Spectacular water falls. A sweeping, ruggedly beautiful coastline. Exotic wildlife, sophisticated cities and an endless variety of cultures. These are some of the treasures attracting visitors to South Africa. But these treasures coexist with the long and painful history of South Africa’s people.
God at work in the World
“Our people have to walk 50 miles to buy an aspirin and pregnant mothers have to walk 100 miles for pre-natal and medical care in birthing,” Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) told reporters and students here at Emmanuel College as part of a tour to raise international awareness of the re-emerging war on its borders.
Store manager, Bryan Heidebrecht (L), and board member Harvey Friesen, hold a ribbon made of thrift store ties at the grand opening of the new location for Edmonton’s Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store.
Even with a 50-percent-off deal store-wide, Edmonton’s Mennonite Central Committee Thrift store had record sales at its official grand opening. On an average day 60 customers walk through the door and spend about $550.00. On Sept. 15, 211 customers left $1,965.00 at the till. Operating in North Edmonton since 2003, the store moved to its current location at 9251, 34 Avenue, in June of 2012.
Benjamin Mubenga Wa Kabanga, president of Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo, blesses one of the 16 pastors ordained during the Golden Jubilee celebration. White powder is a sign of spiritual blessing that family showered on the pastoral candidate during the celebration.
Prime-time television news, amplified guitar riffs and deep-throated traditional drums announced to the city of Mbuji Mayi that Communauté Evangélique Mennonite au Congo (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Congo) was celebrating its 50th anniversary from July 23-27.
At the corner grocery in our Jabal al-Webdah neighbourhood of Amman, a Syrian man in his early 20s now runs the meat and cheese counter. Ahmed (not his real name) is one of more than 150,000 Syrians who have fled to Jordan since his country’s violence began in March 2011.
Young males seeking to avoid mandatory military service are one of the largest groups leaving Syria.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues to address needs of refugees fleeing from increasing violence in Syria. Caritas Jordan, an MCC partner, is distributing comforters, relief kits, school kits and hygiene kits in five governorates, similar to provinces or states. In the Mafraq governorate, milk powder and diapers also are distributed.
Unlike the directors of many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Jennifer Henry can speak freely. She’s the head of Kairos, a social justice organization representing seven of Canada’s largest denominations, including Mennonites.
On June 3, a small group from Little Flowers Community and Hope Mennonite Church joined a crowd of upwards of 20,000 people who came out for the Pride Winnipeg Parade. They carried a simple message: “We’re Sorry.”
With a swirl of skirts, the stomp of dancing shoes and the flourish of a flamenco guitar, Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support celebrated its 25th anniversary with a banquet on April 21. The banquet was just part of the celebrations this spring that included an open house at the coalition’s new office space in Kitchener on May 25.
According to the UN, there are 10.5 million “refugees of concern” in the world. These are people uprooted from their homes, fleeing conflict, natural disaster or persecution. While roughly 25,000 of these people will be allowed to settle in Canada this year, Mennonite refugee advocates worry about recent changes to immigration policy.
Most often people think of crops from our prairie farms going abroad to feed the world. So it was a bit of a shift on June 15, when 20 women and 15 children representing 10 different countries of the world boarded a school bus in Winnipeg to visit one of these farms in Springstein.
Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry has changed its name to Indigenous Relations effective immediately.
Henry Neufeld, right, a former day school teacher in Pauingassi, Man., presents a talking stick that he crafted to Joan Jack, who is heading up the National Day School Class Action Suit.
Official government apologies and the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process do not include all prior students of government-funded, church-run schools for Indigenous Peoples, a handful of which have associations with Mennonite communities.
“The stories are horrific. You can’t listen to them without a sick feeling of disbelief rising in your stomach. It’s easy to tell yourself that, because you were not personally involved, you have no blame for what happened. But the feeling of guilt persists.”
The opening ceremonies at the Meeting Place featured music and dance from various indigenous communities.
How can Canada’s churches move past their residential school history into a positive relationship with Indigenous Peoples? That was one question asked during The Meeting Place conference in Toronto, hosted by the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre with support from the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) earlier this month.
As the battle over the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline plays out, key questions about the moral make-up of Canada will be answered: questions about the balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and questions of whether large companies can bulldoze through unceded Aboriginal territory without local consent.
After spending seven years and $8 million responding along the Gulf Coast to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) has formally closed its last project in the region. About 70 MDS personnel, Mennonite leaders and local pastors, disaster response workers and community members gathered on May 16 at MDS headquarters in New Orleans for a commemoration ceremony.
Mark Bauman’s eyes still tear up when he recalls worshipping at the St. Francois-Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Attawapiskat. Most of the service in the First Nation community, located on the western shore of James Bay in northwestern Ontario, was in Cree, but the Lord’s Prayer was repeated in English.
Despite war’s obstacles and disruptions, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partners in Afghanistan continue to provide life-enhancing and empowering services to Afghans.