I was livid! Mustapha and I were colleagues in youth work in inner city Paris back in the
1990s. One day, as we walked around the corner in a subway station, a group of policemen stopped us and asked to see Mustapha’s ID card. I pulled out my wallet and offered my ID card to the police. They flicked my hand away. But they stood there, with menacing posture, waiting for Mustapha to provide his. He reluctantly complied, telling me, “not to worry,” it happened to him all the time. Why him and not me? Because he is dark-skinned, I am light-skinned. But he and I were both ‘immigrants’ – he was from Algeria, and I was from Canada. I asked him afterwards if it made him angry. He smiled and said to me,
“Terry, Liberté, egalité et fraternité [freedom, equality and brotherhood] only count if
Mustapha’s experience continues to be the reality for many others today, including
Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The articles in this issue of mosaic present us with a deeper understanding of some of the past wrongs they have faced. It’s a first step in an on-going journey of reconciliation.
I have been asked to bring a formal apology on behalf of Canadian Baptist churches
in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to be held this fall, October 2016. I
covet your prayers for wisdom and grace. My first reaction when asked, as Mark Buchanan points out in our feature article was, “Hey, I didn’t do anything.” But this is precisely the point. What are we called to do? Or, more importantly, who are we called to become in the light of the ministry of reconciliation to which we have been co-missioned? I remember hearing theologian Paolo Ricca profoundly speak on this role that we have: “We cannot be God’s agents of reconciliation if we refuse to change. For to reconcile, Kattallasso in Greek, and to be reconciled, means ‘to become other.’ God became other – he became a man – to reconcile us to himself in Christ. And if we are to be everything God calls us to be, we must accept to become fully other.”
This issue of mosaic is a clarion call to our Canadian Baptist church family to become
other. We, who have been reconciled to God, have been entrusted with the mandate of
being reconcilers, (2 Cor. 5:18), bringing together that which was previously separated,
uniting divided pieces of the fabric of God’s plan. But too often, our refusal to ‘become
something other’, to be totally changed, is, in itself, our greatest obstacle to the restoration
of ruptured relations.
We welcome back to mosaic, after a few years of inklessness on these pages, our dear friend Mark Buchanan. Mark and Cheryl have modelled ‘becoming other’ in many ways and within different communities. We have asked Mark to be a Global Ambassador for CBM through his writing, speaking and leadership. Across Canada, dozens of our churches are modelling this same largesse as they welcome Syrian and Iraqi refugees through our denominations’ sponsorship agreement program. And as they demonstrate the true meaning of hospitality, we are all learning to ‘become other’.
read it in mosaic magazine, spring 2016 issue