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It’s a small world after all . . .


May 8, 2009
-Linda Brnjas

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

ELORA, Ontario — In the fall of 2008, Bethel Mennonite Church (Elora, Ont.) embarked on a global journey through the pages of World of Witness Prayer Directory (WOW), a resource published by Mennonite Church Canada. Almost every Sunday, we take a few minutes during worship to introduce a new Witness worker or family from the pages of WOW. When digital photographs of workers are available, we project them on a screen along with a world map marking their locations.

It took us almost three months to introduce all of the African workers. Now we are travelling through the pages of Asia/Middle East. Because MC Canada has so many Witness workers, we expect that it will take well over a year to make it through the entire book!

At first, I was hesitant about using WOW in this manner; I wasn’t sure how to pronounce some of the names and places in the resource. For instance, how do you say “Ouagadougou?” It’s one thing to read unfamiliar names silently, but quite another to contemplate reading them aloud and in public.

I decided that I needed help. After circling every unfamiliar name in the Africa section of WOW, I called the MC Canada office in Winnipeg and asked for some guidance. Tim Froese, Executive Director and Mission Partnership Facilitator for Latin America, seemed delighted with my intention. He coached me in pronunciation and provided interesting details and updates about Witness workers.(And he told me that EVERY Sunday School needs to learn how to pronounce Ouagadougou: It’s pronounced: waw-ga-DOO-goo. Try it – it’s a lot of fun to say!)

Shortly after I spoke with Tim, I received a phone call from Rebecca Yoder Neufeld, Mission Formation and Partnership Facilitator for Mennonite Church Canada, who lives close to Bethel. Tim had shared our plans with her, and she was excited and willing to help out.

As our tour of Africa drew to a close and we prepared to travel through Asia, I called Rebecca for pronunciation lessons. Although Rebecca knew most of the names, she had to double-check a few – which made me feel good because if Rebecca, who is gifted with languages, isn’t afraid to ask for help, I shouldn’t be either. She also provided more information about the Witness workers we were introducing. The world keeps getting smaller and smaller.

I’ve often been asked; why do we need to send so much money to MC Canada? If that question has ever crossed your mind, I challenge you to learn the names of all the workers in just one section of WOW. Then memorize worker locations and learn something about them. Flip through WOW and imagine trying to do the same for every worker covered in the book. Consider the dollar figures associated with putting just one family in the field – and multiply that by the number of workers in WOW. Do you still remember the original question?

By learning about MC Canada Witness workers and praying for them, Bethel is gaining an appreciation for how we, as one little church in rural Ontario, have been touching the world for years through our partnership with MC Canada.

In a world that is full of telephone solicitors shaming us into thinking we aren’t doing enough, isn’t it nice to learn that we are doing so much more than we realized?

Linda Brnjas is a pastor at Bethel Mennonite Church in Elora, Ont., a congregation of just over 100 members. In addition to travelling the world through the pages of WOW, the congregation supports the ministry of members Dianne and Fanosie Legesse, Witness workers to Meserete Kristos College in Ethiopia.