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Taking Risks

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You will find a great adventure—or a great adventure will find you! ” The first of J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonder-filled trilogy introduced millions to this promise. Tolkien draws various characters into his story, each of whom face evils within and without as they strive together towards one great task.

Jesus too calls people to great adventures of faith and to a grand mission in his name. In fulfilling our callings we find ourselves walking with other companions along the Christian way. We discover that we really do need each other, and indeed the Presence of God, as we journey. Yet it is not always easy to welcome those whom God brings to the journey alongside us.

We face both risks and rewards as we seek to obey our Lord and join in the divine plan in our cities and villages. But what does risk-taking mean for 21st century missions?

21st Century Mission: Global and Local

Ontario and Quebec are one of the most ethically- and culturally-diverse places in the world. People from over 200 nations and speaking hundreds of languages have come to live in our provinces. Missions for us involves not only sending missionaries overseas, but also welcoming people locally.

Several CBOQ churches now have over 40 different nations represented in their fellowship. The Christian church is called to muster a new sense of adventure, creativity, stamina and cooperation. We are learning to welcome and integrate new forms of worship, music, and ways of doing ministry into our fellowships.

Canadian Baptists have begun several risk-filled, sacrificial activities, seeking to be attentive and available to God. Some have been called to leave home, family, friends and everything familiar in obedience to God’s call to missions and encounter repeated physical risks, even persecution. Others encounter risks of different kinds without ever leaving home. Like Saul, we must become aware of our own blindness. We must confront our tendencies to ignore or overlook people who are unlike us. Turbans, saris, mosques, gurdwaras, temples and the many other elements of global culture we now find in our communities should remind us that missions is both local and global.

From Jerusalem to Damascus to Montreal to New York, the great cities of the world can become welcoming centres for the Diasporas of the world. When we welcome people from other cultures, our life and witness will be strengthened. As we listen to and obey God’s Word, great blessing awaits all of us, as we share in the great adventure of mission with Jesus. Like pebbles in a pond, we drop the gospel into the hearts of individuals all over this shrinking world. Those who are then arrested by the love of Christ will be moved to share the good news with others in distant places on this planet as well.

Colonies of S. dumicola were collected from roadside Acacia trees in the Northern Cape of South Africa in November 2015. Colonies were transported to the laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where they were fed with crickets weekly. In April-May 2016, we created 27 groups of 10 individually marked subadult females. We used acrylic paint to uniquely mark the abdomen of each spider. All individuals in each group came from one source colony, that is, individuals from different source colonies were not mixed. We measured the boldness (as described below) and mass (to 0.001 g) of all the spiders at the beginning and end of the experiment. We assigned 9 shy (latency to resume movement 400–600 s) individuals and one bold (latency to resume movement 0–200 s) individual to each group. Group size and composition followed previous work in this species that showed that the boldest individual in a group of 10 individuals acts as a keystone individual ( Pruitt and Keiser 2014 ). Individuals that were not assigned to the experimental groups, including those with a boldness score of 200–400, were returned to the source colony. This distribution of many shy individuals, few or no intermediate individuals, and a small number of very bold individuals is typical for S. dumicola colonies ( Pinter-Wollman et al. 2016 ). Groups were housed in 710 ml round plastic deli containers with a 5 × 5 cm chicken wire sheet that allowed the spiders to build both a retreat and a capture web. For the social perturbation experiments described below, we further isolated a large number of bold and shy individuals in 60 ml containers, where they were fed ad lib until they were added to the experimental groups.

To determine how social stability influences the effects of a keystone individual on group performance, we assigned the 27 groups to 3 different treatments with 9 groups in each treatment. Each source colony contributed evenly to the 3 treatments. In our experimental treatment, we replaced the boldest individual twice a week (i.e., every 3–4 days) for 3 weeks. Replacement was conducted by identifying the boldest individual in the group according to its unique paint marking, removing it from the group, and adding a previously isolated bold individual from the same source colony into the group. Isolated individuals maintain their boldness for up to 90 days ( Pinter-Wollman et al. 2016 ). Individuals that were removed from the group were returned to their source colony and were not reused in the experiment. As a control for the replacement procedure, we replaced a shy individual twice a week for 3 weeks in another 9 groups, using isolated shy individuals from the same source colony to replace them. Shy individuals were replaced on the same days as the bold individuals in the experimental treatment. To ensure that the shy- and bold-replacement treatments were similar, we replaced just 1 of the shy individuals such that the boldest individual and 8 of the shy individuals remained in the group for the entire duration of the study. Only 1 shy individual was repeatedly replaced, using a different individual for each replacement, as in the bold-replacement treatment. Finally, 9 groups were assigned to a “socially stable” control in which no individuals were removed from or added to the group. To control for the disturbance caused by replacing spiders in the other 2 treatments, the containers of the groups in the “socially stable” treatment were handled in the same way as the containers of the groups in the other 2 treatments but without changing group composition. Because we did not aim to test the well documented ( Keiser and Pruitt 2014 ; Pruitt and Keiser 2014 ; Pruitt and Pinter-Wollman 2015 ; Pruitt et al. 2016 ; Wright et al. 2016 ) effects of the presence or absence of a keystone individual on group performance, we did not include groups in which there were no bold individuals.

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Depth: Mark Ingram II, Boston Scott, Daniel Lasco, Trey Edmunds

Fullback: Zach Line

Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II formed the NFL's best backfield duo in 2017. The pair helped the Saints to the league's fifth-ranked rushing attack (129.4 yards per game) and combined for a whopping 139 receptions and 1,242 receiving yards.

The Saints backfield may take a slight step back, as Ingram was handed a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Ingram appealed the suspension, but it was upheld in arbitration.

This means the Saints will be without their leading rusher from 2017 for a month. But Kamara has the talent needed to start in Ingram's stead. The bad news is there isn't much depth behind Kamara.

Daniel Lasco was primarily a special-teamer and had his season cut short by a spinal injury in 2017. Trey Edmunds is another special-teamer who had just nine carries last season. Boston Scott is a rookie sixth-rounder out of Louisiana Tech. Zach Line is a blocking fullback who had just seven carries and two receptions in 2017.

New Orleans should be fine as long as Kamara stays healthy over the first month. Statistically, the Saints backfield might not be what it was in 2017, but it should still be one of the best groups in the NFL.

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Starter: Kareem Hunt

Depth: Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Kerwynn Williams

Fullback: Anthony Sherman

Kansas City's Kareem Hunt was the league's most explosive back in 2017. He led the NFL with 1,327 yards rushing and also tied for the league lead with 12 rushes of 20 yards or more. And he tied for second with three rushes of at least 40 yards.

Hunt was also a tremendous pass-catcher, finishing with 53 receptions for 455 yards and three scores.

Unlike teams like the Steelers and the Rams, though, the Chiefs don't have just a one-man backfield. They have a tremendous backup in Charcandrick West, who averaged 4.0 yards per carry last season while catching 27 passes. They also have Spencer Ware, who missed all of last season with a torn PCL.

Before the injury, though, Ware was a budding star. In 2016, he rushed for 921 yards, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and caught 33 passes. If he's back to 100 percent, Kansas City will essentially have two starting-caliber backs and one of the better backups in the league.

Oh, and the Chiefs also have former Cardinals back Kerwynn Williams, who signed a one-year, $790,000 deal this offseason. He made six starts and rushed for 426 yards last season.

With veteran Anthony Sherman also in the backfield, the Chiefs should have the best group in the league. They can run the ball with multiple guys, keep their backs fresh and also provide first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes with quality receiving outlets.

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