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Entertaining Angels Unaware

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The gift of hospitality is beautiful.  The writer to the Hebrews wrote, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels unaware."  I have now seen this with my own eyes and can attest that it is true.  A few months ago information came from a staff member of our Baptist denomination stating that a First Nations woman from Northern Ontario would be arriving in town to be a witness in the class action Sixties Scoop Case and along with her husband was in need of some hospitality as the city was a foreign place to her.  We were told that she teaches in the Sunday School of the Baptist church in Kirkland Lake.  

I am embarrassed to say I knew very little about the Sixties Scoop Case, and neither did I know her church or pastor.  She was coming to us as a stranger and would be arriving in the city along with her husband in a matter of days.  But as soon as the need was known, the Chair of the Board of Mission and her husband showed true leadership opening their home without hesitation to this Ojibway woman.  Since the moment they opened their door, Mel and Elaine Snider have been in Marcia's corner.  For not only was their home open, but also their minds and hearts and now they have truly been blessed by the presence of angels.

Marcia was one of 16,000 Ontario children scooped up off the reserves at a very young age by the Government of Canada and parachuted into foster homes far away where they were completely severed from their family, tribe, language and culture.  After fourteen years in the wilderness of a 'civilized' world, she was finally able to return to her family and tribe at the age of 18.  In those fourteen years she was a victim of suffering and abuse.  But today at 53 years of age, Marcia Brown Martel is the Chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation on the banks of the Misema River.  

Throughout the trial, Marcia has been the chief witness offering stellar testimony.  I am sure she was chosen for this role because above all she is a woman of faith and grace.  Mel and Elaine have invited Janet and me into their home to meet Marcia and Raymond and to pray with them.  It has been a remarkable privilege to meet her and to pray for and with her along the way, for rarely in my life have I seen such grace.  She could be so angry and bitter but there doesn't seem to be a trace of it in her.  In fact she has said to me, "What's the point of that?"  Forgiveness and love flow from this woman. 

On Tuesday she and the 16,000 other Sixties Scoop Victims were vindicated by the courts.  In her mind it was just common sense at last prevailing.  For as she would put it, "Who could truly believe that children should be stolen from their parents?  One day someone somewhere would say this was wrong."  

I offered her my congratulations on Tuesday evening at the home of Mel and Elaine.  "This is a great day for you," I said. "This is a great day for Canada," she replied.  She was right.  For on Tuesday justice prevailed.  She had her day in court and the courts work.  A great day for Canada indeed!  

One of the joys for Mel and Elaine has been to hear Marcia playing her drum on their back porch as she communes with God. Mel and Elaine won't bang their own drum, so I am telling this story.  Elaine was in the front row of the court seated between Marcia's lawyer and her husband when the verdict was read on Tuesday.  Marcia has also invited Elaine to sit with her through interviews with the press.  And as Elaine's grandchildren have been learning about this case in school they've taken pride in the thought of their grandparents sharing a front row seat in the unfolding history of Canada. 

One evening we showed Marcia and Raymond the church and she asked if she could sing from the chancel.  It was beautiful - an angel's voice to be sure.  I tell this story so you too will know it is true that by offering hospitality to strangers some have been known to entertain Marcias without knowing it.  God bless Mel and Elaine and God bless Marcia and Raymond.  

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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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