called to love our
Evangelical activists such as those profiled
in this issue are working out their christian
faith and meeting immediate needs. They
continue a long and venerable tradition.
When people think of evangelical activists, their first image is likely not an itinerant preacher on horseback moving through the Canadian
forests and fields on his way to the next settlement. Nor is
it the pioneering missionary going to the ends of the Earth
to tell others about the new life they can find in Jesus.
We seem to reserve the descriptor “activist” for people
engaged domestically and addressing injustice.
We might not describe missionaries this way, but in fact
they are activists: passionate about their faith and driven
by a compassion for others.
Historically when missionaries found a place to stay
and be present with individuals and communities they
met, they rarely restricted themselves to telling the story of
Jesus. If there was a need for education, they would educate. If there was a need for medical aid, they would share
the medicine and knowledge they had. If they needed to
stand up for the marginalized, they did.
Contemporary missionaries are no different. They operate hospitals and run orphanages, build schools and dig
wells. They don’t do this as a reward for belief, but as an
expression of belief.
Witness the reports on the tragic and devastating
earthquake that rocked Haiti. How many newscasts
included reports involving missionaries: people on the
ground who had developed networks and relationships
and were caring for the needs of others and had been
Together for influence, impact and identity
The Evangelical Fellowship of canada is the national association of
Evangelicals gathered together for influence, impact and identity in
ministry and public witness. Since 1964 the EFc has provided a
national forum for Evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical
principles in life and society. Visit us at theEFc.ca.
doing so for years and even generations? Yes they were
there to witness to their Christian faith, but that witness
ranges to include various responses to brokenness, be it
the result of human action or natural events.
The activists featured in this issue of Faith Today, and I
would include Brian Stiller among them, show the diversity of backgrounds and journeys as well as the commonality of passion to make a difference in people’s lives as an
outworking of their common faith.
Evangelical activism is love in action: meeting the
needs of other where they are at, and often forming networks to ensure long-term contributions to the greater social good. Evangelicals volunteer more and donate more
to charitable endeavours than the average Canadian.
Historically that activism resulted in the development
of schools and hospitals, social service agencies and innercity missions. Over time governments have expanded and
assumed the primary care for a lot of these services. But
evangelical witness has not ceased to exist. It has taken on
a different form of expression.
Many began to “keep their faith to themselves” while
serving in these agencies. Some began new ministries to
fill emerging gaps. So there was a shifting and splitting of
opportunities and expression which in turn led to the idea
that faith was something that could be split from everyday
life or that it only expressed itself in private or charitable
terms. This again is shifting. There is a renewal of a broader
understanding of the gospel and its implications for all of
life – and with this latest shift, evangelical activism has
There remain gaps in government systems, and there
are people who need care and support – that’s where
you will find many evangelical activists today. As governments cut back on services, these gaps will increase.
There is still a need to provide a safe place to teens to
gather and play. There is still a need to comfort the grieving, to welcome the stranger, to visit the prisoner – here
too you will find the activists.
Evangelical activism is not new, although the faces of
the activists, their stories and the expression of their engagement with others is continually being renewed. We
should continue to tell their stories as an affirmation of
what God desires among us all. Ft
BRUCe J. CleMeNgeR is the president of
The Evangelical Fellowship of canada. read
more columns at theEFc.ca/clemenger.