Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Early wednesday prayer requests - "I was born and raised in the ghetto"

Tonight we move to Thorncliffe Park. As I reported last week Thorncliffe is a neighbourhood in Toronto that is inhabited mainly by new Canadians from Pakistan and Afghanistan. 30,000 people. 34 high rise buildings. The biggest elementary school in North America. It's a different kind of 'ghetto' than the Steeles-Lamarouex/Chester Le area we lived in for the past 3 years working at Bridlegrove, but it's still a ghetto. I wanted to post a video that you can watch until we arrive in Thorncliffe. It's about ghettos in Toronto and those who grow up in them. It's strange to think that my kids qualify for that category.

The video was sent to me by Geoff Ryan, my Salvation Army officer friend who is doing an awesome work in the legendary Toronto ghetto - Regent Park. I'm excited to be working with Geoff, who will be helping and coaching me in Thorncliffe.

I love the 'hook' for the song..."I was born and raised in the ghetttoooo". I'd challenge you to watch the video at least 5 times until that little hook penetrates your soul and mind with empathy. It gives me shivers listening to it and thinking of all my homeys that we worked with at Bridlegrove. I miss those kids a whole lot. I made a photo album on facebook. Lord, be gracious to them.

While we are driving the 18 hours from PEI I'll be praying that more and more people will be like Jesus and move into the ghettos. These 'bad areas'...like the one Jesus grew up in. Jesus was a kid 'born and raised' in a ghetto called Nazareth, where 'no good thing' could possibly happen. Maybe that's why he loves these kids so much. As you watch this video, say a prayer for all the kids in the ghettos in Toronto.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday's hot topics - Vote for the goat and don't trash the 'stache

We move to Toronto tomorrow. Sad to say goodbye, but it's good to know we can always come "home". PEI is an awesome place and we love everyone very much. Please come visit us. We might not have oceans, beach and friendly people in Toronto but we do have the Leafs and Blue Jays :)

So since we're moving back we have to make many important decisions. One of those being - should I shave?? I've been growing my facial hair for over a month now (yes a month, stop laughing!). It came in quite handy in the middle east, but the question now is - should I keep it? Other than the fact that I look a bit like the devil and/or Guy Fawkes I like it. Kids hate it. I like it. Hayley's putting up with it. What do you think? Should I keep it or shave it? Make a convincing or nasty comment and it might just sway me to bust out the Mach 3. Vote now!

Friday, February 23, 2007

I think I'm switching banks

Listening to the radio last night here in PEI when I heard an ad for job postings at Resolve, a call center here in Charlottetown. The ad was announcing that Resolve had landed a big new client and was taking resumes. The client? Presidents Choice Financial. PC Bank!! My bank. My personal info. In the hands of people making 9 dollars an hour?? Wow.

I'm pretty sure this is the job posting - click here - but that didn't calm my fears when I read:
Skill Requirements:

Education: Completion of high school
Credentials (certificates, licences, memberships, courses, etc.): Not required
Experience: Will train
Sweet. No experience required. Oh well, at least it stated:
Security and Safety: Enhanced reliability security clearance
....Whatever that means.

The question I guess is how secure is any of our personal info? And do you really want Resolve employees like Sally Cinnamon, DaiDreamer, and others handling your personal banking info? It's not so much the people per se, as it is the idea of a bank *outsourcing* it's data, instead of having *internal* employees. Maybe that doesn't make a difference, who knows. But I think I'm switching banks.

English is not the first language for 93% of the 1,571 students

My mom sent me this article about the elementary school Lukas will be going to in September - Thorncliffe Park Public School - the largest elementary school in North America!

For those who don't know yet, next week Hayley and I will be moving our family to an area of Toronto called Thorncliffe Park. This extremely diverse community is near the Ontario Science Center in Toronto's neighbourhood of East York.

The Toronto Sun article - here - goes on to highlight some of the demographics of the school in this amazing area:

1,571: Number of students (largest in North America)

1,453: Number of students whose primary language is not English (93%)

1,147: Number of Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 students (Lukas' friends)

47 countries represented

97% of the students live in highrise buidlings (we are moving into one of these)
Please pray for us as we make the move and connect with those in the neighbourhood! Click here to read the entire article

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday's hot topics - Homosexuality and the Church

One of the most awkward dialogues going on right now is between the gay community and the christian community...that is if it ever actually takes place. Many from both camps have deep rooted opinions about the other and many times sparks have flown. Recently on the forum a topic was started titled - Thoughts on Homosexuality and the Church:
I believe that people are "born" homosexual inasmuch as homosexuality is one of many outflowings of our sinful nature and total depravity. To explain and extend what I mean by this: One might rephrase the common by saying that, due to their sinful nature, they were "born" with a tendency to seek sexual fulfillment outside of the Biblically prescribed (and blessed) covenant heterosexual monogamy.
Later on the discussion heats up as church membership is discussed:
(Are you) suggesting that a church should accept into its membership persons who are overt (as opposed to "closet") practitioners of homoerotic behaviour, fornicating behaviour, adultery, pornography, etc.?
How should the church handle this? Should churches take a stand against homosexuals, or accept people into the church the way they are? Should churches accept gay members or not? Weigh in with your thoughts on homosexuality or how the church has handled the subject on the discussion forum - here

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The sayings of Lukas v31

Last night I was kissing and snuggling Lukas into bed with my new beard/moustache.

Lukas: Ouch...Daddy, you need to cut your beard before other people get hurt!

Friday, February 16, 2007

McArabia meal

And what did I order at the McDonalds in the middle east you ask? The McArabia meal of course:
The new sandwich, which continues McDonald’s tradition of catering to local markets, is made of Arab bread, grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and Arab sauce.

What now?

Hopefully as you have been watching the videos of Matt & Ruth, God has been moving your heart to ask important questions like:

* Wow, when could I visit them?
* When could I move over there?
* What do Matt & Ruth need?
* I'm so far away, how can I help?

I've been asking the same questions and wanted to make a few suggestions:

1. Email them. Sounds funny but it was always amazing to see Matt's eyes light up when he got an email or comment on his blog from someone back home. Add him on facebook and leave a comment. Let them know they aren't forgotten.

2. Pray. Ask God to help them as they continue to adjust to life there as well as adjusting to parenting.

3. Give. As you can see from their house, Matt & Ruth are not enjoying many of the luxuries we have, so let's dig deep and send them some stuff to make life easier. Here's a brief list:

a) A personal little DVD player for Joseph would be excellent. Also, he's getting a bit tired of the Bollywood movies they let him watch so sending some kids videos would be great.
b) You can send them money via MSC.
c) Pictures. Matt & Ruth have a grand total of 4 pictures on their fridge.
d) Nothing too big. While I was there I was struck with the 'little things' that they needed, not big things like a dishwasher. One example would be Matt's mom who sent sandals for Joseph which was very special. Be creative.
e) A digital camera. Matt & Ruth would love to be able to take videos.


Matt & Ruth Cook
c/o Rev. Devraj Joseph
St. Peter's Church
M.A. Jinnah Rd
Sanghar, Sindh

4. Listen. I am scheduled to speak at a number of churches so if you'd like the complete, unedited version of the trip feel free to email me about a time to visit and share.

5. Visit. If you would like to visit Matt & Ruth I would like to go back and visit them, either this summer (easier for students) or in January 2008 (easier weather-wise). Let me know if you're interested in a group visit.

Hopefully Matt will also comment on this list, but let's get shakin people, God has blessed us over here in North America so we can give, not so we can get more stuff for ourselves!

So much to say...

I've been getting caught up on stuff since arriving back in Canada, but one thought keeps haunting me....

Why are you not back over there?

This thought/question/conviction has been going over and over in my mind as I think about my time in Pakistan. Why haven't I made the move overseas? Why are more people not willing to sacrifice simple luxuries to help those in need? How can I sit here on a laptop with money in the bank when I have seen the lives of those in need?

The excuses become pretty pathetic when you boil it all down.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Back from Pak. I want to go back

Back on Canadian soil here. I got in last night at 4PM. Thankfull only one piece of luggage remains in transit. More after a shave and shower. I'm an uncle and have pictures to prove it :) Here's a video of the lovely Pakistani kids waving goodbye to me:

ps. seems my facebook account got deleted? Has this ever happened to anyone?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pakistani prejudice

My Pakistani friend Imran has chronicled another case of Pakistani prejudice on his blog - here:
# Sent $100 to aunt in Pakistan via westernunion.ca on Jan 27. I go to western union agents all the time but it was cold so what the hell. As they say, simple as 1, 2, 3. No mention of showing any ID. CC was enough.
# Right after I sent, got an email to talk to them else money will not be transfered, I did. They said money is sent.
# Aunt in Pakistan went to collect on weekend and was told money is not available.
#Ten minutes later, spoke with a lady who said email my place of birth, photoID and MTCN (Money Tranfer Control Number) number @ govsanctionsresearch@westernunion.com. My name in some list of ban list (Probably terrorsits!) prohibited to send money from America.
Oh and this guy isn't in Pakistan, he's in Toronto. Brutal.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Need a titlev27

Here is a picture from Karachi. Can anyone think of a good title?


I'm here in Karachi ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karachi ) typing this
from a sweet internet cafe. Should be a fun weekend of shopping and sight
seeing. I don't think I'll be able to upload any videos before I get to the
airport in Dubai. Again I have to mention how overwhelmed I am at how easy
it would be to live over here. I would highly recommend everyone coming for
a visit to see this amazing country. By saying 'easy' I am taking into
account the challenges that are associated with living in any foreign
country. Little tiny sacrifices like only having 3 McDonalds in a city of 14
million. But seriously, can we not sacrifice a little of our Western comfort
for the greater good of the world. Isn't that the example Jesus left us?
Let's put our comfort aside and get down to business!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Just uploaded a video snippet of a compilation I'm working on. Here's a sneak peak:

Having some trouble converting files from .mov to .avi . Can anyone recommend a good program that would be fairly small and easy to download?

Bribing vs. tipping?

Someone today had an interesting perspective on the Pakistani cultural
phenomenon of paying 'bribes'. We might have an easier time accepting this
if we looked at it as a 'tip'.

In other news some friendly muslims let us visit their mosque last night. I
uploaded one video. I have also been taking videos of us asking local
Pakistanis what they think of 'Canada' and 'Christians'. Those might take a
while to upload as tonight is our last night here before spending the
weekend in Karachi. Homesickness has definitely set in. Hurray for no
diahrea. My beard is growing in nicely. Someone mistook me for a Pushtun the
other day. I went to the store and bought some milk and detergent on my own.
Feels like home.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pakistan is not what you think

Sunday was the superbowl. No one here knew what that was. Nobody. Wasn't
even on the all-sports TV station (yes they have an all-sports station). The
Karachi bowling league got more coverage. Thinking of all the difference
between our countries Matt & I decided we are going to do an experminent:

We're going out on the streets of Pakistan with a camera asking people what
they think when they hear the word Canada and Christian.
After I get back I'll go out on the streets of Toronto and ask people what
they think of when they hear the word Pakistan and Muslim.
Should be *very* interesting.
I'd say that all my misconceptions about Pakistan have been obliterated by
this trip.

Terrorists? Nowhere.
Food? Amazing.
Restricted Freedoms? I preached at a church on Sunday
Muslims mean to white Christians? Always offering for us to sit in their
shops and buy us tea/pepsi and try out their English
Difficult place? Anyone could come over here to teach. Anyone.

Hopefully the videos
(http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=shawncuthilldotcom) are also helping
YOUR perceptions.

What do YOU think of when you hear the word Pakistan?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The worst part of the trip was when the goat on the bus peed on me

Hi everyone, just back from a weekend of churchin it up in Sanghar! I'll
have some videos and stuff later, but first I have to rest my rear after
another 5 hour marathon Pakistani bus ride. As for the goat, he (and his
sheep companion) where actually riding on the roof of the bus we were in and
dribbled down my window. Shower time!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

'Local' means a location, not a denomination

One of the doctrines I am currently questioning is the idea of "local"
church. I understand that people were bound by their *location* to a certain
group in the New Testament, however I'm not sure they would be bound to one
certain church or denomination. I don't see the same level of exclusion
between churches in the NT as we see today. Where in the Bible does it say
we can only be members of one church at a time? The question arises "Which
church was Paul a member of?" If Paul could work and "fellowship" with
everyone from Jew to Gentile believer, Asian or European, Corinthian to
Laodecian then why can't we? Why have we created a doctrine of the "local
church" which keeps us from fellowshipping with other believers in our

Perhaps it's the stark contrast and lack of churches in countries like
Pakistan that makes us realize how petty we can be. This weekend I will be
travelling with Matt & Ruth to Ruth's father's church which is 4 hours
away!! These people are travelling 4 hours to meet with other believers and
we in the West can't get along with people at the church down the road
because they worship a little different than us? What a joke! Will heaven
not be an eclectic mix of all believers? If we really believed in the
doctrine of the 'local church' maybe we should decide to only have one
church in each city. After that one 'local' church was established we'd move
on to the next place, instead of ammassing churches of different kinds on
every corner. That way countries like Pakistan wouldn't be neglected as
terribly as they have been while we fight for the scraps that fall from the
denominational table. Could you imagine if all the churches in your
city/town actually worked together for the furtherance of the gospel,
instead of the propogation of their own denomination/doctrines?
Hmm....Wow....that's actually exciting to think for a minute of the
potential if Pentecostal, Brethren, Methodist, Baptist, Alliance,
Presbyterian, etc. all worked together to reach out, instead of against each
other. Hopefully none of us *want* to wait until heaven to experience
this...cause in heaven we will all be together...so why can't we get along
now??? :)

Please pray as we travel to the church. We will be in packed out buses,
rickshaws, taxis and who knows what else. I'll be preaching on Sunday. I
think it's actually an Anglican church. Aren't I a heretic. Someone asked
Matt once if there was an "assembly" in the area. He replied that the
closest assembly is 8-10 hours away. Countries like Pakistan kind of stretch
our thinking a bit, eh?

Also, I've uploaded a few more videos - Matt & Ruth's little Joseph walking
through town, Matt teaching and a wild ride on the back of a rickshaw!
Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=shawncuthilldotcom