Friday, September 29, 2006

family news

it's been a while since we've posted a bit of family news, so here's the latest, in capsule form:
  • n has taken up ballet again, and is rapidly returning to form. she's also learning the lesson that it's sometimes hard to come back to something that you've let lapse (it's been a year since left her other ballet school). we've been proud of her mental discipline and perseverance in pushing through the early trials of restarting.
  • b was chosen as one of the outstanding science students from her school and rewarded with a trip to cornwall, ontario, where she participated in a special program called rotary adventures in the environment. and what an adventure it was — spelunking in a cave full of bats (including crawling through icy cold water), setting rock traps for invertebrates (including a ride on a motor boat, which stalled), seining (chasing fish down a stream into a net), and exploring a marsh — filled with leeches, bacteria that looked like dippin' dots, and spiders — in water up to her chest. she had a great time!
  • m celebrated her birthday last week, and continues her quest to upgrade her wardrobe. she's looking smart these days, according to some of our international student friends, and our family agrees!
  • i took a trip to st. louis, missouri for urbana teacher training. i'll be leading one of the 'small' manuscript studies of ephesians — about 260 participants (the 'big' groups will be well over 1000!). i can't remember a staff training that was quite so full; they really kept us busy. but it was productive, and studying scripture with 75 or so of inter-varsity's best teachers was a lot of fun!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

local terror

students keep asking: why?

most of you have probably heard about the gunman who terrorized dawson college in montreal last week. his rampage killed one, and left several others fighting for their lives. thousands of frightened students poured out of dawson and into the surrounding downtown streets, with chaos reigning for what seemed like hours. to read more about it, click here.

our kids go to westmount high school, just a couple of blocks away from dawson, so it isn't a surprise that a number of dawson students came running to westmount in search of a safe haven on the day of the shooting. not knowing how many gunmen might still be at large (early reports had anywhere from 2-4 shooters) and hunting for students, the administration locked the students inside. it was an upsetting and sobering day for students and teachers, and n and b were no exception.

the city was visibly shaken for about a week, and will probably feel the effects of the shootings for months, even years to come. this isn't the first time that something like this has happened in montreal, which saw universities shot up by lone gunmen in 1989 (ecole polytechnique) and 1992 (concordia university), and the recent shootings have brought back all of that pain, angry, and confusion.

montreal's inter-varsity staff team convened to pray and sort out how we might respond to the tragedy with compassion and service, and decided to offer to be on campus every day for the first week back, to meet with students, offer a listening ear, give spiritual counsel, and pray. m and i were able to be out at dawson this past friday, and while it is clear that life is getting back to normal there, we were able to meet, befriend, and pray with a number of students. we're hoping to continue in friendship with several of them.someone asked me why God allows these things to happen. i think what they think they're looking for is an explanation, some wise words that will make such an event 'okay.' i told them that there is no such explanation. yes, God is in control, and He has purposes that we don't understand. but that doesn't satisfy the longing for a reason in most peoples' hearts, nor does it overcome their confusion and fear. the answer that satisfies and heals isn't an explanation, but a Person — and people need to know the Person.

please remember to pray for a, our staff partner at dawson, and for the loving, welcoming students of dawson christian fellowship. they not only have to get past their own dread as they walk the halls at school; they also feel a burden to love and serve their classmates into a relationship with the One who is the answer. that's going to take a hope and courage that will not fail.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

exceeding abundantly beyond

the apostle paul had many outstanding attributes, among them, the ability to stack up adjectives! in ephesians 3:20, he is not content to say that God is able to go beyond all that we could ask or even abundantly beyond what we could ask , but exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even imagine!

our recent international student welcome dinner is a good example. we did our best with publicity this year, posting flyers over at concordia and mcgill, and making sure our airport pickup drivers had some invitations to share. still, it's hard to know what the response is going to be. on the day of the dinner, m instructed me to set up for 40 (that's about how many we had last year), but i ended up setting up for about 30. i guess i think it's always better to give the impression that we're full and need to set up more tables and chairs, than to risk looking like we had a low turn out.

that may or may not be a good strategy, but it also says something about the smallness of my faith. one might think that after all of these years of ministry, i might believe for more!
about 20 minutes before we were supposed to start, students began arriving — and they just kept coming. we had a small team of volunteers preparing food with m in the kitchen, which left me alone out front, trying to greet everyone, making sure they had nametags, getting their contact information, and introducing them to one another. i realized quickly that i should have set up for 40 (duh!); shortly after that, we were set for 60+ and had used every chair we could find in the basement of peoples church, including a couple of little chairs from the children's sunday school room and a piano bench! every last seat was taken. thankfully, some people left as others arrived, so we were able to keep everyone seated.

students came from around the globe — singapore, thailand, france, china, hong kong, germany, italy, japan, iran, korea, colombia, india, mexico, and more! the noise level was high, as people were busily meeting each other and enjoying the dinner that the volunteers had donated and prepared. the team jumped right in, meeting students, getting to know them, and in some cases, personally inviting them to visit their homes. long-time volunteer a (who is also a gideon) gave out bibles and new testaments to a number of interested students, most of them in their heart languages. though our program finished around 19:30, people stayed and talked for over an hour, until we began to clean up.

i don't get tired of being surpised by God or seeing Him work!

the LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
and refined, aged wine.

and on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
for the LORD has spoken.

and it will be said in that day,
“behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
this is the LORD for whom we have waited;
let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

isaiah 25:6-9