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Brenda Pue: One Hundred and Forty Six Days

May 27, 2014 3 comments

146 Days

It is amazing that we are 146 days into Brenda’s diagnosis. We have been so blessed by the love and support of our family, friends and our church and the Arrow Leadership network.

Brenda is doing remarkably well all things considered. I wanted you to see for yourself so here are two video clips. The first is a message that she recorded for a series of Arrow events across the country that had she been well she would have probably attended with Dr. Steve Brown and our friend Ken Shigematsu who was speaking about rhythm based on his best-selling book “God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God.” It was recorded one week after her diagnosis.

She recorded it to greet hundreds of Arrow leaders whom she has known personally over many years.

 

Best Easter Ever

Brenda has only been able to attend church once with me since January – and that was on Resurrection Sunday. While I was in the midst of talking to our congregation. Safe to say I was not at the top of my game as it was an emotional day for me.

My colleague, and Senior Minister, Darrell Johnson sidled up beside me – and you can watch what happened. He pointed out to the church that Brenda was present and invited her up onto the platform with me. She spoke for just a few moments – and it was powerful. We have felt such love from this congregation in the heart of this great city.

Caring Bridge

Brenda’s writing about her journey has captured the attention of thousands and touched many hearts. I have been collecting all of her entries and we are praying about publishing it in a book form for others who face (what the medical community call) terminal illness. What is interesting is the amount of peace we feel when we take just one day at a time.

Brenda’s latest entry can be read HERE.

 

I Love the City

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment
Granville Street

Granville Street Vancouver BC

I love cities. New York, London, Mumbai, Berlin, Singapore, Hong Kong – it doesn’t matter. Plop me in the middle of millions of people in a downtown core and I am happy camper. The fact that I am working again in the downtown of Vancouver is so exciting.

Walking from the Skytrain up to my work office each day I am exhilarated by all the life in the people around me. Thousands scurry about to their offices. men and women servicing these offices also make their deliveries and pickups around me. Sitting on the sidewalks I pass several ‘regular’ homeless types – I say that only because I am not certain they are homeless in that they are so regular in their spots that I think of them more like having a job. Then I meet new homeless and see new business types each day who are new to me and to the downtown.

The other day, Darrell Johnson and I went for coffee to a favourite ‘hide-out’ we have found. On our walk there we saw a well dressed man on the street looking around. After our coffee, he was still there.

“Just give me a minute,” Darrell said as he walked towards the man. “We noticed you a while back and do not recognize you in the community. Can I ask what you are doing?”

The man smiled and told us he was paparazzi  – a photographer trying to capture a picture of a famous person to sell to the tabloids or magazines. We did notice his massive lens on the Nikon camera he was carrying. Not a normal Vancouver tourist camera – in fact most just use smartphones now.

“Who are you watching for today?” I asked.

“Ninety percent of the Hollywood stars doing filming here stay at this hotel. Today I am waiting to get a shot of George Clooney. He is staying here while shooting Tomorrowland.”

I should introduce him to my colleague Mark Laughlin at First as Mark seems to know where every celebrity is in the city. In fact his office is filled with photos of Mark and a collage of famous people who have visited our city.

George Clooney on the set during the filming of Tomorrowland in Vancouver, Sept 16, 2013.

George Clooney during the filming of Tomorrowland in Vancouver, Sept 16, 2013. Photo by PUNKD Images

We ended up having an enjoyable conversation with this man in the city. He went on to tell us his job is one where everyone hates him but that he loves it and does it more as a hobby than a profession.

Mr Paparazzi is just one of hundreds of thousands of stories. It is in this city that we of the church live. It is our environment and an in your face portrait of the world itself. I love the city because it is a symbol of the world and an amalgamator of people from around the globe. God loves people and with our density – there is a lot of His love here.

Our church takes seriously the words found in Jeremiah 29:7 “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  These words were spoken to Israel when its people were sent as exiles into Babylon (the city) as captives. We as the church are captives in the city. Normally prisoners are trying to escape – but the prophet Jeremiah passes along the instruction of God to move in, build houses, live in them, raise a family there. Don’t flee the city, get involved.

Cities by their very nature are about captivity. Young adults move downtown to experience freedom, but within two weeks a deep sense of loneliness sets in and they get captured by their work and other pursuits to fill this longing for relationship. When men and women in the city begin to feel captive – they too seek escape in frenetic activity or unhealthy pursuits.

These are the very people we are told to live with and to seek the overall welfare of the city. This verse does not insinuate that we are to convert the city – but to pray for the welfare of the city on its behalf. If we can bring the shalom of Jesus into the city, see it prosper and be strengthened it will certainly weaken and break the powers that hold its dweller captive in anti-redemptive ways. By our prayers the very meaning and quality of the city could change, be overhauled, transformed, reorganized, reworked and renewed.

This is why we need the people of the church to be at the heart of the city praying for its wellbeing.

Just writing this makes me want to be out on the streets downtown. #lovedowntown

Categories: Loving Downtown

We are hiring…

July 8, 2013 1 comment

joinourteam

Director of Children

& Family Ministries

 

Our Church

First Baptist Vancouver, or ‘First’ or ‘FBC’ as we are known on the street, is a community that believes it is possible to live and love the way Jesus does – and we come together to help one another on this journey of becoming like Jesus. Located at the crossroads of downtown Vancouver a vibrant community congregates in our stone building.
 We are young, old, and in-between; rich, poor, employed and re-training; multicultural; families and singles; Bible scholars and seekers.

Granville Street

Just blocks from our door, the downtown of Vancouver is alive and vibrant, multi-ethnic and diverse.

Our neighborhood is surprisingly filled with many young families and our Children & Family Ministry is one of the most robust in our congregation. Engaging one hundred volunteers, we are a church deeply committed to family.


Overview

Children & Family Ministries is vital to the health of our congregational and community life at FBC and in our neighborhood. The new director will have primary responsibility for giving leadership to shape Sunday morning and mid-week children’s programs, ensuring that they are Biblically relevant to the contemporary family and for developing a family friendly congregational environment. Reporting to the Executive Director, this ministry leadership position is supported by both staff and volunteers. A strategic team, your  Ministry Area Team (MAT) will be established to be a support in this ministry area, and assist you with dreaming, strategic planning and assessment of existing programs.

The West End

First Baptist is right in the center of this cityscape, both geographically and in mission.

Key Responsibilities

In order to carry out this important ministry in our congregation and neighbourhood this position will include a number of key responsibilities in multiple areas including:

Leadership

  • Develop and work with a team of leaders who seek to integrate children’s ministries within a church family framework where parent involvement and spiritual leadership of children is a partnership between the home and church.
  • Screen, recruit, train, and nurture a large team of volunteer members who have a heart to serve children, in both leadership and support roles. Provides direction and supervision to volunteer team leaders.
  • Model Christian leadership and empower volunteers to fulfill their assignments.
  • Oversee administration needs of preparing and controlling the budget, maintaining database of volunteers, and preparing communication about the ministry.
  • Work with key volunteer leaders to select and implement user-friendly Biblical curriculum that reflects the values and vision of FBC.
  • Provide initial pastoral care as needed for children, staff, volunteers and parents and faithfully pass on information to the Pastoral Team for additional support.

Family Ministry:

  • Implement ministry and special events of importance to the family. Current programs include a Mid-week Parent Group, Family Connection Groups, All Church Family Camp, Soccer Camps,  Parenting Seminars, and Small Groups.

Children’s Programs (Birth to Grade 7)

  • Oversee our discipleship groups for children: Early Childhood, School-age Children, Preteen Ministry, Sunday weekly activities; mid-week children’s programs; baptism classes, summer programs, and special events.
  • Build and nurture contacts with our neighbourhood and community (for example: schools and the YMCA).

Pastoral Team

  • Share ministry information with the FBC pastoral team for the health and development of the church and represent the interests of children and families to the wider church body.
  • Engage and work collaboratively with the Ministry Area Team (MAT) for support, discussion and assessment of ministry programs.
  • Work collaboratively with the Pastoral Team.
  • Plan together with the Youth Director, to ensure smooth transitions to the youth program, and annual calendar planning.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the FBC Values and vision by participating in the life of the church (examples: worship service attendance, small group participation, staff devotions).

Qualifications

Education and Experience

The successful applicant we see as having the following skills and traits:

  • Bible College or University education appropriate to the position,
  • A godly leader of good character who has a vibrant personal faith in Jesus Christ.
  • A strong desire to see: parents become the spiritual leaders in their homes; and their children become fully devoted followers of Christ.
  • Strong organizational, communication and collaborative leadership skills
  • Ability to multi-task, delegate, team build, and provide oversight to many ministry areas.
  • Significant church experience would be an asset
  • Candidates must be eligible for credentialing as a licensed pastor with our denominational family, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. Details regarding this can be found at (cbwc.ca).

Hours per Week: 40 (FTE)

Compensation: FBC uses a salary grid commensurate to the role responsibility, education & experience.

 Timeline: Accepting applications immediately

 Closing Date July 22, 2013

Contact

Please submit your resume electronically to employment@firstbc.org

 

The Upside Down Cross

February 16, 2013 6 comments

The daily commute and normal people

Skytrain-BurrardI love taking public transit to work and one of the reasons is that it surrounds me every day with ‘normal’ people – those who are not followers of Jesus. I say normal because they are the majority – especially in my city.

Yesterday, a young woman in her twenties boarded the train dressed in black from head to toe and sat right in front of me facing sideways. She was sharply dressed and looked as though she might work in one of the large office towers in the city centre. Her style was like ‘professional Goth.’

As she was getting settled in her seat she turned her head to the side and I was able to see a tattoo on her left cheek. It was an upside down cross.

“I notice your tattoo, where did you get it done?” I asked. (If you are putting a tattoo on your face I figure you are inviting conversation.) She looked directly into my eyes pondering if she would even respond. Was I being judgmental or condemning? Why was this man even talking to me? Eventually she answered with the name of an artist and she had it done nine blocks from our church.

“I guess if you are going to get a tattoo on your face, you would sure want to have the right artist.” I answered. “My son gets his done by an artist in Calgary.” This seemed to suddenly change our relationship and I even got a small smile. Now, keep in mind, the entire time I am looking at a young woman the age of my oldest daughter-in-law. She is attractive yet her dark eye makeup and the upside down cross on her face shout out a defiance that I am sure comes out of deep hurt.

“What is the meaning of the tatt?”inverted-cross

Laughing she responded, “It is my way of giving the finger to organized religion”

“Well it is a very appropriate tattoo for this week,” I responded.

“Why is that?”

“Because the Pope announced he is resigning and he actually sits on a chair that has an upside down cross engraved on it.”

“He does? Unreal!” She was really mystified. “Why.. would the Pope have this on his chair?”

“Well maybe he wasn’t brave enough to put it on his face,” I quipped.

She laughed with a big smile.

Flummoxed

“Before I tell you more, and out of respect for you, I want you to know that I am a minister. I work at First Baptist downtown.” She was flummoxed, her head now fully cocked to one side.

I continued, “I know that organized religion can be incredibly frustrating for people to understand and even experience.” More puzzled looks. “But the Pope has your symbol (pointing to her cheek) on his chair because for us as Christians it reminds us of Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples. Peter was  crucified on a cross like Jesus – but upside down. He was killed because he refused to renounce his faith in Jesus. He didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus and asked to be hung upside down..hence the cross on the Pope’s chair. The church was founded by this man – Peter.”

With a subdued softer bewildered look, she began to gather her things together getting ready for her stop. My morning friend did not seem anxious to run away and, had our commute allowed it, she might have liked to talk more.

Invite rather than tell

The Cross of St. Peter is shown in this French...

What will she think about when she looks in a mirror today, and tomorrow, and next week?

Inviting people to think, instead of telling them what to think is an effective way to engage normal people.

I hope I meet ‘cross lady’ again to continue the conversation.

Poverty to Prosperity: Singapore

July 12, 2012 3 comments

Back to the City

For those of you who have been following Bob and I on this journey around the world and have read my updates you may appreciate the shock we experienced being transported from a Lahu village to downtown Singapore.

Singapore is both an island and a country, and just one degree off the equator. On our drive from the airport to downtown I was struck again by Singapore’s abundance of parks, and lush, tropical greenery. Although highly urbanized and densely populated (five million people), fifty percent of land area of Singapore is covered by greenery.

I also noticed construction cranes present and a lot of growth in magnificent skyscrapers since my last visit. There is a building boom taking place for sure.

We stayed right downtown in the Orchard district. Its unique ethnic tapestry blends Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and English cultures and their religions and food. The cuisine here is amazing.

Focus words that come to my mind re Singapore are: clean, safe, efficient, and opulent. I have Singaporeans as friends and love that they are friendly, confident, and determined.  It is a “get ‘er done” city that boasts the highest concentration of millionaires anywhere on the planet.

With fifteen percent of the households here filled with millionaires it has become a shopping paradise. Singapore’s malls along Orchard Street are populated with high fashion brand name stores kept open late into the night or open for 24 hours. An intricate network of underground passages, tunnels, and walkways connects them but we got a bit lost while walking back to our hotel.

Opulence

Another thing that got me a bit lost here was the opulence. I mean how many Prada stores do you really need – (or insert your favorite high fashion brand)? We had jumped from the simplicity of the village to this urban hub that seemed to lack for nothing.

It made me grateful for those who live here and are trying to minister to these people. Peter Chao and my friends at Eagles Communication have been doing so since 1968. They have watched Singapore grow up around them and are held in very high regard.

There are many mega churches in Singapore like:  City Harvest Church (30,000), Faith Community Baptist Church (10,000) and New Creation Church (24,000) along many other churches with one to five thousand attending weekly.

Bob and I attended New Creation Church at the Rock Theatre in a shopping mall. We were there right at the start time of the service and met by some friendly hosts who informed us that the theatre was full and could they escort us to the shuttle that took us to an alternate location.

Impressive

It was impressive. Every fifty feet there was another volunteer pointing the way down this hallway and the next eventually leading to escalators. We rode these down to a back entrance where we queued up with about two hundred other people awaiting the arrival of shuttle buses that came about every eight minutes.

I stopped to ask the leader of their “hosts” how many people he needed to ‘make all this happen?’ He replied, 1,100.

“At all the campuses?” I asked.

“No, that is just here at the overflow. I am not sure how many we have altogether.”

I was gob smacked by this yet another reminder of how much time people ‘sacrifice’ in the global south. This is a consistent theme I have encountered on this trip. (Sacrifice is my term for most volunteers in the North think they are sacrificing when they give of their time).

After a ten-minute bus ride we entered the underground parking level of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, this iconic landmark in the city.

From the bus another string of volunteers led us up elevators to a floor where the church had taken over every ballroom and converted them into seating areas or children’s ministry centers – and this was the overflow section!

 

We had missed all the singing and sat down in time for the sermon by Joseph Prince who is known globally through television and books. That is not his birth name – he changed it … not unlike a movie star.

It Takes All Kinds

Prince is known for ‘Word of Faith’ teaching, which means by faith one has the guarantee to be healthy and prosperous. This theme clearly runs through his communication but Prince has changed the basic premise. Instead of using “by faith”, he teaches it is “by grace,” so it has more of an appeal. An example of this prosperity gospel language can be found in his books, such as:

You are destined to reign in life You are called by the Lord to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health, and enjoy a life of victory.Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious – Joseph Prince 2007

I intuit that this kind of message is especially effective among people from a Buddhist culture and perhaps from poor family backgrounds – but I’d like to study this more on my return in discussion with my Asian friends and colleagues.

During our Sunday visit I found his sermon using a lot of scripture that was projected on the four large screens. He preached against sin and of God’s grace. The appeal for offering was not high-pressured.

It takes all kinds of Christian churches to reach all kinds of people from village people to über wealthy, urban, suburban, white, black, latino, asian whatever cultural background and influence.

Surely God can work through Bible Churches, Charismatic Churches, Traditional Churches, and Seeker Churches. He can use Baptist Christians, Methodist Christians, Episcopal Christians, and Spirit-filled tongue talking Holy Ghost rollin’ Christians.

Over this global experience of meeting followers of Jesus of many tribes I want to say this: No matter how much you enjoy your particular expression of worship, your church won’t reach the world alone.

Northern Thailand: The Village and Loving Your Neighbor

July 7, 2012 3 comments

THE LAHU PEOPLE

My niece Christina lives in Chiang Mai. She is a teacher there and speaks Thai fluently, which was a huge advantage during our visit there. She is married to Teerawood, a man she met while on a mission trip, who is from one of the hillside tribal groups called Lahu.

Many of his family members still live in the hills near the Burma border. These hills are sometimes referred to as mountains but for someone from Vancouver we will just try to stick with hills.

BURMA

In 1989, the military government “officially changed” many British colonial-era names. Among these changes was the alteration of the name of the country to “Myanmar“. Many countries in the world (including Canada) do not officially recognize the name and still refer to the nation as Burma, which is what I am choosing to do in this article.

Burma is one of the poorest countries in the world and has had a civil war taking place for the past fifty years. The decades of military dictatorship have basically destroyed the country’s infrastructure and leaving over 30% of the population of 50 million live in poverty. Burma under this regime has become the world’s second largest opium producer and the main producer of methamphetamines in SE Asia.

World Vision tell me that the country also has one of the highest HIV infection rates in Southeast Asia–more than 240,000 people are living with HIV and AIDS.

Foreign Affairs Canada advises against all travel to areas along the Burma/Thai border due to “clashes between the military and armed groups, ethnic conflict, banditry, and unmarked landmines in these areas which pose risks to the security of travellers.” Okay, that seems pretty straightforward. Sporadic fighting between military forces and armed resistance groups is still occurring along the border with Thailand and, tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced and are living, hiding or are in refugee camps

So, when Bob and I were asked us if we would like to go to ‘the village’ by the border we weighed the situation for about fifteen seconds and then jumped at the opportunity.

THE VILLAGE

It was almost a four-hour drive north of the city through stunning countryside. The lush vegetation, valleys, rivers and villages along the way were worth the trip of themselves. The jungle made me constantly think about Vietnam and how they could ever fight a war in jungle like this.

When we reached the village of Huay Kok Moo it was like entering another world. The village name translates ‘Pig Pen Village’ and derived its name because the people there literally keep their pigs in pens.

Everyone we met welcomed us warmly. They are not used to having too many visitors in this remote area. The mountains in the background mark the border to Burma and the close proximity made it clear why the people here are affected by the government struggles. At night you can sometimes hear the gunfire from near the border just kilometers away.

Our sleeping accommodation was on the second floor of a home building were the entire family slept together on the floor with mosquito nets over each bed. After getting our beds set up and dropping off our overnight bags we walked through the village on paths up and down the hills as the neighbors and especially the children stared and smiled. Usually built on stilts using split bamboo for walls and grass for roof thatch, most of these small houses have no running water.

Many  village houses are raised up on stilts and underneath are kept the family chickens and pigs. Inside you see a supply of bare-bones essentials: partitioned sleeping quarters with a mat for a bed and a kitchen of sorts with a wood-burning hearth on the floor. The kitchen doubles as a social gathering place for its inhabitants.

There is primitive electricity now in the village and a few satellite dishes set outside the huts making me smile just thinking about the positive and negative influence of television on this tribal culture.

Back at Teerawood’s parents home the women were busy cooking the evening meal. A number of guests had been invited to meet with us – pastors in the area (really the elders of the village).

The meal was greens and fruit picked from the garden or jungle, some chicken, pork, rice and garnished with some spicy condiments and hot local tea. For dessert we ate the most delicious pineapple and mango we have every tasted – picked just minutes before.

As we talked after dinner I observed a beautiful simplicity to life here in the village. The people are usually smiling, gentle and caring for their neighbor. These particulate Lahu people are mostly Christian having been reached by missionaries years ago. They know well the teachings of Jesus about loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet many of them are displaced themselves from Burma.

The war in Burma is truly a horrendous situation. Rambo notwithstanding, the stories have not been exaggerated. Torture, murder, systematic rape, villages burned down, men forced to carry heavy loads for days on end with no food or to “sweep” for landmines…it all happens. There are apparently over 100,000 Burmese refugees living in the jungle in camps on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border. Agencies of the Thai government and NGO’s are helping to get them resettled but as soon as they are new ones arrive to take their place.

I wondered, “How do you love neighbors like the Burma Army and their execution squads?”

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

In Thai the word for village is หมู่บ้าน (pronounced ‘muban’).

When in Chiang Mai, Christina would refer to what I would have called subdivisions as muban. They were ‘villages’. The city is composed of neighborhood ‘villages’ and I love the image of this.

Our neighborhoods in Vancouver are actually like little villages – although we often don’t love and care for one another like they do here in Huay Kok Moo. I don’t have to live with the thought of a military force displacing me or forcing me to walk before them across roads or rice fields to clear mines. But we have a struggle of our own taking place in that I see clearly as a Christian leader in a downtown church.

We live in interesting, and challenging days being followers of Jesus of Nazareth in Vancouver. In one of Jesus’ central teachings, he commands us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31). Yet we don’t know what to do when we don’t agree with our neighbor about something – especially something important, like our religious beliefs. And while we love our neighbor in “the village” by meeting physical needs and being kind, there is an overlooked, application of this passage.

To really to love our neighbor we actually need to stand up for the possibility of truth. We need to protect the endangerment of honest disagreement concerning the nature of reality.

Today a battle is raging in movies, television, newspapers and university classrooms concerning the nature of tolerance. There seem to be 2 competing definitions:
(1) False Tolerance: We can make no judgments at all about the truth of others’ beliefs.

(2) True Tolerance: We allow others the freedom to hold beliefs that we judge to be false.

If we cannot tell our neighbors or ourselves the truth about reality, then we cannot really love them. Because love involves seeking another’s highest good. We must fight false tolerance that seeks to intellectually bully our village into agreeing that every viewpoint (especially when it comes to religion, and morality) is equally valid.

We must speak up in love for the possibility of truth.

Loving our neighbor requires this.

Thai Wai, Family, Spirits and Kissing

July 3, 2012 1 comment

  The Wai Greeting

When we arrived in Thailand we were greeted by people raising both hands, palms touching with the fingers pointing upwards as if in prayer but touching the body somewhere on their head or chest. This called wai – pronounced ‘why’.

The wai is a sign of greeting but also respect in Thai culture. These people are extremely respectful of hierarchical relationships and during our time in Thailand I sensed people we met were trying to place where we fit within a hierarchy so they know how we should be treated.

There are many variations of the wai depending on the difference in status or level. The heights of the palms are the most crucial criteria of respect to be demonstrated to another. The higher the more respect is paid.  Here is a list I found that summarizes the rules for wai:

  • With less important: Thumbs about on breast height.
  • With ones of equal rank: Thumbs about on chin level.
  • With important and older people: Thumbs on level of the upper lip.
  • With very important people: Thumbs on level of the nose tip.
  • With monks (and members of the royal family): Thumbs on level of the eyebrows.

Family


When Bob and I came through security at the Chiang Mai airport, we received a different kind of welcome. My niece Christy and her husband Cahtaw were there to greet us with their children Isaiah and Celina. They were all excited to see Uncle Carson. There was no questioning where we fit in a hierarchy – we were family.

No wai here – just lots of hugs.

Family seems to be the cornerstone that holds Thai society together. It reminds me of Ireland where family relationships are more closely knit than in most western cultures.

However, in Thailand, as with most Asian cultures, there is a strong hierarchy within the family structure with males and older individuals occupying a higher status. The role of the wife is to be passive and to adhere to husband’s family, be subservient to the male, take care of the home, and to have children (preferably sons). The role of the male is to provide for the family however the primary duty is to be a good son; obligations to be a good husband and father come second to duty as a son.

Present and the Past – at the same time

Now it is one thing to live with this in the present, but in Thailand you see many ‘spirit houses’ on display outside homes. I found this interesting because Buddhism dominates Thailand and yet spirit worship (animism) are found side by side. In Thailand devotion to Buddhism most often shows itself in ritual within a temple while Thai devotion to spirits most often shows itself in their own front yards. There can be a statue of Buddha in the doorway and a spirit house outside.

It is not uncommon for Thai’s to worship the spirits of ancestors and therefore live in a constant “past present” time orientation. So this ‘respect’ for family members can transcend even death. I witnessed people give wai towards a spirit house in respect of the ancestor or spirit they thought was occupying the house.

It is for reasons like this that Christian believers in Thailand have questions about whether they should use the wai or respond when waied (if that is a word?). It can symbolize belief in spirits or be viewed as an act of worship – hence the problem. This is perhaps a topic for a separate blog, let me instead get back to familial hierarchy.

I have been pondering this as a follower of Jesus, and as a leader in a multi-ethnic church where we are trying to create community in the heart of the city. Hierarchy does not flow from the mandate and example of Jesus. He emphasizes servant leadership – “first shall be last” modelling.

The doctrine of the Trinity itself – three equal while different persons – challenges hierarchical structures of power. The word hierarchy is not found anywhere in the New Testament. So is it right for Asian Christians, or Irish Christians for that matter to place more importance of family and hierarchy than on what Jesus desires for us?

More pondering required on this.

Wai/Kiss

In other countries where Bob and I have visited we have been greeted with a “holy kiss”. In South America, people are fairly tactile: they hug and kiss (on the cheek) and hold hands all the time. This men-kissing-men takes a lot of getting used to, especially for us reserved Canadians.

In Peru they kissed twice, once on each cheek, and in Argentina it was three times – a formulae I always seemed to get wrong. Do you go for the right cheek, the left cheek? Do you hold back and wait? Do you lunge and embarrassingly kiss mid-air or bump heads? It was safer in Kuwait. There, kissing outside the home can land you in jail for a week, but then again so can driving a jet ski inside a little red buoy – but that is another story. 🙂

While I loved the graceful gesture of the wai in Thailand, it will not be a practice I am encouraging back home.

I think we need to kiss more.