Have you ever been introduced to a distant relative for the first time—maybe you didn’t even know that person existed—and yet you immediately felt a connection with them? After all, they are family!
As part of a global Anabaptist family, we have family members all around the world, most of whom we have never met, yet we have deep bonds that connect us, deeper than our last name, cultural foods or language. We share bonds of common belief and commitment to following Christ, and ways in which our churches relate and work together.
These stories are our stories, as Mennonite churches across Canada support these ministries which are strengthening the churches in the Congo, Angola and Burkina Faso. And these people are our family!
Tany Warkentin is liaison to ministry in Africa for Mennonite Church Canada; she recently returned from a trip to Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she represented MC Canada at AIMM partnership meetings. She also serves as pastoral leader of Springridge Mennonite Church, in Pincher Creek, Alta. These photos were originally posted on the MC Alberta website on Nov. 17, 2021 (bit.ly/3FknTee).
Tany Warkentin, left, is pictured with Adolphine, Marie and Hélène José, supervisors of the literacy program run by the Mennonite churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Literacy teachers are trained and provided with basic teaching supplies, and they then offer classes in their own village to women and children who haven’t had opportunities to attend school. (Photo by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen)
Laurent, left, is a part of a youth association in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, created by a group of 10 incredibly motivated young people looking for work in a country with high unemployment rates. Each member contributes 25,000 francs ($12) at the end of each month, and then they take turns receiving 90 percent of the money for personal agricultural projects. The group uses the remaining 10 percent to collectively plant, harvest and sell peanuts, with the profit being added to the collective fund. As this fund grows, the youth association will invest in larger and more long-term agricultural projects. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)
The Grade 4 students at the Mennonite school in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, send their enthusiastic greetings. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)
Pastor Ambeké, left, prepares to help Daniel take his place as the general secretary of one of the Mennonite conferences in Angola. This is the first time this conference will have had a peaceful leadership transition since it began in 1983. Ambeké said, ‘Some of our young people have grown up thinking that the only way to change leaders is through tension and force. Usually, new leaders are selected from senior leaders who are not leading good lives. But this time, the church has called this “Little David” because he has the right character. He is humble and he is the one we want, even if he is young.” (Photo by Tany Warkentin)
This young woman learned to read in one of the Congolese literacy centres, and she is reading the Bible in her own language. Despite her physical disability, learning to read and write has boosted her self-confidence and opened new job opportunities. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)
Josué, standing, is a young electrician called by the Mennonite church in Burkina Faso to start a hardware store in the village of Mahon. Many business owners in Burkina Faso have set up hardware stores or bookstores in villages where there are no churches. Through their positive Christian witness, neighbours have come to know Christ and churches were planted. This is the prayer and hope of the Burkina Faso church for Josué’s store in Mahon. (Photo by Tany Warkentin)