Tag: change (Page 1 of 2)

Economic justice: Even small changes make a difference

Zach Stefaniuk on fair trade economy - Economic justice: Even small changes make a difference

Use your imagination for a second. You are a young Canadian. You have recently graduated from high school and feel inspired to travel the world. During your travels you come upon an intriguing building. You go closer to investigate. As you approach the building you see it is unusually unstable. There are next to no windows, but you manage to find one. On the other side of this window are bars and endless lines of tables which locals are working at. The locals seem very tired and unhappy. It almost seems as if you recognize what they’re making. Then you realize they’re making your favourite brand of t- shirts. How do you react?

The building I just described is a factory.

Do you know where your clothes are made? Most people don’t know where their clothes or other possessions come from. It wasn’t that long ago that people were more dependent on their local community and their own skills to survive. Now, most everything is made internationally.

The Bible tells us that God wants everyone to be part of an equal economy. In the Old Testament, that meant helping your neighbour with harvest when need be. In the New Testament, the radical teachings of Jesus known as the Beatitudes, say that the Kingdom of God is for the poor – those who are not of high economic standing. 

So what can we, as part of the wealthy western world, do to change this? Becoming aware of our surroundings and how we interact with them, is one step. Understanding how our economic choices impact the environment and people in our community, allows us to rethink which brands may be best for ourselves and other people. 

Many big box stores have a policy to try to match the lowest price, which is great for our immediate needs, but is it great for the long-term needs of the workers in foreign countries?

An alternative is to shop fair trade. Organizations who sell fair trade products, ensure the workers receive a wage that they can live on. When we buy products from fair trade companies, we make a difference. It may be a small difference, but God cares when we make a positive difference.

We can also use more locally sourced products or make more of our own products. There was a time when people would simply make what they needed. These days, many of us have lost these skill, and depend on the rest of the world to supply absolutely everything.

Zach Stefaniuk on fair trade economy - Economic justice: Even small changes make a difference

If you live in a small town, it’s a safe bet that you can find most of the food you need within your community. The same is true for cities. In Winnipeg, there are many family-run businesses, we can support, and probably gardeners and small scale farmers that would be more than happy to share their produce.

Our relationship with products should be more personal. Once these relationships are more personal, we can start to connect with those who make them. There is no doubt that when we build a relationship with the growers and makers of our food and clothes, and other products, we will treat them with more care. Knowing how much work goes into them makes a difference. 

Use your imagination again. How can you impact this change? How will you welcome people into God’s economy of equality?

Zachary Stefaniuk is a second year Biblical and Theological Studies student from Hague, Saskatchewan. This blog post is adapted from a speech Zachary presented at the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest at CMU.

A change of universities and a change of heart

This past year I made the transition from playing USport soccer to playing at the MCAC level here at CMU. After my third season of varsity soccer I realized that soccer had become my whole life, and that it was changing me into a person that I didn’t like. I found myself compromising on values I believed in and had grown up following.

Camille Plett

My faith had always been a huge part of my life, and in the past couple years, I have really grown in that aspect. By being connected with Athletes in Action, serving on tours (sports based ministry trips), and participating in Bible studies, I was able to really see what matters in life, and how to balance my faith and sport.

After I was able to humble myself enough to make this realization, I knew something had to change, so I left my team. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to grow close with God again and go wherever He wanted me. Letting go of what I had always imagined for my life was tough, but God showed me clearly where I should be. And that was CMU.

Camille Plett

Originally I had thought I wouldn’t play soccer for a school again, but God granted me the freedom play again when I joined a CMU practise about a year ago. The coaches invited me to train and immediately I felt welcomed. I had so much fun playing without the pressures I had put on myself previously, and the team’s positive attitudes were encouraging.

After playing my first outdoor soccer season with the team, the team environment really stood out to me. The girls come to practise ready to train, work hard, learn, and have fun. They wanted to be there, and to me that was refreshing.

The support from other students who come watch is also incredible. During Futsal season, I love that we have such a home field advantage. Full stands of loud fans is definitely motivating during games. The community of the sports teams and students supporting each other was something I looked forward to since committing to coming to CMU.

Camille Plett

I strive for success on the soccer field or futsal court, but I also have academic goals. Being an academic All-Canadian is important to me, along with taking the most that I can out of my courses, and applying what I learn to my life. CMU has allowed me to continue working towards my goal of graduating with a Bachelors of Physical Education, by letting me complete my minor of history. The smaller class size makes this goal so much more attainable. I have had many experiences interacting with my professors that would never happen elsewhere, and I am so thankful for the support and love they have shown me.

All my past life experiences and soccer experiences lead me here. I have a moment of peace every day as I walk the halls of CMU, knowing this is where I need to be. This is testament to God and how He has worked in my life to prepare me to come to CMU. 

Realizing I needed change in my life, and then giving up the dreams I had growing up was humbling for me, but it has been worthwhile to pursue my current dream of being the best team mate, friend, and follower of God that I can be.

Camille Plett is a fourth year student studying Physical Education and History, and is from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

Growing up in Morris, Manitoba just south of Winnipeg, I was involved in sport starting in elementary school. I participated in many school sports, but invested most of my time in basketball, playing competitively from grade five until grade eleven.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

In grade ten, I began playing club volleyball, and continued into my graduating year. It was then I decided volleyball was the sport I wanted to pursue further at the University level.

Transitioning from high school into university has been a challenge on and off the court. On the court, the level of volleyball is an adjustment. We practice 3 times a week along with fitness once a week.

Having practices so often and league games every weekend takes time away from studies. This makes juggling homework and volleyball difficult. Though being a student athlete has its challenges, it’s helping me develop good time management skills.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

Another benefit of being involved in team sports is the sense of community that develops. Your team starts to act as a second family. They always have your back, and if you ever have a problem, they’re willing to listen and give feedback.

Being on a sports team has made the transition from high school to university much easier, creating opportunities for new friendships.

When I first came to CMU, I was skeptical of what university life was like. Being part of a new environment where you don’t know anyone, while trying to get to know the campus can be extremely intimidating.

However, being part of a sports team at CMU has given me a way to get to know other students through my teammates. All of the sports teams are relatively close too, so I’ve been able to connect with students on the other teams as well.

In high school, I relied on the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 to encourage me whenever I felt like giving up.

Jess Edel - On the Court and in the Classroom: A Challenging Transition

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” reminded me at many low moments that I can do all things, especially through the power of Jesus Christ. This scripture has continued to encourage me in life at CMU, both on the court and in the books.

The classes are larger, the professors are tougher, and the assignments are longer. This adjustment is hard for everyone coming out of high school, and can be even more challenging coming from a small, AA school in Morris, with 400 students attending from K-12.

It can seem intimidating and has its challenges, but I believe that with determination, hard work, and a strong faith, anyone can do it. If it weren’t for my amazing teammates, coaches, and peers, adapting to university life at CMU would be far more challenging.

Jessica Edel is a first year student, and member of the CMU women’s volleyball team from Morris, Manitoba.

A year of living monastically

Sarah Moesker, a year of living monastically

I spent this past year living with The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD] is an Anglican, Benedictine-style monastic community located in Toronto, Ontario.

The Sisters are an open community, welcoming people to join them for their chapel services, occurring four times daily, typically followed by a silent meal. They run a Guest House ministry, providing a quiet place for a variety of individual and group retreats. Some Sisters also provide spiritual care to the patients at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital next door to the convent.

The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD]

“Why,” you ask? Now that is a great question!

Truth be told, I think I was beckoned to the convent by a God who called a timeout on my somewhat floundering efforts to do life.

God was like, “Yo, Sarah…” and there was a bunch more, but I had some trouble hearing it. I did manage to catch the gesture toward SSJD when I found myself pensively gazing, back and forth, between two things: a feeling of “You are not returning to CMU next fall” in one hand, and the emptiness of the other hand. 

Seated in the ambient sanctuary of St. Benedict’s Table’s evening service, the list of songs and announcements found its way into that empty hand, and I came across an advertisement from SSJD, calling young women to join them for a year. I sat holding those two things in my hands for the next two weeks, though the setting changed sometimes. Cue the cataclysmic word: Yes.

As for what I learned, in Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis offers a perspective on what it is like to let God into one’s life, where the life is the house and God the renovator:

At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of.”

So I guess I learned pretty quickly that there was a lot more on God’s agenda than on mine.

I learned a lot about how prayer is not just a thing one does but a way one lives. I thought, “oh la dee da, I will just go there and learn how to pray more regularly”. God responded, “Your whole life is a prayer. Come; let me show you how to be attentive to that reality.” Stepping into contemplative prayer has been like coming home to myself—the way God intended me to be, on my own, in prayer, and in relation to others.

Picture22

Through simply living the lifestyle of the Sisters, I also learned things about self-compassion, time-management, self-discipline, and the healing mystery of having structure. I developed a better sense of what a balanced life of prayer, work, leisure, and rest feels like—now I just have to remember to apply it.

There was also the healing experience of living in community, which normalized a lot of the elements of socializing and relationships that used to provoke tremendous anxiety.

Another area of growth and learning was my work as a Spiritual Care Provider at the rehabilitation hospital next door, visiting patients and helping out with the services in the hospital chapel. This experience provided some insights into not only the sort of work I would like to do but might also be good at.

These inchoate learnings are some of the things I will be taking back into my life as a student at CMU and into the community I will be living in this next year. 

Sarah Moesker returned to CMU this fall for her fourth year of a Biblical & Theological Studies major, with a minor in Psychology.

Finding the light: An international student’s experience

Finding the light: An international student's experience

My name is Valeriia Alipova, and I’m from Zaporozhe, in east Ukraine.  
I came to Canada with the Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS), a year and four months ago.  

I would like to share a story of where I have seen the light of God in my life.  

When I first came to Winnipeg, I had many challenges: new country, new language, new people. For the first time in my life, I was away from family, church, and friends. I so was worried about my future life, I forgot to enjoy the present. 

But I knew God was there. Through all my worries I could see a light—the light of God, in people around me. 

Valeriia joins in the singing at Bethel Mennonite Church.

Since coming here, I’ve met so many interesting, generous, and lovely people!  I could hardly believe how friendly people are in Winnipeg—especially the people at Bethel Mennonite church.

They welcomed me with open hearts.  

People invited me over for supper to their homes, taking me grocery shopping, to concerts, Jets games, and sailing.

When I struggled with homesickness, they spent time with me, showing me God’s love and support. They gave me opportunities to learn and to grow, in both relationships with people, and with God.  

It’s the same for me here at CMU. So remember: you can be the light of God in someone’s life this year! 

Valeriia Alipova is entering her second year at CMU. She originally shared this in chapel during the 2016-17 school year. 

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