I honestly admit that I have not given much thought towards finding ways to celebrate Canada Day this year. But I have been thinking about our nation.
Since the Kamloops discovery of 215 children, I have taken it upon myself to seriously reflect about the role of the ‘church’ in this and other residential school tragedies. My broad definition of ‘church’ here refers to those who believed that they were acting on behalf of the Hebrew God of the Bible.
As a fellow believer and follower of Jesus, it grieves my heart immensely that these atrocious actions and the inhumane treatment of children were performed by people who also professed Jesus as Lord.
From Catholic to Protestant traditions, history tells us that each residential school in Canada was not only a product of our Government, but it was also embraced and sanctioned by the ‘church’. Here in Canada, it seems that the beastly powers of government and religion operated in tandem to try and ‘remove the Indian’ from every Indigenous child. To make matters even worse, many Bible-believing Christians seemed to be convinced that this was God’s holy mandate.
Today, as a pastor and leader in a local ‘church’, I am left to ponder an enormous amount of questions and wrestle through some challenging issues. As the ‘church’ how are we able to begin reconciling the actions of our past? Where do we start?
For me, it has meant asking some sobering questions and probing into the belief system that seemed to endorse this violent behaviour. In other words, I have had to wrestle with the violent actions of those who believed they were acting correctly ‘in the name of God’.
Furthermore, I have had to come to grips with the multitude of Old Testament Scripture passages that seem to endorse this type of violent conquest behaviour exhibited within the residential school system. And then, I have had to make sense of Jesus’ command to love and bless our enemies. I have had to work through and try to address the nastiness of the Old Testament with the niceness of the New.
Believers today would do well to give serious thought and attention to the thousands of passages in the Bible that paint God to be some sort of deity that approves violence and seems to take pleasure in conquering over pagan nations. How can a Bible-believing Christian accept these violent Biblical portraits of God in the Old Testament while condemning the violent actions of His people today?
In this regard, it would seem that Christians today need to give serious thought about the Bible and the violent action taken against the Indigenous people of Canada.
I am personally doing this very thing.
Thankfully, our National Fellowship has published a statement regarding the Kamloops tragedy and recently hosted an Indigenous Day of Prayer. You can find those resources here:
David Wells (General Superintendent) continues to model and encourage all pastors, leaders, and congregational members within the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada to take active steps towards grieving, reconciling, listening and learning.
Futher to this point, Dan Collado, who is the Indigenous Peoples Coordinator and the Academic Director of the Aboriginal Bible Academy, continues to help our Fellowship find ways to bring healing to our past while leading towards a better tommorrow.
Individually however, may I suggest that we ALL need to take appropriate steps towards reconciling the actions of our nations’ past in personal ways. In my admitted ignorance, I was all too comfortable with the religious reasoning that gave rise to the violent action taken against the Indigenous people of Canada.
Today, I apologize to the 1.6 million Indigenous people across our nation for my personal complacency and for turning my comfortable religious blind eye towards the atrocities of the past and the un-Christlike behaviour of those operating in His Name.
I am grieved and profoundly moved by your hurt and the enormity of your loss. With God’s Spirit, my desire is to stand with the Indigenous community during this time of national reckoning and pledge to demonstrate and teach that God is a God of love.
My prayer for this Canada Day is that all Canadians take the needed tangible steps towards our Indigenous neighbours that our God of love calls for.
What this looks like for you, I do not know. But Jesus modelled footwashing for a reason, and I am convinced that followers of Jesus need to model and find ways to respectfully ‘wash the feet’ of our Indigenous neighbours today.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35