There is a couple in Edmonton who, by
the grace of God, managed to get this
massive house with an indoor pool, mostly
for her health. There were two of them
there. It seemed totally out of proportion.
Then they discovered this thing called
the Journey that The Salvation Army does
in Edmonton. We take women on retreat
out of prostitution, where we can just
love each other. Prostituted women
never get a break.
It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve
seen. The couple said, “Can you use our
And I said, “You want us to use your
And they said it would make their home
make sense to them. They use that home
as if it belongs to God and not them.
So, it’s not that you have to sell your
home in the suburbs and move to the inner
city to be Jesus in the world, although
some might. But can you open your
home? Both are signs and wonders.
F T: Is fear what holds us back from these actions
that can feel radical, at least at first?
DS: I think fear is the number one enemy
of the Church and always has been. [God]
says, “Do not fear” with almost every encounter He has in Scripture. It almost gets
a little bit comical. I wonder if we’ll ever
get this message?
And what are we afraid of?
I’ve been doing a study on
Exodus. It dawned on me that
fear is the way that we’re oppressed, but it’s also how we
We read the Exodus story
identifying with the Israelites.
I suggest we try to read it identifying with the Egyptians. Or
think of the rich young ruler who comes
to Jesus, and then walks away because He
says you need to be liberated from your
fear by walking away from your wealth
that has become the boss of you.
Most people suggest it’s not just economics, but the power that comes through
it that we can’t give up. We are afraid of
We literally have an invitation to live a
fearless life, which has so many ramifica-
tions. It protects and frees us from being
oppressed. It’s Good News for the poor. But
it also frees us from being the oppressor.
We are afraid of paying more for our
clothes, which keeps women and children
enslaved in Bangladesh. Fear drives us as
much as oppressors as it does the oppressed. Fear becomes this vicious cycle
that chains us all.
We need to choose to not live in fear,
but with love. And love is not an emotion,
but an action.
FT: You were very active with the human
trafficking issue in Canada, and specifically the
work around the new prostitution laws. How
are you feeling about that work now that a
little time has passed?
DS: I was absolutely pleasantly
surprised at the Church’s involvement in that campaign.
And I was really excited about
Christians waking up to that
reality. I thought that was a
fantastic demonstration of how
the Church could make a difference in the world if we responded.
But one of the troubles of
being in the deep end is you have to keep
kicking. There needs to be real strategy
around implementation. This is true with
any justice campaign. You win the legis-
lative day, but now we have to win the
culture war in terms of how we implement
that not just legally, but also personally,
So that’s where we have to have conver-
sations in the Church and with the Church
about buying sex and pornography.
FT: You’ve worked to fight poverty in a lot of
different settings, in different countries and
cultures. Do you have some best practices you
DS: All compassion is good. I congratulate
people for the effort. I’m leery of being
critical of people who are trying. But as
you try you’ll discover and learn best
The number one thing I’ve learned that
has revolutionized how I do it is relationship. That’s how Jesus worked. That’s how
the Early Church advanced the cause of
Christ in the world. That’s how real transformation happens.
The drag is, relationship is the hardest
thing to do especially when you have such
a power imbalance between the have and
have not. The temptation is for the have
to say, “I have all the answers,” but the
reverse is usually true.
Those who need the help usually have
the answers, and they are the best answers, but maybe not the easiest ones.
F T: So, relationship over programs?
DS: The way we construct churches and
missions is to make programs the heart.
Programs don’t transform people, relationships do. Relationship should be the
heart of everything we do, and program
should be the outcome.
That is a radical shift in how we do almost everything we do. How do you keep
relationship at the very centre of all you
do? Even the difference between a soup
line and a community meal is a good example. It’s a much deeper place to live.
Often we just end at program, and then
we wonder why our stuff isn’t transformative. Transformation only happens
THE FT INTERVIEW