Experiencing the Immersive Nature of God’s Mission.
For many people, the message and the medium used for its communication are two separate phenomena. One might even say that the message is what really matters, while the medium is only the method for delivery or the means of expression.
But that leads to several questions: Is it possible to isolate the message from its medium? Doesn’t a message require a certain medium to travel and be well received by a specific group of people? Doesn’t the medium influence the effective reception of the message? Doesn’t the message need to be adapted for the medium that will carry it?
It appears to me that this is how God has chosen to communicate His message of salvation to human beings throughout the centuries: a suitable medium of communication for each specific time and circumstance, meeting the unique needs of the intended audience. The essence of the message has never changed, but the means of communication has.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2, ESV). God has spoken to us in different ways and times and ultimately by Jesus.
In 2003, Hope Channel began broadcasting in North America. Members and leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church across Canada played an instrumental role in the creation of Hope Channel. For more than 21 years, Pastor Brad and Kandus Thorp steered satellite evangelism in North America and oversaw the birth and development of Hope Channel. Less than 10 years later, Stan Jensen, then communication director for the British Columbia Conference—with the help of Pastor Charles Ed II Aguilar of Terrace Seventh-day Adventist Church at the time—worked diligently to get approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for Hope Channel to broadcast in Canada. CRTC did approve the channel, and since 2012, it has been airing in Canada. It was a miracle, and Hope Channel became available in Canada.
Last year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada (SDACC) deemed it a priority to establish Hope Channel Canada, with a distinctive visual identity and a growing number of programs produced by Canadians, for Canadians. With the support of Hope Channel International, Hope Channel Canada became the newest member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s global TV network. Additionally, CRTC approved Hope Channel Canada as a TV station distinct from Hope Channel International, with full control over its programming and schedule.
Some may perceive media work as fancy or glamourous. Not so with Hope Channel Canada. The underlying motive and driving force propelling this ministry goes beyond media production itself. There must be something more. What motivates us is the desire to take part in God’s mission; the commitment to see accomplished His mission of seeking and saving that which was lost.
And what does God’s mission look like? Early in the beginning of human history on this planet, there was a day when God’s voice was heard, speaking to Adam, saying, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9, ESV). These words, emblematic of the plan of redemption, speak to us of God’s determined, unashamed, tireless endeavour to reconcile humanity to Himself.
That was God’s mission even before sin made its way into this formerly perfect planet. The Bible says of Jesus in 1 Peter 1:20, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (NKJV). It means that even though Jesus was only born of Mary in these last times, it had been agreed upon before the foundation of the world that He would become the sacrificial Lamb.
As I think of how the Bible describes God executing His mission, I can observe a pattern—a threefold pattern, indeed. Let me highlight the three aspects of that pattern, because they will nurture the way Hope Channel Canada operates, so it remains engaged and faithful to God’s intentionality in mission.
Firstly, God is always seeking out the human being, seeking out the other. He left His throne and came here in search of us. In Genesis 3, the sound of His coming was heard. Adam heard the poetic sound of His voice, “Where are you?” expressing the yearning to be with His friend. In Luke 19:10, the Bible says that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (NKJV).
In line with that pattern, instead of waiting for members of our community to come to us, Hope Channel Canada will go out to them. We will strive to be the preferred television and streaming experience for viewers from every cross-section of society looking for answers to questions about faith, healthy living, prophecy, Bible study, relationships, and community. In line with biblical values, we will be the media that brings viewers closer to God and helps them to obtain a better understanding of the Bible to find freedom, healing, and hope in Jesus through the three angels’ messages.
The second aspect of God’s mission that consistently strikes me is how God, in seeking out the other, goes as far as immersing Himself in the other’s reality. In John 1:14, we read: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (NKJV).
There is a tendency to approach truth seekers with a one-size-fits-all solution. Trying to speak to someone’s needs before immersing oneself in their universe will always sound condescending, and condescension does not reflect the beauty of Christ’s character.
William Shakespeare’s character Romeo says, “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” This line has to do with the problem of judging another person’s experience without empathy or first-hand understanding of what they’re going through. Why do I bring this up? Because until we carefully listen to the other person’s struggles; until we learn to make no assumptions and let them express their deepest needs; until we show them that they are of great worth in God’s sight; until we allow ourselves to be steeped into their reality; until we suffer, laugh, and cry along with them; until we are ready to even lay down our lives for them, we have no right to claim any association with Christ.
Ellen White warned us: “It is through the cross alone that we can estimate the worth of the human soul. … The followers of Christ should value souls as He valued them. … They should labor to save the purchase of His blood, at any sacrifice.”
Following God’s pattern of entering the other’s reality, Hope Channel Canada is committed to meeting Canadians where they are, speaking to their real needs, sharing messages of hope and wholeness, addressing their current concerns. Moreover, Hope Channel Canada pledges to proclaiming truth—but to do it with grace, just as Jesus was full of both grace and truth (John 1:14).
The final point I want to emphasize is that God’s mission is such that He invites the other into His life. When two of John’s disciples started following Jesus and asked Him where He was staying, He said, “Come, and you will see.” And they followed Him to the place where He was staying and spent that day with Him.
Jesus shared meals and spent time with people of every background. Admittedly, because of that His adversaries called Him a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of sinners. But the people loved Him. I’m sure many of them witnessed the miracles He performed, heard Him speaking to the multitudes, and saw His righteous indignation overturning tables at the temple and driving out those who bought and sold there. He was fully God and fully man. In the end, He ate with them and welcomed them into His life—everlasting life.
Considering those three aspects of God’s mission, as Hope Channel Canada launches, our commitment must be to see every individual as Jesus sees them. To seek out for them, even when it requires sacrifice; to be willing to enter their reality, feel their pain, and discover their needs; and, finally, to let them be a part of our lives. If people around you like to spend time with you, as a Christian, they will also like to spend time with Jesus, the Christ.
In the perfection of Eden, before sin entered the world, God would come down from heaven to earth to visit with Adam and Eve every day, and that did not change after the entrance of sin. But God took it to the next level when He came down from heaven to become flesh here on earth. Not only did He seek us, He entered our world and experienced our reality. He then invited us, “Come unto Me” (Matt. 11:28, KJV), an invitation that extends all the way to His original home: heaven. For He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2, NKJV). Eventually, Jesus will return from heaven to the earth renewed. But this time, the redeemed will come with Him, and His throne will be installed here. He has promised that we will be with Him forever, so “that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3, NKJV).
In Jesus’ incarnation we saw that the message and the media are interconnected, because Jesus was the Word, and the Word became flesh. Canadian philosopher and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the expression “The medium is the message.” For McLuhan, it was not only that message and media are interdependent, but each different medium makes an impact on how the receiver relates to it. By God’s grace, Hope Channel Canada will be a comprehensive media undertaking, available on cable, on the web, through the mobile app and the Roku app, speaking to different demographics on different media.
If you would like to learn about other ways you can support this ministry, please contact us at email@example.com.
 Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.1.
 Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1868), 634, 635, 664.