“What we do and how we do it matters”
The Story of Rev. Dr. Major John Huh – Chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces | Written by Jenna Hanger
On Remembrance Day, we are reminded of the freedoms and privileges we have because of the sacrifices made by so many––in past wars and in current times.
On any given day, about 8 000 Canadian Armed Forces members, which include the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Army are preparing for, engaged in, or are returning from an overseas mission. These are just some of the people we honour on November 11th.
In the CBWC family, we are proud to hold the credentials of several military chaplains, spread out over Western Canada. One of these Chaplains is Rev. Dr. Major John Huh (GoodTree Christian Fellowship), who has been serving in the Canadian Armed Forces for nearly ten years and completed a six-month tour in 2020.
John initially joined the reserves of King’s Own Calgary Regiment in 2012 as a way to give back to Canada. He was convicted to do so after reflecting on all that the Canadian Forces did during the Korean War. He doesn’t take for granted the freedoms he has because of Canada’s involvement, and is proud of the Canadian Armed Forces’ international reputation––how they fight for human rights, equality, freedom and justice throughout the globe.
In 2019, John was promoted to Deputy Chaplain for the 3rd Canadian Division. His job is to work with Primary Reserve Brigade and unit chaplains. In January 2020, John was deployed on his first tour as a JTFI (Joint Task Force Impact) Chaplain to Kuwait. His role was to provide spiritual and emotional support to deployed members and their families, and advise the CoC (Chain of Command) on the moral, ethical and spiritual issues in the JOA (Joint Operations Area). He had to do quite a bit of training to go and was very grateful to GoodTree Christian Fellowship for allowing him the time.
Right off the mark, the mission became a little more complicated than expected. Before they left, General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in Iraq, which increased tension in the region.
To add to the complications, COVID-19 hit the region in mid-March, forcing the mission to be put on pause and causing uncertainty around the globe and the troops on Op IMPACT. Part of John’s job was travelling to some of the surrounding countries; he was in Jordan at that time and had a challenge getting back, with all the flights being cancelled.
All of these factors added a level of stress to the mission. John’s job was to provide comfort and resilience in the face of all these dynamics. Another aspect of his role was to support the families back home, often with the assistance of other chaplains in the area with whom he coordinated.
“Most members deploy to overseas operations with what we call a Family Care plan, so in the event, in my absence, my family will be cared for––by in-laws, or parents or brothers or sisters.” John explained. “But because Covid hit, suddenly their care plans were not as effective. Members were under stress [due to complications from COVID-19].”
There was stress on both ends; stress about the mission and what was going on there, and stress about what their families were going through. John said it was important to keep focus––as hard as it was to be away––and to remember that they were all there for a reason and they needed to do what was necessary to get it done.
As much as John was invested in his time on deployment, it wasn’t easy for the father of four to be away from his wife and kids.
“My wife was a trooper. To be fully transparent and honest, I would say, yeah, there were some difficult times for my family, but we learned to navigate them.” He said. “When we talk about members going overseas, it’s the families that pay the price as well. It’s not just the members.”
John said one of the things he found surprising was the heat. He knew to expect it to be hot, but the reality of the desert climate took time to adjust to. Another surprise––though a good one––was the elaborate spread of food available for the soldiers. He was prepared for the bare minimum, but they were on an American base that had an ample amount and variety of food. So much so that it took a lot of self-control to remain fit.
Though circumstances kept John from being able to engage as much as he would have liked on the training mission, he quite enjoyed meeting new people and forming deep friendships with his team. His biggest takeaway was how important team camaraderie is.
“Even though my job as a chaplain is to help and support others, there were definitely some people around me that helped me, in my own journey.” John said.
As for what the future holds, John is seeking the Lord and open to different possibilities, but he remains passionate about the military and about their role on the international level.
“What we do, and how we do it, matters,” John said. “It’s important to continue to invest in our capabilities as a military, to make an impact around the world with our Canadian values of freedom, justice and this idea of equality.”
Partner Spotlight: CBM | Hopeful Gifts
By CBM Communications and Social Media Specialist, Jessica Banninga
These last few months of 2021 are a time for us to look back with thankfulness and gratitude for all that God has done. At CBM, we continue to be encouraged by the work that is being accomplished around the world through the generosity of Canadian Baptists across the country.
As we look ahead to the Christmas season, we remember the birth of Jesus, which brings hope to a weary world. This pandemic has put a burden on all of our shoulders, but the effects of COVID-19 are unequally laid on the poor.
Top economists warn that the impacts of COVID-19 will be severe and long-lasting for developing countries. Some reports suggest that gains in poverty reduction, gender equity, education and food security have been set back by decades. There is such a long road to recovery ahead, and the world will likely never be the same as we emerge from this crisis.
In Galatians 6:2, we are instructed to carry each other’s burdens. When we see our sisters and brothers struggling, God calls us to help lift the load.
We encourage you to browse Hopeful Gifts for Change, CBM’s gift catalogue. In this time of global upheaval, your gift can make a lasting difference. Inside, you will find a variety of projects from around the world, organized by country or region. You’ll also find the ideal gift for justice-loving coffee drinkers, and the perfect thank you for the teachers in your life. Are you looking for a way to teach your children about generosity and good development work? We have the perfect tool for you!
You can support strong community development and display the Love of God through poverty reduction, education, health initiatives, pastoral training and much more! We encourage you to find the people and places and causes that resonate with you in this catalogue. If you don’t know how best to make an impact, select our “where most needed” item, which enables us to respond to the most immediate needs expediently and efficiently.
Your faithful gifts and prayers empower us to act with generosity and compassion in places where the transforming power of the gospel needs to be felt. Your support allows our church partners on the ground to aid their communities and display the hope of Christ amidst the darkness.
To explore the catalogue and give gifts of hope, visit www.hopefulgifts.ca.
Identify with Poverty
The Advent Challenge to Spur on Conversation by Jenna Hanger
Throughout the last few decades, there’s been several steps forward towards ending world poverty––progress that has now been undone by the economic devastation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events. According to the UN website, the pandemic will have pushed 143 million to 163 million people into poverty in 2021.
Closer to home, it is estimated that one in seven people in Canada live in poverty. As of October 15th, there are 44 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 32 communities, and over 840,000 Canadians use the food bank every month.
For those of us who live in fairly comfortable conditions, it’s hard to imagine what life is like for so many who are living in poverty.
Adrian Gerber, the Engage Team Leader at First Baptist Church Kelowna, took a unique approach last Advent season to bring awareness to this problem.
In keeping with one of the church’s main themes, Engaging our World with the Tangible Love of God, FBC Kelowna usually tries to use the Advent Season as a time to focus beyond individual self and bless others. Last year was a time of isolation, so engaging with people in practical ways just wasn’t going to be an option. As an alternative, Adrian’s team decided to pursue an idea that was initially inspired by Compassion Canada. Modified to fit the Advent calendar, the church issued a challenge of their own called Identify with Poverty.
The idea was that each week there would be a new challenge presented that pushed participants to be mindful of those who have less, to understand just a fraction of what others go through, and to fully understand their own privilege.
The theme of the first week was water. In an attempt to identify with the 784 million people who don’t have access to clean water, the challenge was to pick one tap in your house for all your water needs for one week. All your drinking, bathing, cleaning, cooking water had to come from the same tap. Just that simple act of being slightly inconvenienced for water was a real eye-opener for many, especially Adrian.
He said that it was really impactful to realize that access to fresh water wasn’t just an issue that is found in other countries, but was a problem that was happening in our own backyards. The realization that the reserve in West Kelowna struggled with this issue was really brought home by this exercise.
“It was like, ‘Oh, I’ve heard about this [them not having water] but now that I am practicing this, it’s like, there? Right over there? How come they don’t have it and I do?’” Adrian said. “There was lots of people having these great, ‘Ah ha’ moments.”
The second week was a combination of food and sleep. The challenge was to use one utensil to eat all your meals with––as a way to make eating more difficult––or to sleep on the floor as so many are forced to do.
Week three was about clothing. The challenge issued was to wear one set of clothes all week. This was, not only to bring awareness for those who are limited with clothing, but also to push back against our fast fashion society that––in order to keep the wealthy in trend––is creating a global slavery system to meet all the demands.
Week four was about identifying with the 13% of the world who don’t have access to electricity. People participating were supposed to turn off their electricity after they finished dinner and see what it was like to go without for a while.
The very last challenge was an added one they decided to do on Boxing Day. Having stirred up all these conversations around poverty, it was time to move towards actually engaging. The challenge was simple––instead of spending more money on yourself on Boxing Day, find a way to use that money to give to those in need. Whether that was donating cash you would have spent, or buying things to give away.
The impact of the Identify with Poverty Advent challenge has gone far beyond just that holiday season. It was a stepping stone to further conversations, to feeding a growing sense that we need to be engaged in the fight against poverty. It was also an eye-opener to how privileged we really are, how much we are given, and how much we have to give.
The challenge FBC Kelowna took on is a good challenge to us all as we near the Christmas season. This Advent season, prayerfully consider how to encourage real, impactful steps towards engagement, and what the Lord might be calling your Church to take on.
On Tuesday, November 30th, Canada will be celebrating its 9th Annual GivingTuesday. The Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday is an internationally recognized day that encourages people to give and to volunteer. It is a day on which various organizations rally together to bring awareness and raise money for several causes.
This will be the CBWC’s first year participating in GivingTuesday, and we are excited to advocate for a project that is close to our hearts––the Harvest of Hope project in Moosomin, SK which raises money for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).
The Moosomin Harvest of Hope (HoH) project is one of three Grow Hope projects in the CBWC family. There are two different models that have been traditionally used for these projects. The first is where landowners donate land for the Grow Hope project, and the second is where individual farmers donate a certain number of acres which are then tallied together and the profit donated as a lump sum. Ideally, the inputs for the acres are covered by donations, so the seed, fertilizer, rent of the land, insurance, etc., is all covered—and the complete profit can be donated to the CFGB. Funds raised by these projects are then matched by the government, up to 4:1, and will be used to support people around the world with emergency food and longer-term food security support.
“This year we were able to bring in just over 9 300 bushels of wheat, and had some amazing local support of farmers and the local OEM dealers,” HoH spokesman, Kyle Penner, said. “We had 10 combines show up, along with 5 big trucks, and 1 very busy grain cart operator trekking over the field–trying her best to keep up. It was amazing to see all 280 acres come off in just under 3 hours.”
The target goal for this year was to reach the $500 000 mark for the project (total earnings to-date), and it is looking like that goal will be reached.
Any money raised during this year’s GivingTuesday will go towards covering input costs for Moosomin’s HoH project. The goal for Tuesday is to raise $2 500 in a single day. To donate, click here and select Justice and Mercy Network in the Designated Fund tab, or write Grow Hope Project in the note box.
Joining God in His Work: Evangelism
November Church Planting Blog | By Rev. Shannon Youell
Here we are talking about that scary word “evangelism” again. CT (Christianity Today) News and Reporting, writes about a recently released report on the state of evangelism in our Canadian churches. The survey was conducted by Alpha Canada and Flourishing Congregations. Most churches that responded were evangelical churches. The results may or may not surprise you. A whopping 65% of respondents revealed that evangelism is not a high priority for them in their churches. Read the full article HERE.
Some of you might find that surprising, and some, like myself, just nod our heads. I have lamented often that many Christians are unequipped or unlikely to talk to others about their faith in God and about Christianity. Please note, I am referring to ‘unlikely’ as something that happens outside the church walls—we are much bolder when we evangelize one another within the parameters of the church.
Add to that our own general discomfort around sharing a prescriptive route to salvation, which can be viewed as an intellectual nod or irrelevant to peoples lived experiences, and we can see the complexities that have led to a lack of evangelistic enthusiasm in our churches and in our own selves.
I may lament, but I also recognize that I can be reluctant to initiate conversations around Christianity myself. Not because I think the gospel of God’s kingdom is lame, or powerless, or ineffective. I believe that when humans grasp the immense implications of God-With-Us, it has the potential to transform our hearts, minds, and how we engage in life and relationships.
Rather, my reluctance comes from the rhetoric that there is a general mistrust directed towards Christians, and thus our God, based on abuses of power and control that have plagued Christianity putting deep shadows that cloud its life-giving message of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness of sin, and inclusion of the least, the last, the lost and the lonely.
I suspect part of our reluctance stems from our own truncated understanding of evangelism, God’s mission to the world, and how the church should equip us to evangelize. Writer Jeff Banman explores this in his article published in Scot McKnight’s blog space, Jesus Creed. Jeff points out that Paul himself, while being a beneficiary of the Great Commission, never instructed the churches to ‘train’ the people in evangelism in any of his letters:
“Paul is not interested in training his churches on how to initiate gospel conversations with their friends and family, nor is he concerned with teaching them how to present the four spiritual laws to a passerby on the street. Paul’s vision of evangelism does not look like ours. Instead of gospel tracts handed out on the street corner, Paul envisages his churches living out the gospel in such a powerful way that their lives and the life of the local church becomes the gospel tract itself!”
Jeff concludes his article by saying: “Paul’s words to Titus concisely portray his vision of evangelism. As followers of Jesus, we will live our lives in such a way that we ‘will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive’ (Titus 2:10).”
His perspective should cause us to ask the question: In what ways do we, and I, live our lives that “will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive?” If people shun Christianity as the way, truth, and life, of good news itself, in what ways have we, and I, and thus the church, portrayed God’s kingdom and his love for the world?
This is not a simple thing to answer. Whether we realize it or not, by the very nature of identifying as Christians, we, you, are evangelizing the world around us. How I navigate my own life, struggles, behaviors, and attitudes, and how I treat others, communicates to the world what I believe about following Jesus.
Rather than becoming defensive about the perceptions that some (many?) hold of the Church and Christians in general, let us instead be responsive by looking at our own selves first, and honestly acknowledge where we, and I, miss the mark in communicating (evangelism means ‘to communicate’) God’s kingdom good news story in how we live, work, play and pray.
Ultimately, this is where we all begin to join God in his work, by inviting God to work also in us.
“Wise Evangelism” by Jeff Banman used by permission via Scot McKnight (Jesus Creed Blog).
Each year we ask churches to set aside a Sunday in November to celebrate what it means to be part of the larger CBWC family and its shared ministries. This year, you are invited to journey with others in the CBWC in collective prayer and discerning together how to live faithfully in this world. Please visit the CBWC Sunday page for further information.
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Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.