The shooting death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo hit home for me because I fell in love with a man in uniform. I’ve eaten dinner in the Officers Mess of Hamilton’s John Foote Armouries – home base for Cpl. Cirillo. I’ve trailed behind the tidy formations of men and women marching up James Street to the cenotaph at Gore Park. Stood among the crowds for Remembrance Day ceremonies and blinked back tears.

Cirillo’s death, along with that of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was felt across Canada. We mourned but were also rattled by the violent attacks on our men in uniform stationed not in overseas conflicts but here at home. And yet, in the days after this assault, soldiers continued – undaunted – to guard the National War Memorial in Ottawa where Cpl. Cirillo was killed.  

The first Sunday after these two murders, I was deeply moved by a sermon that Daryl Stogryn gave at our church. He’s the Director of Global Engagement for Youth for Christ Canada. Stogryn travels worldwide to meet, encourage and train young Christians. He preached on Hebrews 11:30-12:2, that list of the witnesses, dense as a cloud, who “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” All by faith, so that we might cast aside our burdens (of depression, of apathy, of hatred) and give a little bit more of our lives over to Christ.

When darkness seems to be gaining ground, I feel it like a weight on my shoulders.

When evil takes another life, we feel it like a sick drip of despair in the stomach.

Current events can convince us that ours is a degenerate time – maybe the most degenerate ever.

These moments, Stogryn said, when we know things are not right – these are the moments to tell stories of the righteous one. Let the great cloud of witnesses speak and then join in, undaunted, with accounts of how God has been active in your life. This is what the Israelites did in exile to remind each other of God’s faithfulness. This is what the author of Hebrews did for the Jewish Christians enduring persecution. It’s what Stogryn’s sermon did for me.

And this is what we’re trying to do in Christian Courier this week – uplift our readers with stories of how the next generation in Canada hears God’s voice, and the many creative and inspiring ways they are responding. We bear witness, sometimes in small ways. But even bearing witness can build to something powerful, as it did when thousands of Canadians stood bridge-vigil to honour Cpl. Cirillo while his body travelled home from Ottawa to Hamilton.

At a conference last week, a stranger asked me, “What kind of stuff do you print in this paper?” 

“I always lean toward the pieces that give hope,” I said – not overthinking it (for once).

And he replied, “Amen.”

On Sunday Pastor Stogryn spoke of young missionaries he’s met in China, Lebanon, Liberia and Afghanistan, risking their lives for God every day. “These are the stories that the enemy doesn’t want us to know,” he said. “And they inspire me to live a richer, more faithful life.”

Amen, I thought.

In that sense, these pages are all Classified – not something the enemy wants you to get your hands on.

We’re here to give the cloud of witnesses the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Angela became Editor of CC in 2009, having learned English grammar in Moscow, research skills in grad school and everything else on the fly. Her vision is for CC to give body to a Reformed perspective by exploring what it means to follow Jesus today. She hopes that the shared stories of God at work in the world inspire each reader to participate in the ongoing task of renewing his creation. Angela lives in Newcastle, Ontario with her husband, Allan, and three children.

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