Meet Joel Zantingh, the new Canadian coordinator of the Peace and Reconciliation Network.
Introduction by Phil Wagler – PRN global director
The World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace and Reconciliation Network exists to inspire and equip the church and people of peace to enable communities to live life in all its fullness, believing that it is Jesus’s desire to see every local church as a center of reconciliation. Yes, that includes your church! It’s a vision to live for.
As PRN global director it is my privilege to introduce Joel Zantingh – a fellow Canadian – as PRN’s Canadian coordinator. I hope you will feel the impact of his shared work with PRN and Lausanne Movement Canada in the years ahead. And, as you consider your own call to be a reconciling disciple, I invite you to read some of his own journey towards the whole, peacemaking and reconciling good news of Jesus. –PW
Do you love the moment you realize there is a perfect word for something you have experienced?
For years, I never knew that that good news of Jesus needed to be explained by words like whole or reconciling. But it seems that without them, the very thing that is intended to bring life to the fullest can easily get reduced to something distorted, stunted or harmful. As I begin with the Peace and Reconciliation Network, and the Lausanne Movement in Canada, I reflect back with gratitude that the gospel I learned is described perfectly by these beautiful words – whole and reconciling.
My journey towards this wider meaning behind the gospel was what I grew up with. We often had others in our home. We knew and cared for neighbours, had young adults around whom my parents mentored, and practised an open table. We listened, learned about needs, and responded sensitively.
I vividly remember one evening when we sat down to dinner, only to hear a knock on the door. A timid woman with suitcase in hand was standing there, looking weary from travel. She was invited in, given a chance to freshen up and was soon sitting down at our table. And in our attempt to serve her, we also got some things wrong. We offered to take her case from her, without realizing it was her security – she needed to keep it close.
After our meal, and a time of Bible reading and prayer, we bid her well and sent her on her way. She was simply passing through. I recall that my parents offered her a Bible, and she accepted it. Who was she? Why had she come to our home? What was God teaching me, as a teenager?
I was learning that good news is something we live – it is simply living a life of extending God’s blessing. I was learning that the gospel was not merely a proclamation of words, but of living it out with compassion, hospitality and the love of our Lord. She did not want us to walk with her. We sent her on her way, with a radiant smile and a Bible.
But then we notice she left behind her suitcase, near the staircase off the front hall. My dad picked it up, and it hardly weighed anything. The case opened and to our amazement, it was empty. What happened next has stayed with me for forty years like it was yesterday.
The family appointed me to run the case out to her. We had just seen her, eaten with her and assured her of how special she was as a person made in God’s image. But when I got to the corner, and looked in every direction, she had vanished. Was she taken? Was this an angelic encounter spoken of in the book of Hebrews? “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2, NLT)
I may never know. But learning that we have been put on this earth to help others has framed my life, ministry, leadership, and sense of purpose as a follower of Jesus. This ripple effect has impacted my siblings and me in how we live our lives openly in community, and practise hospitality. And now I see this value and posture being reflected in my adult children as well.
The good news of Jesus is not a brand I am promoting or a badge I am wearing. No, the good news is something that is embodied, the way Jesus showed us. It is about helping people experience wholeness with God, within their sense of identity, in their relationships, and as part of creation. Learning to live as an agent of that whole and reconciling good news grounds me even now in what it truly means to offer the good news of the Kingdom to everyone I meet.
For us who follow Jesus in Canada now, there is a lot of temptation to define our purpose in other ways. We are tempted to think of success by the size of our churches or ministries, positions and power that we gain, or the resonance others have with insights we offer. There is a lot of temptation to double down and become known for what we are against. It is easy to lose hope when we see our country or our communities through a lens of what’s wrong or broken.
Instead, I wonder what would happen if followers of Jesus were known for being demonstrators of the gospel? What if we became known as reconcilers? What if people knew that Christ Jesus was the One we were following simply by looking at our lives? These words in Peter’s first letter give us a clue: that people will want to know what is behind our hopeful posture.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV-UK)
We can win the opportunity to point to Jesus. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life. As Phil Delsaut, a long-time mentor and friend of mine has expressed, inspiring me to living out the whole reconciling good news, “We are not here to fix people – we are here to be agents of God’s blessing, which opens the door to experience the reality and presence of Jesus in our lives.”
As I pick up as the role of Canadian coordinator for PRN, I hope to draw together the inspirational stories of everyday peacemakers and reconcilers who are pointing the way to Jesus. I am inviting you to be a part of this story, for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. Let’s work together, living out the whole-peacemaking-and reconciling good news of Jesus.
Joel Zantingh began as PRN Canadian coordinator in May 2023 and serves as well as director of engagement for Lausanne Movement Canada. Phil Wagler (based in Kelowna, B.C.) serves as global director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace & Reconciliation Network and global liaison for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The PRN can do its work through the generosity of donors like you. You can connect with the PRN or donate through The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada here. You can meet Joel Zantingh at an online June 20 event by registering here. Request Joel Zantingh as a speaker here. Photo: Freepik. Read more of these blog posts at FaithToday.ca/AllThingsReconciled.