Chinese parent community and West Point Grey. “They’re coming to our church as a ‘thank you’ on Sunday and they’re going to make dumplings for Chinese New Year,” Myrnal says. “So many people come; they had to cut it off at 300 people.”
Heartland Regional Newsletter
Note from Mark | Meet Pastor Calvin Nickel from Nipawin First Baptist | Settlement Report |
Building relationships with the neighbours we’d never met
For this blog entry, Bruce Martin, a long-time member of CBWC’s Justice and Mercy Network, interviewed Mark Archibald, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at First Baptist Lethbridge. Over the past six or seven years, the church has offered an annual week-long day camp in Stand Off, a community on the Blood Reserve 40 minutes out of the city.
Bruce Martin: Why did you start a day camp program in Stand Off?
Mark Archibald: We made some enquiries about things happening on the reserve and were invited to partner with Lighthouse Gospel Community Church in Stand Off. We felt that a one-week day camp was something manageable that we could do for kids once a year. We keep going back because the same kids, and more, keep coming back. It’s a really good resource for the church we are serving.
I’ve asked our summer students, “If we were to stop doing one of the two day camps, the one at our church or the one in Stand Off, which one should we stop doing?” They’ve said the one in Lethbridge. There are lots of day camps at lots of churches in Lethbridge, but there aren’t as many opportunities in Stand Off. Many of the people who live in Stand Off may one day end up in Lethbridge. Maybe us having that previous connection with them will help them plug into a community here.
What have been some of the blessings for Stand Off?
We’ve built relationships. There’s a lot of kids who look forward to us coming every year. There’s a lot of kids who have come since they were preschoolers and are now older, elementary school kids. Some parents help out more frequently too. They look forward to it every year; it’s a highlight for them.
It’s a chance for kids to try some new things. Things they really gravitate to are when we’ve done special themes. For example, we’ve done science themes and they’ve really gotten into it.
What have been some of blessings for First Baptist Lethbridge?
More and more people from the church are going to help out. As we started doing more things in our church regarding First Nations, hosted a teaching time with Cheryl Bear, and became more aware of Indigenous needs and history, people have been more open to learning, serving, going and being present in our First Nations communities. When people do go, they get to know what our First Nations are like more in their own context, seeing them in a very different light than previously.
One of the people who has come out to help has lived in Lethbridge his whole life, probably close to 60 years. This summer was the first time he’d ever been in Stand Off. It’s good for us to be in places that, for whatever reason, people have found intimidating or felt no connection with before.
What do you see as legacy of this ministry?
The consistency of doing it every year is really important, making sure relationships are kept strong. I think there’s a lot of times when things have been promised to a First Nations community or even communities with a bit more poverty and need, but then the people offering a programme don’t follow through. We don’t want to do that.
With some of the kids who are getting older, we really need to look at ways to help them be more involved in leadership of the event. We have kids who have been here since elementary school, and are now in junior high. They still like to be part of it and they still like to be around the activities but there’s a chance for them to help lead the event.
What broad biblical or theological issues does this ministry address?
One of the visons in Revelation is “every tongue and tribe and nation” worshipping and following Christ. We have many people who identify with tribes within our country, but they often don’t have any connection to our churches. We don’t have a strong First Nations connection in our city when it comes to church attendance or involvement, but First Nations people make up a very significant percentage of our city. This is an attempt to break through some of those barriers.
I also think about the incarnational ministry of Jesus; of meeting people where they’re at and where they live, instead of expecting them to come to us and abide by the way we do things. When we do our day camp in Lethbridge it’s in the morning- it’s very structured, to the minute. It has to be for the kids that are here. That would not work in Stand Off. We tried running it in the morning, but no kids showed up. We began offering it in afternoons, beginning with lunch at the host church, and the kids came. It’s very unstructured. We’ll do art and crafts a lot longer there because the kids engage with them longer. We’ll do Bible stories a little bit shorter, because that’s a whole different way of learning.
I also think about ministry to marginalized people: those are the people Jesus seemed to enjoy spending the most time with and they seemed to enjoy his company the most. Quite often our First Nations communities have been pushed to the margins. Being a positive voice and presence for those kids and families is a good thing. They’re seen, known, loved, cared for, and fully accepted for who they are.
If another church wanted to do something similar, what advice would you have for them?
It really helps to know someone who is already involved in some way. We had someone on site who is well-respected so we partnered with them. Ask people in your church who have different connections in different places. It’s always surprising the connections that people have.
Plan to do something more than one time. If you’re only going to do something just one time be clear in communicating that. You never, ever want to overpromise something. That would probably be even more disappointing than doing nothing at all.
Be very flexible, but well-prepared to go- however, don’t necessarily expect people to abide by whatever schedule you have. Do lots of preparation. Have lots of backup activities and ideas. But be prepared to be very casual or very structured, depending on the needs of your community.
Musings on Love – Mary Oliver
Beloved poet, Mary Oliver passed away in January. In thanks to her, and on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, here are some love poems.
I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some – now carry my revelation with you –
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world – its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself – I imagine
this is how it began.
How Do I Love You?
How do I love you?
Oh, this way and that way.
Oh, happily. Perhaps
I may elaborate by
like this and
no more words now
It’s time to start planning summer activities, including sleep-away camp. CBWC partners with a bunch of camps. Here’s a list of all of them with links to their summer calendars. Move quickly because they fill up fast. Enjoy!
- Katepwa Lake Camp, Saskatchewan: http://www.katepwalakecamp.com/2019-summer-camps/
- Quest at Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan: http://questnet.ca/camp_dates.htm
- Gull Lake, Alberta: https://gulllakecentre.ca/camps/
- Mill Creek, Alberta: http://millcreekcamp.org/about_camp/dates-rates/
- Camp Wapiti, Alberta: http://campwapiti.ca/?page_id=22
- Keats Camp, B.C.: https://keatscamps.com/summer-camp/grades-3-12/
- Zao Outdoor Ministries, B.C.: http://www.zaoministries.org
Copyright © 2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.
Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at firstname.lastname@example.org.