I write this post from the Toronto International Airport. My mind is swirling with the lessons I learned this past week. My Christian Canadian friends have taught me one valuable lesson. They have taught me about true fellowship.
True fellowship occurs through immersion. You must involve yourself in the life of another to experience true fellowship. My time at the Toronto Baptist Seminary helped me see this. My Canadian Christian friends helped me “come home to a place I’d never been before.”1 The people at the seminary taught me the meaning of true fellowship. The Bible calls this true fellowship koinónia. Koinónia is the Greek word for “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, contact.” It carries with it the idea of intimate and loving relationship between people. My Canadian friends helped me “come home to a place I’d never been before” in three ways.
Koinónia in the Ordinary
My Canadian Christian friends showed me that one finds koinónia in the ordinary. I think about the meals that the young lady named Karen cooked for us. Karen was an excellent cook. But she was more than that. She was also an excellent person. Her meals were great. But she did more than that. She also created an inviting atmosphere that made one feel at home. She exemplified the spiritual gift of hospitality. And her hospitality seemed contagious for those around her.
Koinónia in the Routine
My Canadian Christian friends showed me that one finds koinónia in the routine. Our dinners were not special in the sense that each gathering was like the holidays. No, our meals were common fare. But, there was something special about these meals. Because it was during these times that God’s Spirit seemed to hover over our conversations. It was in those mundane, “Please pass the water” moments that one felt a deep connection to the stranger sitting beside him. This was evident one evening as I chatted with a married couple named Jerry and Maria. An empty nest couple, Jerry and Maria struck me by both their love for one another and their commitment to the Lord. I got to know this couple, along with their pastor Chris, over the course of the week. They all helped me see that koinónia occurs in the routine functions of life. We shared almost every breakfast, lunch, and dinner together that week. At the end, I felt that they knew me and that I knew them on a personal level. Not as a professor knows his student, but as a brother knows his siblings.
Koinónia in the Community
My Canadian Christian friends showed me that one finds koinónia in the community. On my last day at the seminary, I shared a meal with the administrative team. Principle Wellum, Regristrar Mourad, and Administrative Ninja Deborah (she likes to be called Debbie and I keep trying to remember that) taught me much about the history of the school and its students. What struck me was how well these leaders knew their students (both past and present). You could tell that each of them had pastored these precious pupils in one way or another over the years. And the vividness of their recollections proved two things. First, it revealed their investment in their students’ lives. Second, it also showed their students’ investment in their lives as well. Connections like these only occur in the day-to-day interactions found in a vibrant community.
As I think about my experience with my Canadian Christian friends, I am grateful. I am grateful that God allowed me to get to know them. I am grateful that there is a God who is still there in the Great White North. I am grateful to each of my students who worked so hard this term. I am grateful to the leadership of Toronto Baptist Seminary. These people allowed a Bumpkin from the hills of East Tennessee to teach their students. But most of all, I am grateful to a gracious God. A God who uses ordinary Canadian Christians in extraordinary ways to revive their homeland. That is enough for now. I need to make sure that I transport my bag of Tim Horton’s coffee to my excited wife.
- This is a shameless ripoff of a line from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High. ↩︎