/ Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Warm greetings in Christ. While we make contact with new UBC graduate students, and figure out how to do ministry this fall (*At a Zoom meeting of the various Christian groups at UBC a week ago, it was clear that this fall will be uncharted waters for our ministries. Courage and innovation was the hallmark of these staff), we have also been enriched by encouraging communication from a number of our alumni.
Our hearts are deeply moved by these good friends as they continue to seek and serve Christ. For so many alumni, Vancouver was a place of spiritual awakening, empowerment or renewal.
At the end of the day, it is Christ, not COVID-19 or other struggles, that defines us.
We grow in appreciation of ongoing stories and commitment to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. The reflections below represent their courage, compassion and resilience. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and financial support to help mentor such good people, who in turn mentor many others, who lead with salt and light integrity.
Scripture has relevant things to speak into this current environment:
- In Proverbs 8, Wisdom calls out at the city gate: “Come, enter and find hope and direction.”
- In John 15, Jesus calls his disciples to productive living under pressure from those who misinterpret their cause, “I am the vine, you are the branches; remain in me and your will live quite fruitfully.”
- The beloved Apostle in III John 4 enunciates a marker for us: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
- In Psalm 51: 6, Eugene Peterson, in The Message, directs us into further spiritual accessibility and determination: “What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.”
To a world staggering from its many challenges, spotty leadership and confusion, Jesus is our anchor, our wisdom, our guide, our truth. He calls us to moral high ground, to walk the extra mile, to feed the poor. His love is the really real, our deeper purpose, our very identity, as Thomas Merton muses in New Seeds of Contemplation.
God be your strength as we journey together,
Gord & Ute
Alumni Musings from the Around the World
L’Arche Community in Ottawa
How are you, dear teacher in Christ? I always have you in my prayer and am grateful for you both and the way you opened your heart and home, spiritually guiding me in Vancouver.
Yes, our King is coming! He has dressed us in fine garments so that we are ready to receive him.
As the days go by, I am grasping a bit more clearly the amazing gift that we have: the purity, worth and eternity of Jesus. I see why Paul often talks as if we were at the climax of history. This gift from above is so radical and generous.
Even amidst the pandemic, his mercy is ever present. He wants to awaken us, to give us time to think and consider the gift he offers, to give us a more acute sense of what is really important.
As the days go by at L 'Arche, he keeps showing me his faithfulness and tenderness, letting me grow in self-knowledge and intimacy with him.
I discovered a great new teacher in theologian R.C. Sproul. A friend saw that I was having trouble understanding Leviticus and Numbers. He sent me a lecture by Sproul that explains the meaning of those books, in the light of Hebrews. Now Dr. Sproul is my newest spiritual companion and I hope to explore his insights and depths.
Furthermore, each time I feel anxious or fearful, I just close my eyes and come back to him and say to him, “Father, tell me again who I am.” He continues to tell me: “I knew you before the creation of the world.” Then I rest in his knowledge and love.
I can’t make it without his voice. I cannot live one moment without God sustaining me. The world can seem dark and lonely, but with him, it’s sweet and there is much JOY. I treasure this connection with you and will keep in touch.
-Alejandro (originally from Colombia)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
It really does feel like we are living through a “fiery moment in history.” I continue to pray for both of your ministries, especially during this defining moment. We see so much pain, suffering and uncertainty. But our circumstances can also give us a new perspective.
It is my prayer that we will respond boldly and wisely to our current world struggles. Perhaps it will make our leaders – and our people – realise that it shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to find our common purpose, to work together. That is so important in Ireland, may God heal our land.
I am pleased to say that I completed my PhD last year, even though plenty of times I doubted that it would ever happen. God gave me the strength to see it through, and then took me on a very interesting adventure. I had been unsure what I should do after submitting – whether I should stay in academia. In January of 2019, a door opened for a postdoctoral position at the University of Leuven, Belgium. It is a beautiful little city, where I had the chance to work on an exciting new project with a wonderful group of researchers. I am now back at Queen’s University in Belfast as an assistant professor of political science.
The experience has challenged me in all sorts of ways, but it has been such a blessing, for which I am so grateful. I have no idea what lies ahead. But as long as God wants me here, I’ll make the most of it. Thanks to you both for your ministry and friendship.
We as a family are all together in Japan, indefinitely now that the borders to China have been closed to foreigners. It seems unlikely that we’ll be able to return home to China within the next three months at least, but fortunately we’ve been able to stay with my father-in-law in Japan. I’ve been able to continue working remotely from home, but there is a lack of community for us here because we don’t know how long we’ll remain in Japan. The churches have only very recently opened again. That said, I recognize that we’ll probably never be able to enjoy such an extended time as a family again, so I’m appreciating it as a true blessing.
Ute, memories of our prayer walks and hikes together in Vancouver and Whistler come to mind often. Those years at UBC Life Sciences were a major time of spiritual growth for me and you are a key part of it. My PhD journey was hard, but in the end a great preparation for my academic and administrative post at our local university in Saint Maarten. Thanks for recently celebrating my birthday with me and my friends on Zoom.
It is so great to be in regular phone and FaceTime conversation and prayer, Ute. My quiver is full with our new baby and our young toddler. My husband is practical, kind and supportive. We are taking life one day at a time and thanking God for his graces. I really appreciate our prayers and phone talks.
It has been so good to meet regularly these past two years. I really appreciate our bond in Christ as we prayed for Hamber High School, UBC, TWU, Canadian and world issues. I anticipate future family dinners and gatherings as praying Moms.
Find out more information or read articles related to Campus Ministry here: Campus Ministry
Dr. Gordon E. Carkner, the Director of Graduate & Faculty Campus Ministries, along with his wife Ute love connecting with future global leaders within the graduate student university community. Through hospitality, biblical investigation, prayer and discussions of faith and academic studies, these students are drawn into kingdom concerns and introduced to God's powerful agape love.