Sunday, November 22, 2015

Swallows & Amazons

Swallows & Amazons
by Helen Edmundson and Neil Hannon

This year's Rosslyn Academy High School Play was the rollicking fun children's story of Swallows & Amazons. The musical play is based on the novel of the same name first published by Arthur Ransome in 1930. The story was adapted to the theatre by the Royal National Theatre and debuted at the Bristol Old Vic in December 2010. Rosslyn Academy is the first high school to stage the musical play. 

The story is of the four Walker children (John, Susan, Titty and Roger) and their imaginary outdoor adventures in the English Lake District during their summer holidays in 1929. Together they sail a borrowed dingy to camp on a nearby island where they meet the precocious Blackett girls (Nancy and Peggy). The children become the Swallows and Amazons and swear loyalty against the Blackett's uncle James Turner, who they call "Captain Flint".

Their imaginary adventures escalate as the children encounter the real terrors of storms and a mysterious crime.

The Swallow's camp taken by the fierce Amazons

Poor Roger fleeing the swooping cormorants 

Captain Flint warning John Walker

Titty all alone on Wildcat Island

Susan, Roger and Titty calling for John

The great battle of Houseboat Bay

The cast and crew

As parents we are thrilled over the opportunities that Tristan and Emma are having in staging theatrical productions at Rosslyn. We are so grateful for the dedication of Steven Slaughter and Audrey Statler to work with the high school students on such ambitious projects. 

Director, Steven Slaughter welcoming guests to the Friday night show.

Mrs. Audrey Statler, musical director, with Ezra, 
Emma, Tristan, Emerson, and Abby.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Transforming Mission: Reflecting Together

Certificate of Integral Mission Training
Kigali, Rwanda

Learning together is at the heart of partnership. This week CBM's team and partners in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are learning together about the complex causes and experiences of poverty in central Africa. This is an important part of the certificate of integral mission program that is helping our partner churches enhance their ministry in Africa.

Reflecting together on our perceptions of poverty in rural and urban contexts helps us strengthen our understanding of poverty. It is a crucial part of the local church identifying how to better respond to the needs of its community.

 Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches
Worship Service in Gichiru, Kigali

Intergral mission seeks to move local churches beyond Sunday morning into their community where they encounter their neighbours in the market place, schools, streets and fields. 

It is the intentional witness of Christian faith that touches every dimension of life.

As Canadians, we have a lot to learn from the African church, which is far less individualistic and consumer driven than our North American culture. In places like Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, people realize that communities are deeply interdependent. The idea of "family" is much broader and significant to one's own identity. 

Unlike Canadians, who tend to view family as the nuclear unit of parents, children and siblings. Most African cultures associate family with extended relatives that are united by a common clan or ancestor. This broader family matters a lot. This is why it is so significant for many African Christians to identify their church as a spiritual family. Family takes responsibility for one another. Together we are stronger.

Our friends the Gakwerere family

Rev. Gato Munyamasoko reading scripture and sharing
the opening devotion for the second CIM module

Given this highly relational context, the issue of poverty is extremely personal. Our African partners are keenly aware that the heath and well being of the community (and wider family) is directly tied to their own health and well being. In the words of the Rwandan proverb:
Umugabo umwe agerwa kuri nyina
A lone man is worth nothing

Rev. Andre Sibomana

During today's sessions, our colleagues Andre Sibomana and Polisi Kivava led us through reflections on the experience of urban and rural poverty in Central Africa. Together they helped us to understand the web of disadvantages that create poverty in their context. As part of our sessions, we divided into groups and visited urban slum areas in Kigali and later compared and contrasted our experience with the way of life for people living in Korogocho, Kenya.

At one level, poverty can be observed as a lack of material wealth. In the words of a man living in Kenya:
"Don't ask me what poverty's because you have met it outside my house. Look at the house and count the number of holes. Look at my utensils and the clothes that I am wearing. Look at everything and write what you see. What you see is poverty." 
But all poverty is not so visible. Material poverty is often coupled with social, mental and spiritual poverty that robs people of the life that they were created to live.

Polisi Kivava

Understanding African experiences of poverty also leads us to wrestled with the complex causes of suffering in society. Identifying the particular roots of poverty in a given context is essential to finding appropriate solutions and developing effective responses. 

We are so thankful for the incredible team of African colleagues that we serve with. Please keep us all in your prayers as we work together.

Dr. Rupen Das, Gato Munyamasoko and Ruth Munyao
Kigali, Rwanda

We are also thrilled to have our friend and colleague, Rupen Das, joining us as the keynote lecturer for these modules which are being held in Rwanda and Kenya. Rupen's generosity in sharing his expertise and experience in leading international relief and development is of great value. 

We are looking forward to continuing to strengthen our understanding and practice of transforming mission!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Seeking Mutuality with our Muslim Neighbour

BRIDGE Certificate Program
November 2015

This past week, we had the joy of opening the third module in the CBM Bridge Certificate on Integral Mission in a Majority Islamic Context. It was a great pleasure to have our friend Rev. Cannon Mary Nzyoki present six sessions on "Understanding Islamics for Fruitful Christian Muslim Relations". The Garissa pastors and Christian leaders deeply appreciated her passion and expertise.

Aaron leading the BRIDGE class on a session about "mutuality"

With the end of this course, the Bridge Certificate cohort has reached the half way point in the program. As a praxis based training, Aaron has been helping the participants work through applying the content of the training to their ministries and leading them through times of reflection and analysis. 

"We don't learn from our experience," shared Aaron. "We learn from reflecting upon our experience. Good reflection requires us to be intentional as we go about ministry. Being attentive to what we are doing and why we are doing it. Taking time to articulate this and then to think, and discuss with others, the impact of how we are approaching ministry. What are we learning from our experience of ministry? Is there a better way?"

One of the themes during this past week of BRIDGE was the importance of mutuality among Christians and with our neighbours of other faiths. Strengthening our common understanding and practice of trust and interdependency has been a major part of the program.

 Erica with our friend and guest lecturer, 
Rev. Cannon Mary Nzyoki

Mutuality starts with an open hand. It is the step of faith that moves us toward the stranger with a spirit of hospitality and humility. This first step is an incredibly vulnerable position. It is a movement towards the unknown. If we are driven by fear, we will never take that step. Fear often causes us to  follow the base instincts of flight, fight, or flocking together. Fear cuts us off from the other. But faith does the opposite. 

By faith we believe that God is at work, even in the most distressing of times. By faith we believe that God's Spirit is moving in the lives of all people drawing them towards the fullness of life. By faith we trust that God is able to change us, and all people, for the good.

The experience of mutuality requires us to embrace the strangers among us, and to seek to know and to be known. This means that we open ourselves to listen and to share with people. In the process of building mutuality, we discover our differences and our common hopes and values.

It is true that it takes two, or more, sides to build mutuality, but it begins with one who is willing to extend grace to another. Experiencing mutuality provides a foundation for us to work together. It drives us toward a common future. 

In Prayer

Please continue to join us in praying for the Christian leaders of Garissa as they seek to strengthen bonds of understanding, trust, and solidarity within their community.

Pray for "bridge people" in both the Christian and the Muslim communities of Kenya, who are courageously drawing people together to overcome forces of division and distrust. 

Pray for Muslim leaders who are apposing radical Islamic movements and terrorism in Kenya and throughout the world. We also remember in prayer Muslim and Christian moderates who are being persecuted by those who wish to divide and destroy society. 

Pray for peace and for healing. We especially remember this week the thousands of families directly affected by the terribly attacks in Lebanon and France.