and Forgiveness: The Challenges
by the Hon. David Kilgour
of State (Asia-Pacific) and M.P.
for Edmonton Southeast
the Praise and Worship Service
at Onnuri Church
sisters and brothers in Jesus
can hardly wait to go back to
Canada to tell our young people
that more than two thousand young
Koreans gathered here to praise
and worship God for two hours
on a Thursday evening.
will all be aware of the World
Youth Day celebrations that took
place recently in Canada, drawing
young people from all denominations
from around the world. Those who
gathered for the final celebration
constituted the largest known
gathering in Canada’s entire history!
Estimates ranged from 800,000
to 1.2 million.
suffering Christian brother –
Pope John Paul II – who attracted
these numbers of mostly
young people from around the world
was speaking to young people everywhere
when he said: “Don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid to speak out for
what you believe …” He urged them
to have the courage to do something
lives, to resist the lure of consumerism
and fashion and money and see
what is really important in life.
“You are the salt of the earth,”
he concluded. “You are the light
of the world.” I want to encourage
you in your walk with Christ as
well, especially those also thinking
of becoming missionaries. One
of my own family members served
many years ago as a
in South Asia.
of you who are planning to be
missionaries must know that you
will need all the education and
skills you can get. The century
we just left was the most dangerous
in all in terms of religious persecution.
One estimate of the number of
believers who died prematurely
while standing up for their respective
faiths is a dismaying 169 million
time with you today is very short,
so let me turn briefly to two
matters which I hope will be encouraging
to you all: a bit of my own experience
with Christianity around the world,
and some thoughts on one of the
challenges facing us all – the
challenge of forgiveness and reconciliation.
has been my immense good fortune
to travel widely since the Cold
War ended in 1989. In virtually
every country I’ve been – approximately 75-80 on all continents
(35 in Africa, all but one in
Central and South America, most
in the Caribbean and a lot in
been struck by the vigor, confidence
and optimism of local Christians.
is not to say for a moment that
in some of these lands Christians
have it easy – quite the contrary
– but at least there is more tolerance
now and growing congregations
even if they must meet in secret
as in the days of the Roman Empire.
For example, several of us Canadians
were permitted to speak of Jesus
at a private dinner with National
Peoples’ Congress officials in
the Beijing room of the Great
Hall of the People in China’s
collapse of ideological competition
has virtually made it easier everywhere
for both Christians and other
faith communities. The ‘crisis
of the soul,’ to use the phrase
of Aleksandr Yakovlev, the
advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev, which inflicted
the Russian people for decades
has clearly begun to change. There
are plenty of bumps on the road,
but an important process has begun.
a visit to South America and South
Africa a few years ago, I discussed
spirituality with a number of
A leader from Central America,
a minister in the government of
El Salvador, indicated quite spontaneously
that God has been good to her
and her family. He, she added,
gives talents to everyone; the
more one has the greater the ability
to be a “beacon.” Whenever she
feels herself to be in God’s presence,
which I took to occur frequently
for her, she wants to use all
her abilities to advance his will.
Canadian colleague on the same
flight offered another perspective.
For him, Jesus offers every believer
a sound basis for salvation because
He came into the world to help
the marginalized and suffering.
He loves every human being
and does not judge individuals
in the foolish way the world so
Love and redemption are
the promise to believers.
of the results of September 11
is that there seems to be a recognition
that a better dialogue needs to
among the world’s faiths; one
that focuses on the fundamentally
similar underlying values we
share. I would like to expand on one of these values:
Henderson, a Christian,
has written a book entitled, The
Forgiveness Factor: Stories of
Hope in a World of Conflict
(Grosvenor Books, 1997).
Throughout, he tells the
stories of citizen-diplomats of
all backgrounds who have found
the strength to bring faith communities
together through forgiveness,
breaking cycles of violence in
the process. I’d like to share
of these stories with you.
1971, Joseph Lagu was the leader
of the guerrilla movement in the
south of Sudan during the first
civil war between the predominantly
Muslim north and largely Christian
A plane from the north
crashed one day in a region controlled
by Lagu’s soldiers, and there
were twenty-nine survivors. His
colleagues wanted them killed
but, in reflecting overnight,
Lagu recalled that Jesus, when
asked how many times one should
forgive, had replied: “seventy
The northerners were released
unharmed; their message about
this at home helped persuade the
government of the day to negotiate
the Addis Ababa
agreement, which ended seventeen
years of armed conflict.
I, in closing, offer a prayer:
Father, please look with
continuing favour on the All Nations
Worship and Praise Ministries.
Keep safe the many missionaries
ANM has sent out across the world.
Allow all to see Jesus
reflected in what the makers of
this congregation do in their
daily lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
bless All Nations Worship and Praise
Ministries. God bless all of you.