Volume 24 Issue 1

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Encountering the gifts of a global church

A Mennonite World Conference delegation made church visits in India in December 2018. (Photo: Henk Stenvers / Mennonite World Conference)

Laston Bissani Mitambo, an evangelist who has planted many churches in the Palombe District in Malawi and in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique, prays for the communion bread. (Photo courtesy of Laston Bissani)

A Central American cohort of Anabaptist women theologians, members of the MTAL Movement of Anabaptist Women doing Theology in Latin America, meets in Honduras in 2018. (MTAL photo)

The world is getting smaller. Peoples, places and cultures that in the past existed in distant lands may today be just around the corner. Here in North America, because of migration, many neighbourhoods have become mosaics of people of a variety of skin colours, languages and cultures. Some of the newcomers are Christians and they exemplify what most of the Christian world looks like.

An incessant demand

'I stare at my work wall and pray. It’s plastered with pictures of martyrs and sayings of saints.' (Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

“Where are you, Mennonites?”

A colleague and I are in a Winnipeg café discussing the current land struggles of many Indigenous peoples. I listen intently as she speaks of the Unist’ot’en, Muskrat Falls and the Tiny House Warriors. I nod my head in understanding and offer affirming murmurs. But then, halfway through tea, she looks at me impatiently.

Westgate students at rally

(Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

In 1968, 115 Westgate Mennonite Collegiate students joined 2,000 members of Students for Educational Equality and Democracy (SEED) for a rally at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg. These students of private and parochial schools were seeking provincial funding, as recommended by a royal commission in Manitoba a decade before.

To the river

'In a short five-minute walk, I was filled with peace as I was enveloped by the beauty of the river and the mountains.' (Photo courtesy of Christina Bartel Barkman)

After the hour-long drive home from my sister’s with my four very energetic kids, I had had enough! Trying to quiet down hyper kids while driving is not an easy feat. Not wanting to yell at them over and over, I gave up and succumbed to their antics, eagerly longing for our driveway. I called my husband and said I would need serious backup upon arrival; I was spent!

Canadian turkey and Salvadoran turkey

'Our congregation’s tradition is to have both Canadian turkey and El Salvadoran turkey, mashed potatoes and rice, gravy and sauce. And tables full of special dishes of vegetables, salads and desserts, from traditions all over the world.' (Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

“The turkey tasted just like my mom’s turkey.” So said Sandra, a recent newcomer to Canada from Colombia. She was part of the First Mennonite Church (Kitchener) annual Christmas dinner. Our congregation’s tradition is to have both Canadian turkey and El Salvadoran turkey, mashed potatoes and rice, gravy and sauce.

Paradoxical faith

(Image by Couleur/Pixabay)

I’ve become aware of various patterns and cycles in my life. One of them is a regular oscillation between two different “kinds” or phases of faith. Sometimes I remain in one phase for years and sometimes I alternate between the two phases multiple times a day.

The first phase is what I call pragmatic faith.

Everything is under the authority of Christ

Harjo Suyitno designed the ‘Cosmic Christ’ cross artwork at Jepara GITJ church in Indonesian gunungan style. (Photo by Karla Braun)

“This wood carving expresses the mission and vision of the church,” (Photo by Karla Braun)

Gunungan is a figure from traditional Indonesian theatre that represents the world. The leaf-shaped art is used frequently around the country, including at the Mennonite church in seaside Jepara.

Life in a remote B.C. congregation

The Friday Night drop-in for kids has been popular with community kids in Black Creek. (Photo by Gerry Binnema)

The United Mennonite Church building in Black Creek is used for a community food bank. (Photo by Gerry Binnema)

Gerry Binnema was invited to share news about United Mennonite Church, the con­gregation he pastors in Black Creek, B.C. Here is his creative and tongue-in-cheek response.

‘Re-learning to swim in baptismal waters’

Irma Fast Dueck presented on baptism to more than 40 pastors and lay leaders at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Leadership Day in November. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

We are witnessing the first time in history when many young people in Mennonite Church Canada congregations are actively participating in the church but are choosing not to be baptized. Why is that? Irma Fast Dueck, associate professor of practical theology at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), is researching exactly that question.

‘A mile in my moccasins’

Madelaine Kioke, a Cree artisan, demonstrates hand-stitching on a moccasin while sharing from her family story during “A mile in my moccasins” workshop, sponsored by MCC Ontario’s Indigenous Neighbours program. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

(Photo by Janet Bauman)

Madelaine Kioke was born in the woods near Attawapiskat, in the James Bay region of northern Ontario, where her parents hunted and trapped. She lived out on the land until she was nine years old, learning to hunt and fish, and set traps and snares with her father. At age six, when her mother first gave her a sewing needle, her love for making moccasins began.

Helping others, one stitch at a time

Eric Berg works on the floor, pinning together the top, batting and lining of a blanket. (Photo by Marlies Berg)

Eric Berg, a member of the St. Catharines (Ont.) United Mennonite Church, has been making blankets and donating them to MCC for a number of years. It all started years ago when he was helping his wife Marlies, an avid sewer and quilter, cut out squares. When he was cutting faster than she could sew and the squares were piling up, he started sewing them together.

Glimpsing the face of God

Palmer Becker, left, presents a Mandarin version of his Anabaptist Essentials book to Yin Hongtao and Zhang Shaojie. (Photo by Myrrl Byler)

Youth worship in a Chinese church. (Photo by Myrrl Byler)

Tobia Veith, centre in blue top with scarf, teaches a group of Chinese women. (Photo courtesy of Tobia Veith)

The Poovong family moved to Thailand five years ago. (Photo by Tom Poovong)

The Friends of Grace Church Association opens its new office in Khon Kaen, Thailand. (Photo by Tom Poovong)

Mennonite Church South Korea members prepare for a peace march held last April. (Photo by Bock Ki Kim)

Editors of the newly formed Peace Journal are pictured in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Bock Ki Kim)

Posters advertises the Peace Chain movement in South Korea. (Photo by Bock Ki Kim)

‘Our teams at PeaceBuiders Community, Inc., and [Coffee for Peace] are being led, spiritually, to work with leaders of Indigenous Peoples [in the Philippines] . . . .This spiritual perspective of partnership governs the inclusive development strategies we practise in the field,’ say Dann and Joji Pantoja, left. (Photo courtesy of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc.)

Why are we doing international ministry? As I engage with people in many regional churches I often get this question. It is my favourite question. Don’t ask unless you are prepared for my long answer, but I can also point you to the answers of others for a shorter version.

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