Readers write: Oct. 17, 2011

October 12, 2011 | Viewpoints

Impact of Menno H. Epp will last
Re: “Longtime Bible school teacher/pastor dies,” Sept. 19, page 30.

The tribute to Menno H. Epp immediately prompted my own.

It may be that Epp carried distinct genetic traits, which shaped his character and inspired his passion for the Christian way. To me, he was his own person, and an inspiring colleague and friend. His explicitly clear, flawless, and, at times, provocative style of communication served him—and the church—well. He was passionately a person of peace and a model for conflict resolution.

When I arrived in Alberta as the first Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta executive director, he was there at the outset to welcome and encourage me, and to provide guidance. While we might have been invited to attend or join Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, where he served as pastor, he strongly encouraged us to join a new church development as charter members. This we did. He nevertheless provided regular opportunities for me to share MCC exposure at Foothills in sermons, youth services or Sunday school classes. He always was a ready consultant. He took a keen interest in a wide range of community activities, as well as the church well beyond the Mennonite world.

When a young professor came to Calgary from Ontario with his spouse to fill an interim position at the University of Calgary, the couple decided to knock on doors near the campus in order to seek accommodation. The first home they came to was that of Epp and his first wife, Irma, who saw this request as a gift from God; without hesitation, the couple was welcomed and a life-long friendship evolved between them. This meeting provided the Epps with the opportunity to introduce the couple to the Anabaptist Christian faith and to MCC, and they eventually became MCC volunteers abroad.

Menno has left us; however, his impact will last.
Bill Thiessen, Abbotsford, B.C.


There is hope for those who want to leave the gay lifestyle

I appreciated the recent letters by Mary Bartel (“Love people enough to see them changed,” Aug.1, page 15), and David Shantz (“Homosexuality: Not what God intended,” Aug. 22, page 7).

I am speaking in support of those individuals who have left the gay lifestyle and of the Christian ministries dealing with sexual and relational issues. I sense there are those in the church who want to hear these words of hope.

Exodus International and Living Waters minister to those who come to them with unwanted same-gender attraction and other issues. They have trained personnel who have “been there,” and minister with compassion, grace and truth.

The struggles talked about by Ben Borne and Scott Bergen in the Aug. 1 issue of Canadian Mennonite are all too familiar to these people. However, finding healing and wholeness from same-gender attraction and related issues is not a simple matter for untrained people to deal with, even within the church. It is not “rewiring” therapy, as someone has recently called it. It is about repentance, redemption, restoration and rejoicing. Prayer is a strong component of this ministry.

My son and his wife have both left the gay lifestyle and have chosen to be involved with the Living Waters ministry. There are books and testimonials available by people who have left this orientation.

I did not change my convictions on this topic when my son declared himself gay. However, I was always in communication with him. Today, we tell our true life story of change in churches willing to listen.

What I’m lamenting is the attitude of the gay community towards those referred to as ex-gay. I am aware that some Mennonite churches held a workshop on sexuality with no representation from the Living Waters ministry in our city, which would have brought diversity and balance to the dialogue. My point is that, although they say they wish to be in “loving dialogue” with other members of the church, groups like Harmony are refusing to believe the true life-experiences of ex-gays, who are also members of the body of Christ.

Harmony may well achieve its goals. But my goal is to inform people of the reality that change has happened in the lives of individuals who felt called by God to leave their same-gender-attracted orientation and, by God’s grace and power, are living heterosexual lives. They are among us and have a personal story to tell.

Jesus is still the great physician who hears the cries of sincere seekers. For me, John 9 seems to have some parallels to this situation. Perhaps Gamaliel’s words in Acts 5:38-39 apply as well.

I challenge people to consider attending the next annual Exodus International conference in St. Paul, Minn., June 27 to 30, 2012.  Be informed. Hear the other side.
Selma Pauls, Winnipeg, Man.


In life, Jack Layton wasn’t that inspiring
Re: “Jack Layton inspires young people to vote for change,” Sept. 19, page 34. 

You claim Jack Layton inspires young voters, yet also cite a study that only 38 percent of young people were voting in 2008, when Layton had already been party leader for five years. Obviously, he wasn’t that inspiring then.

In the wake of his death, we forget that Layton was, at heart, a politician. Like all party leaders, he made frequent use of the party whip to make certain “his” MPs voted according to the party line and not according to the wishes of their constituents.

Those young people looking for real change would do well to seek out non-governmental organizations and community groups. Canada’s politicians, no matter the party, just offer more of the same.
Benjamin P. Weber, Kitchener, Ont.


In praise of Canadian Mennonite
I want to say how much I value the content of Canadian Mennonite. I usually read it over my solitary work-at-home lunches.

I tear articles out and pass them on to others at church (a Christian Reformed Church congregation) or e-mail them the link to the pdf files. I value the connection to the Mennonite church that this publication gives me. Your recent editorial on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (“Ten years later,” Sept. 19, page 2) was very well written. It seems that we will never be allowed to “move on” from it; the warmongers need to keep the memories very fresh!

Thank you and the rest of the staff for your valuable work in connecting, teaching, provoking and inspiring us.
Linda Petty, Blackstock, Ont.


Spirituality has no place in world politics
Re: recent events at the United Nations regarding Israel and Palestine.

I have been to Israel many times on business and have worked with that region for 40 years plus. I don’t think any progress will be made in this critical Israel/Palestine link to Middle East peace until both sides get off their “religious high horse” and get in sync with the realities of their populations. Younger people in these regions could care less about Zionist aspirations or Islamic dominance. They just want security and peace so they can get educated and raise their families in an open, tolerant society, no different than us or any other place in the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize the Jewish state of Israel. Get off your high horse, Netanyahu.

And Abbas, get Hamas and Iran out of the equation; there is no hope with them.

To the Americans, get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Pay attention to the Islamic republic of Iran; that’s where most of your problems originate. And stop being pushed around by Israel; it’s an insult to your status as a world power.

I think I am a normal balanced human being. I value my spiritual life very much, but its personal and has no place in world politics. I think most healthy people in the world are like that.
Richard Penner, Calgary, Alta.


Blowing up the road to Damascus
Re: “Osama bin Laden was no ‘follower of Jesus,’ ” Sept. 19, page 13.

G.A. Rempel contends that “it is a cause to celebrate when the likes of Clifford Olsen, Ted Bundy or Osama bin Laden are apprehended,” and adds that “the world is safer without these three stalking for their next victim.” It would be truer, however, to say that the world is a more diminished place when a nation seeks the death of any human, or when people celebrate the death of a fellow human being.

It might be difficult for us, as fallen creatures, to imagine that God could love a person who commits atrocities. But if God created that person, then surely he loves that person, just as he loves all of his creation.

I would add, too, that the only thing that the United States government has ensured by killing bin Laden is that he no longer has the opportunity to renounce violence and terrorism, and to repent. It might seem unlikely that bin Laden would undergo such a transformation. Then again, it no doubt seemed unlikely that Saul would cease persecuting Christians 2,000 years ago and become Paul, a follower of Jesus. By killing bin Laden, the U.S. has done little more than blow up the road to Damascus.

Is the world a safer place for having killed bin Laden? I think the real question is, “Is it a better place?”
Mark Morton, Kitchener, Ont.

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