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Call to heal the memory of mission

   
 


Hippolyto Tshimanga,  Mennonite Church Canada’s Mission Partnership Facilitator for Africa, shares his insights with others who gathered in Chicago IL,  Jan16-21, for the annual Council of International Anabaptist Ministries. He was one of  more than 60 administrators and scholars present.

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Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Mission Network joint release
March 2, 2012
- Lynda Hollinger-Janzen

Winnipeg, MAN. — According to Hippolyto Tshimanga, our memory of mission work needs healing.

Tshimanga,  Mennonite Church Canada’s Mission Partnership Facilitator for Africa, was one of  more than 60 administrators and scholars who gathered in Chicago IL,  Jan16-21, for the annual Council of International Anabaptist Ministries.

Both Tshimanga and another participant; Nelson Okanya, president of Eastern Mennonite Missions; were African born.  Both leaders took a compassionate and forgiving stance toward mission workers of the past, urging council participants to remember that early missionaries had never heard of global citizenship and should not be held to today’s standards of awareness.

“I wouldn’t be here today without those missionaries,” Okanya said. “Mission has been good for my people.”

Tshimanga issued a plea that resonated deeply with many of those in attendance and continued to be a topic of mealtime conversations and impromptu groups in the halls.

“We need to heal the memory of missions,” he said. “It is a disease among North American Mennonites. The reality is that in Asia and Africa, people have moved on, but in North America we live with the guilt of memory.”

Later, Tshimanga elaborated on his statement by saying that the healing would begin by remembering the whole picture of what mission has been, the good with the negative aspects. An unbiased look at mission must go hand-in-hand with deep study of biblical mission, he said. “We must stop blindly repeating the criticism of anthropologists who accuse missionaries of destroying culture.”