Vol 1 No. 9 Hurricane Katrina

This week’s letter is in three parts but despite that will be briefer than some of my earlier notes. I want to begin by commenting briefly on Hurricane Katrina. Then I want us to reflect on some items for prayer and finally turn to the personal choices that we all need to look at as we enter the fall.

Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath will have profound effects for many years, if not generations to come. We have become somewhat insulated from disasters that afflict our world – from war to famine, earthquakes to tsunamis. We have even become regionally isolated in our own country when we have heard but not been moved from our own experiences of ice-storms, floods, fire storms and droughts. One American leader made the comment that his own culture “had developed an enormous capacity to have patience with the suffering of black people”. While I agree with him, it is incumbent on each of us as Canadian Christians to ensure we do not develop any tolerance whatsoever for the suffering of any in our land and I wonder who we are willing to ignore and who we are willing to embrace. Let us pray for all those affected by the events of Katrina and prepare to learn lessons from these experiences. Gary Nelson, General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries, has said that CBM is coordinating over 75 volunteers from Canada in a relief effort. Please contact them if you would like more information.

I want to emphasize prayer for youth and children in this newsletter. I am especially concerned for campers and staff returning from our denominational camps and the new season of youth groups, Sunday school and other activities that will be starting soon. Maybe “concerned” does not convey the right notion … in fact I am very excited about the work that is going on in our midst in children’s ministry. I was particularly challenged to read in the bulletin from New Life Community Baptist Church in Duncan this last Sunday the statistic that 83% of those who sit in church on Sunday came to faith before the age of 13. That fact says something about the significance of early childhood contact with the Faith but also says something about our lack of effectiveness in adult evangelism. By the way, New Life celebrates its work with children by regularly having over 280 out on Sundays…. thank you Lord! So let’s pray, encourage, mentor and support our ministry to children and youth as we begin this fall.

Lastly, a story on a personal note. A primer for the fall. I have a terrible relationship with the TD Canada Trust in Duncan, British Columbia which is near a cottage we often visit as a family. Whenever I visit this particular branch (incidentally, the staff are tremendous and very patient) I am in holiday mode and therefore forgetful. This last July was the worst when money that I had taken from my account got left (by me) in the cash dispenser never to be seen again. My bank machine experience is a bit of a metaphor for my requests of God especially in this fall season. I go about the usual rituals of asking God for relationship and much else only to either ignore or neglect to receive what he has offered. Often in the fall we set out with intentions of personal spiritual formation and growth, asking of God and others, only to walk away from all that he has for us. I sense that this comes from getting caught up in a lot of fairly understandable business rather than beginning with clear, intentional listening time with God as we enter our fall together with Him and with one another. My wife Kerry has often reminded me (and I need constant reminding) that the word obed (the root of obedience obviously) means “to listen”.

Even now Lord Jesus give me a longing and capacity to listen.

In Christ,