THE BOREALIS PROJECT: A NEW VISION FOR CANADA
We are seeking to re-establish our ministry in Canada in 2009 by the placement of ministry teams that reach the diverse ethnic population of the country. During the years 2001-2006, Canada's population grew by 1.6 million. But only one fourth of that growth was through natural population growth (Canadians average only 1.5 children per couple). 1.2 million of these new Canadians were immigrants. Dramatic changes are taking place in Canada due largely to this demographic shift, and BMW would like to invest its energies in the lives of these newcomers.
The vision of our Borealis Project is to "establish northern lights that will shine around the globe" - to plant multi-cultural churches in the principal centres of Canada, starting in the nation's capital, Ottawa, Ontario. (To give you an idea of how diverse Canada is, Ottawa's CHIN radio station broadcasts to 37 cultures in 20 languages on a weekly basis.) These ministries would use English classes as primary contact tools, as well as other practical services we would be able to render to newcomers to Canada: liaison services with vital people and agencies, shopping, rental and employment assistance, etc. We would work toward worship together in English (or French in Gatineau, Quebec, just on the other side of the Ottawa River) and seek to provide discipleship and leadership development in the heart languages of the people in the growing congregation. Regular, structured interaction and fellowship between the various language groups would be provided to encourage cultural exchange and break down barriers. Our desire is to see the gospel rebound back to the countries from which these new Canadians have come.
As we assemble our first church planting team, we are especially interested in multi-lingual members, as well as those who can teach English or French or have cross-cultural experience. Canadian citizenship would be an asset, though it is certainly not a requirement.
Our goal for the Canadian ministry is twofold:
We have a constituency and an organizational infrastructure already in place, and simply need to build teams of committed missionaries to move into the new areas of ministry to which God directs us.
If you're interested in reading the abstract, "The Borealis Project" and in pursuing ministry in Canada, please contact Rob Heijermans, BMW's Director for Canada, who can send you the entire vision statement.
AN ADVANCED CASE OF PLURALISM
Spiritually, Canada can be compared to Western Europe. Despite a rich spiritual heritage, secularism has displaced the formerly high regard for the Scriptures and those who seek to live by and proclaim them. Apathy and materialism - both philosophical and practical - characterize the spiritual climate. Combined with an inbred resistance to change and widespread transience due to economic instability, this has made church planting here a challenge. Historical fundamentalism of the sort which still exists in the United States is virtually non-existent in Canada, except where it has been imported by Americans.
Canada takes pride in being a pluralistic nation. In his book, THE GAGGING OF GOD (Zondervan, 1996), D. A. Carson defines three stages of pluralism:
Canada, for the most part, has already achieved philosophical pluralism. While the United States has long been considered a "melting pot" of many cultures, Canada might better be likened to a salad bowl - everything is in the same container and covered with the same dressing, but the various ingredients maintain their distinctive shapes, flavors, colors and textures. In Canada, these distinctives are maintained at great expense by the public purse, and failure to acknowledge or respect them is viewed as decidedly un-Canadian (not to mention unlawful). In reality, Canada has gone beyond Carson's third stage and entered a fourth, which we might call, LEGISLATED pluralism: "This is the way it will be."
In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed an historic agreement with the Aga Khan, His Highness Karim Aga Khan IV, a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. A prominent billionaire and philanthropist, the Aga Khan is the hereditary Imam of 15 million Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. As a champion of pluralistic causes and policies, especially as it pertains to the West's understanding of Islam, the Aga Khan is co-funding the new $60 million Global Centre for Pluralism with the Government of Canada. This centre is located in the former Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The site was chosen by His Highness because he considers "the Canadian practice of seeking unity in diversity as 'Canada's gift to the world.' The decision to locate this major new institution in Canada's capital city was therefore a natural one."
The implications of this pluralistic milieu for Bible-believing Christians may be far-reaching in the days ahead, as the proclamation of biblical truth is construed as exclusivist, bigoted, even hateful. In a society which seeks to validate every worldview and perspective and which prides itself on tolerance, the one thing that cannot be tolerated is any claim to objective truth. Recent legislation demonstrates this marked shift in Canadian thinking.
On the other hand, Canadian pluralism provides unsurpassed opportunities for cross-cultural ministry very close to home. Tens of thousands of immigrants practicing every conceivable religion inhabit every m ajor Canadian city and maintain their languages and ethnic distinctives. In addition, great opportunities exist among the French and aboriginal peoples.
If you're interested in helping BMW expand its church-planting ministry in this amazing country, please contact Rob Heijermans, BMW's Director for Canada.
For Canadian correspondence and donations, please write to our Canadian address:
Biblical Ministries Worldwide of Canada
PO Box 4273 STN MAIN
Woodstock NB E7M 6B7
1 "Is Canada's Economy a Model for America?", IMPRIMIS, January 2008
2 Global Centre for Pluralism press release, 25 October 2006