A Ukrainian soldier carries his copy of the Gospel of John, in his tactical vest, over his heart. Photo courtesy of The Gideons International in Canada

ChristianWeek 2014 – Editors’ Picks

The most important issues Christians wrestled with in 2014

Every year we’re impressed with the diversity of stories that appear in our pages and online. And so, the editors of ChristianWeek would like to offer a little recap from last year. Here is a listing—in no particular order—of 10 especially note-worthy themes from 2014.

LIN JUN

Lin Jun's parents share their thoughts in a news interview given to CBC News. Screenshot from cbc.ca
Lin Jun's parents share their thoughts in a news interview given to CBC News. Screenshot from cbc.ca

ChristianWeek continued to follow the story of Lin Jun’s parents in 2014 and their faith journey in the midst of unimaginable sorrow. The Chinese Concordia University student was murdered and dismembered on May 24, 2012, and while for many media outlets that was the story, ChristianWeek brought to light the spiritual hope Lin’s father and mother have found since the tragedy.

UKRAINE

A Ukrainian soldier carries his copy of the Gospel of John, in his tactical vest, over his heart. Photo courtesy of The Gideons International in Canada
A Ukrainian soldier carries his copy of the Gospel of John, in his tactical vest, over his heart. Photo courtesy of The Gideons International in Canada

The crisis in Ukraine grabbed hold of the world’s attention in 2014 as Russia annexed Crimea in a high stakes chess game that continues to evolve, even as world powers offer rhetoric and ideologies from the sidelines. However, behind the scenes were stories of Christian men and women like Trinity Western University music professor Wes Janzen leaving a 33-year career to minister in Ukraine, or The Gideons International in Canada, who despite the fear and uncertainty in the country, found God opening doors for them to distribute hundreds of thousands of copies of the gospel.

TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

It is expected the case will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, in a situation similar to 1995 when the B.C. College of Teachers refused to accredit TWU students because of the same clause in the school’s covenant. Jordan Schulz/Flickr
It is expected the case will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, in a situation similar to 1995 when the B.C. College of Teachers refused to accredit TWU students because of the same clause in the school’s covenant. Jordan Schulz/Flickr

It has been a roller coaster for Trinity Western University’s proposed School of Law in 2014, with an encouraging start as approvals poured in, only for provincial law societies to take back their approvals in the midst of opposition stemming from TWU’s definition of marriage between a man and woman. Now the country watches as the legal battle is expected to reach the Supreme Court, as religious rights and rights to association are put on trial.

EBOLA OUTBREAK

Samaritan’s Purse workers care for an Ebola victim. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse workers care for an Ebola victim. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

All eyes were on Western Africa in 2014 during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Droves of humanitarian organizations have launched special fundraising initiatives, even while most foreign workers and missionaries have been pulled out of the region. Poor hygiene and a lack of sufficient medical supplies have crippled the response, especially in hard hit countries such as Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Aid workers, including Christians, put their lives on the line to distribute disinfectants and teach their neighbours how to care for their sick loved ones. TIME magazine named Ebola workers their “Person of the Year.”

RESPONDING TO DEATH AND DYING

Photo by Life Mental Health/Flickr
Photo by Life Mental Health/Flickr

Last year’s headlines were dominated by the conversation around physician-assisted suicide, and the resulting question, when does the value of a life diminish to the point that physicians and family members can decide it should end? It’s come to the attention of policy makers in Ottawa, and citizens across the country are weighing in on both sides. ChristianWeek reported extensively, highlighting the importance of palliative and end-of-life care, as well as talking about the spiritual implications of physician-assisted suicide.

FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Photo by OtnaYdur/DepositPhotos
Photo by OtnaYdur/DepositPhotos

Sex trafficking remains a huge issue at home and abroad. Positive steps are being taken, however. During the early summer of 2014 the Canadian Parliament passed a law enacting new prostitution legislation, which effectively criminalizes the act of buying sex. Bill C-36 aims to protect those being prostituted while punishing those profiting from it. Organizations like Defend Dignity have worked hard to educate the public about the law, and continue to do so with events such as the anti-human trafficking campaign centred around the 2015 Pan Am Games.

HOT BUTTON ISSUE

Photo by yuliagursoy/DepositPhotos
Photo by yuliagursoy/DepositPhotos

A controversial column by Thomas Froese tackled some of the harshest responses to homosexuality, noting homosexual acts are illegal in 67 countries. In 10—all in the Middle East and Africa—they officially carry the death penalty. Froese cautions all Christians that our response to homosexuality matters, and should find a basis in showing decency to other human beings: to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly.

In response to Froese’s column, commentator Harold Jantz addressed the topic of sexual ethics, and the cultural shift toward acceptance and normalization of a diversity of gender roles, while Manitoba pastor Glenn Loewen made the point that the Church is much like Rip Van Winkle regarding this issue: fast asleep while vast—and unwelcome—change runs on unheeded.

WORLD VISION U.S. RESCINDS HIRING POLICY

Aguiang Agnes, a teacher, holds textbooks donated by World Vision Canada to students at Tubur Primary School, Tubur, Uganda. Photo by Gary Dowd, World Vision Canada.
Aguiang Agnes, a teacher, holds textbooks donated by World Vision Canada to students at Tubur Primary School, Tubur, Uganda. Photo by Gary Dowd, World Vision Canada.

World Vision USA made waves in March when it announced it would broaden its definition of marriage for its hiring policy to include same-sex relationships. Just two days later it rescinded the decision following backlash from supporters, thousands who dropped their child sponsorships. The reaction, writes columnist Tim Perry was “playing to type,” including those who “struck a blow for biblical morality” and those who “denounced the former group as heartless fundamentalists.”

“On every side and at every level, there was a failure to enact the gospel,” he writes. “And all of us who played to type have given people with lists long enough another reason to ignore the gospel.”

MISSIONARY SUPPORT FOR KIDS

Photo from mensatic/morguefile.com
Photo from mensatic/morguefile.com

The story of Missionary Kids Safety Net struck a chord with readers, bringing to light the harsh truth that some “missionary kids” (MKs) suffered abuse or trauma while their parents were in the field. But the story also shone a light on how the MK Safety Net is helping them connect with counsellors and other abuse survivors. The organization us helping survivors walk through the process of reporting abuse and initiating investigations.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

We couldn’t pick just 10…there were so many wonderful pieces highlighting the work of men and women of faith in Canada and around the world. The stories in this last category are just a few of the “honourable mentions,” pieces that are definitely worth a second look!

Life beyond the comfort zone (Dawes in Kathmandu)

The Bible Today: Is there enough Scripture in today’s preaching?

Stand on guard: Justin Trudeau and the abortion issue

Christians under siege in Nigeria

Clothes and the growing ethical conscience

Managing ministry on a budget

Women and the wardrobe

A church out of touch

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