hen families face community
challenges, such as a proposed sexual
education curriculum that parents disapprove of or a college that tries to prevent
young adults from offering pro-life information to their peers, engagement is not only
important, it’s necessary. And it doesn’t
have to take a lot of time or resources.
Johanna Van Dyk is an Ottawa, Ont.,
mom of five children under eight. She remembers recently shedding a few tears
while watching a documentary about the
dolphin kill in Japan. When her children
noticed, they discussed it and eventually
wrote to the Japanese embassy together.
Children are profoundly influenced by
such activities, says Van Dyk. “Part of our
family homeschooling is world issues. So
we scan the papers, national and local, and
we pray for where the community is hurting
or we write letters.”
Parents also benefit from discussing
issues of interest to their children and
acting on them together, whether clean-
ing up a neighbourhood playground or
responding to the plight of persecuted
children in a foreign country.
Social worker Liz John-West and her
family live in inner-city Edmonton. When
she and her husband Geoff graduated from
university and wanted to buy a house,
they chose something there that was “very
cheap and very old,” partly because they
didn’t want to pay a mortgage.
After their three daughters were born,
friends told them they were crazy to raise
children in such a gritty area. The John-Wests decided otherwise, and have had
many opportunities to put their faith into
action by responding together to local
needs. Once they ran an extension cord
from their home to another when the other
family had their electricity cut off. Another
time, they took on the local park – not letting gang activities, needles or condoms
deter them in “making a beautiful face
making a difference as a Family
Resources are available to help Christian families respond to God’s prompting
to make their world a better place By Faye Sonier and Alex Newman
in the midst of chaos.” John-West and
neighbours created a committee, got the
children involved, and lobbied local government for support. The committee raised
half a million dollars, and five years later
the park is a destination for seniors and
Thankfully many Canadian organizations have created resources to help families that want to take even small steps to
improve their neighbourhoods and their
world. Here are some to start with. (Those
groups with an are affiliated with The
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.)
ous issues. Children can write a note or
even simply draw a picture. One child’s
picture may be seen to represent the concerns of many other voters.
That webpage ( theEFC.ca/TakeAction)
also explains how to draft a strategic petition and determine the guidelines as
required by the House of Commons. To
submit a petition to some other regula-tory body, call their offices and find out
the best or acceptable way to submit one.
Many bodies don’t yet officially recognize
electronic petitions and only acknowledge
those that include an original signature.
Power of Prayer
The *National House of Prayer offers a
daily parliamentary prayer post at http://
prayparliament.wordpress.com. Each day,
the profile of a Member of Parliament is
posted so that families can pray together
for our nation’s leaders and get to know
Nation at Prayer offers a prayer guide
at www.nationatprayer.ca/resources which
provides a list of specific points of prayer for
elected leaders and for the nation.
The *Voice of the Martyrs offers profiles and country-specific prayer points at
Family prayers may lead some who
have the financial means to sponsor a child
through organizations such as *WorldVision
Canada ( www.worldvision.ca) or *Com-passion Canada ( www.compassion.ca).
What a great opportunity for a child to be
involved in making a difference with someone his or her age in another country.
Going in Person
Don’t be shy about visiting elected officials, whether they are Members of Parliament, city councillors or school board
members. Call and request an appointment
time and be prepared to be flexible. Bring
along a child if the child is old enough and
it seems appropriate. Elected officials represent the interests of all citizens. (Find more
tips on visiting at theEFC.ca/TakeAction.)
What about a rally or a demonstration?
Packing a snack and attending one is often
a great way to meet similarly-minded families, collect great information at resource
tables, and listen to leading experts speak.
Talking With Decision Makers
Learning More about the Issues
FAYE SONIER is legal counsel at the
evangelical Fellowship of canada. ALEX
NEWMAN is a senior writer at Faith Today.