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Will you pick fear and defeat or trust and courage?

“They are but food for us” Numbers 13 Fifteen years ago these words brought my family and me the courage we needed to make a decision, one that would have a significant impact on us for the rest of our lives. In the spring of 1996 Archbishop Gervais, then the Archbishop of Ottawa, invited CCO to come to his diocese. In April, two of us flew to Ottawa to meet the Bishop and visit the Carleton campus. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, stepping on a multicultural campus like Carleton, was an overwhelming experience to say the least. I felt so out of place as I walked through the halls among the students, who were speaking different languages from all over the world. This may not seem like a big deal for most, but 15 years ago coming from Saskatchewan things seemed a lot different. It was as we met with the chaplain that I began to experience a great deal of fear and doubt. It became very clear to me that I was entering into what could be perceived as an unwelcome and hostile environment. Walking back to our car I turned to the CCO staff member I was traveling with and told him that I could not be the one to bring CCO to Ottawa. It was on the drive back to where we were staying that the Lord began to speak to me. He led me to the story of Moses, where he sent the 12 men to check out the promised land, which the Lord was calling them to. When they got there they were shocked to see that the cities were well fortified. They saw giants in the land and they had great worries. Yes, the land was flowing with milk and honey, but they reported to Moses that they felt like grass hoppers in the midst of those giants. From what they saw, they would easily be defeated. I could relate to their report, and in my opinion, they had good reason to be afraid. But then in the midst of the loud cries and grumbling, Caleb and Joshua stood up and said, "Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it." Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we..." But Moses and Aaron fell prostrate before the whole assembled community of the Israelites… and said, "The country which we went through and explored is a fine, rich land. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us in and give us that land, a land flowing with milk and honey. But do not rebel against the LORD! You need not be afraid of the people of that land; they are but food for us! Their defense has left them, but the LORD is with us. Therefore, do not be afraid of them…in answer, the whole community threatened to stone them.” Sitting in the car that day, I had a decision to make, “what report would I be giving upon returning back home to Saskatchewan”? Would it be one of fear and defeat or would it be one of trust and courage? I made a conscious decision that day how I was going to respond to God’s call in my life. Five montsh later, I packed up my family and we traveled across the country to what we believed to be the promise land, a place where God asked us to go. Although Saskatchewan will always be our home, God has more than blessed us here in Ottawa. The amazing part of this whole story is that there are many CCO staff over the years who have made similar choices to leave their home and “go” where God has called them. Such obedience is pleasing to the Lord. Such obedience opens the floodgates of God’s grace, which will help bring about the renewal of the world.

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