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March 2024

More than a Mosaic

As we pursue Young Life's vision of reaching "Every Kid," I am continually seeking to understand the culture in which adolescents in the city of Toronto are living.  Among all of the helpful cultural analysis that people have shared with me since we moved here, there is one bit of wisdom that has been a refrain: "While the U.S. is a melting pot, Canada is a mosaic."  Leaving the commentary about the U.S. aside, the image of Canada as a mosaic accurately highlights the value of diversity in this country and city, and that is a good thing.  At the same time, embedded within the mosaic image is also a deeper reality about our common experience of diversity, one that is less than desirable. 

Photo by Andrey K on Unsplash

A mosaic, with its visually pleasing arrangement of many different tiles, varied in both colour and texture, is an apt metaphor for the relative peaceful coexistence of many people and cultures in a global city like Toronto.  But the reality of the mosaic medium is that the tiles used to make the visual pattern stay separate from each other and tiny grout lines fill the spaces between each tile.  From a distance, the tiles create a unified visual effect.  But up close, each tile is an island, by itself.


One of my first friends here in Toronto, a fellow immigrant, (he from Sierra Leone), told me, "Yes, there are people here from all over the world, but the different communities mostly keep to themselves."  I have shared that statement with many others in the last 18 months and have gotten a lot of nods of agreement to the general sentiment. 


The proverbial grout lines that exist between people from different ethnicities and cultures keep those of us in the mosaic from experiencing the richness of diversity that the mosaic promises.  The mosaic image captures both strengths and shortcomings of our experience in this complex and ever-changing city.


It's one thing to observe and analyze these realities, but why does it matter? I believe that the diversity represented in the mosaic is a foundational value of the Kingdom of God.    At the same time, I am convinced that as followers of Jesus, we are called to somehow experience and embody "more than the mosaic" as we follow Jesus together.  Furthermore, I am convinced that reaching lost adolescents in this city will take many parts of the body of Christ working together.  And in order to do that, the mosaic image is insufficient as a working model.


Do I have a better metaphor to offer?  I don't right now.   I'm sure that there are others in the Body of Christ in Toronto who are in a better position to offer a fitting alternative.  For now, I'll keep listening and thinking about how to apply what I do know to our effort to reach "Every Kid."



A Transition for Edith Nabulya


We want to thank and recognize Edith Nabulya as she transitioned off of Young Life staff at the end of February.  In January, Edith received news that her family could arrive from Uganda as early as March. For all who know Edith, that is very welcome and exciting news, filling us with hope of a family reunion after four years of being apart.    Preparing to provide a life for her family of five here in Canada required Edith to find different employment. Edith's love for Jesus, commitment to prayer, sense of humour, and ability to make and share new friends wherever she goes has been a gift to us, and we will miss her on our staff.


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