Mennonite Church Canada’s history of engaging our global neighbours in mission and international church relations began more than 100 years ago. Since that time, the worldwide church has grown significantly. Almost two-thirds of the global Anabaptist community today is African, Asian or Latin American.
That diversity is reflected within congregations across MC Canada that are home to people from a variety of backgrounds and worship in 20 different languages. Our ministries and relationships are blessed with a number of ongoing global gifts:
• Vision: A Mapuche believer in South America wanted to return to his home community located in the centre of the Mapuche conflict. During a visit, he noted that people walked around hooded carrying axes, stones and machetes. “I believe it is a good place to plant a church,” he said.
• Partnership: A Chinese pastor noted, “At this point in history, the church in the East and the church in the West particularly need each other. It seems that our strengths and weaknesses can complement each other.”
• Generosity: Since becoming our sister church in 2004, the Conference of Mennonites in Mexico has contributed more than $120,000 to MC Canada international ministry. This generosity is in appreciation for previous Canadian ministry there, and is only a fraction of its annual thanksgiving offering that comes from a conference of less than 1,000 members!
• Hospitality: If hospitality is the centre of the gospel, our global church partners are great evangelists! Food, home, time to visit, opportunity to interact with the church, intercessory prayer and more are shared generously and are visible reminders of our call to “love strangers.”
• Calling: A South American Mennonite pastor said, “God has given me the ministry of mercy.” A former prisoner himself, he continues to visit the prison daily since being released 26 years earlier, conducting Bible studies, leading in song and providing counselling, in addition to his congregational ministry.
• Growth: The Evangelical Mennonite Church in Chile conducted 3,000 or so baptisms over the last 20 years. “Most of those baptized are not our children,” said one leader. “They have come from the outside. We thank God for this.”
• Faith: After participating in a recent MC Canada entrepreneurship training session, a young adult from Botswana went home, cleaned out a space in his house, stocked some makeshift shelves, crafted a sign and opened his store for business!
• Needs: Economic strain, violence, natural disasters and current refugee resettlement issues highlight the importance of international ministry. We strive to grow disciples so that communities of shalom are empowered to respond to their neighbourhoods and regions, offering faith and community to those in need.
• History: When we review our history of global engagement, we are reminded of God’s presence and blessing over time, and through many witnesses and many experiences. Jesus’ words echo: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Tim Froese is executive minister of MC Canada Witness.
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