This Trying Time

We live in a world filled with violence.  A recent report shows that almost as many countries are more violent than a year ago as are less violent over the same time period.  We can be thankful that in Canada we live in one of the top 20 peaceful countries in world; yet our news is full of ongoing violence.  Below are two illustrations of violence in our world.  The first is from Kenya and the second is related to recent deaths in the United States.  Please take a moment to read and to listen to what the Spirit may be saying to you as a follower of Christ:

United States

The recent violence in the United States has gripped the attention of people around the world.  Whether we have relatives in the United States or not we have family.  I read a devotional this morning that quoted Jesus statement in Matthew 12:50: "For Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." 

The writer of the devotional said the following:  "Jesus cares about relationships.  In this Gospel passage he indicates that his family has room for all who do the will of God.  Listening to God and acting on what we hear makes us not just friends of Jesus but family.  Not all members of a family see eye to eye on everything but they all have a common bond.  In Jesus' family, the common bond is God.  When our focus is on doing the will of God, we know that we are walking in the right direction."

We have colleagues who are devastated by the recent events.  We have colleagues who are uncertain of the right words or actions.  We have colleagues who are family and we want to stand with this family even when there are tensions.  

I am inviting the ECCC to hear the call to prayer.  I am inviting you as leaders to think about contextually appropriate ways to call others you lead to join in prayer with others.

I also want to ask that we think about our own narrative.  The indigenous people of Canada experience deep pain.  While accounting for about 4% of the population of Canada the prison population is made up of around 25% indigenous persons.  In the Prairie region between 55% and 65% of individual institutions are populated by indigenous people (predominately but not exclusively First Nations).  

At a time when we might be tempted to look at systemic issues we see as clear south of our border may this be a time for solemn reflection on our own systemic flaws.  Although we do not have the same gun violence issues we are not immune to unnecessary violence to parts of our Canadian population.  The well documented loss of lives by aboriginal women is an issue for our country.

Mandera, Kenya (July 1, 2016)

John Njaramba, moderator of the Covenant Church of Kenya (ECCK), was among six people killed today when gunmen fired on two passenger buses. Another member of the denomination escaped through a window on the bus.
According to news reports, the gunmen ambushed two buses near the Somalia border. The first one was able to speed through, but the second one was stopped. Most of the casualties were on the second bus.
The attackers most likely were fighters with al-Shabab, a Somali-led Al-Qaeda group.

The ECCC has had a relationship with the ECC-Kenya through the short-term mission work of Alberto and Lisa Zepeda.  Alberto and Lisa were very close to John and his family and after a request from the leadership of the Kenyan church we partnered with the larger ECC family to send the Zepeda's to the funeral in Kenya and to also have them provide pastoral support to not only John's family but also to other pastors in this small and close-knit Covenant family.  

Blessings on your summer.  May we all be inclined to listen more both to one another and to the Triune God we worship.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing in the 1940's said great words for today:

"Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too."

Grace and Peace,
Jeff Anderson
ECCC Superintendent