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Be courageous – An Afro-Canadian worship service

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Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 18, 2017

Joshua 1:3-9; 1 Chronicles 20:28

At my pre-school age living back home in South Western Cameroon, My mother being a member of the Presbyterian Christian Women Fellowship for many years before I was born had so many choruses she usually sings. She had no formal education and could not speak English, but speaks 2 of our local languages. Usually when we are trekking to far distance farms or having a huge task to complete portions of farm, she will start singing:

“Faith rolls the mountain,

Faith rolls the mountain

Faith rolls the mountain that stands on your way.”

Throughout my school years until high school, I sang such choruses again and again but still could not get the hidden meaning. While an international student in Finland with my Ghanaian and Nepalese friends we were confronted with difficulties in getting a job. We were worried as we were married with our families back home in Africa and Asia respectively. Despite these worries my Ghanaian friend looked at both of us and said “my friends be courageous and have faith in God”. Our Nepalese friend argued aloud “what faith when we can’t speak Finnish language”! It is at this juncture that back in my shared apartment, my mum’s old chorus suddenly made meaning FAITH ROLLS THE MOUNTAINS. Yes my good people faith then rolled the mountain as positions were needed for a newly opened English team unit at Nokia factory 50kms away.

Arriving Montreal in 2009 with the fluency in French and English I was surprised with the amount of different frustrated immigrant professionals all cueing up to solving customer issues at a local call centre , I gathered myself and advised these doctors, teachers, nurses, engineer to have the faith and courage in God.

Webster’s Dictionary defines courage as “That quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and difficulties with firmness, valour”. The word is derived from the French word coeur, meaning heart, and comes from the ancient idea that our character and best of our emotions come from the heart. It is interesting to think about the images of courage. Most of the popular images of courage have to do with men fighting on a battlefield or embarking military men in war front. I don’t deny or doubt in the least that those things are part of what courage is all about, however, if that is all that courage means, most of us are left out because most of us won’t ever literally be on a battlefield. I have been pondering about the many faces of courage in relation to individuals and families who moved around the world, struggling adverse difficulties in integrating.

My dear brothers and sisters, my friends and children, there is no better passage in Scripture that speaks of courage than Joshua chapter 1. Moses had been the Israelite nation’s leader for 40 years, and now Joshua was to take over. We find God, knowing Joshua’s doubt and fears, saying to him 3 separate times: “Be strong and courageous” and each time with a different emphasis. First, he promises Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you”. The second time “Be careful to obey all the law”. The Third time we see his deep concern “Be strong and courageous”.

Moving around the World is not a new phenomenon. We see the Lord encouraging the people to move asking Moses, to stay strong, courageous and have the faith. Nowadays, people move due to wars, economic reasons, educational etc. This comes with various challenges to tackle. Most notably to new immigrants is the experience with language barriers, employment services and difficulties in accessing plus getting vital information, information on health services, adaptation to culture and alienating your own culture. The jobs and other services are all available but the difficulty to get such vital information especially the various routes to trades and trainings. Redoing credentials to suite the Canadian context is a huge task of its own. While immigrants with language deficits face different challenges, those with readymade certificates have to go back to school to revamp them in addition to having to cater for their families. Just having certificates be it in Europe, Asia, South America does not in no way guarantee a job.

As a father I have never thought of the implications of moving from one place to another on children. YES, we adult only duel on the economic advantages without thinking about changes or adaptation to new environment, new learning environments and new peers, children too need to have the faith and courage to deal with new challenges, it is of importance that as God provide such opportunities we should also have that calm minds to help children in better adjusting to new environments

In most provinces in Canada, much is done to have immigrants especially those with refugee status to settle comfortably such as providing free health care, financial assistance for the immigrants and others. The greatest part of it is the choices and decisions we all have to make. The services might be there but means to attain them is a huge assignment that needs us all to stay strong in pulling them. Being blessed with such facilities, it is of utmost necessity for all immigrants and those who moved to face the challenges no matter the circumstances. Such challenges can only come as a result of having faith, steadfastness and that added courage. Faith and courage are such commodities in life that will always manifest when we have peace. As peaceful as Canada is we are called on to face the challenges, help the needy, the sick, and the disable and to have that freewill not only to give but to give happily. Let us have that courage to face challenges peacefully, the courage to live harmoniously with a beautiful Canada full of diversity, the courage to make our church house a better place and the courage and faith that can roll the mountains.

 

Copyright 2017 – Lucas Nyenty Tabot, Representing the Afro-Canadian Community at Dayspring

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