On the first cold day in Montreal (it’s been 3 degrees right through, though with the wind it’s colder), the Wednesday noon Presbyterian chapel (22 Oct) gave me a few things to think about.

The speaker Rev. Joseph Reed, from Batshaw Family Services (Protection de la Jeunesse), spoke from the famous Abraham sacrifice story in Genesis, and drew attention to Isaac’s perspective (what’s with all this child emphasis!) :) Anyway, the interesting thing was that Reed read the story, then read a fictional letter from a Social-Security Officer point of view stressing on the danger Abraham is to his child, and then asked the questions, what is a child got to do in such circumstances? How is the child to reconcile with his father, with God? And that’s it. End of sermon.

Of course this was followed by some jokes from some PC students who said that in his after-lunch scheduled talk, Reed should finish his sermon (are bible college students around the world any different!!!).

Reed didn’t actually finish his sermon, but shared a little more about what he was/is doing. He’s worked for almost 30 years in Central America, in El Salvador, Cuba, Chille and Nicaragua, doing social work and medical relief.

He told one story of how a Presbyterian church in Cuba was trying to change it’s name to “Reformed” Presbyterian Church… and an old and poor (financially) congregation member attending the name-changing meeting told the main (North American) leader visiting that day that she will be praying for his family (there seemed to be some serious illness in the family) everyday until she hears back from him. The church-leader grew teary and said that his own church members never said that to him.

Another story he told, again in Cuba, about how young people were flooding the churches. Reed thought it was because they wanted an alternative to Fidel Castro’s oppression. But the senior members of the congregation said that they’ve been praying for the young people of the land for 40 years and this is a result of God listening to their prayer.

Yet another story… in El Salvador (I think), during the civil war, a village invited Christian foreigners to come and stay in their village. So Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and some other congregations were invited. The group, when in the village, proceeded to discuss the meaning of mission, and how overt or covert must they use the gospel message while doing mission work amongst the people. Warring soldiers came and went, leaving the village unharmed. And then, it turned out, as Reed found out, that the reason why that village had called the “white” foreigners over was to protect them (by their presence) from any potential harm from the warring factions, and not really to listen to their theological discussions.

Then, again in El Salvador, Reed’s group had a bible study with the children, many of whom were recruited in the guerrilla forces. They decided to play it safe and avoid the issue of the war and simply do a basic Bible study about Moses. On the way back, on the bus (it seems Reed was on the bus), the bus was stopped and all the children’s school bags were checked by the ruling faction soldiers. They opened one of the kids’ books and read the notes about Moses and said, “we know you’re a guerrilla soldier, we won’t do anything to you if you tell us where we can find this Moses [this leader of rebels], so that we can arrest him!”

And I guess, without too much comment, like the sermon, I leave this post to affect the readers as they wish!

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