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June 30, 2017

My great-grandfather, and his son of eight years, came to Canada from Russia in 1874, settling in Manitoba.   A Mennonite, he was strongly committed to God, the Bible, family, community, farming and pacifism.   He was a founding participant in the development of the town of Steinbach, where he built the first Dutch windmill in Canada.   He left his mark on this land through his many off-spring.

At that time the Canadian government needed people to settle on, and to develop, the Prairies.  The Russian Mennonites were considered ideal candidates because of their cold weather experience, farming skills, industrious character and large families.  They were described by the Commissioner of Immigration and Agriculture, who visited them in Russia,  as “hardworking, sober, moral and intelligent people . . . superior agriculturists, have good farm buildings . . . homes which excel in order and cleanliness, prosperous merchants, manufacturers and mechanics.”

Over the years, they have proved themselves to be all of that and more.  The downside, certainly at first, was the clannishness that separated them from much public life, and their tenacious belief in pacifism which kept them from military and civic service.  Time and obligation changed their attitude so they could served in various levels of civic and government leadership.

The Mennonites are just one small example of the important influence faithful followers of Christ, the Bible and righteousness have had on our history as a nation.  Strong and numerous Christian churches have dotted this land since its founding, impacting for good our culture, governance and lifestyle.   Judeo-Christian values once strongly marked our nation.   Many of our finest institutions are rooted in, and have been guided by, biblical principles.  God has blessed that to the point we are a premier choice for immigration by many across this hurting world, and for good reason.

It must be confessed that there is increasing evidence that the spiritual influence of Christians is in sharp decline.  The church has often failed to be the salt and light needed to expose evil and to hinder decay.  As a result, it has been side-lined, while secularism and relativism have become dominate influences over government, politics, education, law and business.  It manifests itself in the increasing evidences of corruption, lack of integrity, public and political thievery, increasing lawlessness, burgeoning indebtedness, and a broad acceptance of blatant, state-approved immorality.

Perhaps, the clearest evidence of this decline is the lack of public dismay at the shameful and inexcusable participation of our Prime Minister, his wife and children at the recent homosexual parade in Toronto.   It is disheartening to see rainbow flags waving unashamedly on the grounds of what should be our finest institutions.  There are lots of things that we, as a free society, accommodate; but for the common good it is not necessary or right, that we approve, support or celebrate them.  Obviously, few of our leaders or people understand that!

As disappointing as such things are, thankfully there is still much more that is worthy of praise and gratefulness.  We must remain vigilant lest we lose the many benefits we have inherited from our forefathers.

I sing with pride, but some grief, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”   I pray, because it is a critical petition, “God keep our land, glorious and free.”  No enemy without or within can seriously threaten a nation that pleases God, seeks His blessing, obeys His Word and pursues His righteousness.  To lose that focus, as we most assuredly have, is to lose God’s blessing, protection, guidance and wisdom.   Have these things already been lost beyond reparation?   Only God knows the answer to that.   On this occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday, it behooves the followers of Christ to seek His face in humility, fear, repentance and confession.

Fearfully, other than in the singing of our National Anthem, not one mention of God, nor even a prayer, was heard throughout the celebrations!  Neither diversity nor multiculturalism should be allowed to undermine the very values and faith that have blessed this land with so much good.  To disown the Lord God and His blessing is to invite the very things many Canadians fled from to come here.

A fellow pilgrim,   Arnold Reimer


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