Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Monday Nov. 27

I didn’t realize that this would be such a long trip from Davao to Ormac today. I started out at McDonalds for breakfast with one of the Bible School Students. (I have a very special memory of being at our International Foursquare Convention as a 19 year old Bible College freshman when a veteran missionary took me out to dinner. I remember feeling so honored that he’d asked me.)

After breakfast my host drove me to the airport, where I and the General Superintendent headed to Cebu, the ancient landing place of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the stronghold of Catholicism. We were met in Cebu by two pastors I know and we all went to lunch together. After lunch we set out by van to the dock, where we eventually boarded a Fast-Cat ferry. Susan had told me that another ferry just sank yesterday off a nearby island, but we safely made the three hour trip. We landed at the port and set out by car a fair distance to Ormac. We were both pretty tired (and a little seasick from the very rough ride). We arrive at about 8:00 p.m. for the first service, which had already begun. It’s amazing how invigorating worship can get one ready to teach. I feel bad for Delfin the General Superintendent; he has a meeting after our services, then leaves for an eight hour ferry ride to be at his next meeting by morning.

Leyte November 29

Well its all but over. In some ways, it seems like months I've been away. So much has happened, so many new friends, so much conversation. But in other ways this 18 day trip has flown by.

During these last few days in Ormac, sadly my telephone text and email have not worked. No satellite connection on Leyte. I was desperate to call Susan the first night I was here to tell her that I'd arrived safely by Ferry and motorcycle. My cell did not work, the hotel could not access Canada and the public phones closed at 5 pm. It was 11 pm after the service was over. (we hadn't arrived till after it had begun) finally I asked a couple of women walking by the hotel if I could pay to use their cell. They had no load but were willing if we could reload for them. The hotel clerk ran somewhere (it was after midnight and everything was closed) got the necessary load and I was able to call.

Ormac is a lovely little seaside town on the Island Leyte. 15 years ago it made the headlines when the river overflowed and 15 feet of water drowned the city. 11,000 people died that day. When the pastor built his church a few years ago they dug up a few human skulls under the parsonage

Then in 2006 a mud slide a few hours away in Bernard buried 1000's more alive. Our Church had given several thousand dollars to help the living so I brought back pictures to show what we did to help.

The pastors of Leyte are a very humble group of men and women. Gulliver the district Supervisor has no car or motorcycle. No typewriter or computer. No office and only a small parsonage (about 300 sq feet) for his family of 6. But as poor as they are they worship with great enthusiasm and listen intently to the many hours of teaching. My schedule was full from arrival on Monday until departure on Wed afternoon.

There's a typhoon on the Islands so the Fastcat Ferry is making tracks to get to Cebu before they send out the signal to cancel all sailings. I'll be in Cebu tonight and tomorrow I fly to Manila to connect to the flight home. Yippee!

Monday, November 27, 2006

50th Year Celebration

We set out early again this morning for a 90 minute jeepney ride from Davao to Panabo City. It was their 50th year Celebration and also Thanksgiving Sunday so they had slaughtered the fatted pig for the occasion. Knowing that pastors Hernani and Mila’s heart for the poor, I was very surprised with the quality of the celebration this morning. The wonderful music was high on the list of the best I have ever heard. I couldn’t hold back the tears as the dancers and actors retraced the 50 years of church history here on the island of Mindanao when Sister Thompson began the church in Davao in 1956. She almost immediately began reaching out to the natives in aboriginal tribes. On her first visit it was either eat the sacrificed monkey or be killed. Sister Thompson closed her eyes, stuck her fork into the monkey’s roasted brain and stuck it in her mouth. The natives cheered and she was accepted from that time.

After my time of preaching we ate some of the best food I have ever tasted, played some family games, enjoyed more music and native dances and presented awards to some of the heroes of Philippine Foursquare History. I had to leave by 3:00 p.m. to get back for dinner with some of the Bible School students. Then we all rushed to the final celebration service (with a 3 foot tall cake.) It was very sad for me to say good-bye for my now many friends here in Davao. Tomorrow the General Supervisor and I fly to Cebu then take a fastcat ferry to the Island of Leyte for my last conference.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

November 26

I met one pastor here who travels to remote villages and reads to the uneducated tribal pastors so they will have something to preach to their villages. The jeepney we came on was very old and barely running. They are now praying that God will provide a new vehicle.

Just united to the grateful pastors, most of these men and women pastor in the mountains, accessible only by motorcyle. The mountain passes are very steep, wind along the sides of cliffs and are only dirt or mud trails about three feet wide. (I was not permitted to go because gangs of communist terrorist are on the lookout for white visitors to rob or kidnap for ransom).

A jeepney in the Philippines

November 25

On Friday the 50th Anniversary wound down except for a big church celebration on Sunday evening, so I have turned my attention toward Panabo City Conference about an hour away. I am on the board of directors for the Strength in the Valley Foundation who minister to the poorest of the pastors from the indigenous tribes. These pastors will walk through trails and then ride on a motorcycle taxi for many hours to come hear the word, receive some rice and a few clothes for their children and church.

It has been a privilege for our church to help subsidize the work and the retreat center Mila and Hernani have been sacrificing to construct. I will bring back pictures of their progress. Speaking of the poor, it is very difficult to know who to help and who to not help.

Mila began the ministry several years ago when she and her husband were going through a very difficult valley. As pastors their income was about $10 a month. She remembers standing on a bridge with her hungry child. Her daughter was asking for a banana, but Mila could not afford even that. She was really tempted to jump off the bridge and end her very difficult life. God spoke to her and reminded her of the many blessings she did have, and that others were even poorer than her family. It was at that moment in the valley of the shadow of death, that Mila felt God calling her to care for the poorest of pastors.

Nov. 25, today was a full day at the Strength in the Valley Foundation. After teaching the seminar on Psalm 23, I got to be part of the joyful blessing process. Our church was able to provide food subsidy plus we had sent boxes of clothes that were given out.

Thursday Nov. 23

Today was another yesterday. I started before dawn (still no coffee at Dunkin Donuts-they promise for sure it will arrive by tomorrow). The seminars began at 7:30 this. morning and the enthusiasm was as strong today as Wednesday.
The delegates have worked so hard to raise enough money to come. Some pastors live on as little as 1000 pesos ($25.00) a month so even a bus ride and registration can equal a couple of months income. One pastor I spoke with rode his small motorbike over very difficult terrain to be here. He left home at 3 pm and finally arrived at 6 am. They are so hungry to learn the Word of God that they sit for 14 hours on very hard wooden pews and intently listen to every word that I am teaching.
Tonight there is a banquet to honor the churches and Bible School who have served over the past 50 years. There have been 2300 graduates over the past 50 years from the Halls of Life Foursquare Bible College and most of them are still Pastoring today.
Tomorrow the conference in Davao ends and I leave for Conference #2 in Panabo City

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday Nov. 22 in Philippines

This has been an exhausting but very profitable day. After arriving at church this morning my teaching sessions began and carried on through the day which ended about 10 pm. The weather is very hot (about 90 degrees) but thankfully there are no window panes in this 1000 seat sanctuary. Of course that allows birds to fly through the room; and a cat just ran across the stage.

The theme of the conference has been "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" so I've been teaching on remembering the past; Bible history, Philippino history,the history of the church and the last 50 years of Foursquare history in Mindanao. Then I'm covering our present purpose. A generous sponsor provided my new book "Dancing with the King" to each of the 550 delegates. Tomorrow we'll get into the promise that God has given is for our future. It's very exciting!

Tonight before the message the students of the Foursquare Christian School performed an amazing story dance depicting how tribal natives tried to kill the early Foursquare missionaries. And how God saved them because of a few shiny buttons Arthur Thompson just happened to have in his pocket!

Its late now and the servers at Dunkin Donuts will be waiting for me at 5 am. They promised to have coffee in from Manila by tomorrow. Wednesday was a good day here, so I believe it will also be in the West.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday November 21st.

Its Tuesday morning and I'm at the Manila Airport headed for Davao to begin the Pastors Conference. This is the 50th Anniversary of the Church in Davao so we'll have about 400 pastors and leaders in attendance.

I remember very well the 1960's when Evelyn Thompson and her husband Arthur moved from Manila to Davao. They had no money but they did have much faith. She began immediately preaching on street corners. Evelyn was very much like the founder of the Foursquare church Aimee Semple McPherson. Miracles began to happen and it wasn't long before they built the 1000 seat church where I'll be teaching. Hundreds of churches and Hundreds more church plants have grown out of her fruitful ministry. I am so privileged to stand behind the pulpit she used and teach the next generation of Pastors. Services will run from 8 am until 10 pm with some time off for meals only. I'm amazed how much stamina the pastors have for listening and learning. I usually lose my voice speaking as much as they want to listen.

Yesterday I had the full day to prepare. Although I had done my homework and early prep work in (I had to print and ship the 60 page notes by early Sept), there is much adjustment to the moment of need as I proceed.

Aimee Semple McPherson

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday Dec. 19th

November 19. I'm sitting in a Chow King eating my bowl of noodles very content with my world. Manila is very warm this evening, muggy after the rain today. There are a thousand smells in the air. All kinds of fried foods I don't even recognize, blended with thick diesel exhaust from the Jeepnies and urine from the vagrants sleeping on the sidewalks. Sounds of motorcycles, police whistles, hawkers selling their wares, Christmas carols from neighborhood Karaoke machines and a hundred loud voices competing to be heard.

My day has been tiring but fulfilling--the alarm woke me at 5 am to get myself ready for the taxi at 5:30. The driver and I tried to find Capital City Foursquare Church. After one stop for a donut and cup of bitter instant coffee, and a lost hour we arrived at the church still early for the 7 am service

The music was exhilarating and worshipful. My problem is holding back my volume in the enthusiastic praise to save my voice for a 75 minute sermon, which was expected. The service was over at 9 then to Starbucks Coffee in the lobby, to be fueled up for service #2. The 10 am service was also full with several hundred attentive worshipers. By 12 after greeting the members then lunch with my congenial hosts, Val and. Sally Chavez (president of the 1800 Foursquare Churches in the Philippines.) I taxied back to my hotel. I called Susan at about 3, which was 11 pm Saturday evening to her, and lay down for a nap.

Then I went for a long sightseeing walk and ended up here at Chow King. I'll go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow is the day I prepare for Day 1 in Davao when I am on from 8 am through the evening. It's going to be a very fulfilling week. Blessings to all

Friday, November 17, 2006


Yesterday was a transition day. My week of refreshing is over and it's time to start working.

After packing and visiting with my gracious hosts, we headed for the beautiful new Bangkok Airport at 11 am. Philippine Air took off for Manila at 2 pm and arrived at 6 pm. The weather in both places is about 30 degrees and clear. It was already dark when we landed in Manila.

The flight gave me enough time to read my new book, Dancing with the King. Odd as it sounds I had not read it from cover to cover as a story before - only to write and edit it. I certainly don't want to toot my own horn but the book was exciting to read. Just seeing the amazing plan of God for his church is amazing

I'll be using the book as part of my series in Davao next week. One of our church members generously purchased books for each of the 600 pastors and we shipped them ahead 3 months ago. The pastors here cannot afford to buy books with salaries of 30 to 200 dollars a month so they are so delighted with the gifts.

I booked into a hotel in Manila and settled in for a well needed rest. I'm feeling great physically and spiritually, but I do need to catch up on my sleep. Sunday is coming. Blessings to all who read these words

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Today was a full day at the Foursquare Conference. We started at 7 am and got home just after 11 pm. Pastor Jack did a great job of challenging and encouraging the leaders this morning. We had lunch and a break in the afternoon, later a delicious Asian banquet for dinner, real Thai entertainment and a wrap-up by Pastor Jack to top off the night.

I've had opportunity to connect with many Philippino friends from throughout the islands as well as long time friends in Foursquare leadership. If I wanted to travel or felt it was God's will I've had invitations from all over the map. We'll see what happens. On the way home after a 20 minute train ride, Don and Ru and I wandered through the buzzing night market where I was able to buy a few trinkets for the grandkids. Wednesday was a good day-for those of you in BC just beginning it, you have lots to look forward to. As for me though, I'm off to bed

Midnight in Bangkok

Its Midnight here in Bangkok. We've just ended another memorable day at the eastern nations Pastora and leaders Conference. 31 Nations are well represented. Its hard to describe how much my world has been widened over these past 3 days

I've sat down or had tea with dozens of world shakers. Not that they are wealthy or powerful in themselves, but they live daily in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This a.m. the meetings began at 7 and the first round ended at 12:30 for lunch. They resumed for the afternoon. At 5 pm the 600 plus delegates were treated to a colorful and flavorful Thai buffet dinner which was followed by a short presentation by each of the 31 nations- in full traditional costumes. wow! What a treat. Each group could do a song ,dance, skit or whatever they chose. I cried as well as laughed as the Sri Lankan team sang about rebuilding the ruins after the tsunami, where 73 of our church members died. A revival has followed the tragedy. Bangledesh rejoiced over the 40 churches they've planted. With 40 more already started. Myanmar has 60 churches and daily live under persecution in danger of jail. Vietnam also in colorful costume, although their churches are not sanctioned and are underground led us in riotous laughter. Probably most exciting is the work in Cambodia. The Foursquare church began only 8 years ago and there are now 2000 churches full of enthusiastic young believers. No wonder we love giving to Missions! Just as amazing are the 12,000 Foursquare churches in Muslim stronghold, Indonesia. To see these groups of 20 or 30 leaders (Cambodia has 101 there), very common people up front singing and laughing was one of the most exhilerating evenings I can remember

After the celebration I came home and we went shopping for family gifts at a wonderful night market. Even I enjoyed the shopping experience! Thursday has been a great day. Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Well my long day from Sunday am to Tuesday 11 pm is finally over. I'm back at Don and Ru's beautiful apartment, had my fruit and tea and am ready for bed

What a delightful service we had tonight. We had 31 of the 146 nations that have Foursquare churches represented among the 600 delegates. The service began with worship led by an awesome Thai band and then young people marched in with all the representative national flags. It was very moving

On the flight from Manila I just happened to sit by a lady Foursquare pastor from Davao. I had changed some money into Thai bills and felt led to give her a signifigant amount. A man from our church had given me several hundred dollars to give away as I felt led. After receiving the money the pastora said to me that she'd come with no money for registration, hotel, taxi or food. God had told her to trust him and He would supply her need. Both she and I (and my generous friend) were all pleased that we had heard from God. A good day was had by all


Its now Tuesday 10:20 am and I am leaving Manila, still in transit to Bangkok. I've had a good 5 hour visit with many of the 60 Philippino delegates who are also enroute to the Conference. Thankfully I've made many friends over the last 8 years of visiting the churches across this beautiful nation. My good friends Don and Ru Schellenberg will be waiting for me to arrive. Then I'll have the honor of staying at their home.

Tonight is the first service. If I'm able to keep my eyes open, it will be inspiring. There will be 600 delegates representing 30 nations

Here I am in the Vancouver airport, just having left Susan. Very sad! My Philippine airline plane departs at 10:40 pm Sunday night and I arrive in Bangkok about 2pm Tuesday (they're 15 hours ahead of Vancouver. On Tuesday evening is the 1st service-I'm already excited to hear what's happening with our Foursquare family in Asia. I'll keep you posted from day to day. Blessings

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Pastor Terry

It's been about 20 years since Terry and Ingrid Janzen first walked into our church, when we were still meeting in Lincoln Elementary School. They'd only been married for a short time, and Terry actually limped in because of a large cast which was wrapped around a serious knee operation. Very shortly after their arrival, Susan and I discovered what a treasure we had received from God. Ingrid was one of the most gifted pianists that I'd ever heard and Terry was a world travelled drummer, as well as having an obvious relational gift.

It was around the same time that we were building our new facility on Coast Meridian and Lougheed Hwy--after we moved in ( February 1987), our church went through a real spike in growth. Terry very quickly began shaping our needed Youth Group. Actually only Susan's and my daughters, and 1 or 2 others were potential participants, but Terry had great vision for a healthy bunch of teens.

Within a year or so, numbers had swelled significantly and we were able to hire Terry at a very modest salary. In faith he left his other job, even though Ingrid was expecting their first son, and stepped into uncharted waters as my Associate Pastor as well as Youth Pastor. It's hard to describe what a strength Terry has been to me over these past 20 years. I cannot imagine not having him standing close beside me. (All of Terry's gifting and skills have been amplified by his multi-talented and loving wife, Ingrid.)

Terry's godly attitudes of honor and loyalty have been a huge strength to his ministry--even though he has had many attractive opportunities to be Lead Pastor elsewhere, he has remained faithful to this call. So often I've said to Terry, "Sure Terry, you would make a great Pastor. I want you to go wherever God leads you." But secretly, I'm praying, "Please Lord, don't call him away!" Thankfully God has continued to answer my pleas. Today with one of the most significant bunch of young people in our Tri-cities, as well as scores of well discipled young adults to his credit, he serves the church as Executive Pastor, beside Gord Demchuk and me.

I snagged this picture of Terry from many years ago and in comparison to the handsome rogue he is today, you can see how God can change any geek into a man of God. It gives us hope, doesn't it!

Thank-you Terry for your friendship and love. You are a priceless gift to me and our church. I love you and pray that you have a happy birthday on November 16!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My Friend Mary

Today we formally said "See you later" to a dear friend, Mary Goddard.
I remember well the day I was first introduced to Mary by a mutual friend. It was May 6, 1980. She was kind of a superstar in Charismatic circles at the time, having travelled around the world as a teacher on Spiritual gifts, her own TV program which reached millions, a personal biography called Queen of Hearts, and recognition in some of the largest churches in North America.

It wasn't too many years later (about 1987) that Mary surprised me by showing up at our church one Sunday morning. A friend said to me "That's Mary Goddard coming in the door!" It was like the queen coming to visit. I'm not sure why, but Mary chose to make our church her home base over the last 20 years. It has been my pleasure to be a very personal friend to her over the past 2 decades. In 1996 she was licensed as one of our Foursquare pastors ministering as an extension teacher from Northside church.

A week ago the sparkle faded from Mary's eyes after a stroke, and she died a few days later. I have a beautiful Maple tree in my back yard which Mary gave to me as a young sapling, and it will be a yearly reminder of her vibrant joy and enthusiasm. I will always value our friendship. God bless her family-- as for Mary, God has already welcomed her with a "Well done good and faithful servant!"

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Buzza Family

I received a very interesting email from a distant relative, whom I've never met, last week. There are a limited number of Buzzas in our world, and all of us seem to come from a beautiful southern part of England near Cornwall, so I wasn't suprised that Richard from Pennislvania harkened from the same roots. What was delightful to read was a letter that he emailed, which was written by his great grandfather who was born in 1857. This elder, Richard Buzza wrote in his brief autobiography about his family's move to America when he was young, working in the mines when he was only 9 years old for 25 cents a day and cutting natural slate by hand before machines were used.

I forwarded the email to my cousin Bob who has served our family as the unofficial historian of our clan. Bob's family has traced our Buzza name back to the mid 1500's, when we were called by the name Bussow or Bussa Church records revealed that our ancestors made and sold the oak pews in the local church there in the truro area. That was interesting to me and my siblings who were brought up in the lumber business by our dad. We've heard that our name might mean " Lobster pot "(a very prestigious beginning). Bob and I agreed to update the family records soon for the new generation, who are growing quickly.

International Prayer Meeting

There's some mystically powerful when tens of thousands of like-minded believers pray in unison and harmony. Jesus said that "when 2 or 3 of us get together and pray, He is there in His dynamic power". That's what happened on Sunday evening when 350 Foursquare churches across America, as well as here in Canada, and around the world, were linked together by video.

We met at our Surrey Church and prayed under the leadership of President Jack Hayford in Los Angeles and Glenn Burris in Washington DC. We live in an amazing world of technology, but as good as it was to be joined with our Foursquare family thousands of miles away, God is not limited by time and space. We can pray for brothers and sisters in Asia right from our living room-- our prayers will bridge heaven and earth in a nano second, and our prayers can be answered as quickly as we mouth the words. How awesome is that!

Commissioning Service of PLBC

After an hour of prayer, we walked a couple of hundred yards to the new campus of Pacific Life Bible School for a short Commissioning Service. Although I am privileged to see the beautiful facility weekly, some of our church who were there, got to see it for the first time. They were thrilled to see what our Canadian church has sacrificially given to, this last year. It was a great night of celebration!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Prayer Breakfast

Today, our Tri-City Ministerial celebrated by praying for our Civic Leaders. A good group of pastors, Mayors, Councillors, Fire and Police Officials, MLA's and School Board Members enjoyed the comraderie. What a privilege it was to bow before God and ask His blessing on our Leaders. As He has told us to, we lifted them up to God and showered them with appropriate honor. Everyone who attended enjoyed the nourishment in body, soul and spirit. God bless our Governing Leaders, who daily sacrifice personal comfort to serve our cities. May you continue to live in God's peace, power and prosperity!

Pastor Ted Hagaard

I've included a letter from Pastor Jack Hayford, that he wrote in response to the accusations that have been hurled against his friend, Pastor Ted Hagaard. I heartily agree with Pastor Jack, and encourage us believers not to jump on the band-wagon of gossip and inuendos when we really have not heard the whole story. My prayer is that God will shine his light of truth on the situation, and vindicate the innocent. I also pray that He will continue to give His Shalom to Pastor Ted and his family, as well as to his church and ministry to the Evangelicals of the U.S. Church. Here's the letter:

November 3, 2006 Dear Ones-
Fellow-servants and Shepherds of Jesus' Flock:
Perhaps nothing has caused more dismay and compassionate concern than the recent announcements regarding Pastor Ted Haggard and allegations of inappropriate sexual involvement. Our brother has (1) transferred his senior pastoral role at New Life Church in Colorado Springs to his executive associate, (2) submitted himself to the governance of a strong body of spiritual leaders who will administrate matters of discipline, extended recovery, and eventual restorations, and (3) resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
As a member of the executive committee of N.A.E., of which the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is a member denomination, I have participated with the committee in responding to Pastor Haggard's resignation. Accompanying this communiqué is the statement N.A.E. is releasing in this regard.
I haven't words to adequately express my grief over this circumstance. Foremost, I ask every leader in our movement to unite in prayer as the Holy Spirit stirs us to stand with the Haggard family, the New Life Church, and every individual or group affected by this disclosure. It is encouraging that Pastor Haggard has manifested a deep contrition and repentance, and has completely yielded himself to the wise correction, counsel, and care of brethren who will deal both righteously and redemptively.
The counsel of Galatians 6:1-5 calls us all to this moment in appropriate Christian support, and also provides a fresh call and reminder of our own vulnerability and accountability before God. Let us review these words perhaps, most wisely, upon our knees in a time of prayer at this crisis moment: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load."
As we move toward our National Church Family Prayer Meeting this Sunday evening, our souls are all the more being alerted to the demands of intercessory prayer in an era of seemingly relentless onslaughts and extraordinarily demanding times.
May God bless you all-and may we all guard our hearts with great discernment and humility before our Savior as we serve together.
Your brother and fellow laborer,
Pastor Jack Hayford

Gardening with God

I snapped this picture last week of my poor little Willow tree in our front yard. This tree is the great grand-daughter of the one I wrote about in my Life Journey book about 7 years ago. I purchased the dying Willow for only $5.00 at the nursery, took it home and tried to nurse it back to health. It's a long story, but the result was that when my Willow died that same year, it gave birth, at the same time, to 7 beautiful baby saplings. When we moved away from that home 14 years ago, I brought one branch with me to transplant in our new yard. From the tiny new tree, many others have grown, including the one here.

While pruning my Willow, I noticed these hundreds of little bugs crawling all over the trunk. Of course they made me reflect on the bugs that haunt our human souls. I don't know where they come from, but if we don't deal with them early, they will surely multiply and eventually destroy us. That's why Susan and I headed down to Rona and purchased some good insecticide. I applied the chemicals right away and will do it again in the spring before new growth appears. We have to do the same things with those little vermin who try to undermine our spiritual health


Susan and I had a fun time at our daughter's home on Halloween. Here's a picture of our 6 grandkids getting ready to go out and do their Trick or Treating. (Fortunately they got lots of treats and didn't encounter any tricks-except from Papa) It was freezing cold, but a gloriously beautiful evening, as our grandchildren cruised the neighbourhood with their dads. Grandma and I held the fort at one house and Susan gave out treats at Kelly and Tom's home. The best part came when the kiddies returned and shared their many goodies with Nana and Papa.

I've included the article that I wrote for the Tri-city News about Halloween. I was suprised by the very positive response from several readers, and not one negative. I know that many Christians have a problem with the celebration, but we've always taught our children to keep looking for the good in things rather than the evil.

October 29, 2006

A couple of days ago I was asking a young child what she was going to dress up as on Halloween. Her mother interrupted our conversation, saying “We don’t celebrate Halloween—it’s an evil day.”

I wasn’t surprised by her reaction and I certainly respected her opinion, but I myself have some very positive memories of Halloween. I’ll tell you why I like it, but keep in mind that we each are entitled to our own thoughts. I am not ignorant of some of the dark history behind some of our Halloween customs.

During my growing up years; in the years our own children were being reared and with our grandchildren, we’ve celebrated the fun of Halloween evening. As a young parent, as well as a young pastor, I used to take our girls along with a half a dozen other dads and their kids, door to door for the traditional handout of treats.

In truth Halloween was the best time of bonding that I ever enjoyed with our neighbours. We’d laugh together, enjoy the fantasy costumes (we always avoided dressing as demons, monsters and spooks—princesses, cartoon animals were our costumes of choice) set off colourful fireworks as families, and then go home and divvy up the candy and apples among the four of us.

Later, most of those same neighbours eventually became part of our church family. Our friendships were strengthened partly in the Halloween season.

But what about the pagan roots of Halloween? Doesn’t it go back to the time of the Druids, where they celebrated death, demons and the like?

I really don’t know. I’ve read at least six or seven differing accounts of the roots of Halloween—some very dark and others as innocent as the celebration of a new year. We do know that the Roman Catholic Church “sprinkled holy water on” (or Christianized) many of the pagan festivals from pre-Christian times. Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter are all holidays that began as Christianized pagan celebrations.

When Emperor Constantine took power as the leader of the European world in the fourth century, he knew that he could not stop people from celebrating, so he laid out Christian events and values and substituted them for the high festivals that preceded then. Sanhain (Celtic New Year) became Halloween, the evening before All Saints Day when we honour those who died for their faith. Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day, a time to spread love and joy to those we value most. Eostre (worship of the goddess of fertility) became Easter, a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. And the Winter Solistice pagan festival of lights with its drunken parties, became the holy day of Christmas when we would celebrate the birth of God’s Son, Jesus.

As for Halloween, besides being a great time to say thank you for those who’ve laid down their lives for us and given us freedom to worship, it is also a good time to practice Christian hospitality. An ancient homeowner would never consider not giving generously to anyone who knocked on his door—why should we?

And what child doesn’t love using his imagination and playing dress up? I don’t know any.

Lock your doors and turn off your lights if you choose, but as for us, we will focus on the light, rather than the darkness. Have fun, enjoy your neighbourhood children, and be safe this Halloween.