Learning Jesus’ thoughts about Little children on Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

This is my second post on connected to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this week. You can read the first one here. It comes from my reflections on Mark 9 where Jesus is talking about the importance of children in his Kingdom. He says,

“These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck. So if your hand causes you to lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life disabled than to have two hands and go to hell, to the fire that cannot be put out. If your foot causes you to lose your faith, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. If your eye causes you to lose your faith, tear it out! It is better for you to enter God’s kingdom with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. In hell worms that eat the body never die, and the fire is never put out. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good. But if salt loses its taste, how will you restore its flavor? Have salt within you, and live in peace with one another.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:42-50‬ ‭GW‬‬

This verse has a new significance seeing as I’m reading it on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, formerly known as Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day was designed as a memorial for children with the slogan “Every Child Matters” and it relates to the terrible conditions of the Canadian Indian Residential School System that affected 150,000 First Nations and Metis people across the country up until as recently as 1996. Of course, even though the last residential school closed in 1996, the legacy of these residential schools lives on today.

I didn’t notice, until I read it this morning, the context of this verse and how this verse about protecting children’s faith is in the context of the verses that talk about dealing with sin our lives. If your hand cause you to sin cut it off. If your foot causes you to sin cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. I realize that the sins of the hand, the foot, and the eye are central to the legacy of the abuse suffered through Indian Residential Schools.

Could we interpret it this way? If our hand causes us to sin by removing children forcibly from their families for the purpose of eradicating their culture then we need to cut that hand off. If our foot causes us to sin by standing on the necks of God’s children then we need to cut that foot off. If our eye causes us to sin because we are looking at children with the sinful desires, then we need to pluck that eye out!

The same can be said for our society, whether that is culture, theology, doctrine, ideology or practice. If our systems seek the eradication of Others’ cultures, if they cause us to oppress the helpless, if they cause us to lust after them, then we need to cut off and pluck out those parts of our society, whether that is culture, theology, doctrine, ideology or practice.

What is the stated destination for people who act in this way? Quite simply it is hell. Hell isn’t something we talk about a lot but I would suspect that there’re very few people who wouldn’t see hell as a suitable destination for people involved in the abuse and mistreatment of children.

The passage also provides a way forward — to be salt. Saltiness is a positive biblical trait. Salt provides flavour. Salt acts as a preservative. Salt creates buoyancy in water. And salt brings peace to the world. But it seems as if our salt has lost its flavour. What will we do to restore that saltiness?

Today on the national day for truth and reconciliation remember that every child matters.

Help is available. Call the 24-hour national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Feedback is always welcome.

Sharing is what friends do.

Image by Neeta Lind on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Thoughts on Truth and Reconciliation for Orange Shirt Day

Eva and I spent a couple of hours on Saturday looking for Orange t-shirts. We went to several stores in the area but were surprised that there weren’t any for sale. Eventually we ended up at the Wanuskewin Gift Shop on Broadway in Saskatoon where we found a few shirts in 3X and 4X sizes! We were extremely pleased that we found something even if they are far too large.

“What’s the big deal about orange t-shirts?,” you may ask. Phyllis Webstad tells the story of the orange shirt that inspired Orange Shirt day. As she says,

“I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! 

When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

Today Orange Shirt Day has become the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I have already written on truth and reconciliation here, here, and here. Eva and I wanted to participate this year but I had a couple of questions, the most prominent of which is a logistical one: How can I be involved in Orange Shirt Day without also profiting from it? I would hate to be a participant in some kind of cultural appropriation and it would be an even greater shame for the oppressors to further profit from the day. For example, the Hudson’s Bay Company recently came under fire for selling Orange Shirts. This is especially poignant given the company’s history in Canada. Fortunately, the Company had followed the proper procedures, as outlined in the Orange Shirt Society’s guidelines. But that isn’t the case for every company doing this.

The next question I had was how do I go about the process of reconciliation particularly in a culturally appropriate way. I am working on a post about conflict resolutions in the Bible. Most Christians assume that Matthew 18 is the only way to do things. I happen to disagree with this but let’s agree with this for argument’s sake. What would that entail when it comes to truth and reconciliation in Canada? Since Mt 18 is all about bringing the offending sibling back into fellowship we need to recognise that that is us!

Us. I will say that my family history is full of discrimination and persecution. My father’s side has roots in the Mennonites who moved around the world trying to find places where their pacifism would be acceptable. They moved from the Netherlands to Prussia to the Ukraine and eventually ended up in Canada. My mother’s family has roots in the First Nations particularly in how the fur traders interacted with First Nations women that lead to a group of people known as country born. But in spite of this history of discrimination and persecution, I have grown up completely separated from those identities and live a life of privilege. So when I say that we are the offending sibling I am including myself in that. This is especially true for those involved in churches when talking about residential schools.

What can we do to foster truth and reconciliation? I can think of a couple of options that will lead toward reconciliation.

In reconciliation, the offenders don’t set the agenda. Rather, as the offending party we must place ourselves in a position of powerlessness. It’s not enough to apologise. Often when giving an apology I find myself frustrated that the offended party wants to talk more about how offensive I have been. All this shows is that I am not truly apologetic and I don’t want reconciliation. This is particularly hard when it comes to corporate evil. The Canada we know has been built in part on a flawed foundation that is in need of renovation. What does that renovation look like? Ask someone who is affected by the flaws to find out.

In reconciliation the offenders need to listen. We need to be humble and submissive and to listen to the stories of those we have offended because that is the only way for us to experience their pain. Let’s start this process by listening and watching as Phyllis Webstand tells us her story.

But as Phyllis says, her story is not unique. Another part of the reconciliation process is to find someone in our own community who we can share stories with. Only by sharing stories can we find truth and reconciliation!

Help is available. Call the 24-hour national Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Feedback is always welcome.

Sharing is what friends do.

Image by Rod Long on Unsplash. Video by orangeshirtday.org.

Thinking about the “This” in “This do in remembrance of me.”

It was written on the table at the front of the church I grew up in and chances are it was the same for you. I always thought the wording was strange — Why “this do” rather than “do this”? — but it is a part of my tradition.

But one thing we often forget is that communion or the Lord’s Supper is a complete construction. Originally a part of the Jewish tradition of the Passover meal, the bread and cup had specific roles to play in the meal. The Lord’s Supper that many evangelicals today practice is a far cry from that: It’s not a meal, the bread is as small a piece as you can get — sometimes it’s a wafer, the cup is also as small as you can get. There is no hope of eating too much or getting drunk — practices we are warned against in 1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:20-22‬‬‬ but are in no danger of doing today. We commonly practice it once a month but the original passover was a once-a-year occurrence. So when Jesus commands us to do “this” until his return what is the “this” that he is referring to?

It got me thinking of how we shape memories and recollections in our lives. The Lord’s Supper was derived from the Jewish Passover. I wonder what other corporate memories other cultures have that are equivalent to Passover?

I guess what I am really asking is this: Is it possible that other cultures have ways of remembering Christ’s death until he comes in as powerful a way as communion? If so, what elements would be needed?

There would need to be some sense of inclusion in the collective memory of the people group in question. The passover was one of the big events in the history of the children of Israel. It was when God physically saved his people from slavery and oppression by preserving (or passing over) their houses and eliminating those of their oppressors. This lead to their Exodus from the land of Egypt back to the Promised Land. To be of Israel meant that one had experienced the Passover.

There would also need to be some symbol of salvation. This is closely connected with my previous point in that the experience of the Passover was an experience of salvation. Jesus use of the symbols of the Passover connects the Exodus event near the beginning of the Bible withthe salvation Jesus would enact later on.

It would also need to be include some hope for the future — “until he returns.” The Passover was more than just a historical event. It also pointed ahead to the Passover that would occur in the end when God returned to judge the living and the dead. What God had done in the past would be repeated for his people in the future. Once again, Jesus’ use of these symbols connects his salvation into the future salvation of the world.

It would also have to be as powerful symbolically as “bread” and “cup.” Both of these are powerful words in the Bible. Of course, they often simply refer to food or a drinking vessel. But they also have symbolic meanings. Bread is used so symbolise the abundant life in God’s Kingdom (Luke 14:15; John 6:31). Cup tends to refer to wrath and suffering in the Bible. Drinking of the cup means to accept the suffering associated with Jesus (Mark 10:38-39).

But some cultures value other things higher than bread or the cup. The various Philippine languages, for example, have hundreds of words normally translated as “rice” in English [palay, bigas, kanin, kakanin, tutong, etc.]. The opposite is true for the Tagalog word tinapay — there are probably hundreds of English equivalents [bread, cookies, cake, crackers, pizza, etc.].

Apart from foods, smells and sounds make me remember. They can be so powerful that when I smell or hear them I have no choice but to remember. When I was in university I only had to smell diesel smoke to be transported back to where I finished High School. When I broke up with my girlfriend (now my wife) for a couple of weeks the sound of the telephone was the most horrible thing I could hear. Too many memories that (I thought) I would never have again.

What kinds of things elicit memories for you? How can you utilise them to help you remember Jesus death until he returns?

Feedback is always welcome.

Sharing is what friends do.

Image by Geda Žyvatkauskaitė on Unsplash.

Essentials vs. Non Essentials Revisited

A number of years ago, I wrote a couple of posts (here & here) in response to a discussion we had at our SEATS School of Missions regarding the quote from Rupertus Meldenius, “in essential matters, unity; in non-essential matters, liberty; in all other matters, charity.” The post went on to basically dissect the various meanings of “non-essential” after merely brushing along the surface of “essential.” I stated, “Other than certain foundational theological truths that we can’t mess with, we are surrounded by a vast amount of stuff that can be classified as personal preferences.”

Of course, the kind of stuff that was in my mind for this section was stuff like who Jesus is, who God is, the importance of the Bible, etc. Stuff that is really non-negotiable; stuff that Christians must agree on. 

But what if those very theological foundations of my faith were not so much foundations as they were constructs of my culture and mind? 

Enter Andrew Walls. I had the privilege of attending a couple of seminars by this great church historian from Scotland. To be honest, I had never heard of him until two days before the event, when I received an invitation to attend two days of lectures on Christianity and culture hosted by the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture and Asian Theological Seminary. What I heard and experienced during those two days shook some of my fundamental theological understandings to the core!

According to Walls, the early Jerusalem Christians[1] were in fact Jews through and through. They worshipped in the temple, they offered sacrifices, and they followed Moses’ law to the letter. They even didn’t engage in missions to Gentiles! It wasn’t until persecution scattered those early followers of the Way that the message jumped from being something Jewish to being something also understood and accepted by Gentiles. It is here where my mind was blown. In Acts 15 we read the account of the first Council of Jerusalem, which was convened to discuss this new situation that had arisen – how do Gentiles fit into the whole scheme of things? The answer is surprising. The Jewish church leaders in Jerusalem basically said to the Gentiles, “You don’t have to follow Jewish customs.”

What struck me was that the Jerusalem followers of the Way still followed these Jewish customs. Their whole faith was built around Jesus fulfilling a specific set of prophecies, completing a complex legal systems, and being a part of the chosen people. The council in Jerusalem didn’t throw that out, they merely said that there are other valid ways of expressing the centrality of Christ. It was the first “Essentials vs Non-Essentials” debate and what is surprising is that the entire Jewish system is declared to be a non-essential! Note that this isn’t just a discussion of what kind of music to use in worship or what language to use when preaching – this is a complete overturning of the basic fundamental theological and social system of God’s people.

The Jews who followed the Way discovered that their Way was not the only way and that the Others’ Ways were sometimes polar opposites to what they knew and believed to be true in their hearts!

Of course the exciting thing is that God allows such diversity among his followers without being threatened.[2] How can we do the same thing without being threatened ourselves?

The key for Walls is the role of the Holy Spirit in the process. We often focus on the power aspect of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that the “counsellor” role of the Holy Spirit is counselling us on how to do church in relevant and understandable ways?

[1] In fact, according to Acts, followers of Jesus were not called Christians until a group formed and became known in Antioch. “The Way” was the term used to describe those who followed Jesus. 

[2] A discussion of Walls assertion that the church has never ever been unified – and that’s ok – will have to wait for another time 🙂

Feedback is always welcome.

Sharing is what friends do.

Image by engin akyurt on Unsplash.

Alam mo na ba na meron sa Bibliya ang Pagpapagaling sa Pamamagitan ng Gamot? (Part 1)

Nalungkot ako noong nakarinig ako ng balita na meron mga pastor sa Pilipinas na nagtuturo sa mga simbahan nila na huwag magpabakuna. Ang ibang sinasabi ay medyo kakaiba, tulad ng ang bakuna ay mark of the beast o 666, demonic, o pagiging Zombie. Meron ding sinasabi na may kinalaman sa teolohiya, tulad ng “mas makapangyarihan ang Diyos kaysa sa bakuna,” at pinoprotektahan ng mga Kristianyo ng “dugo ni kristo.” Meron din akong nakarinig ng ganito mula sa mga pastor sa Canada. Hindi ko alam kung anu-ano ang mga dahilan nito pero mukhang kinakailangang magbuo ng teolohiya ng pagpapagaling sa pamamagitan ng gamot. Buti na lang na naunahan ako ng isang FB friend ko si Matt Stone. Pwede mong basahin ang kanyang blog post sa wikang Inglis dito. Karamihan sa mga sumusunod na puntos ay nagmula sa gawain ni Matt.

Siyempre, maraming halimbawa sa Bibliya ng pagpapagaling sa pamamagitan ng mga himala. Isa ito sa mga malaking gawain ni Jesus at ang kanyang mga alagad sa Bagong Tipan.

So paano ba ang theology of medical healing o teolohiya ng pagpapagaling sa pamamagitan ng gamot? Tama ba na hindi natin kailangang magpagamot dahil mas malakas ang ating Diyos o ang dugo ni Kristo? Siyempre maraming sinasabi ang Biblia patungkol sa supernatural healing pero meron ba’ng sinasabi ang Bibliya patungkol sa pagpapagaling sa pamamagitan ng gamot?


Unang-una kailangan tingnan ang Santiago 5:14 “Mayroon bang may sakit sa inyo? Dapat niyang ipatawag ang mga namumuno sa iglesya para ipanalangin siya at pahiran ng langis sa pangalan ng Panginoon.” Nakikita natin sa mga talata nito na meron dalawang dapat gawin kapag may sakit tayo. Una, “ipatawag ang mga namumuno sa iglesya para ipanalangin siya” at ikalawa, magpagamot. Kasi ang ibig sabihin ng “pahiran ng langis” sa konteksto ng Bibliya ay magpagamot. Tingnan natin ang kuwento patungkol sa good Samaritan. Ano ba’ng ginawa nya sa taong binugbog ng mga magnanakaw? Naglagay sya ng langis sa kanyang mga sugat. Ibig sabihin, ok din magpagamot.

Pero hindi lang yun ang patungkol sa pagpapagaling sa pamamagitan ng gamot sa Bibliya. Maraming ibang mga talata at kuwento patungkol dito. Unang-una, lahat ng nilikha ng Diyos ay mabuti, kaya sa Bibliya may mga iba’t ibang halimbawa ng gamot, may mga doktor, at may mga sumpa kaugnay sa walang gamot.

Lahat ng nilikha ng Diyos ay mabuti. Alam naman natin ito dahil sa sinabi niya mismo sa Genesis 1:31. Kasama doon ang lahat ng mga potensyal na mga hinaharap na mga paggamit. Nilikha ng Diyos mula sa wala pero lahat ng likha natin ay mula sa mabuting nilikha ng Diyos. Ibig sabihin, kahit anong pinagmulan ng ating gamot — hayop, dahon, prutas, o bato — lahat ito ay mabuti. Ang tawag dito ay Doktrina ng Pangangalaga ng Diyos. Nakikita din natin ito sa 1 Timothy 4:4, “Lahat ng nilikha ng Dios ay mabuti, at dapat walang ituring na masama kung tinatanggap nang may pasasalamat.”

Mga sari-saring gamot sa Bibliya. May mga iba’t ibang uri ng gamot sa Bibliya, kasama ang alak, ang pulot-pukyutan, laway, at dinurog na igos.

Alak bilang gamot sa 1 Timoteo 5:23 kung saan sinabi ni Pablo kay Timoteo na “Dahil sa madalas na pananakit ng sikmura mo, uminom ka ng kaunting alak.”

Pulot-pukyutan bilang gamot sa Kawikaan 16:24 “Ang matatamis na salita ay parang pulot-pukyutan, nakakapagpasaya at nakakapagpasigla ng katawan.”

Laway ni Jesus bulang gamot sa Markos 8:22-26 kung saan “dinuraan [ni Jesus] ang mga mata ng bulag.”

Dinurog na igos bilang gamot sa 2 Hari 20:7 “Sinabi ni Isaias sa mga utusan ni Haring Hezekia na tapalan nila ang namamagang bukol nito ng dinurog na igos. Ginawa nga nila ito at gumaling siya.”

Nabanggit din sa Bibliya ang maraming mga halamang gamot. Kasama dito ang Igos (Ficus carica), Nardo (Nardostachys jatamansi), Isopo (Origanum syriacum), Gamot sa Gilead (Commiphora gileadensis) and Mandragora (Mandragora officinarum).

Mga Manggagamot sa Bibliya. May mga doctor din ang binanggit sa Bibliya. Unang-una si Lukas, ang may-akda ng Lukas at Gawa, ay pinaliwanag ni San Pablo bilang “Lucas, ang minamahal nating doktor” sa Col 4:14. Sinabi din mismo ni Jesus sa Markos 2:17 “Ang mga taong walang sakit ay hindi nangangailangan ng doktor, kundi ang mga may sakit.”

Mga sumpa kaugnay sa walang gamot. Moreover, there are many bible passages where lack of access to effective medicine is spoken of as a curse. Nakikita natin ito sa dalawang talata nito:

Jeremias 8:22 “Wala na bang gamot sa Gilead? Wala na bang manggagamot doon? Bakit hindi gumagaling ang sugat ng mga kababayan ko?”

Jeremias 46:11 “O mga taga-Egipto, kahit na pumunta pa kayo sa Gilead para maghanap ng panlunas na gamot, ang lahat ng gamot ay wala nang bisa at hindi na makapagpapagaling sa inyo.”

Ayon kay Stone, may dalawang maari paraan na ginagamit ang Diyos para sa ating kalusugan. Paminsan-minsan, nagpapagaling ng Panginoon ang mga tao sa pamamagitan ng gamot. Paminsan-minsan hindi siya gumamamit ng namamagitan — diretso galing sa kanya ang pagpapagaling (tingnan ang larawan sa ibaba). Dapat nating tanggapin ang tulong sa anumang paraan na pinili ng Diyos.

Ang isang magandang halimbawa dito ay ang kuwento ng pagpapagaling ni Naaman sa 2 Kings 5:1-14. Kung naalala nyo, si Naaman ay Heneral ng mga Kalaban ng Israel noong panahon ni Elisha. May malubhang sakit sa balat si Naaman. Meron siyang aliping dalaga mula sa Israel na nag payo sa kanyang amo na meron propeta sa Israel (si Elisha nga) na pwedeng magpagaling sa kanya. Para gawing maiksa ang kuwento, pumunta si Naaman kay Elisha at ang utos ni Elisha ay kinakailangan maligo si Naaman sa Ilog Jordan ng pitong beses para gumaling. Nakita natin na kahit may propeta ang Panginoon sa Israel, ginamit nya ang paligo sa ilog bilang proceso ng pagpapagaling sa sakit.


Baka meron nagbabasa nito na nagsasabi ng ganito, “Dahil lahat ng gamot na binaggit sa Bibliya ay galing sa kalikasan, natural medicines lang ang dapat natin gamitin bilang Kristiyano. Iwasan natin ang pwedeng bilhin sa botika.” Alalahanin natin na ang mga gamot na nakalista sa itaas ay ang mga gamot na meron sila noong panahon nila. Hindi naman nila pinili na puro natural cures lamang — sa totoo lang wala naman silang mga pinagpilian. Ginamit nila kung anong meron sila. Wala naman sila botika noong panahon nila kaya wala silang option na gamitin yun.

Palaging malugod na tinatanggap ang feedback.

Pagbabahagi ang ginagawa ng mga kaibigan.

Akin ang mga larawan.

Pwedeng basahin din ang Part 2.

Ang mga sipi ng Banal na Kasulatan ay kinuha mula sa Ang Salita Ng Dios Biblia. Karapatang magpalathala © 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 ng Biblica, Inc.® Ginamit nang may pahintulot.

Ginugol ko ba ang aking kabataan sa paggawa ng mga maling bagay? Paano kapag hindi tinutupad ang ating mga pangarap sa buhay?


Mahal ko ang gubat. Noong bata pa ako wala akong ibang pangarap kundi mamuhay sa gubat bilang isang ermitanyo! Nais kong magtayo ng sariling kong log cabin at “live off the land.” Nabasa ko ang lahat ng uri ng mga libro tungkol sa pamumuhay sa gubat. Nagtayo ako ng mga tent sa loob ng bakuran namin doon ako natutulog. Ginugol ko ang aking mga bakasyon noong High School sa pagsasagwan ng mga ilog sa Nilagang Saskatchewan, kapwa bilang bahagi ng Nemeiben Lake Canoe at Bible Camp at kasama ang aking pamilya. Sinagwan ko ang mga Ilog Churchill, Paull, Geikie (salungat sa agos), South Saskatchewan (nang mag-isa lang ako), at Foster. Pinatakbo ko (at lumangoy) ang mga lagaslasan at nagsagwan ng mga lawa. Sinaliksik ko ang mga programang pang-edukasyon na makasisiguro na nakatira ako sa gubat habang buhay ako. Nakakatuwa naman.

Ang aming kamakailang oras sa Canada ay muling binuhay ang aking pagmamahal sa gubat. Itong nakarran na taon nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataong gumawa ng pagsagwan at nagbalik na rin sa Ilog Churchill. Ngunit marahil ang pinakamalaking epekto sa aking mga pangarap ay ang palabas sa TV na Alone. Ang saligan na palabas ay iiwan ang 10 mga tao na nag-iisa sa gubat. Pinapayagan ang mga ito ng 10 mga bagay upang matulungan silang makaligtas. Ang taong tumatagal ng pinakamahabang panahon ay mananalo ng kalahating milyon dollar. Nagkaroon ng maraming mga dalubhasa sa paligsahan sa loob ng 8 seasons ng palabas at napagtanto sa akin ang isang bagay: Ginugol ko ang aking kabataan sa paggawa ng mga maling bagay (I had a misspent youth).

Una kong narinig ang katagang iyon ay sa aming paglalakbay sa Faith Academy Senior High School trip. Naglalaro kami ng Fuzbol, isang medyo nakakagulo na laro na tila nagsasangkot ng maraming pag-ikot ng mga tungkod na may mga kalalakihang plastik na nakakabit sa kanila. Anumang mga shot na nashoot namin ay tsamba lamang. Lahat maliban sa isang manlalaro. Si Sir Dan Larson ang aming guro sa photography at may kakayahan siyang kontrolin ang bola. Matapos ang isang kamangha-manghang shot kung saan maliksi niyang inilipat ang bola gamit ang isa sa kanyang mga tagapagtanggol at pagkatapos ay hinampas ito sa goal, sinabi ng aming advisor sa klase na si Sir Derek Foster, “Ah. Ginugol mo ang iyong kabataan sa paggawa ng mga maling bagay! (A misspent youth).”

Iyon ang nagpapatibay sa kahulugan ng term para sa akin: “Isang kasanayan na may kaduda-dudang halaga na nakamit ng isa dahil sa paggastos ng labis na oras dito kung kailan dapat silang gumugol ng oras sa ibang gawain.” Napagtanto ko habang pinapanood ang mga dalubhasa sa Alone na hindi ako gumugol ng oras upang paunlarin ang mga kasanayan na gagawing matagumpay sa akin sa palabas. Alam ko ang ilang mga bagay at may tamang pangarap ngunit ang aking mga kasanayan sa basic survival ay hindi pa binuo.

May napagtanto din akong iba. Kasalukuyan akong nabubuhay sa buhay ng aking mga pangarap. Mayroon akong isang kamangha-manghang soulmate at pamilya na ibinabahagi ko sa aking buhay. Ginagawa ko ang gusto kong gawin – nagtuturo ng teolohiya ng simbahan at kultura sa mga tao sa buong mundo. Nagtatrabaho ako sa isang mahusay na samahan. Nakatira ako sa isang mahusay na lungsod. Mayroon akong mahusay na mga kasamahan sa gawain. Wala talaga akong mga reklamo na sulit banggitin. So ano ba’ng nangyari?

Sa tingin ko may dalawang pangarap ako noong bata ako – dalawang pangarap na hindi magkatugma. Ang isa ay mabuhay mag-isa sa gubat at ang isa ay magiging isang misyonero. Marahil ang isa sa mga pangunahing kadahilanan kung bakit nais kong mabuhay mag-isa sa gubat ay ang aking pagkamahiyain. Ako ay takot-na-takot makipag-usap sa mga tao. Naaalala ko ang isang pag-uusap ko sa isang dalaga sa aming grupo ng kabataan – Ginugol ko ang oras sa pagtingin sa sahig na nagbibigay ng isang salitang mga sagot. Sinadya kong guluhin ang taunang mga talumpati na kailangan naming ibigay sa elementarya para lang hindi ko maipakita sa buong paaralan. Kakaiba na ito ngayon ang ginugugol ko sa aking oras sa paggawa.

Bilang mga kalalakihan madalas tayong masabihan na “sundin ang aming mga pangarap,” ngunit paano kung ang aming mga pangarap ay hindi tugma sa kung sino tayo? Nabanggit ko sa itaas na ginalugad ko ang mga programang pang-edukasyon na magpapahintulot sa akin na manirahan sa bush habang buhay ko. Ang hindi ko nabanggit ay hindi ako nakapasok sa mga programang iyon. Sa halip ay nagtapos ako sa isang degree sa araling relihiyon mula sa University of Saskatchewan, at isang degree sa seminary mula sa Canadian Baptist Seminary. Humanga pa rin sa akin na ang isang mahiyain, tahimik na tao ay pipili ng isang pampublikong papel na ginagampanan sa isang ministeryo at mga misyon para sa isang landas sa karera! So anong nangyari? Sa palagay ko ang pagkakaiba ay maaaring ipaliwanag sa pamamagitan ng isang pagtawag kumpara sa isang panaginip. Ngayon napagtanto kong maaaring nagse-set up ako ng isang maling dichotomy dito ngunit magtiis ka muna sa akin. Hindi ako masyadong malayo sa aking karanasan sa seminary nang inaasahang mangangaral ako ng isang sermon. Sa pagtingin ko sa unang sermon na iyon (mula sa Mga Taga Roma 7 pa!) hindi ko naalala ang anumang pakiramdam ng pagiging mahiyain o takot. Wala akong ibang paliwanag para doon kaysa sa binago ako ng Banal na Espiritu. Hindi na ako naghanap ng mga pagkakataon upang maiwasan ang mga tungkulin sa pagsasalita sa publiko o pamumuno.

Sa palagay ko sa ilang mga paraan naging totoo sa akin ang turo ng Roma 7 dahil sa wakas ay nagawa ko ang hindi ko nais na gawin! Nasasabi ko na masasabi ko kaysa sa maling paggastos ng aking kabataan ay ginugol ko muli ang aking kabataan sa pagbuo ng mga kasanayang kakailanganin ko upang matupad ang bagong pangarap na aking nabubuhay. At wala akong babaguhin para sa mundo!

Sa palagay ko dapat ko ring sabihin na ang aking buhay ay naging medyo tahimik kahit na nakatira ako sa isang exotic na lugar. Hindi ako nakaranas ng anumang trauma. Ang aking mga relasyon ay buo lahat. Ni hindi ko naisip na nakagawa ako ng maraming sakripisyo. Ngunit napagtanto ko na ang iba ay nasa ibang kakaibang sitwasyon kaysa sa akin at maaaring hindi maging masaya sa kung nasaan sila ngayon.

Ano ang iyong mga pangarap mo noong bata ka pa at paano ba ito’y tumugma sa ginagawa mo ngayon? Ok lang ba yun? Mayroon ka ba’ng mga bagong pangarap ngayon?

Paano mo maipapaliwanag ang mga pagkakaiba? Maaari mo bang makita ang katibayan na ang Banal na Espiritu ay naging isang pangunahing bahagi ng mga pagbabagong iyon? Sa anong paraan?

Palaging malugod na tinatanggap ang feedback.

Pagbabahagi ang ginagawa ng mga kaibigan.

Akin ang Larawan.

A misspent youth? What happens when the dreams of the past don’t come true?


I love the bush. When I was younger I had no other dream than to live my life in the bush — as a hermit! I wanted to build my own log cabin and live off the land. I read all kinds of books about living in the bush. I built tents in the back yard and slept in them. I spent my High School summers canoeing in northern Saskatchewan, both as a part of Nemeiben Lake Canoe and Bible Camp and with my family. I paddled the Churchill, Paull, Geikie (upstream), South Saskatchewan (solo), and Foster Rivers. I ran (and swam) rapids and paddled lakes. I explored educational programs that would ensure that I lived in the bush for the rest of my life. It was fun.

Our recent time in Canada has rekindled my love for the bush. I have had a chance to do some paddling over the past year and even made a return trip to the Churchill River. But perhaps the greatest impact on my dreams of late has been the TV show Alone. Alone’s premise is to leave 10 people alone in the bush for as long as they can last. They are allowed 10 items to help them survive and the person who lasts the longest wins a cash prize. There have been a lot of highly skilled contestants over the 8 seasons the show has been on and it made me realise one thing. I have had a misspent youth.

I first heard that term on our Faith Academy Senior High School trip. We were playing Fuzbol, a rather perplexing game that seemed to involve a lot of spinning of rods with plastic men attached to them. Any goals scored by us seemed to be merely by chance. All except one player. Dan Larson was our photography teacher and he had the ability to actually control the ball. After one amazing shot where he deftly moved the ball with one of his defenders and then slammed it into the goal, our class advisor, Derek Foster, said, “Ah. A misspent youth!”

That cemented the definition of the term for me as “a skill of dubious value that one has gained because of spending too much time on it when they should have been spending time elsewhere.” I realised while watching the experts on Alone that I hadn’t taken the time to develop the skills that would make me successful on the show. I knew a few things and had the right dreams but my survival skills have not been developed.

I also realised another thing. I am currently living the life of my dreams. I have a wonderful soulmate and family that I share my life with. I am doing what I love doing — teaching theology of church and culture to people all over the world. I work for a great organisation. I live in a great city. I have great colleagues. I really have no complaints worth mentioning. So what happened?

I guess I really had two dreams when I was a kid — two rather incompatible dreams. One was to live alone in the bush while the other was to be a missionary. Perhaps one of the major reasons why I wanted to live alone in the bush was my shyness. I was petrified to talk to people. I remember one conversation I had with a young lady in our youth group — I spent the time looking at the floor giving one-word answers. I purposely messed up the yearly speeches we had to give in elementary school just so I wouldn’t have to present to the entire school. It’s odd that this is now what I spend my time doing.

As men we are often told to follow our dreams, but what if our dreams are incompatible with who we are? I mentioned above that I explored educational programs that would allow me to live in the bush for the rest of my life. What I didn’t mention is that I never entered those programs. Instead I ended up with a religious studies degree from University of Saskatchewan, and a seminary degree from Canadian Baptist Seminary. It still amazes me that a shy, quiet guy would choose such a public role a ministry & missions for a career path! So what happened? I guess the difference might be explained by a calling vs a dream. Now I realise I may be setting up a false dichotomy here but bear with me a little. I wasn’t very far into my seminary experience when I was expected to preach a sermon. As I look back on that first sermon (on Romans 7 of all things) I don’t recall any feelings of shyness or fear. I don’t have any other explanation for that than that the Holy Spirit changed me. I no longer looked for opportunities to avoid public speaking or leadership roles.

I guess in some ways Romans 7 became real to me in that I ended up doing what I didn’t want to do! I guess I could say that rather than mis-spending my youth I re-spent my youth developing the skills that I would need to fulfill the new dream I was living. And I wouldn’t change anything for the world!

I guess I should also say that my life has been pretty vanilla even though I live in an exotic place. I haven’t experienced any new trauma. My relationships are all intact. I don’t even think I have made a lot of sacrifices. But I do realise that others are in a much different situation than I am and may not be as happy with where they are right now.

What were your dreams growing up and how do they match what you are doing now? Is that ok? Do you have new dreams?

How can you explain the differences? Can you see evidence that the Holy Spirit has been a key part of those changes? In what ways?

Feedback is always welcome.

Sharing is what friends do.

Image taken by me.