SASKATOON — Prairieland Exhibition hosted the 2016 Saskatoon Prayer Breakfast on April 23. The annual event was attended by hundreds of local Christian leaders and faithful.
The event acts as a fundraiser for charities in and around Saskatoon. This year proceeds went to Saskatoon Christian Counselling and Lighthouse Supported Living.
The event was also attended by a number of politicians and civic leaders, including Saskatoon mayor Don Atchison. The gathering is co-ordinated locally by Leader Impact, an international group of Christian business leaders who act as consultants and mentors to other entrepreneurs and managers, primarily in Canada, as well as Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Panama.
Trish Cheveldayoff, who MCed the morning, introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Brian Stiller.
“I was told that Dr. Stiller was raised in a minister’s home on the prairie in the town of Naicam, Saskatchewan,” she said. “He has served as World Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, which represents 600 million evangelicals around the world.”
Stiller began by telling the story of Jesus feeding the multitude and then asked a series of questions.
“How do you solve a problem?” he asked. “What do you do when you are facing a catastrophe? Jesus gives us a template to lay over our life that tells us how to deal with a problem.”
Stiller gave some exegesis on the reading and argued that Jesus modelled how we need to face the challenges in our life by looking around us to the people and resources within our reach.
“The people around Jesus were poor and they were attracted to him like a magnet,” said Stiller. “Jesus could have called on the miraculous — for a 747 to land on the lake with a plane load of food — but he didn’t do that.”
He asked those in attendance to reflect on who was around them and what resources they could call on. “Jesus sees what others miss,” said Stiller. “And Jesus affirms what others dismiss.”
Stiller told the story of a widow named Lillian Marshall in Moncton. Marshall’s pastor asked Marshall to house a mother who was visiting her son in prison from Alberta. After a week, the man’s mother had to go home, but she asked if Marshall would continue to visit her son in prison.
Afraid but determined, Marshall went to the prison and related to Stiller, “When he walked into the room, I heard somewhere between these two ears say, ‘Woman, behold your son’ and I loved him.”
Other inmates began to ask for her to visit. “As she visited more inmates, the violence rates dropped. The drug rates dropped. Guards started taking inmates home on their days off.”
Stiller explained that Marshall thought she had nothing to offer, but God used her old age to make her a grandmother to the prison.
“What are the ‘loaves and fishes’ of your life?” Stiller challenged. “Take an inventory: we have our life experience. That’s how God begins.”
Stiller explained that all the experiences of our life, ranging from childbirth to miscarriage, from successes and losses to imprisonment — God could use it all for ministry and outreach.
“You do not know what you have until you give it away,” Stilled said. “We are often afraid of sharing the little we have because we want to make sure we have enough for our self, but enough isn’t enough until we give it away.”
We know the Golden Rule, said Stiller, “but Jesus gives us the Platinum Rule: love your enemy. Give expecting nothing in return, because that is how God has given to us.”
Stiller explained how, on the spectrum between people who are “takers” and those who are “givers,” the givers are happier because there is always more to give.
“When my grandson jumps into my lap for a snuggle, my other grandson runs up because he thinks Papa has only so much love to give but he doesn’t realize that the more love I give, the more love I have,” he concluded.
The expenses of the Saskatoon Prayer Breakfast are covered by corporate sponsorship, so profits go directly to the charities being promoted.