Running the Race

“Who is the greatest Canadian?” That was the question asked in a 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation contest. More than a million viewers cast their votes to pick the most influential Canadian of all time. Surprisingly, at the top of the list was a man named Terry Fox.

A faithful follower of Christ, Terry lost his leg to cancer at age 18. After the amputation of his leg, he decided to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise money for cancer research. Nobody had ever done anything like it before. Terry started his run on April 12, 1980, and ran for 143 straight days, covering 3,339 miles. Tragically, cancer was discovered in his lungs, and he was forced to abandon his goal. Terry died on June 28, 1981.

I think it is notable that one of the “greatest” Canadians was a professing Christian who overcame opposition and adversity to make a difference in the lives of his fellow countrymen. Terry was passionate about alleviating physical suffering caused by cancer. And he came up with a creative way to accomplish his goal. But perhaps most significant is the fact that he persevered in the face of difficulty.

Those of us at Insight for Living Canada are just as passionate in our ministry work as Terry was for cancer research. Despite trying times, for more than a quarter century we have worked to make a difference in the lives our fellow Canadians through the communication and application of God’s Word.

Canadians share much in common with our American friends. But our cultures differ when it comes to belief in God and how Christians exercise their faith. Canada is a largely secular country. The 2001 Canadian Census states that 16.2 percent of the population holds no religious affiliation, and in Vancouver, near our office, 42.2 percent said they had no religious affiliation.1 A 2008 survey found that 23 percent of Canadians do not believe in any deity.2 In comparison, less than 2 percent of Americans would say the same.3 It is in this spiritual climate that Insight for Living Canada ministers . . . and through the grace of God perseveres and grows with a deepening impact.

Living in a social climate that is not friendly to Christian beliefs means we have to contextualize our ministry for a Canadian audience. We continually try to develop new ways to communicate God’s Word to meet the pressing spiritual needs around us.

The radio ministry remains the backbone of Insight for Living Canada, airing on more than 100 outlets nationwide. Despite the atheism and secularism—or maybe because of it—Canadians are spiritually hungry and seek answers, particularly among people between ages 18 and 30.

To reach young adults, we developed a program called LifeTrac. LifeTrac seeks to convey the truth of God’s Word in a culturally relevant way—to capture the attention of this age group and make them eager to hear and apply God’s Word to their lives. LifeTrac consists of a Web page, a blog, and a Twitter account, as well as articles published in the Canadian edition of the Insights newsletter.

Another facet of LifeTrac is a 5-minute audio recording of Chuck Swindoll telling some of his funny, often poignant, and always thought-provoking stories. These programs are broadcast by many secular radio stations with very positive results, providing us with a springboard to promote other ministry resources.

Because of the scarcity of Christian radio media in Canada and the vastness of the country, the Christian teaching that is available reaches few Canadians. However, many Canadians do have online capability. To reach them with biblical truth, we developed what we call “Emailcast.” With Emailcast, we send recipients an e-mail link from which they can easily listen to Chuck’s daily broadcast, review LifeTrac information, or access another uniquely Canadian ministry tool: the One-Minute Message daily devotional.

Athlete Terry Fox ran despite his arduous circumstances. His shuffle-and-hop running style took him about 24 miles per day. Many people train for months to run in a single 26-mile marathon. Terry ran almost a marathon per day—with an artificial leg! When asked how he kept himself going as exhaustion set in and he had thousands of miles ahead of him, Terry was quoted as saying, “I just keep running to the next telephone pole.”

Insight for Living Canada is called to minister in a secular setting. The race we run is that of communicating God’s Word to this generation of Canadians. We are passionate! And the road is full of obstacles. But we know that God has used this ministry to impact countless lives, and by His grace, we will press on and run the race before us—one “telephone pole” at a time.

  1. B. A. Robinson, “Religion Data from the 2001 Canadian Census,” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Feb. 10, 2010, (accessed August 30, 2010); “Community Highlights for Vancouver,” Statistics Canada, Feb. 1, 2010, (accessed September 9, 2010).
  2. Timothy Avery, “One in Four Don’t Believe in God, Poll Finds,” Toronto Star, May 31, 2008, (accessed August 30, 2010).
  3. “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, (accessed August 30, 2010).

Copyright © 2010 by Insight for Living.

About the author


Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson is the executive director at Insight for Living Canada, giving oversight and direction to the ministry. He has degrees in Religious Education and Theology and spent more than 20 years pastoring in Western Canada.

More articles by Steve Johnson