MCC

How do we respond to the stranger at our gate?

"If someone declares to us, 'I am a refugee,' we must listen carefully and discern. This has roots in Old Testament law which speaks about caring for the stranger in your land." (Image by Capri23auto/Pixabay)

What is a Christian response to migration? While on a day to day basis, I tend to deal with the nuts and bolts issues of refugee resettlement and Canadian and international policy related to it, I regularly ask myself that question.

MCC wants Canadians to #ChooseWelcome

In light of the highest level of refugees on record, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is calling on individuals, communities, neighbours and faith groups to change lives through Canada’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. The program matches the most vulnerable refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada; the Government of Canada gives up to six months of income support.

What resilience looks like

Bethany Amstutz-Schrag, Joanna Loepp Thiessen and Krystal Porter jump for joy as they trek through the mountains of Nepal on an MCC learning tour. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Loepp Thiessen)

From dealing with disaster to mental health recovery, partners of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nepal and their beneficiaries demonstrate resilience.

MCC assisting after Cyclone Idai

Issa Ebombolo, MCC’s peacebuilding coordinator for Zambia and Malawi, unloads cooking oil in the village of Tomali as part of MCC’s Cyclone Idai flood relief project in Malawi. (MCC photo by Amanda Talstra)

Issa Ebombolo was not expecting the level of malnutrition he encountered among people displaced by flooding in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. But upon arriving in southern Malawi, where he helped distribute food and relief supplies, Ebombolo was taken aback by the dire need for food assistance.

A crisis of compassion

'We heard about monarch butterflies and how they are the symbol of migration. This really captured my heart and stayed with me during the following days.' (Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

Mennonite Central Committee’s “People on the Move: Human Rights and Global Migration” student seminar in Ottawa this past February sparked in me a new curiosity and interest in the stories of migrants.

Following the seminar, I contemplated and reflected on the different topics, the work of the speakers presented at the seminar, and the conversations I had with fellow participants at lunch hour and breaks.

Sourdough spirituality

Joel Kroeker mixes sourdough starter at his dining room table as his daughter, Rehema, looks on. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

Each stencil Joel Kroeker uses in his breadmaking is cut free-hand from cardstock. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Joel Kroeker readies another two loaves of sourdough bread for the oven. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Each loaf is stencilled and then slashed to allow for rising while baking. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Baking bread is more than just a business for Joel Kroeker. It’s also a way to further important conversations.

With a deftness that comes from repetition, he slides another two loaves of bread into the oven. By the time he finishes for the day he will have baked 20 loaves and mixed another batch of dough for the next day’s orders.

MC Canada primer

If you care about connecting with the wider Mennonite community but have trouble keeping up with all the conference restructuring and acronyms—so many M’s and C’s—this article is for you. 

If you form part of the small remnant of church nerds who love organizational charts, you may want to pull out your copy of Martyrs Mirror or a recent church budget and read that instead. 

Consider it (re)settled

MCC representative Victor Neumann, second from left, in Songkhla, Thailand, with Vietnamese Boat People. Mothers of the pictured children were abducted by pirates. In response to the refugee crisis following the end of the Vietnam War, in 1979, MCC was the first agency to sign a private sponsorship agreement with the Government of Canada, leading hundreds of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in Canada to sponsor and resettle thousands of refugees across the country. (All photos courtesy of MCC)

More than 12,500 refugees have been resettled in Canada by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) since it negotiated an agreement with the government on March 5, 1979. This historic agreement established the framework for private agencies to sponsor more than 327,000 refugees for resettlement in Canada in the last 40 years.

Vintage hockey card auction nets over $13,000 for MCC

Gary Jantzi, left, from Jantzi Auctions Ltd., calls for bids on a vintage Darryl Sittler rookie card, held by volunteer, John Snider, right. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

It was standing room only in the community room at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira, Ont., for an auction of vintage hockey cards, hosted by the local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift and Gift store on March 16.

Potential buyers lined up early to view the cards and other memorabilia, including rookie cards for Tony Esposito, Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr.

'Everything is possible'

Alma Darweesh, left, Reem Younes, Krista Neustaedter Barg and Brian Darweesh at Younes and Darweesh’s citizenship ceremony. (Photos courtesy of Reem Younes)

For Reem Younes and Brian Darweesh, everything seems possible now that they’re citizens of Canada.

Originally from Syria, Younes and Darweesh moved to Winnipeg in 2015 as privately sponsored refugees, welcomed by a Mennonite community there.

Why I advocate for human rights

'I want to learn from our history and remind others that cultural and religious differences must not make us complicit in denying dignity and equality for all,' Leona Lortie writes. (Photo by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

In contemplating where our passions come from and why we do what we do, we often look to our childhoods. In my childhood, I was faced with several tensions, which formed me and led me to study history.


Leona Lortie is the public engagement and advocacy coordinator for MCC's Ottawa office. (MCC photo by Meghan Mast)

Militia lays down arms in Congo

Militia members enter the Congolese city of Tshikapa in a truck to lay down their arms on January 29. (Photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

(Photo by Joseph Nkongolo)

Joseph Nkongolo leads a literacy training session. (Photo by Zachary Cooke)

(Map by Betty Avery)

As truckloads of militia drove into Tshikapa to lay down their arms, Joseph Nkongolo went to meet them. Nkongolo—Coordinator of the Service and Development Department of the Mennonite Church of Congo—spoke of militia members saying they want to re-enter civil life. “Pray for us,” they said to him, “we have done horrible things; forgive us for what we have done.”

Two countries, one mission on the Korean Peninsula

Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. executive director, right, attended a Korean Anabaptist Conference in Chuncheon, South Korea, along with three South Korean church leaders. Pictured from left to right: Bock Ki Kim, SeongHan Kim and SunJu Moon, all graduates of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. Byler travelled to South Korea in November 2018 to visit MCC program and partner organizations. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada executive director Rick Cober Bauman poses with one of the cooks at Sariwon Hospital, a pediatric hospital in North Korea. In 2018, MCC shipped nearly 49,000 kilograms of canned meat to North Korea. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

It has been more than 60 years since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War, but to this day North Korea and South Korea do not have an official peace, and the divide remains great.

MCC cuts Canadian programs to focus on advocacy

Labrador Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue, left, hosts an MCC learning tour. (2016 MCC Newfoundland and Labrador Facebook Page photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is cutting about $350,000 from its Indigenous Neighbours, Restorative Justice and Low German programs. The changes are driven by a decrease in thrift store income, a shift to more international spending, and a decision to “go deeper” rather than wider. 

How steam wells work to relieve droughts in Ethiopia

MCC's first steam well, constructed in Bidu, Afar, in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

Sisay Kasu, left, project manager for MCC Ethiopia, and Hussien Edris, project coordinator for Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), look at the sediment trap leading into a birkat, a traditional water catchment system that MCC and APDA have expanded and modernized as part of an emergency water project in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

From where he is standing, MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter can feel warm air escaping from underground steam vents. Notice the dried grass that grows from moisture making its way to the surface from the underground steam. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter, left, and Sisay Kasu, MCC project coordinator in Ethiopia, stand in 40-degree C heat next to a traditional Afari steam collection structure in the Afar Desert in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

In parts of the world where the effects of climate change are severe and rains are dangerously infrequent, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is supporting innovative projects to improve access to water.

In the Afar region of Northern Ethiopia, MCC supported the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) to build and maintain a steam well benefitting 60 households.

North Korean farmers visit Manitoba, build relationships

Jennifer Deibert, left, MCC North Korea program coordinator, and North Korean agricultural delegates An Hui Jun and Jon Bom Ho talk shop with Martin Entz, a professor in the plant science department at the University of Manitoba, at a research farm in Carman, Man. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Donna Rice, MCC representative for Northeast Asia, and Ambassador Ri Yong of the North Korean Mission to the United Nations, and others share a meal at the home of Charlotte and Ernie Wiens in La Salle, Man. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

In those first few minutes after arriving at Syl’s Restaurant in Carman, members of a delegation from North Korea sit at the edge of the outdoor eating area, where they see local resident Rene McFarlane at a picnic table with her son Lane. The visitors move toward McFarlane and, with the help of a translator, a conversation about families in both countries begins.

MCC supports vulnerable people on the move

Daniel (a pseudonym) took this photo as members of the caravan he is with in Mexico climb aboard big trucks that will carry them north for a while. (Photo courtesy of Daniel)

This asylum seeker, unnamed for his protection, takes the bus from Casa Alitas, a respite house in Tucson, Ariz., to his next destination. The vast majority of asylum seekers from Central America have family in the United States with whom they plan to stay while awaiting a decision from immigration courts. (Thomas Nilsson photo: thomasnilsson@mac.com)

An asylum seeker at Casa Alitas, a respite house in Tucson, Ariz., shows his ankle-tracking monitor put on by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent at the Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. (MCC photo by Katherine Smith)

MCC East Coast funds the work of Rachel Díaz, left, a consulting attorney who helps immigrants attending Anabaptist churches in the U.S. to know their rights and get the legal status they are seeking. She is pictured with clients Maria Lopez Solis and Genry Rivas and their son Daniel Andre Rivas Lopez. (MCC photo by Andrew Bodden)

A mural at Centro de Atención a Migrantes en Éxodo (Center for Attention to Migrants in Exodus), a migrant shelter for families and individuals in transit, depicts Jesus riding on top of ‘La bestia’ (‘the beast’) with migrants who ride the train to the north. (MCC photo by Laura Pauls)

María Socorro Pineda, centre, stands with her daughter Evelin Briggith Lopez Pineda, 17, and son Herson Alfredo Pineda, 13, at their house. The family left with a migrant caravan in October but were forced by illness to come back home. (MCC photo by Jill Steinmetz)

When Magdalena Marcos Perez of Guatemala learned to diversify the produce in her garden through an MCC-supported project, she began to make more money. She used to consider migrating to the U.S. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Daniel (a pseudonym, for security reasons) doesn’t have just one reason for leaving his daughter, 8, and parents in Honduras. He has many reasons for joining a caravan of thousands of migrants walking toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I was forced to leave because there weren’t jobs or opportunities, plus the insecurity and violence. It was a little bit of everything,” he says.

Congratulations, Simon Eng

Linda Dickinson, MCC Alberta’s material resources coordinator, presents Simon Eng with a cake honouring his achievement in packing 35,000 school kits over the past 12 years. ‘I may not have much, but I have my hands,’  is something he has said many times over the years. (MCC Alberta photo)

Every Tuesday, the bell at the front desk of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta headquarters in Calgary dings incessantly, whether a receptionist is sitting there or not. “Hi, Simon!” someone says, and Simon wanders off to get a coffee and a snack, and then he ambles down the hall to the material resources warehouse.

‘Everything was getting better’

Victoria Mamani Sirpa noticed that her family was healthier after they started growing and eating vegetables grown in their greenhouse in El Alto, Bolivia. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky) 

Victoria Mamani Sirpa, left, an agricultural technician and teacher for Fundación Communidad y Axión, visits Luciana Llamaca de Condori’s greenhouse in El Alto, Bolivia. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky) 

Before 2008, Victoria Mamani Sirpa had only ever cooked with four vegetables: carrots, chard, celery and onions.

An exciting opportunity

Manitoba native Annalee Giesbrecht is serving a three-year term with MCC in Haiti. (Photo by Elizabeth Peters)

A view of the Caribbean Sea outside the city of Jacmel on Haiti's southern coast. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Jean Wesley blows bubbles at MCC partner Sakala, a community centre in the historically marginalized Cité Soleil neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. At Sakala, kids learn about building peace through urban gardening and soccer. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

The sun rises over the mountains of Haiti's Artibonite Valley, where MCC has been working in reforestation, agriculture and community development since 1982. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Members of an agricultural collective in Haiti's Central Plateau start a meeting with a song. This agricultural collective, orgwoupman, is supported by PDL (Partnership for Local Development by its initials in French), an MCC partner that provides training on conservation agriculture and community development. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Annalee Giesbrecht is getting more than she bargained for when she agreed to serve with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she arrived in Haiti to work with the relief organization, she planned to be away from Canada for a year. A few months later, however, she was offered the opportunity to extend her term to three years.

Equipping leaders at home and around the world

Peace campers practise their listening skills by responding to commands during an ice-breaking session. (YSPP photo by Alouny Souvolavong)

Lydia Cheung was a participant in MCC’s Summerbridge program last year. She helped with children’s programming, including a carnival and two weeks of day camp at her home church, South Vancouver Pacific Grace Mennonite Brethren Church, where she also helped with youth devotions and worship. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

Rorisang Moliko, 27, is a former IVEPer currently working as the demonstration farm manager at Growing Nations Trust in Maphutseng, Lesotho. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Participants from several African countries are pictured at the 2017 Africa Peacebuilding Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the eMseni Christian Conference Centre. (MCC photo by Zacarias Zimba)

Youth from Soroti Town, Uganda, learn about pig farming at Arapai Agricultural College. (Photo courtesy of APED)

People often say that young people are the future. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working with partners in Canada, the United States and around the world to invest in opportunities for young people to serve. It is committed to nurturing and developing the leadership skills of a new generation, with a focus on Anabaptist values such as peacebuilding and servant leadership.

To serve and to give

Sandra Luna assists Jimmi Bedoya, 3, at Centro de Capacitación del Niño (Children’s Training Centre) in El Progreso, Soacha, outside Bogotá, Colombia, where Luna teaches Grade 1 and acts as one of the coordinators of the school. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

I was born in Santander in north-central Colombia. My husband and I married when he was 17 and I was 15, and we decided to come to Bogotá to look for a better life.

Edmonton store to contribute to Ten Thousand Villages sustainability plan

Board members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages store met on June 27 to decide whether to contribute $100,000 toward a TTV sustainability plan. The board includes (from left) Adrienne Wiebe, Alexandra Ketchum, Robert Proudfoot, Helen Mc Cabe, Kurt Sawatzky, Ghenette Houston, Phyllis Schneider. Not pictured: Kari Morton and Irma Stickland. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On June 27, 2018, supporters of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) store voted overwhelmingly to grant its board the authority to gift $100,000 to the TTV program of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), in a one-time attempt at a sustainability plan.

Supporting uprooted people around the world

Mushiya Christine, left, Kayaya Lulula Clementine and Veronique Lumba Misenga take part in a support group for refugee seniors in Durban, South Africa. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

A camp for refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of World Renew)

Jean Pierre Mpiana and Yabu Miadi carry a sack of corn flour, oil and beans they received during a distribution by the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Congo, an MCC partner. They were among 180 households of displaced people who received a three-month supply of food. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Reverend Riad Jarjour, president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, holds some of the contents of monthly food packages for Syrian families. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Wanda Waldner, left, Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad, Elaine Hofer, Reyad Alhamoud, Paul Waldner and one-year-old Lee Waldner meet together at Green Acres Colony. (Photo by Ava Waldner)

There are more than 65 million displaced people worldwide—nearly double the population of Canada. The United Nations says this number is unprecedented and the need for humanitarian assistance is only growing. 

Sponsors provide a welcome into their community

The private sponsorship group welcomes Christian and Esperance Manwengwe to Calgary last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

Danny and Anna Manwengwe make pizza at their home in Calgary. They arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo by way of Kenya last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

There are 23 million refugees around the world, with 1.2 million in need of resettlement outside of their home country or region.

In 2017, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) helped groups resettle 442 people through the Blended Visa Officer Referred (BVOR) program. That was about one-third of all people who arrived in Canada in that category.

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