“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
This passage connects well with a series of recent experiences.
Not long ago, a member of one of our congregations called me for help in providing resources for a family of new Canadians. The circumstances were difficult, challenging the family, community support systems, cultural and spiritual understandings, and even trust and relationships within the congregation. In the end, we decided to respond with more specialized help, knowing full well that the journey ahead was likely to continue its long and difficult path. Praise God!
Before ending the conversation, I wanted to acknowledge the significant commitment shown by this individual and the congregation by offering thanks and a blessing for their concern, care and accompaniment. The response acknowledged this, and added, “That’s what we’re called to do.” An enormous task is approached with the simple belief that God is yet bigger, more capable, and able to provide and sustain as needed. And it is this God that we are called to follow. Praise God!
Last week I was in the living room of a young family. The couple invited me to help discern whether God was calling them to go overseas into long-term ministry. I responded as best as I could. And I am very aware that God has been speaking to their hearts even before I arrived, for it is God who calls, equips and sends. Praise God!
Before Christmas, I received a note from the Mennonite church in Chile. This group of congregations accepted a new ministry proposal in the town of Ercilla. Of this new venture, fellow pastor Samuel Tripainao, who visited Canada in 2009 for the International Mennonite Pastors Coming Together event, commented: “Ercilla is in the centre of the Mapuche [indigenous people] conflict, where farms, trucks and tractors are burned. A dangerous zone with much violence, where indigenous people walk around hooded with axes, stones and machetes. I believe it is a good place to plant a church.” Praise God!
A week ago, my congregation learned about a family with an insurmountable need. They had just found out that their little two-year-old girl had cancer. In front of such odds, we as a church did what we are called to do. Pray. Seven days later, we were informed that the cancer was gone. Praise God!
God’s words in Isaiah remind us that he envisions bigger things for those he calls to be—and to do—as his servants. May God grant us the faithfulness and blessing to follow as we are called. Praise God!
Tim Froese is executive director of International Ministries for Mennonite Church Canada. The column was adapted from the MC Canada World of Witness International Report, February 2011.