“I can see one family with a lot of members, worshipping the same Father,” says Natacha Kyendrebeogo of Burkina Faso.
She is one of four young people serving through the Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN) on the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Assembly 2022 team in Indonesia.
YAMEN is a program that places emphasis on expanding the fellowship between churches in the Anabaptist tradition and developing young leaders around the globe.
All four members of the Assembly 2022 team are working on MWC’s five-day global gathering. Assemblies happen once every six years, and the YAMEN members of the planning team are looking forward to being part of the community meeting of worldwide Anabaptist-Mennonites in Indonesia.
“The Global Church Village, the programs, the workshops—I have this whole picture of a crowd that is so joyful, doing things together,” says Loyce Twongirwe of Uganda. A filmmaker, she serves on the communications team for Assembly 2022.
“I am looking forward to creating lasting friendships, getting to know each country, how people live, how they are as a congregation,” says Sunil Kadmaset of India.
While waiting for visas for Indonesia, Kadmaset and Ananda Mohan Murmu began to get to know the wider Anabaptist family as they served with Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India (MCFSI).
Kadmaset, from the Brethren in Christ in Cuttack, Odisha, and Murmu, from a Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar Mandali congregation in Balarampur, West Bengal, lived among Mennonite Church India members in Chhattisgarh. They collaborated with Anabaptist-Mennonite organizations from eight national churches in India and Nepal.
Murmu was drawn to YAMEN after hearing from his friends who participated in MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) and how the program had an impact on their perspective. Alongside MCSFI director Benjamin Nand, he called on gardening and peace projects, and he visited churches with MWC regional representative Cynthia Peacock. “People’s joy gives me my greatest joy,” he says.
“We are different states, different castes, [yet] we are still as brothers and sisters,” says Kadmaset. With MCSFI, he met people who suffered from COVID-19, yet, with help from the Mennonite family and encouragement from the Spirit, they persevered. “To know each other from eight conferences—I am content with that.”
Kyendrebeogo also tasted the fellowship of the global family before she even left home. After a military coup in Burkina Faso, she says, “I received a lot of mail encouragement from those who don’t know me. They pray for my country; they pray for this situation. I couldn’t imagine the fellowship. I enjoy the love, the encouragement.”
As they tend their tasks, the YAMENers are spurred on by their hopes for Assembly 2022.
Twongirwe started her work from an office in Uganda and now is with the team in Indonesia. “We are advancing videos: how to register, how to book hotels,” she says, “so, when they reach [the] event, they don’t feel lost, confused, left out. It’s a great responsibility to us to make sure it goes perfect as we picture.”
“When I close my eyes, I see lots of people around me, . . . with people from Africa, U.S.A., Canada, we are together, we are praising God. Between them I am in that moment, in that place, that gives me very big joy,” says Murmu.
YAMENers experience Indonesia. Clockwise from bottom left: Assembly 2022 staffer Lorenzo Fellycyando, Rut Arsari, YAMENer Ananda Mohan Murmu, YAMENer Sunil Kad Kadmaset, YAMENer Natacha Kyendrebeogo, YAMENer Loyce Twongirwe, and Assembly 2022 staffer Lydia Suyanti. (Photo by Lorenzo Fellycyando)
The multinational assembly staff team in Indonesia. Pictured from left to right, back row: Lorenzo Fellycyando, Indonesia; Sunil Kadmaset, India; Lydia Suyanti, Indonesia; and Ebenezer Mondez, Philippines; middle row: Simon Setiawan, Indonesia; Rut Arsari, Indonesia; Loyce Twongirwe, Uganda; Liesa Unger, Germany; and Ananda Mohan Murmu, India; and front row: Agus Setianto, Indonesia; Preshit Rao, India; Tigist Gelagle, Ethiopia; Sarah Yetty, Indonesia; and Natacha Kyendrebeogo, Burkina Faso. (Photo by Liesa Unger)