The past year has been a difficult one for many people round the globe, including our family. But it has also brought undoubted blessings, and these have made my life fuller and busier than I could have imagined a short time ago. Now I am embarking on a new venture for which I hope to raise financial support.
Occasionally I had travelled to speak at various places, including the United States, Brazil and Germany. I was all set to fly to Wake Forest, North Carolina, in March to lecture at Southeastern Baptist Seminary when COVID-19 compelled a cancellation amid a global quarantine. I should have travelled to Germany and Finland last month, but, once again, the pandemic changed our plans. Thus I have spent most of the past year at home, but a huge number of opportunities have come my way since the lockdown began.
What happened? Prior to March many of us had not heard of Zoom and similar platforms, although I was already using Facetime and Google Hangouts to talk with friends one-to-one. But suddenly everyone was using Zoom, which quickly became almost a generic word to describe the virtual meeting drawing people together online. Not surprisingly, many people apparently figured out that they could have me address public gatherings without having to take the trouble to fly me in and feed and billet me for several days. That’s when the invitations began pouring in.
The following months saw me writing an article on Reformed political reflection for a journal in Ukraine, addressing an online gathering of the Reformational Law group in Brazil, preparing a chapter for a book to be published shortly in Finland, speaking to numerous student groups from Hamilton to the United Kingdom, delivering a keynote address to the l’Abri Brasil conference in September, participating in numerous radio interviews, and so forth. When pastor and author Tim Keller endorsed my Political Visions and Illusions in July, it quickly sold out and even more invitations piled up, keeping me occupied into the next calendar year.
The difficulty with all this is that many of these activities do not come with an honorarium much less anything close to regular financial compensation. I absolutely love reaching out to people, and I have been especially appreciative of the positive reception my work has received in Brazil. Brazil is a country whose politics is marred by endemic corruption and injustice. As the evangelical Christian population grows, these new believers are increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo and are hungry for change. Many of these are enthusiastic about the tradition represented by Abraham Kuyper and his heirs. A radical change in the political culture could have an impact on the ability of governing institutions to live up to their God-given responsibility to do public justice to all Brazilians and not just to benefit self-appointed elites.
The message of the kingdom of God is one that covers the whole of life, as Kuyper understood and spent his life disseminating within the Netherlands. Now Christians around the world are inspired by this message and are hungry to see its implications lived out in their own countries. I have been privileged to be a part of this with my teaching and writing.
For just over a year I have been part of a wonderful organization called Global Scholars Canada. While GSC originally began as a means of placing Christian scholars at universities overseas with financial support coming from home, in my case I remain at home most of the time while connecting with interested people remotely and, eventually I hope, in their own countries on a short-term basis. With the proper backing, in terms of both financial and prayer support, I hope to continue to serve God with the gifts he has seen fit to give me.