God at work in the World

Holy recklessness

I recall saying in my youth that “Christianity does not come equipped with standard airbags and anti-lock brakes,” features commonly advertised for cars at the time. I felt society’s fixation on safety and security should not be adopted by Christians. Faith is risky.

I was young and idealistic then. Some older folks said I’d get over it.

Reclaiming Ethiopia

A way of life is being dramatically changed as the pastoralist people learn to grow crops. The Foodgrains Bank and Canadian World Lutheran Relief are working through the Support for Sustainable Development organization on food-for-work projects that build irrigation systems. They provide training on how to grow and market crops. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ethiopia is a country undergoing transformation. Stu Clark, senior policy advisor for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, writes, ‘The challenge now is to ensure that rural Ethiopians enjoy the same rapid growth as those in Addis Ababa [pictured]. While food aid expenditures have declined, Foodgrains Bank expenditures for agricultural development in Ethiopia have increased over the past decade to about $1 million a year.’ (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ginjo struggles to support his family of 10 on a hectare of land. But by adopting new conservation methods of farming this past growing season he was able to dramatically increase the yield of his maize crop, which he harvested from the field in the foreground. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Mogite is a widow, but being part of one of the self-help groups that the Terepeza Development Association and the Foodgrains Bank have supported, she is able to support herself and her family. The women have established a cooperative garden on her property, where vegetables and seedlings are grown for their families and the surplus is marketed. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

MCC Ethiopia and Meserete Kristos Church have partnered with the Foodgrains Bank in the Boricha District, where farmers are being paid to work on soil- and water-conservation activities, building terraces and check-dams to catch the rain, and planting trees to stabilize the soil. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Elias Tola has been part of the food-for-work and cash-for-work programs that have helped to restore his farmland and bring roads into the Boricha District. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Ahimed, head of the water user association in his community, stands near the channel that diverts water from the river and brings life to his community. He speaks with pride about the difference this six-kilometre channel has made to their lives, bringing not only water, but food security, a school, a clinic and dignity. (Credit: Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

Manitoba correspondent Evelyn Rempel Petkau journeyed to Ethiopia last fall as part of a Canadian Foodgrains Bank-sponsored learning tour and reports her findings of the NGO’s work with Mennonite Central Committee, Meserete Kristos Church, and other relief and development agencies

Remembering Mandela

Photo © Pep Hernandex / bit.ly/1wheB9Z

Nelson Mandela passed away a year ago last December, at the age of 95. Although we knew this time was coming, it does not alleviate the sorrow experienced by South Africa and indeed the world. Mandela—or Madiba, as he was lovingly called—lived as an incredible example of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Chiara House officially opens

From left to right: Norm Voth, director of evangelism and service for MC Manitoba; Orly Friesen, volunteer site manager; Jon Owen, caretaker and resident; Alvin Thieseen, supporter and volunteer; Pearl Plohman, resident; and Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community, cut the ribbon to officially open Chiara House in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Jon Owen).

“When one of our members suffered from untreated mental illnesses and committed suicide quite publicly five years ago, we realized how critical it is to provide community supports and affordable housing in order for people to have a chance at healthy living,” said Jamie Arpin-Ricci, pastor of Little Flowers Community in Winnipeg’s downtown West End, at the official opening of Chiara House.

More viewpoints: Smudging

To celebrate its 50th anniversary Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba planned an event to be held on Nov. 15, 2014, at the Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg, a venue MCC was renting for the large event. But days before, MCC cancelled the event based on objections the congregation’s leadership had to an indigenous smudging ceremony that was to be held on church grounds.

MCC Manitoba stands with Buffalo Gals

‘It seems to me that a generosity of spirit is at the heart of both Christian and Canadian aboriginal beliefs, so there should be a strong mutual interest in demonstrating mutual respect.’--Former prime minister Joe Clark (Photo by Will Braun)

Ron Janzen

The landmark event was intended, in part, to promote reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. That goal will likely be achieved to a far greater extent than organizers ever imagined, but the path will be circuitous and theologically bumpy.

Peace brings local community together

Participants pause by the Morden, Man., cenotaph to offer prayers concerning civil justice during their Peace Prayer Walk on Nov. 9. Michael Pahl, who came up with the idea for the walk, is pictured facing the camera with white papers in his hand. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pahl)

“Regardless of our perspectives on ‘just war’ and pacifism, as Christians we are all united in our desire for peace and justice in our community and around the world,” says Michael Pahl of his idea to hold an annual Peace Prayer Walk in Morden, Man., last year.

How will we walk together?

Adrian Jacobs, right, responds to questions and concerns from Rudy Friesen and Gerhard Neufeld.

Michael Champagne, left, participates in a table discussion of opportunities and barriers to indigenous people and settler populations working together in the city.

Michael Champagne speaks with energy and passion about indigenous youth and young adults in the city.

Adrian Jacobs, left, addresses the gather circle at Circle of Life Thunderbird House while Michael Champagne looks on.

Instead of the usual small, intimate gathering that has characterized previous fall Partnership Circle meetings, more than 85 northern indigenous people, Mennonite Church Manitoba representatives, people from other denominations and social service agencies gathered on Nov. 1 to form a vastly expanded circle at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House.  

Faith groups lament for the killed and wounded

We share in the grief and shock our nation is feeling. We honour Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who were killed. Our prayers for comfort and healing are offered for the families of Cirillo and Vincent, those wounded, and those who were the first responders on the scenes. We offer our prayers for the families of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau.

‘They are not alone’

Melanie Kampen camped out at the Native Women’s Protest site near the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg earlier this month, to protest the government’s lack of response to the 1,182 missing and murdered indigenous women from across Canada. (Photo by Chris Swan)

Flowers are laid out on the Manitoba Legislature steps in Winnipeg in the pattern of a butterfly at the annual Oct. 4 vigil honouring the 1,182 missing and murdered indigenous women from across Canada. It was one of 130 vigils held this year. (Photo by Kira Burkett)

On a very windy, cold and dark Oct. 3 night, Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, and a few others strung 20 dresses on fishing line on both sides of the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge that spans the Red River near The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.

Committed, supportive. . . and ‘just plain tired’

Volunteer exhaustion and the difficulty recruiting more and younger volunteers are a big part of the reason the Morris MCC Relief Sale is shutting down after 33 years, but George Klassen, chair of the now defunct board, identifies other reasons as well: ‘People do not need “stuff” as much as they used to.’ (Credit: Kristian Jordan)

Mennonite Central Committee relief sales began in Manitoba in 1963, and for the first 18 years they moved from one rural community to another before finding a permanent home in Morris. (Photo: Kristian Jordan)

“It almost felt like a huge sigh of relief coming from the volunteers,” said George Klassen as he closed the books of the Morris (Man.) Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale. On Sept. 13, about 250 volunteers served their last perogies, knitted their last slippers, baked their last pies and directed traffic for the very last sale in Morris. 

‘Each day was a joy’

Team members of the MEDA Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb celebrate as they reach the summit on July 14 after beginning that morning at 5 a.m., which required wearing headlamps to see. (Photo: Duane Eby)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: courtesy of Allan Sauder)

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest peak at 5,895 metres. (Photo: Duane Eby)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: Tom Bishop)

Allan Sauder, MEDA president, on the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising climb in July. (Photo: Tom Bishop)

After 27 years with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), the last 12 as president and chief executive officer, Allan Sauder of Waterloo felt that he needed a professional development leave to both freshen his energies and to give him a new perspective on his work.

Responding to terrorism: a Christ-centred approach

David Shenk, fourth from right; Pastor Jeremiah Choi, sixth from right; and Pastor Crystal Nana Lee, fifth from left, discuss relationships between Muslims and Christians at Agape Mennonite Church in Hong Kong in September 2013. (Photo courtesy of David Shenk)

The Christian/Muslim Relations Team, from left to right: David Shenk, Grace Shenk, Jonathan Bornman, Sheryl Martin and Andres Prins. (Photo: Tammy Evans)

Iraqi refugee Dawoud Dawoud, left, and Jonathan Bornman at the Connection Center in Lancaster, Pa. Bornman served as a consultant for Light of Hope Ministries to offer English-as-a-second-language and Arabic language classes. (Photo: Jonathan Bornman)

“Are Muslims trying to take over America?” “Who are the ‘true Muslims’—the peaceful ones or the violent ones?” “How should Christians respond to jihadi Muslims?” “Isn’t force the only effective way to respond to Islamist terrorism?”

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - God at work in the World