Prior to joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church, my family attended the Greek Orthodox Church in a small farming community in western Canada. On occasion we also attended the Catholic Church. All of our neighbors, it seemed, participated in one of these traditions. My family’s lifestyle, belief system and religious rituals were reflected in the culture of our community. I felt comfortable because it seemed that everyone was pretty much like me.

When we began to attend the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I became obsessed with aspects of the lifestyle and teaching that were different from those of our neighbors. We went to church on Saturday and worked on Sunday, while everyone else worked on Saturday and went to church on Sunday. We didn’t attend the local dances, and we would no longer eat pork.

After years of maturing in my faith, being different is no longer a concern. I’ve had the wonderful privilege of building friendships with people from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of religious traditions, races and ethnicities. I have discovered that we are all God’s creation. We are all looking for the way to a better life, with hope, happiness, spiritual meaning and purpose. I have come to respect and appreciate our differences while continuing to pursue my own understanding of my journey and relationship with God.

The fear that is generated from someone who is different is largely the result of a lack of knowledge and understanding. I have discovered in my life, that if I am open, willing to learn, respectful and interested, others will respect me and my faith as well.

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

February 28, 2008