New Name, Same Mission. An interview with Bill and Bev McCaskell

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“They did what they did, the way they did it, so that children, youth and their families would come to know Jesus Christ. “

Canada’s Hope sat down with Executive Directors, Bill and Bev McCaskell, to ask them a few questions about changes happening at the mission.

CH: The mission has been known as the Canadian Sunday School Mission since 1927, why change the name now?

Bill: The mission has such a rich history of seeing God use it to reach generation after generation of Canadians with the gospel, and because of that, people have fond memories of the mission.  Many of them found God at one of our ministry points (a camp or church).  In fact, I am one of them – God got a hold of my life at Kenosee Lake Bible Camp in Saskatchewan.

What we are discovering though, is that those under 40 or so do not know CSSM Ministries. They may know of one of our camps, but they do not know of the mission behind the camp.  And so the National Board has been wanting to reintroduce the mission to a new generation for a number of years, but it didn’t seem like the right time until just recently.

CH: What made this the right time?

Bev: God is moving within the mission and stirring hearts.  It’s like there is a renewal that is taking place and is going much deeper than any “name change.”  In many ways, we are going back to the very root of the mission – the original vision and burden that has inspired CSSM Ministries for so many years – to share the love of Jesus and to make His name known.

CH: Tell us a little bit more about that original vision.

Bill: CSSM Ministries started because God opened the eyes of men and women to the need in Canada for the gospel.  And it wasn’t just in one area or with one group – God’s Spirit was moving across the country, stirring the hearts of his people from coast to coast with a desire to do whatever it takes to share the gospel with children and youth.  And God blessed their efforts – churches were planted, camps sprang up, tens of thousands of children, youth and their families heard about the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Bev:  And it is that passion and that desire that we are asking God to rekindle.  We want to be a mission that has a passion for the gospel and a burden for our country.  

CH: So what made you choose the name, One Hope Canada?

Bev: At our last country-wide personnel conference in the fall of 2012, we had our entire mission family meet in small groups to describe the “what,” “how,” and “why” of their various ministries.  The thing we discovered was that because we are such a diverse ministry, every ministry point had a different “what” and a different “how,” but the one that united every ministry point, and every missionary, was the “why.”  They did what they did, the way they did it, so that children, youth and their families would come to know Jesus Christ.  

Bill:  And so for us the name, One Hope Canada, describes that “why.”  The One Hope of course is Jesus Christ, and we like the fact that Canada is in the name, because it reflects with whom and where we will share this great news.  

CH: Some people may say that Canada isn’t a mission field anymore and that a mission whose field is Canada is outdated.

Bill: It doesn’t take much effort to look around at our communities to see the brokenness that exists – it really is everywhere.  This past summer we had almost 18,000 children and youth participate in one of our weeklong camp programs and almost half of those came from homes who do not know Jesus.  That is why we get so excited about camp ministry. Where else can you go in Canada, and find thousands of children and youth who have no idea who Jesus is, spending an entire week learning about Him?  It’s amazing and humbling.

CH: What sort of response have you had so far to the new name?

Bill: It has been really positive.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I have to admit I am a bit, since our first name has been around for 87 years, and I know people have such great memories of it.  But the response we have received from comments and notes sent into our office has been encouraging.  I believe people see the reasons and the heart behind the decision.  Even those folks who have some questions about why we are changing, become supportive after we have explained why, and share that we are committed to the original vision of the mission. They want to see the torch they have carried for so long and so well, passed on to the next generation.    

CH: What would be the one thing you would like our readers to remember about the mission’s new name?

Bev:  That it actually isn’t about a name change (laughter).  It really isn’t.  It is about what God is doing again in the hearts of those who are involved in a mission that is 87 years old.  There is newness of life, there is a passion, there is a burden.  That’s what is important to remember.  God has given us a few words to remind ourselves of all it comes down to:  “Be faithful to the gospel, and He will make His NAME known.”  CSSM Ministries – now One Hope Canada – has never been about building its own name, but rather about proclaiming His name. That’s what I would like people to remember.