Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Little Good News Today

Sladen Peltier as Saul Indian Horse

Last month, Hubby and I attended a screening of the movie Indian Horse, based on the award-winning novel of the same name by the late Ojibway writer, Richard Wagamese.

In 1950’s Ontario, eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse is torn from his Ojibway family and placed in a religious residential school. In this oppressive environment, Saul is denied the freedom to speak his language or embrace his Indigenous heritage while he witnesses horrendous abuse at the hands of the people entrusted with his care. He is shown a depiction of Jesus Christ so far from the biblical account, it broke my heart.

Though Saul’s story is fictional, his experiences mirror those reported by thousands of children taken from their families during this sad and shameful period of our history. I desperately wanted the movie to be an exaggeration. I wanted to cling to the belief that the one admirable character in the story was truly good. When that hope was dashed, I found myself audibly whispering, “NO! No, no, no, no. Please! Tell me it wasn’t that bad.”

But it was. All my prayers cannot erase the past.

Though the story ends with some measure of hope and a tribute to the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people, it is sobering. It’s a story that sits with you a long time, one that every Canadian should see. We drove home in silence.

Three weeks later, I attended the spring concert at Westpark School. This Christian school has reached its objective of accurately reflecting our community by having a student body that is one-third First Nations. The students presented a delightful variety of songs, walking us through God’s creation of the world, the story of redemption, restoration, and revival.

The grand finale was a Dakota song of encouragement sung by adult drummers from Dakota Tipi and accompanied by Indigenous dancing by the students, some in full regalia, girls in jingle dresses, others with simple hoops. The song segued perfectly into another called Revival with the entire exuberant choir joining in.

This time, the tears streaming down my face were tears of hope and gratitude. This event begged the questions: What might Canada look like today if those missionaries had taken the same approach? If they had taught children they can choose to follow Jesus Christ without sacrificing their culture? That God hears their prayers and their praises in any language? That they are loved unconditionally and valued beyond measure, as human beings with histories and hopes and dreams and a future? That God is every color and no color at all.

I can think of no better prayer for our nation than the lyrics those children sang to close their concert:

The world is a desert, dry and thirsty
Your love is the answer, full of mercy
Give us your eyes to see the hurting
Bring us back to life
Revival, Hearts on fire
Holy Spirit rain down
Change us from the inside…
Shine your light
Bring healing to the blind
You break the chains
Let your glory fill the sky…

This cry for revival is perfect for Canada Day. For only when God changes us from the inside will the differences on the outside become nothing but glorious diversities to celebrate and enjoy for all eternity. Thank you, children, for restoring my hope for future generations of Canadians and for bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne … crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9 & 10)

*Songwriters: Joshua David Silverberg / Julian Gamba / Kipp Williams / Lindsey Sweat / Lorena Castellanos

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