The Road to Reconciliation
Several years ago, Bethel was visited by Sam Cooper, a Christian Reformed pastor who was in town to attend a Truth and Reconciliation event designed to foster healing between native and non-native Canadians. During his visit he told me he had a prophetic word for our church. Part of it read like this:
"… I [Jesus] have placed before you an open door that no one can shut' (Revelation 3:8b). The door of reconciliation has been thrown wide open to this city and to the church of this city: Reconciliation of neighbor to neighbor, reconciliation between the past and the present….”
I have always understood Sam’s words to speak especially about how Bethel (along with other churches) would play a role in the ongoing work of reconciliation between the First Nations peoples of Canada and the rest of the country. That reconciliation process is what brought Sam to Edmonton, and it was the context of his discussion with me.
The best way to tell if a “word” like this is from God is to see if it actually comes true. I think what happened last Sunday, when we held our own “Truth and Reconciliation” event, was in partial fulfilment of this word.
The evening began with a meal. Five members of the Saddle Lake band joined representatives of our church for a supper prepared by Jenny Hofstede with the help of some of her family members. Afterward Alsena White shared with the congregation her experience as a residential school survivor.
The evening was well attended (even though the Oilers were playing game six of their playoff series at the same time!). Many commented on the sweet spirit that prevailed during the event. Alsena made it clear that she was not sharing her story in order to “make people feel bad.” She was just contributing to our understanding of the situation. Questions from the floor after the presentation evidenced the same kind of humility, gentleness, and sympathy.
The event was part of a series of things that have marked Bethel’s road to reconciliation. We have had a couple of groups visit the Saddle Lake Reserve, and we support Philip Lee who runs youth programs there.
Where will this road to reconciliation take us next? We are not completely sure but I do believe the Lord will show us in time. For now we can all pray and keep an open heart. Reconciliation is what Jesus died to bring about, and he has made us ambassadors of reconciliation. We are called to share His love and good news with those we encounter and with all who will attend Bethel Church - native and non-native alike. - Pastor Tom
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