No Picture
Opinion

My Mission Trip to Africa

 

My wife and I have just returned from a Missions trip to Malawi and Kenya in Africa.

According to statistics that were given to us on the plane as we flew, we were some 9,000 miles away from home, approximately. We discovered just how significant that was when we arrived back home in Canada having to adjust to a seven hour time difference.

However, that adjustment was minor to our having to deal with what we experienced.

I want you to know, I’ve seen television programs that show the poverty and the hungry children, and for most of my life I’ve been exposed to missionaries who have been there. I’ve heard their stories and have seen their slide shows, but I was not prepared for the real thing.

I think what got me the most is how very little most of the people there have, and yet, how very pleasant they are. I ate some of the food that most of them depend on for their survival. Day after day, it’s the same bland diet.

I realize that I have far too many choices, but I am real thankful that I have a better choice than that.

In Kenya, I was privileged to attend a school in the slums where the children get one meal a day, a mixture of beans, corn and rice if it is available. However, because of cutbacks of support from Canada, that meal is now only served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. As far as can be known, these children have little or nothing to eat on Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.

I have to tell you, I wept when I heard that.

These kids, by the way, are as smart as any of our children. They are getting a good education, and good Biblical foundation as well. These children are the hope for the future of their countries.

Out of the worst possible conditions, God is raising up young people whose lives are being changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Malawi, I was privileged to work in a community that has been built, and funded still, by Canadians. There are 66 orphans being cared for there by women who have lost their husbands to death, one way or another.

James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father, is this, to care for widows and orphans in their trouble.”

This is the model that the “Village of Hope” is built on.

I, along with four other men from Canada, and Stephen from Malawi, prepared another home to be occupied, in the near future, by more children and another widow. I can tell you, it was difficult to work in 39 and 40 degree heat, but it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever been involved in.

I want to finish this today with a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to all who made it possible for us to go there, and for the financial support we received that enabled us to provide school supplies, paint and money to furnish this new house so that the orphans, who otherwise would have no hope, can now be cared for, loved and educated and, I believe, make a difference in Malawi.

Malawi is called “The Warm Heart of Africa” and without a doubt that is true. But they need Help. The kind of help many of you gave to me to take to them. I can tell you, God knows who you are and He will bless you.

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Remembrance Day

 

I was at the cenotaph for the Iroquois Legion’s Remembrance Day service on November 6. The day was absolutely beautiful, the setting sun stretching out shadows to the west, hardly a cloud in the sky, pleasantly, sweetly warm for late fall. 

There wasn’t a huge crowd gathered at the monument. Often there isn’t. Some veterans, members of the Legion, a few civic, service and business leaders, church representatives, scouts, and a handful of ordinary people waiting for the parade from the Legion. I talked to a couple of the women. One woman’s husband had been in the military for nearly two decades before he retired. The other was younger. Her husband has just signed up to serve in the Canadian forces. Each woman had her own private reason for being at the cenotaph this balmy November day.

You wonder sometimes, as you listen to the service, just what the guys whose names are engraved on the weathered grey monument would make of all this: the pipes, the wreaths, the quiet little crowd. 

No serene autumn days in the world where such young men gave up their lives! Hard to admire a sunset when the earth around you is erupting in mortar shells and machine gun bullets. Hard to recall blue skies when the sea around you is full of burning ships and floating corpses. Hard to remember a warm wind when you are shivering in a loaded bomber praying the ack-ack and the search lights miss you.

Perhaps these long-lost warriors of long ago wars, wherever they are, will be glad to know that people still come out on a sunny afternoon to think about them. That there are kids in this crowd who stood and saluted at their names. That the sound of the pipes in The Last Post could still bring tears to watching eyes. Maybe they’ll even feel that it had actually been worth it: forever giving up their own chances of quiet autumn days like this so that people in this town, this province, this country would never have to. 

It might be a comfort for them to know that we remember them still. And we honour them.

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Janet Evans

 

Several years ago, my husband, our daughter, my father, my late mother and I attended  the annual Remembrance Day service in our nation’s capital, Ottawa.

My parents were returning to Toronto via Ottawa from Halifax where they had been involved with the celebrations pertaining to the “Year of the War Bride”.

In 1945, my father Bruce, a Canadian soldier, married my mother Kathleen, an English war bride. They would spend 63 years together as a couple until my mom passed away on December 20, 2008.

On that day in Ottawa, I was so touched by the speeches, the laying of the wreaths, the music and the turn out of veterans, their families and others who wanted to pay their respects to those who had served their nation.

My dad, unfortunately, had a weak spell and had to make a trip in the middle of the ceremonies to the bus manned by the paramedics. As we walked by the throngs of people crowding the streets, men women and children began to clap.

They were honouring an elderly gentleman, my father, who worked for justice in a world fractured by strife and pain.

They began to clap, and I was stunned. Surely this was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life.

At this time of year, we remember. We wear a poppy and hold onto hope for peace for all people. 

We remember the sacrifice of those who lost lives, limbs, liveliness or loved ones in war or peacekeeping.

We ask God to teach us to remember and mourn with hope, Christ’s hope, which lives in and for this world–until the last trumpet sounds, and our lives are measured by the compassion we have lived.

May the response we make to any who suffer from violence and war be counted as repentance in God’s reign.

Today, we remember. We remember these beautiful words from a wonderful hymn: Let there be light, let there be understanding. Let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.

May we as God’s peacemakers and peacekeepers bring light to others. May we listen to our neighbours and may they listen to us.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with each one of us. May God guide us as we ever seek justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with Him.

And on November 11th–Remember!! 

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No Picture
Opinion

Handicapped accessibility questioned

 

Dear Editor,

Hurray, they finally paved the shopping center (Morrisburg).  They even painted the lines, except at the handicapped parking spaces.

Come on Council, think of the handicapped people who have walkers and wheelchairs and canes.  There is one handicapped parking by the drugstore, one by the liquor store and four  at the grocery store.

There should be two or three by the drugstore, and the first car parking in each row across from the Bank of Montreal and the drugstore.  At one time there was one across from the drugstore, but when they paved there previously, it was never assigned again to handicapped.

South Dundas Council should take a page from Ottawa council. They had councilors in wheel chairs, or using canes and walkers, maneuver shopping centre, post office and arena areas.  Some had to wear glasses that made it hard to see and others had weights on their legs which made it harder to walk.  Our council is young, but they have to think of people with handicaps.

Go to the medical xlinic and then to the shopping centre and see the handicapped people.  Some are handicapped but don’t show it on the outside.

In the summer go to Upper Canada Village with a wheelchair, go up ramps, enter washrooms, and then when you are tired go to the store to exit and try to get up the ramp to the store. Then when you are done, go up the hill to the parking lot. No cheating by getting out of the chair and walking.

I hope this makes our Council open their eyes.  Maybe some day they will need a wheel chair.

Yours Loyally:

Lynne (O’Brien) Cook, U.E.

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Africa and Morrisburg–Perspectives

 

What is this all about?  What does Morrisburg have to do with Africa?  I asked myself that question, too, before I traveled to Durban, South Africa for the 2011 World Methodist Council and Conference in July/August. 

Representing one denomination in the whole family of Methodism, where John Wesley said, “the world is my parish,” is a bit intimidating.  Over 150 denominations worldwide claim their lineage from the roots of John Wesley’s Methodism.

By way setting the meeting and Methodism in history, the first meeting of Methodist Council and Conference took place in London, England in 1881, one year after the completion of the existing Methodist Church in Canada church on Lakeshore Drive, now Lakeshore Drive United Church.  

The subsequent councils and conferences met every 10 years at sites around the globe, and since the 1980’s have begun meeting every five years.  Committees constituted by people from various Methodist denominations report on their worldwide work in areas such as family life, global relations and evangelism.  And Methodists gather to re-affirm their identity and connect with one another. 

As any other gathering of over 2000 people, it is such a Spirit filled place to sing, dance, and worship God together!  In so many languages with such vibrancy!  

Besides Bible study and world class speakers like Archbishop Elias Chakour, all the delegates and friends could participate in mission work.  All of us were asked to bring school supplies for children so that the churches could distribute them as needed throughout South Africa.  

The Methodist Church of South Africa operates many day-care centers, orphanages, preschools and day schools for youth.  African churches are instrumental in the work to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDs.  

We were able to participate in the daily work at every site we visited.  

I also chose to fill food bags for the program called End Hunger Now.  It is a 10-year old food aid organization which the Methodist Men in the United Methodist Church have taken on as their mission project.  

The goal for the conference was to fill 100,000 packages, and we exceeded that goal by 33,000 packages.  Even high school children from Durban helped in this effort.  

Each package contained a cup of rice, a cup of vegetable protein, two tablespoons of lentils and a package of vitamins and minerals.  Mixing six cups of water with this dry mix produced a well balanced meal for more than one child.  

End Hunger Now received permission from the Somalie group El Shabab, to deliver 25,000 packages to the starving thousands in Somalia.

Even in Africa, the church and nation know that in order for a child to learn well they need a full stomach.  For some children the meal that they get at school is the only really filling meal that they get on a daily basis.  

So remember this when you or your church is raising funds for food in Africa, especially at this critical time in the life of the drought in the Horn of Africa.

But hunger is also close to home here in Morrisburg. We have children and families where nutritious food is not always available.  

There is a lunch/breakfast program at Seaway District High School.  At our elementary schools, our children receive little bags of dry cereal or crackers and fresh fruit to supplement their diets.  

So that is why we need to connect Africa and Morrisburg.  

Africans say that it takes a whole village to raise a child.  What they know is that it takes everyone taking an interest in the welfare of our children to ensure that they grow up as healthy, educated, responsible adults.

Our various denominations know that we all celebrate the Eucharist, Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, in what I like to call the “meal that feeds the world.”  And as we are fed at the Lord’s Table so we are called to be disciples to also feed the world with the Word that nourishes our hearts, mind and actions, and calls us forth to put our faith into action.  

We are thankful to be able to support the Food Bank, Canadian Food Grains Bank growing projects in our community and other programs that ensure that children and adults here and in foreign countries receive healthy meals.  

We have just celebrated abundance in Thanksgiving.  We give thanks for gifts received and gifts shared.  God’s Peace.

 

Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

Lakeshore United Church

Morrisburg

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Norine Gullons

 

Last evening our Women’s Group at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Williamsburg hosted an evening with Nancy Horton. Nancy is a stay at home mom and mother of three boys.

What is so remarkable about this particular woman?

Nancy is a breast cancer survivor, author, and inspirational speaker. Nancy spoke with clarity and honesty about her journey with cancer and also shared her “faith” walk through life.

In speaking she opened up chapters of her life story so that others could hear and read of her struggles and where she support and encouragement to persevere in her life.

You may have heard Nancy in July on 100 Huntley Street. Her books “Hope in the Midst Darkness” and “The Big Fat Bald Head” are her way of providing a light in the darkness of cancer.

It seems these days that everyone knows someone whose had been touched by cancer. If not by cancer by another illness or grief, depression or issues within their family.

Nancy’s focus on forgiveness and self-esteem are important issues in life.

Our acceptance and love of who we are as individuals is an important step in our acceptance and love of others and of our love for our God. Nancy reminds us all again that we a NOT alone in this world!

I quote from her blog: “You have a Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and wants to have a relationship with you. He promises to never leave or forsake you. There will always be trouble in this world, but it’s always easier to go through life’s struggles when someone is holding your hand.

Let God be your answer.”

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No Picture
Opinion

Halloween is dress-up time

 

Halloween is just days away now and people have already begun decorating for the holiday, planning for parties, making or buying costumes and candy, and stockpiling the scariest of movies for the October 31st celebration. For those who read my editorial about how much I love Thanksgiving, well, Halloween is a very close second-runner-up for my favourite holiday.

Unfortunately, Halloween tends to get a bad rap from some, which leads me to ask, “Do you know the origin of Halloween?”

Halloween, the celebration not the name, originated from the pagan celebration of Samhain. It is a time to celebrate the end of harvest season. It is a time to take stock of the year that has passed. Sound slightly familiar? In my opinion, Samhain holds a little bit of Thanksgiving and a little bit of New Year’s Day themes. So, if this is how Halloween originated, why has it become the “day of the dead”?

Well, it is also believed that this is the one time of the year when the veil between the worlds, the dead and the living, is thinnest. It is also the day before All Hallow’s Eve, more commonly referred to now as All Saints Day on November 1st. (And in case you haven’t made the connection yet, it is believed that All Hallow’s Eve is where the term Halloween originated.)

Disregarding the history of masks and costumes being used to scare off evil spirits or demons, I believe that Halloween is another opportunity to give thanks. This time, we can thank those we love who have passed for being in our lives and for being who they were when they were here with us. It is a time to remember them.

It is also another opportunity to be thankful for what we have right now: family, friends, health and life itself.

So why do we dress up in scary costumes, collect candy or go to parties? Because it’s fun. Do you remember being a kid? Did you like dressing up? Well, we’re all still little kids inside and Halloween gives grown-ups (as well as children) permission to dress up and be silly.

So, on October 31st remember to be thankful for those you love, here in person or here in spirit, and celebrate by dressing up and having some fun. Take a page out of Mr. Dressup’s book and rifle through your Tickle Trunk for a fantastically original costume. 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten

It may sound kind of dumb, but sometimes when I hear two sides to an argument I think that both sides are right. 

One person makes his/her case, and I think, “Hey, that sounds good to me.” Then the other gives his/her counter argument and I figure, “Wow. That’s true too.” 

Yet d’uh. They can’t both be right, can they, if they’re making opposite arguments? Or can they?

Where I experience this the most is in two of the political magazines I subscribe to. One is very left wing, the other writes from the perspective of the far right. Boy do they differ. 

The funniest thing is that they often cover the same topics at the same time. 

So I get my right wing paper and read a defense of the west’s involvement in a war in some far off place because of the good things that will come out of it.

Then a week or two later, I’ll get the left-leaning perspective of how the west has no business being in this war and should leave immediately. 

One magazine will blast a given government policy, the other will bless it.

At the present, both magazines are writing about the Occupy Wall Street protests that are taking place around the world. And of course they both have different takes on the issue. 

One whole-heartedly supports the protests and thinks it’s great that people are taking on corporate greed and the unfair distribution of wealth on our planet. The other magazine is of course not willing to do that. It will blame someone else or something else for poverty and the economic woes we’re facing.

So what do I learn from this?

First, if I am willing to look for it and be open to it, there is truth in both magazines. But I have learned something else. In so many of the issues that these magazines address, like who is to blame for the economic mess the world is in today, they all seem to want to blame ‘someone else.’ The right blames the government and their taxes while the left blames the corporations and financial institutions.

In this blame game I remember a famous quote by Solzhenitsyn the Russian dissident. He wrote that while he was rotting away in a Soviet prison “ it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.” 

It’s easy to blame the ‘other side’ for what’s wrong, but it’s not that simple. There’s evil in us all, including greed, and we all contribute to the brokenness of this world.

Really, I learn this lesson best from one of the Bible’s most colorful characters, John the Baptist. When different groups of people came to him to be baptized, regular folk, soldiers, and tax collectors, he pointed out that there was evil or sin in each of their hearts. How they live it out may be different for them all, but none were exempt. 

In fact, he also goes on in the chapter (Luke 3) to point out the king himself is not immune from sin. Sin or evil simply are universal. But the coolest thing we learn from John the Baptist is what to do with this sin. Turn to Jesus he tells them all. Repent of your sin, and this Jesus will cleanse you and forgive you of it. 

Great truths still for today. We may see evil in everyone else, and want to blame this group or that for what’s wrong with this planet, but one of the wisest things we can do is face up to the fact of our own contribution to the world’s problems, our own greed maybe, or wastefulness, or indifference. The fact that there is wrong with us (this thing the Bible calls sin) and to go to Christ for the solution.

When we receive Christ as our personal Saviour, as the one who died for our sin, we discover that not only does Christ forgive our sin and evil, but he also gives us power to overcome it.

And if we’re willing he will give us a spirit of love, compassion, and justice to empower us to go into our broken world to bring healing and help.

This world does have problems, but instead of just blaming others for them, in Christ, let’s become part of the solutions.

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No Picture
Opinion

Sharing in South Dundas

I’ve learned a lot this week. I learned that October 16th is World Food Day. I learned that October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. I also learned that while there are many people working toward eliminating poverty and helping those in need, there are also those who are bent on spreading the false perception that everything is okay and what can be done is being done.

I’d like to point out that just because you don’t see poverty everyday, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. And, like breaking a law, we shouldn’t be able to claim ignorance for our blindness to those around us who are in need of help.

Since I started working for the Leader I’ve discovered that there really is a huge world outside my door. Like many others I hid behind that door “minding my own business” and “not getting involved.”

 While I’m definitely not encouraging anyone to become a Nosy Nellie, I do believe it is everyone’s responsibility to get involved in making life better for all members of our community.

I recently attended the Community Living Dundas County’s Ladies Night Out at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners. During a short speech, Board Member Marja Smellink said, “I’m grateful to live in a very compassionate and generous region.”

She’s right. This is a very caring, compassionate and generous region. There are a number of people who share themselves and their time by volunteering in a number of causes. There are also a number of people who faithfully attend events and donate where possible.

What I’m asking is whether or not you belong to that group? In the last two years of living in this community I can honestly say that, until now, I did not. I’ve had to reassess my own priorities and ask myself, “What can I do to make a difference? Where can I best help out?”

I’m not suggesting that everyone run out and join every charity. I’m not suggesting that you give your last dime to charity. I’m also not suggesting that you commit yourself to things you can’t realistically do. What I am suggesting is that you ask yourself the same questions: “What can I do to make a difference? Where can I best help out?”

And, if you can, when you buy your groceries, buy something extra and toss it into the Food Bank bin for someone who needs it. 

-S.Casselman

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No Picture
Opinion

The Bible’s Relevance in 2011

On October 5, 2011, during the CNN Piers Morgan Show, Piers said to Rev. Joel Osteen, “Don’t you think you should bring the Bible kicking and screaming into the 21st century?” 

Piers question, which may actually be a statement of what he thinks, expresses an all too common perspective in today’s world and sometimes even in the Church. 

The idea seems to be that the Bible’s message is dated; that because it is an ancient document it is a necessary assumption that its message, truth claims and perspective of the world must be reinterpreted apart from the author’s meaning and in light of contemporary norms. (A discussion of the acceptance of homosexuality as normal, and not sinful as the Bible states in Romans 1:24-28, was the context within which Piers stated his question.

The folly in this perspective is made clear when we remember who the author of the Bible is and how contemporary norms are arrived at. We will consider the last first and the first last.

Norms are authoritative standards of conduct or ethical values, in some way binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide that group. Such norms are contemporary when they are arrived at by actual, fabricated or assumed consensus of a current population, and they are considered right because they are said to be what most people within that population do, or at least agree to be acceptable for someone to do. 

 It is assumed in contemporary norms that majority agreement or acceptability, confirms rightness among a given group. 

We quickly recognize that the fact that because most people participate in a given behavior, or agree that it is acceptable, does not confirm the rightness of any behavior since we can easily identify wrong behaviors that most people agree is acceptable or actually do in various groupings; which behaviors may be factually harmful like smoking, eating fast foods, exploiting slave labor, etc. 

Furthermore, if norms are to be arrived at in a contemporary fashion then we confirm them to be temporary and of questionable lasting value, since what is contemporary by definition is continually undergoing change.

As a necessary point of faith, Christians recognize God as the author of the Bible. So for all genuine Christians the Bible is a communication, the quality of which is consistent with the quality of its author. 

This means that those qualities of person necessary to the proposition of actually being God govern the quality of His authorship; qualities such aseternal self-existence, omniscience, omnipotence, absolute cogency and truthfulness, infallibility, impartiality and so on. 

Furthermore, as Creator He understands the creature perfectly, while the creature remains always in a process of self discovery through every contemporary context because he is limited by his finitude. 

Yes, the Bible should be brought into the 21st century, but not kicking and screaming because it was written for the 21st century, and every other contemporary context. 

It should be brought into the 21st century to provide transcendent norms for all societies, norms that are not subject to the frailties of the creature or his tendency toward sinfulness, but are the eternal wisdom of the glory of the Creator.

 

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