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Lt General Romeo Dallaire: Canada’s Unsung Hero

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Lt General Romeo Dallaire led the 1994 UN Mission to Rwanda where he saw 800,000 men, women and children slaughtered by extremists.  Before the genocide, Rwanda had been the largest recipient of Canadian aid proportionally in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Abandoned during the 1994 crisis by the world community, Rwanda’s greatest advocate was one lonely Canadian, Romeo Dallaire, who forced the tragedy of the Rwandan genocide onto the world stage. “The people of Rwanda”, said Dallaire in his book/DVD Shake Hands with the Devil, “were not an insignificant black mass living in abject poverty in a place of no consequence.  They were individuals like myself, like my family, with every right and expectation of any human who is a member of our tortured race.”

“Too little and too late” summarized the response of the UN bureaucrats and the international power-brokers. Dallaire wrote in his book: “There was a void of leadership in New York (UN).  We sent a deluge of paper and received nothing in return; no supplies; no reinforcements, no decisions.”  The UN did produce numerous resolutions about Rwanda, but as Dallaire noted, “The resolution’s phrases were pure UN-ese: ‘having considered…express regret…shocked…appalled….deeply concerned…stressing…expressing deep concern…condemns…strongly  condemns…demands…decides…reiterates…reaffirms…calls upon…invites…decides to remain actively seized of the matter.’” Dallaire sadly described the UN as “an organization swamped and sinking under the dead weight of useless political sinecures, indifference, and procrastination.”

In the midst of this betrayal, Dallaire stood strong and made a powerful difference in saving thousands of Rwandans.  As a man of deep Christian faith, Dallaire faced the reality of cold-blooded evil, but was not defeated by it.  In his acclaimed book “Shake Hands with the Devil”, Dallaire commented: “After one of my many presentations following my return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked me how, after all I had seen and experienced, I could still believe in God.  I answered that I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil.  I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him.  I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God.”

One of Dallaire’s chief way of saving Rwandanlives was in his intentional cultivation of the media.  “The media”, said Dallaire, “can be an ally and a weapon equal to battalions on the ground.” The CBC Radio show ‘As It Happens’, with Michael Enright, played a key role in waking up a very sleepy, apathetic Canadian population. Dallaire commented: “The media was the weapon that I used to strike the conscience of the world and try to prod the international community into action.”

Dallaire shows the gift of remarkable vulnerability in talking about his feeling and core beliefs: “My Christian beliefs had been the moral framework that had guided me throughout my adult life.  Where was God in all this horror?  Where was God in the world’s response?” He suffered deeply from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon returning to Canada, and has taken many years of counseling to recover.  Dallaire wrote: “I wanted to scream, to vomit, to hit something, to break free of my body, to end this terrible scene.  Instead I struggled to compose myself…”

Near the end of the Rwandan UN Mission, Dallaire was so exhausted by the trauma that he started to collapse internally: “…my manners and my sense of humour, two essentials of leadership, were fading fast…”   His own staff noticed that ‘The General was losing it’  and rightly concluded ‘…if I (Dallaire) wasn’t replaced, I would be dead in less than two weeks’  Dallaire vulnerably shared (in his book) “…how guilty I felt abandoning my troops before the mission was over, how guilty I felt that I had failed so many people and that Rwandans were still dying because of it.” Dallaire’s self-recriminations and ‘what ifs’ nearly ate him up inside: “After nearly a decade of reliving every detail of those days, I am still certain that I could have stopped the madness had I been given the means.”

“Why”, asked Dallaire, “were we so feeble, fearful and self-centered in the face of atrocities committed against the innocent?” Dallaire concluded that “We are in desperate need of a transfusion of humanity.”

May God give us that needed transfusion of humanity to which General Dallaire points.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Breaking the Power of Shame

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The teenaged Roman Emperor Nero started off in AD 57 as a idealistic reformer, banning capital punishment. He forbade killing in circus contests, emphasizing instead athletics, poetry, and theater. He reduced taxes and permitted slaves to file complaints against unjust masters. But absolute power absolutely corrupted him.

 Nero was born at Antium (Anzio), Italy, on December 15th 37 A.D. His father, who died when Nero was age 3, was a great-grandson of Caesar Augustus – the Roman emperor at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:1).

 Nero’s mother Agrippina rescued her son Nero from poverty by marrying her uncle, the emperor Claudius.  Agrippina managed to get Nero adopted not only as a son of Claudius, but the heir to the throne before Claudius’ actual sons. To show her gratitude, she poisoned her husband/uncle with tainted mushrooms. Nero became the emperor of the mighty Roman empire at the age of 17.

 One year after Nero became Emperor, he got tired of his mother’s interfering, and had her removed from the palace.   Four years later she still kept meddling, so Nero rigged her boat to collapse on her.  Being a strong swimmer, Agrippina refused to drown, so Nero had to send soldiers in to finish the job.  There is a famous painting by John William Waterhouse where Nero is lying on his bed feeling remorseful for taking his mother out but any remorse did not slow him down for long.  As murder can be rather addictive, Nero proceeded to present the gift of an ex-wife’s severed head to a future wife, and then kick another wife to death while she was pregnant.

 Nero’s most memorable accomplishment was burning much of Rome to the ground to make room for a new palace. After six days of Rome burning, Nero discovered the value of blaming a small Jewish group called Christians.  Their ringleader, the Apostle Paul, was thrown into a Roman dungeon, to prepare for his imminent beheading.  If these early Christians refused to renounce their faith, Nero had them thrown to the lions, crucified, or set on fire and used as garden-party lighting.

 Christianity looked as if it would be obliterated from the face of the earth.  But Paul from prison wrote a second letter to his chosen successor Timothy, ‘rallying the troops’. He said to Timothy: “Don’t be ashamed to bear witness for the Lord or Paul his prisoner”.  He encouraged the naturally timid Timothy not to be ashamed of Paul’s chains.  Paul, though about to be exterminated, said to Timothy: “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I believe”.

Breaking the power of shame is absolutely vital to living a free and healthy life.  All of us have at least one Nero in our life who would like to enslave us, entrap us, and fill us with shame.  It may be our relatives, our boss, our ex-spouse, our own personal addictions to fear, guilt, anger.  By breaking the power of shame and self-hatred, we can live fully without regret.  The key, said Paul, to breaking the power of shame, is in ‘knowing whom we believe’.

I would challenge each one reading this article to no longer let our personal Neros cover our faces with shame.  Live free.  Live forgiven.  Live in the healing embrace of the One who gave everything so that you might really live.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Say No to Fear

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

If you had just a few months to live, what would you most want to say to friends? What would have priority and what would become secondary?  The famous Apostle Paul knew that he was about to have his head chopped off by the crazed Roman Emperor Nero. So he wrote his final letter, known as Second Timothy, to his key assistant, Timothy. Second Timothy was really Paul’s last will and testament.

Paul had been in jail many times for the faith.  It was his favorite place to write letters like his unforgettable letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.  If Paul had not been sent to jail so often, half the New Testament would likely never have been written.  In the past Paul had always been let out of prison. But this time he knew that the only escape was death.

Have you ever lost a key leader and mentor who has helped you reach heights that you never thought you would reach?  To lose such a person can bring deep feelings of loneliness and abandonment.  Bishop Handley Moule of Durham, England, commented that “Timothy stood awfully lonely, yet awfully exposed, in face of a world of thronging sorrows.  Well might he have been shaken to the root of his faith.”

Young Timothy was by nature an insecure, sickly and timid person, but Paul saw potential in Timothy far beyond his outward appearance.  Paul had been closely associated with Timothy ever since he ‘discovered’ him in Lystra, Turkey, some fifteen years before.

 Paul knew that it was time for the changing of the guard, the passing on of the baton of leadership.  Paul was determined that Timothy not drop that baton in the midst of Emperor Nero’s onslaught.

You’ve probably heard the expression: “Rome burned while Nero fiddled”.  Nero set Rome on fire  in AD 64 as an urban renovation project, and blamed the early Christians as convenient scapegoats.  The historian Tacitus commented that the early Christians “were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle…”

Christianity was on the verge of extinction, and the dying Paul saw Timothy as the key to its very survival. The famous Dr. John Stott comments, “Greatness was being thrust upon Timothy, and like Moses and Jeremiah and a host of others before and after him, Timothy was exceedingly reluctant to accept it.”

Paul strengthened Timothy by reminding him how much he meant to him, and how often he prayed for him day and night.  He also strengthened Timothy by reminding him of the faithful examples set by his grandma, Lois and his mother, Eunice.  As Dr. John Stott put it, “good biographies never begin with their subject, but with his parents, and probably his grandparents as well.”  Paul was saying to Timothy: “don’t lose touch with your roots”.

What do you know for sure if you see a turtle on a fencepost? The answer is that it didn’t get there itself.  We are who we are, in large part because of people who have believed in us and invested in us.  Many of us as Canadians have forgotten the remarkable spiritual heritage we have been given by our ancestors, our Loises and Eunices.  I think of our Judeo-Christian heritage in Canada as like crabs hidden under the rocks at the seashore.  Only when one uncovers the rocks does one discover the greatest riches of life just below the surface.

The dying Paul knew that Timothy had so much going for him. So he told him to fan into flame the wonderful God-given gift that had been given to him.  It is so easy to let our gifts and abilities lie dormant, when we need to rekindle and stir up the smouldering flame.

Fear can cripple our future.  So Paul said to Timothy: “God has not given you a spirit of timidity but of power and love and a sound mind.”  Timidity, says Douglas Milne, is a chronic fear of people, suffering or responsibilities that paralyzes the will from giving effective leadership.

Paul is saying to Timothy, and to each of us: “Say no to fear. Don’t let anxiety crush your life.  Live life free and unfettered.”  At the heart of every addiction is the bondage to fear.  My prayer for those reading this article is that the Great Physician will set each of us, like Timothy, free from fear, and fill us instead with the Spirit of power and love and a sound mind.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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RG LeTourneau: Model of Generosity

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the most amazing ‘rags to riches’ stories is the life of RG LeTourneau, as told in his biography “Mover of Mountains and Men”.  LeTourneau began his career in obscurity in Stockton, California, where his first job was transporting earth to level out farmland.  His frustrations with moving dirt drove him to find a better, more efficient way.  In 1922 he constructed the first all-welded scraper that was lighter, stronger and less expensive than any other machines.

 

R.G. LeTourneau became the greatest obstacle-mover in history, building huge earth-moving machines. During World War II he produced 70% of all the army’s earth-moving machinery. He spoke of God as the Chairman of his Board.

 

As a multi-millionaire, LeTourneau gave 90% of his profit to God’s work and kept only 10% for himself. A special friend of Billy Graham, in his early days, LeTourneau designed a portable dome building intended for Graham crusades. He also founded a university that is thriving to this day.

 

LeTourneau said that the money came in faster than he could give it away.  LeTourneau was convinced that he could not out-give God.  “I shovel it out,” he would say, “and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel.”

Many people see Letourneau as one of the most influential people of the past hundred years.  As the father of the modern earthmoving industry, he was responsible for 299 inventions.  These inventions included the bulldozer, scrapers of all sorts, dredgers, portable cranes, rollers, dump wagons, bridge spans, logging equipment, mobile sea platforms for oil exploration, the electric wheel and many others.  He introduced into the earthmoving and material handling industry the rubber tire, which today is almost universally accepted. He invented and developed the Electric Wheel. His life’s verse was Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

LeTourneau’s example reminds me that we too can be Mountain Movers. As the Great Physician said in Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  RG LeTourneau once said: “You will never know what you can accomplish until you say a great big yes to the Lord.”

 

My prayer for those reading this article is that God may raise up many creative leaders who, like LeTourneau, will be movers of mountains and people.

 

 p.s. To hear LeTourneau share his heart, click on the following link.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-previously published in the North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

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