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Canadian Impact on the World

Excerpts of remarks by David Kilgour
to the Executive Conference "The Quest for Significance"
sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ
Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia
October 31, 1997

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thirty years ago, Campus Crusade established its first Canadian-based ministry at the University of British Columbia. The movement spread to the lay community and in 1974 Marvin Kehler was named Canadian President. Today, I believe about 340 full-time and associate staff serve in an array of ministries, reaching virtually every segment of society. The greater international ministry now has a presence in 170 countries.

It has been my great privilege to travel with Marvin and Katherine Kehler, Barry Bowater, Jerry Sherman and others from Campus Crusade to several countries in the past two years, including China and Russia. These are people making a difference .... forever. Their goals are set to match opportunities. The Canadian ministry has been involved in more than 80 countries and invested more than $80 million in the ministries of Campus Canada outside this country. It has set the goal of reaching 500 million people with the gospel by the year 2000 - the Crusade’s worldwide goal is to help reach four billion people. The goal, the challenge, the people, the spirit, the unshakable faith in God’s message - you and I can also become a part of it.

Permit me to mention here two other exceptional persons whose lives made a difference in those of millions around the world: Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Diana, Princess of Wales - one perhaps inspired to do something as a result of position; the other motivated by a love of God. As leaders, we can learn from both. Though difficult to draw parallels among such very different people, I’d like to comment a little on how each in their own particular quest for significance changed the world and made us all better in the process.

Deficit of Love

The deficit of love is a striking phenomenon of our contemporary world. The more we talk about love in films, songs, and novels, the more it is difficult to encounter it in real life.

The death of a human being is a sad event, but that of those who showed their love and goodness of heart to many is particularly striking. Many still mourn the loss of these two giant personalities, full of love, care and compassion, qualities in short supply in our cynical and materialistic world.

First, we lost Diana. A line of verse by Robbie Burns seems crafted especially for her: "She’s from a world of woes relieved, and blooms a rose in heaven." Soon after, we lost Mother Teresa, the Princess of Compassion. Though attended by powerful leaders, hers was a funeral of the poorest of the poor, the weak, marginalized, outcasts and the hopeless.

Two very different women, yet they shared one quality: the ability to give love. Mother Teresa was inspired by her faith; Diana was motivated by tragedies she saw around her. She intuitively felt what the world lacked - love. She had the compassion, tolerance, love to give and, most importantly, the courage to show it in public. She held the hands of lepers and Aids sufferers, hugged and consoled children and raised money for charities.

"Something Beautiful for God"

Mother Teresa attracted millions of human hearts. During her life she was called "a contemporary saint," "heroine of our times," "living legend," "the conscience of mankind." She received scores of prizes and rewards, which she shunned. She desired neither favours nor publicity. She desired only peace and quiet and, as her parents taught her, to give the world her love.

The Missionaries of Charity, the order she established, sought the destitute, doomed and dying. Its guiding theme was her own: "Let every action of mine be something beautiful for God." Her Calcutta mission became a global word of compassion and she died in the slums where she started more than 40 years ago. Mother Teresa was venerated as the world’s only living saint. "People think we are social workers," she once said, "we are not. We serve Jesus. I serve Jesus 24 hours a day". She was beloved as the champion of the lowest of the low, tenderly caring for the abandoned and the sick, washing their wounds and preparing them for death. "They must feel wanted, loved," she said. "They are Jesus for me."

Mother Teresa had a faith that was not of this world, determined to save souls during the times when the very existence of souls was no longer believed by many. Hers was the message of Christian saints which many in the late 20th century were not prepared to hear: in giving we receive; in dying we are born to eternal love. She taught that the poorest countries in the world were not the developing nations but Canada and the U.S. because of our general lack of love.

The goal of Mother Teresa was to love God in a human being. "To serve poor is to serve life. We are here to be witnesses of life because the life was created in the image of God. To live means to love and be loved," she wrote in her book. She will long continue to inspire us in the struggle to protect the weak and vulnerable. Mother Teresa passed away, but her love did not die.

Crisis of the Soul

Those of you from the various Campus Crusade ministries on assignment in the former Soviet Union in recent years must have been struck by the spiritual awakening among people who lived their lives without religious faith for decades.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika unleashed forces that led directly to a gradual decline and then the complete breakdown of the Soviet Union empire. Aleksandr Yakovlev, at one point Gorbachev’s closest advisor, has stressed spiritual and intellectual factors in the Soviet changes. One of his 1990 statements about the Soviet people has been widely quoted: "We have suffered not only a crisis in economics but a crisis of the soul". "Let us remember not the empty shelves but the empty souls who have brought a change to our country which demands revolutionary change," said Yakovlev. A deep spiritual hunger among these "empty souls" has been loosed, almost unimaginable a few years ago. Former atheists in new post-Soviet countries want Christian teachers, Bibles, missionaries, and Christian T.V. programs.

A staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ Canada met with Belarusian military leaders and challenged them to allow him to teach seminars on Christian ethics and values to the military. The response was remarkable. "For 70 years," one Colonel said, "we lived under Communism and believed in atheism. That way has been destroyed. We open our hearts to you." Nikolai Stolyarov, the former Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian CIS, who believes that "our greatest hope is a spiritual rebirth based on the word of God which I read," distributed more than 100,000 copies of the New Testament provided by Bibles International to the Russian Army and Navy.

Religion in the 1990s

You might be interested to know that according to one survey approximately 29% of Canadians pray daily and almost a quarter of Canadians nationally attend religious services "once a week or so". One-fifth of Canadians read the Bible or other religious writing at least weekly. In the U.S., the Princeton Religion Research Centre says that 59% of Americans say religion is "very important". Fully 64% of American women identify themselves as religious.

The novelist John Updike recently said: "The fact that we live better than our counterparts in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union cannot ease the pain that we no longer live nobly."

Another well-known American, Ralph Reed, noted: "We may erect skyscrapers of silver that rise from streets paved with gold, but if our inner cities resemble Beirut, our children pass through metal detectors into schools that are war zones, and one out of every four high school graduates cannot read his diploma, then we will have failed ourselves, failed our nation, and failed our God. We cannot and must not fail. There is too much at stake." This powerful indictment of American cities fortunately is not yet reality in much of Canada, but it won’t take us long to get there if complacency sets in.

George Roche, President of U.S. Hillsdale College and author of 12 books on American politics and society, when asked to reflect on the present state of American society, last year composed a list headed by the title "America in the 1990s: Why We Are in So Much Trouble". Roche itemized the problems he believed caused decline in America. To a large degree, I believe his list is applicable to Canadian circumstances: the loss of values, the loss of truth, the loss of moral literacy, the loss of empathy, the loss of independence and confidence, the loss of family and the loss of faith. Roche concluded his essay on an optimistic note: "Despite our troubles, we have many reasons to expect a bright future. For over two hundred years," he adds, "we have found ways of overcoming adversity and succeeding against all odds. Though they may sometimes be threatened, our best qualities - optimism, resilience, moral imagination, ingenuity, charity, compassion and spiritual strength - have a way of resurfacing when we need them most."

National Unity

The United Nations has ranked Canada the best country in the world in which to live two years in a row now. A study by the World Bank declared two years ago that Canadians were the second most prosperous people on the planet, after Australia.

Consider here the words of Charles Baillie, President and CEO of Toronto Dominion Bank, who said in his speech last month to the Canadian Club: "If many Quebecers are saying ‘let’s leave the rotters’ more Canadians than ever are saying ‘let the rotters go’. Yes, we are two solitudes. But we are also becoming two scorpions in a jar. Why has this happened? I believe there are several, related causes, some more recent than others. The fact is, we are gripped by an appalling, abiding ignorance of each other, of our shared past, of what has made this country great. The lessons of history are forgotten. The ties that bind are falling away. Our cultural reference points are increasingly non-Canadian. Our historical reference points are increasingly non-existent. Our sense of common heritage, joint achievement, and shared values is withering away. We live totally in the present, forgetting our past and so risking our future."

Baillie, among his suggestions on how to find ways out of our impasse offered an inspirational comment: "I believe, that in the end, what is required today more than anything is to rekindle a sense of national pride, of common Canadian purpose. We need to rediscover who we are and why we are. We need to articulate, without apology, the Canadian ideal - the ability of a small and diverse population in a large and difficult land to live together - not simply to tolerate one another, but to take pride in helping each other to be what we want to become. Today, we need to come together on a national agenda - not a federal agenda, but a Canadian one." Faith in Christ allows one - you and me - to think more highly of the other person than we think of myself- this is a basis of national unity.

Canada and the World: How They See Us

Augustin Gomez, a former Mexican Ambassador to Canada, when asked what he thought of our country said: "Canada is the solution looking for a problem". Many Canadians would agree from the perspective of our constitutional wranglings of recent years. Until it became apparent that Canada with so many assets and opportunities might fracture, the international perception of Canada moved between two stereotypes: a generous democratic and tolerant haven for refugees and immigrants from around the world and a boring subarctic giant.

An Angus Reid poll conducted earlier this year on Canada’s international image placed Canada as a top nation in the minds of people from 20 countries around the world, including the G-7 powers, and far away countries such as Chile, South Africa, India and Ukraine. Whether it is an issue of Canada’s position as a desirable place to live, for its quality of life, its public institutions, or its conduct of foreign affairs, Canada received consistently high ratings both from abroad and from its own citizens. As Christians how can we take advantage of our credible position? We have an open door to the world let’s walk through it.

The poll also confirmed Canada’s solid reputation for its role in world affairs, with widespread international recognition of Canada as a leader in working for peace and human rights, as a generous foreign aid donor, and a substantial contributor to international peacekeeping efforts. In 15 of the countries surveyed, a full majority of respondents agreed that "Canada is a world leader in working for peace and human rights around the world", with this view most widespread among Canadians themselves (94%, agreed).

Our Foreign Policy

Foreign policy is of real concern to Canadians. Canada’s current one is based on the three pillars of national prosperity, national security, and the projection abroad of our values and culture. If you look behind this convention, that UN vote, this protocol, and that initiative, I think you will find a rather firm set of Canadian values that serve us well at home and abroad.

They are a mix of idealism and practicality, based on the concept that you aren't likely to achieve practical results if there isn't some degree of idealism to your approach. Idealism is usually caught up in some kind of quest to make things better for people.

My job is to promote Canadian interests generally in the areas for which I am responsible - Latin America, including the Caribbean and Africa. Trade has become an ever-growing focus at the department, as you might expect with the world economy opening up so much over the past decade. It goes without saying that we at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade have an obligation to do everything we properly can to enhance the opportunities for Canadian-based entrepreneurs to operate abroad, and to attract investment to Canada that will create jobs here.

But what else can we do to help create the kind of world that is likely to value the kind of society that Canadians have put together – rather than threaten it?

Recently, I had an opportunity to see just how useful a hemispheric role Canadians are capable of playing. When I visited Santiago - the capital of a country that in a very short time has become an important trading partner for Canada - I was presented with clear evidence of how a very good business deal for Canadians - the Gas Andes pipeline - can dovetail with improved living conditions for Chileans.

I also visited Bolivia. The positive news is that I saw a people that for too long have suffered from endemic poverty. The good news is that I was able to witness the beginning of a turnaround that is creating major investor interest, and that is also beginning to provide tools –such as microcredit and a government pension fund – to give Bolivians a chance to make something more of their lives.

Bolivians, of course, are creating their own destiny, but Canada is going to play at least something of a supportive role in that turnaround.


More recently, I visited Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and saw that Africa is changing and our past stereotypes are often obsolete. In Kampala, I learned that fully 2,000 companies have located operations in Uganda in recent years. In Rwanda, close observers say that there has been real economic progress for some - certainly not all - since the catastrophe of 1994, and that the government in office is genuinely seeking reconciliation among its constituent communities. In Kenya, despite large problems there appears to have been a national stepping back from the abyss recently. Our delegation arrived shortly after a multi-party committee of Members of Parliament had agreed on a comprehensive package of reforms, which now appears to be on its way to enactment in full before the election, which must be held in this calendar year. In short, there is a basis for optimism in all three nations.

Those are positive stories. Canada’s relations with those countries have helped bring about positive changes. I would argue that Canada’s foreign policy in the 1990s has not only been for the most part intelligent. It is/has often been exciting, particularly in recent years.

Human Rights

There may have been a time when the entire populations of countries could be blindfolded to the benefits of living freely, but those days are disappearing. Communications are too pervasive. People don’t want to live in national prisons, and sooner or later they are going to find ways of breaking free.

Where Canada has made a niche for itself in the area of human rights is in supporting change from within. This approach is evolutionary, not coercive. Even if we wanted to force change, we have to face the fact that Canada simply does not have the economic leverage or the international clout to do so. We can, however, work from within to support NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and develop a space in which civil society can grow.

Support for human rights improvements can take different avenues. In countries that are prepared to engage with us on even a limited scale, such as Cuba, we will work for evolutionary change. For regimes that are unwilling to enter into any sort of dialogue or exchange whatsoever, such as Burma or Nigeria, we work for broader international action to press those regimes to change their ways.

Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was drafted by a Canadian, John Humphrey. This will give us an opportunity to share Canadian values, respect for free trade, concern for human rights, and initiatives for global peace. Canada will do its utmost during the next year to convince governments everywhere that the suppression of human rights can only lead to the kind of bitterness that creates political uprisings. Canada will be sponsoring a broad range of activities during the year, including a conference on the use of the Internet on behalf of human rights, development of a prototype annual report on the state of human rights worldwide, and an NGO conference that will analyze and evaluate the impact of the 1993 Vienna Declaration.

We aren’t perfect. We even have work to do in our own backyard on issues of the environment and human rights - issues that are so important to us internationally. But while we are working on our own problems, we have to be working on the world’s problems too. Because, when the circle is closed, they are our problems too.

Let me give a word to Octavio Paz, the Mexican diplomat and poet. In his reflections on contemporary history, One Earth, Four or Five Worlds, Paz notes that all great nations have prudence, which he defines as wisdom and integrity, boldness and moderation, discernment and persistence in undertakings. The aim of our country both domestically and internationally should be this notion of prudence.

Sharon, Doug and Carolyn Hayes - ‘Memory Banks’

We live in a world of opportunity - in business or politics or international relations. We all have the opportunity to practice what we believe. Success comes and goes but are we achieving significance? We are not all Princess Dianas or Mother Teresas, but we can make a difference.

Allow me to end with some thoughts from Doug and Sharon Hayes of the Vancouver area. Sharon recently resigned her seat as an MP due to family responsibilities. Last spring, Doug suffered a heart attack, quickly followed by severe brain hemorrhage and stroke. He was not expected to leave the hospital. Sharon says, "His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous." Unfortunately, the problems with Doug’s health persist and the family is now awaiting further clarification on the presence and growth of a probable brain tumor.

At a recent dinner in Victoria with Mutual Life Branch Managers, Doug was honoured for his service as Regional Coach. Sharon writes: "His message was, at some point in life, for some sooner than others, life here becomes defined by past reality rather than future plans and goals. Our lives are an opportunity to invest - in memory banks, through opportunities taken in relationships and family. You can’t make withdrawals from your memory bank if you haven’t made the deposits."

The reality of Doug’s "deposits" were made clear in a birthday note two weeks ago from their daughter Carolyn, who is doing mission work in Ukraine. I quote her e-mail with her parents’ permission:

"You are a gift from God to us, Daddy... as we’ve learned these past few months, each moment is precious, to be captured to it’s full....

"Dad, I remember times with you... walking around the neighborhood, talking about the changes we see, and the changes that will occur in our lives... singing around the piano... bear-hugging... laughing as we ate dinner... canoeing on the river... sitting on your lap when I was young and loving the rumble I heard of your voice through your chest... pretending to be asleep so that you’d carry me inside from the car... early morning camping wakeup -- yahoo!... being quiet as we allowed our fishing lines to carry our thoughts down the river... hiking through the forests... driving, noticing the eagles (and maybe not noticing the road!).. magic tricks and stories at night... "ooo doggies!"... late night reminders that my Daddy loves me and is concerned that I get home safely... reading Romans at my commissioning service... "So Send I You"... miracles of your recovery... many giving testimony to your integrity... wisdom... patience... example... Dad, this list could go on forever. I love you, Dada... I’m proud to have you as my father. Thank you for pouring out your love and yourself upon our family... you are a blessing.

"I pray that this coming year would be one of joy and growth as you learn the reality of Christ being the strength of your life. Keep on, my dear Daddy... hold on with all your might to Jesus for Life."

Thank you and God bless you all.

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