I can see how God blessed the nation of Israel and used it to spread the word about the one true God by drawing Abraham and his family out of their home to a foreign land. There, over time, Abraham’s faith influenced his neighbors. God used Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph, who was sold as a slave to the nation of Egypt, to make himself known to that nation that still worshiped idols made by the hands of men. Joseph demonstrated God’s sovereignty and omniscience by interpreting dreams and correctly warning the Egyptian leaders of an imminent famine, proving the truth and power of Israel’s God.
Before Europeans arrived in our country, the religious beliefs of the land were those of the Aboriginal people, believed to have originally come from Asia. These were largely animistic, and included an intense reverence for spirits and the Creator of nature. French believers settling in the new land beginning in the 17th century brought their Christian faith with them, and established a Roman Catholic population in what are now Nova Scotia and Quebec. This was followed by the English who brought believers of the Anglican and Protestant faiths across the ocean to what eventually became the province of Ontario.
I found it humorous to see how a religious competition accomplished a major change in a region’s faith, and brought blessing to the nation. Around 1700, the first large Protestant communities were formed in the Maritimes after they were conquered by the British. Unable to convince enough British immigrants to go to the region, the government decided to import continental Protestants from Germany and Switzerland to populate the region and counterbalance the Roman Catholic Acadians. This effort proved successful and today that region is still largely Lutheran.
Look how God used the great explorer and mapmaker, David Thompson. Thompson, growing up in England in a poverty-stricken family, found work overseas with the Hudson Bay Company of Canada. He suffered great hardships and setbacks, but wanted to share his faith with natives, so he carried his Bible with him into the bush and held services. When asked why he endured the difficulties of such a life, he said, “…so that these physically impenetrable barriers may be traversed and the Gospel be spread.”
It is fascinating to see how a sovereign Lord used various strategies to populate and influence this new, sparsely populated land, and I am grateful for the spiritual light that came to Canada and has stayed for all these hundreds of years. That is not to say that every person in Canada puts their faith in Christ, but that our nation’s policies and cultures do welcome and embrace the Christian faith.
It has been recently suggested that although once central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life, Christianity is on the decline. Canada is said to be in a post-Christian period, with irreligion on the rise, and the practice of religion is now generally considered a private matter. Apparently the majority of Canadians consider religion to be unimportant, but still believe in a God.
I wouldn’t exactly say that we have come full-circle, because I don’t believe that most people in our country worship man-made idols or elements of nature. But I do believe that God has the same plan He has always had for our nation, and that he has strategies in mind and in place to continue to use believers to draw all people to Him. His will shall be done, and those of us who embrace his will shall be used to accomplish it. He may move us around to places that need his light, like he did with Joseph and David Thompson, or bring others to us. So we best be prepared, however we can, as we wait for him.
Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in Thy loving care,
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better day
We ever stand on guard.
(O Canada, last verse)
Posted by Ramona
Aboriginal religion - Native North American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life - Page 5, Jordan D. Paper – 2007
Religious competition - Beverley, James and Barry Moody, Editors. The Journal of Henry Alline. Lancelot Press for the Acadia Divinity School and the Baptist Historical Committee. 1982.
Christianity in decline - "Canada". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/resources/countries/canada
David Thompson, quoted in Canada: Portraits of the Faith website, http://ca.geocities.com, retrieved February, 2004.