The Church of the Nazarene in Canada has had a long history of faithful and sacri cial giving. The call to support God’s work at home and abroad has been met with conviction and resolve. It could be argued that the Church of the Nazarene is a microcosm of the ethos of the country I call home, Canada. The offering of oneself in the ministry of stewardship is, according to Romans 12:1, “true and proper worship.”
At home and abroad, Canadian Nazarenes play a vital role in this true and proper worship. We are committed to supporting God’s work. In 2018, our congregations raised almost $15 million for all purposes. That means that on average, each church raised nearly $91,000 in tithes and offerings. This is amazing faithfulness. These amounts come from people who sit in the pew Sunday after Sunday. There are relatively few “mega-givers” (i.e., those who give extremely large gifts), but they are people who have somehow understood what “true and proper worship” is. As a result, their sacrificial giving reaches far beyond what is expected. In addition to this, we are heavily engaged in overseas ministry, including partnership with CFGB (Canada Food Grains Bank), where we are able to realize a three-to-one or sometimes a four-to-one matching grant from Global Affairs Canada.
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada is engaged in many areas of “true and proper worship” impacting God’s children around the world: blankets and mosquito nets for refugees, a school building extension in Malawi, blankets and food security projects in Nepal and Bangladesh, sponsoring leadership & discipleship projects in creative access areas, funding child development centers in Sri Lanka, new church buildings, purchase of goats and sponsoring agriculture conservation projects, anti-human tra cking projects in the Philippines, refugee support for the Middle East, and many others.
Our Compassionate Resource Warehouse, located on Vancouver Island and directed by Del Marie Wergeland, ships needed items around the globe. This doesn’t happen by accident. There were 44,475 volunteer hours, 108 volunteers, and other people who are invested in the work of the Lord through serving and giving. These people understand “true and proper worship.” The ministries of NCMC (including Compassionate Resource Warehouse) amount to a stewardship investment of several million dollars.
For well over 20 years, the Church of the Nazarene in Canada has supported the workof the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba. Teams from each Canadian district gave financial and physical aid to support the seminary in Punta Brava, a “Pastor Partnership Program,” and Work & Witness teams that included responses to a tragic air disaster in 2018 among Cuban Nazarene leaders.
I have been reading a book written by our former Governor General, David Johnson entitled, The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation (Penguin Random House, 2016). In the book, he talks about what makes us who we are. He cites one story that was of particular interest: “Many years ago Mother Teresa . . . made her rst visit to Canada to share with Canadians the story of her work to help the dying, sick, and destitute of Calcutta. An editorial in one of our country’s major newspapers lauded her intentions, yet despaired at the futility of her efforts. Her work was described as a drop of hope in an ocean of despair. What was the point, the paper proclaimed, in helping a mere several hundreds of people in a city of millions in a country of hundreds of millions, most of whom live in desperate poverty?”
Governor General Johnson goes on to describe how troubled he felt upon reading this assessment, but as he prepared to respond to the article, he remembered an experience that he described as an “epiphany.” When Johnson was Dean of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, he had a colleague named Andy McFarlane. McFarlane, dean of journalism at the same university, was also a magician on the side and performed at children’s birthday parties on weekends.
One day, Johnson went to see McFarlane at work and was invited to stand in the back to watch the faces of those amazed children. Andy declared that he was going to change water into wine and produced a glass of clear water from his cape. Johnson was watching carefully from the back, and as Andy moved his hand and sleeve over the glass, he was able to secretly pour a small vial of food coloring into the water. Upon moving his arm to reveal the glass again, there it was for all to see: The water had turned red. It only took one little drop to transform a large glass of water, and it only takes one little drop to transform an entire community. As Governor General Johnson concluded, it’s not about math, it’s about chemistry.
North of the 49th parallel in the land we call home, we who call ourselves Nazarenes understand that giving is “true and proper worship,” and we seek to go beyond mathematics into the realm of God’s chemistry, which takes what we give and suits it to His purposes.
The “Order of Canada” is awarded to those who have contributed to society in an extraordinary way. It is in the shape of a snowflake. Every snow flake is different, and as it joins forces with other snowflakes, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. There are over 12,000 Nazarenes in Canada who have come together to be greater than the sum of their parts. Joining together in the mission of God calls us to remember that He can do amazing and wonderful things by taking what we joyfully give and multiplying it to suit His purposes.
The hymn writer Frances Havergal makes a promise in her prose when she presents herself to God: “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise.”
Indeed, this is “true and proper worship.”
In this worship of giving, we trust the words of Scripture: “Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).
IAN FITZPATRICK A native of Ireland, Ian Fitzpatrick served as a pastor in Canada for more than 20 years before accepting the call of District Superintendent of the Canada Central District. Since 2017, he has served as National Director for the Church of the Nazarene Canada.