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- Thai church building about
to become a reality
At $10 a brick, the popular Lego building toy was a bit expensive.
But that little detail didn’t get in the way of the enthusiastic
kids at Peace Mennonite Church (Richmond, BC), who together with the
rest of the congregation reached their goal of raising $25,000 to
help build the Living Water church in Thailand. To top it off, they
did it in just three months.
- A Taste
For Ratthaya Nanthasen, a native of Thailand, crunching numbers
just did not hold the same allure as direct interaction with people.
After earning a degree in accounting she soon discovered it was a
field she did not wish to pursue.
- MC Canada
finances holding steady
Mennonite Church Canada is reporting an encouraging financial situation
to this point in the year. At General Board meetings (Nov. 3-5, Winnipeg),
leaders reported that financial results to the end of October are
2.4% ahead for revenues, and 2.6 % below for expenses as compared
to the financial plan for this fiscal year.
Staff, family, and General Board members presented Dan Nighswander,
outgoing general secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, and Yvonne
Snider-Nighswander, with an original painting of an African women
by artist Ray Dirks.
- AIDS and Africa: What can
one person do?
Thirty-one year-old Zolisa is thin, has little energy, and is gasping
for every breath. She holds her two-year-old son close. Zolisa, her
mother, and a younger sister survive on about $35 CDN per month. Zolisa
is hesitant to talk to the volunteer AIDS counsellors that come to
visit. They are strangers to her.
- I wanted to show them something
On a recent morning, in a small village in this predominantly Orthodox
nation, a Mennonite pastor stood to offer simple words of comfort
at the funeral service of an alcoholic suicide who had rejected God.
- Son teaches of fatherhood
Amer paused from his job in the carpenter shop at Nazareth Village,
sawdust spit from the 2,000-year-old tools settling into the dust.
In his lap, 8-month-old son stirred. Amer placed the boy’s hand
on the saw, and the boy stopped, mesmerized by the ancient apparatus.
- Communion: The day the wine
Jesus Village Church celebrates communion on the third Sunday of
each month. On these Sundays, seats are arranged in a large circle,
focusing on a centre where a low table holds the symbols of Christ's
suffering, death and resurrection.
Franz retires from Native Ministry
Walter and Hilda Franz receive a presentation from Norman Meade,
long time church leader, friend, and associate from Manigotagon, Manitoba,
on the occasion of Walter’s retirement from 15 years of service
with Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry
- The face of poverty
What does the face of poverty look like? It looks like a man, rail
thin, wearing old clothes that are rumpled and torn. He is clean though.
He has come to tell us that his daughter, the one we helped him buy
school supplies for last fall, had been very ill in the hospital.
- Church and Church School:
Committed partners or a company of strangers?
Kevin Peters Unrau half-jokingly says he wouldn’t be around
today if it were not for Mennonite schools. Unrau is referring to
the fact that his parents met at Rosthern Junior College. The soft
spoken, articulate teacher and pastor (he maintains two half-time
positions) planned to study engineering, but was diverted to Canadian
Mennonite Bible College (now Canadian Mennonite University) when representatives
from the school visited his church to address prospective theology
and music students – on the evening that the bombing of Iraq
began in the first Gulf War.
September 8 - Special
- Hurricane Katrina: Did you
Mennonites in Canada have been watching the heartbreaking news of the
Gulf States disaster along with many other Canadians. However, few Canadian
Mennonites probably know that there is a Mennonite Church USA area conference
in the region.
- I can read in my own language!
The three students slowly sound out the words written on the board,
searching for meaning in the strange squiggles. But the strange squiggles
are becoming more familiar and, suddenly Sumayila laughs out loud.
"Minata, give me the peanuts!"
- Need for Bible training trumps
Mr. Deng, a farmer, is no relation to the more famous political leader
Deng Xiaoping, although they did grow up within miles of each other.
Other things they have in common are their rural roots, a commitment
to their home communities, and their need to leave home to make their
way in the world.
- English instructors teach
more than language
For three straight summers, Olga Kazak traveled from her Belarus
home to Lithuania Christian College’s English Language Institute.
She sweated over textbooks and strained to understand the unfamiliar
words from her instructors’ lips. At the end of each summer,
she sat for a single test that would determine her future.
- Mongolia movement offers hope
covered in felt
Nima used to spend her time digging through trash. She looked for
heavy cardboard or plastic shopping bags without too many holes. These
things kept her dry, mostly, and warm, sometimes.
- Mission seminar prepares workers
An eclectic mix of men, women, families, and young adults gathered
for a week of inspiration and orientation at Mission Seminar in Pinawa,
- Over $7000 raised for Witness
Vic Thiessen, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker and director
of the London Mennonite Centre, passionately shares how the LMC’s
ministry is touching the United Kingdom with a relevant Christian-Anabaptist
- Soldier's pacifism earns his
Since March 2003, the Military Counseling Network has worked with
United States military personnel stationed in Germany who wish to
leave the military or deal with their rights under military law. In
March 2005, network representatives learned that a conscientious objector
they counseled would be discharged from the U.S. Army the second
such objector to be released in two years.
- Rejoice! Cover designer retires
One thing that has distinguished Rejoice! over the last 33 years
is the trust editors have had in John Hiebert to come up with cover
designs that were seasonally appropriate, fresh, and consistent with
the inspirational purpose of the magazine.
News from Charlotte 2005 Assembly
See all the news, updates and information from Charlotte
- Canadian delegates favour
new faith and life committee
At their Thursday delegate sessions, Canadian delegates gave a strong
positive reception to a proposal to create a Faith and Life Committee.
They also voted to keep meeting once a year as a national church,
as has been done since 2000.
- House of Doc photo release
Last night’s House of Doc concert delivered high energy harmonies
as only siblings can, to a full house and a standing ovation. On Thursday
they will perform alongside Doug and Jude Kreihbel (Road Less Travelled)
and thirstborne at a fund-raising concert sponsored by Mennonite Church
Canada Witness and Mennonite Mission Network in support of a shared
ministry in Macau.
meet with common mission - from MPress
The Mennonite population of Charlotte has temporarily increased by
8,541. These Christians have come from all over North America to spend
the week worshiping God, fellowshipping with other believers, engaging
in servant projects and discussing the future of the Mennonite Church.
- War as Fun
A strong military presence was in evidence at a fourth of July street
party within walking distance of the Charlotte convention centre.
- House of Doc – Charlotte
2005 photo release
Mennonite music lovers in Manitoba demonstrated their support for
homegrown talent to the tune of $4,200 at a concert in support for
House of Doc, the Winnipeg-based band that will represent Mennonite
Church Canada at several venues during Charlotte 2005.
Baritone sings peace, understanding
in East Asia
As the last note hung in the otherwise silent auditorium, listeners
sat in still wonder of Anthony Brown’s voice, wiping tear-damp
eyes. Then, the crowd burst into applause, the sound of their hands
ringing into the building’s rafters.
- World mission conference delegates
grapple with reconciliation theme
Healing and reconciliation were at the centre of the 13th World Council
of Churches Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, held in Athens,
Greece, May 9 – 16. Janet Plenert, from Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada),
was a delegate representing the Global Mission Fellowship of Anabaptist–related
Churches at the event.
- Quorum reached - barely: Mennonite
After an anxious period of doubt, it is now certain that there will
be a quorum of delegates to make decisions at the Mennonite Church
Canada annual assembly. As of June 6, a total of 292 Canadian adults
have registered – 237 as delegates.
- Worshipful work builds Ivorian
The construction worker in heels and a lace blouse lifted her skirt
to step over a pile of beams. She moved to steady a homemade ladder
for her equally well-dressed husband who was helping situate a trestle
atop two of the walls that were becoming their church building. It
is a common sight in Yopougon, where every Sunday after worship, more
than 300 men, women and children grab hammers, masons' trowels and
shovels and put their faith to work.
- What does a church look like?
Churches in China, as around the world, come in a variety of shapes
and sizes. In most large cities in China, churches are surprisingly
European in design, some built more than a hundred years ago by foreign
missionaries resembling the cathedrals “back home”. In
many smaller cities and county towns, no church building existed before
1949. Now, growing congregations need a building of their own.
- von Guntens to lead Native
Neill and Edith von Gunten will continue their work in native ministry
in a new role beginning October 15, 2005. They will take on leadership
of Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry program when current
director Walter Franz retires on Aug. 31, 2005.
- Peace call
helps Mennonite Church USA to call for renewed peace witness
Due to the two-year war in Iraq, participants at Charlotte 2005
face a different world than they experienced during Atlanta 2003.
But a nationwide conference call on peacemaking April 12 shows that
people in Mennonite Church USA are striving to also make a difference
in the world through their peace witness.
- Draft counseling
seminar helps youth pastor in Central Plains get perspective
Jeff Selzer, youth pastor at Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson,
is faced with a very old and yet very new dilemma regarding peace
issues. How much should he spend time on preparing young people to
deal with issues regarding peacemaking – including a possible
draft? These are questions he asked when attending a recent workshop
on draft counseling in Aurora.
- Charlotte 2005 discernment
issues important to everyone
What does the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly have to do with the
real issues of the church and of living the Christian life? Do delegates
go off to an “ivory tower” to talk about abstract and
irrelevant issues? Why should “ordinary” church members
care what is discussed in Charlotte NC on July 4-9, 2005?
Youth club provides sense
of community for German teens
The soldier, armour plating covering his body, rushed into the room,
spraying bullets left and right. After only a moment, bodies lay before
him, sprawled lifeless on the ground. From the other side of the video
screen, featuring one of the newest and most violent games sweeping
through the youth landscape, teens cheered at the carnage they witnessed.
Benni Krauss, however, stayed silent.
- Celebration of traditional
arts communicates good news of Jesus
When my husband, Loren, and I moved to the village of Saraba twenty
years ago, we knew that telling the story of Jesus as good news to
the mostly Muslim population would take a lifetime.
- Translating “Forgiveness”
When Marco Polo returned to Europe after his Asian excursions, he
regaled listeners with tales of his encounter with a unicorn. His
unicorn did have a horn on its head, but that’s where the similarity
ended. The unicorn he described had a black horn, a buffalo’s
pelt, elephant’s hooves, a wild boar’s head, and a spiky
tongue. It was, in fact, a rhinoceros.
Book calls for "the way
of Christ" in meeting Muslims
Ahmed Haile remembers the first time he had mashed potatoes, seated
around a table with mission workers Bertha Beachy and Naomi Smoker
in Mogadishu, Somalia. This encounter remains vivid to him perhaps
not so much because of the strange, mushy food placed before him,
but because this was the beginning of a relationship with Mennonites
that has now spanned more than 30 years.
- Publishing board hears encouraging
reports, addresses ongoing challenges
Encouraged by positive financial reports and promising new publishing
projects, the Mennonite Publishing Network board, at its April 29-30
annual meeting, addressed marketing and financial challenges.
- You can’t get there from
The story goes that a lost driver stopped to ask directions from
a farmer by the roadside. He enquired about the town “around
here somewhere. Do you know where it is?” The old man looked
intently at the traveler, “Oh I know where it is, but you can’t
get there from here.”
- Easter Baptisms 13 years in
Following the funeral of a church member and friend last September,
Mayumi Noto told her husband, Hideo, that she wished she could have
seen their friend off as a member herself, and not just an outsider.
Together, the Notos were baptized on Easter Sunday at Obihiro Mennonite
- Grace Schwartzentruber: A life
Grace Schwartzentruber of New Hamburg, Ontario, Mennonite mission worker
in Brazil for 32 years and faithful servant at Steinmann Mennonite Church
in Baden, Ontario, has died at the age of 74 years.
- Carter takes in Nazareth Village
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter found time in his trip to the Middle
East to drive north to Nazareth, on a recent Saturday afternoon in January
to visit Nazareth Village, the full-scale replica of a first-century
village in Nazareth.
- Joyful servant dies at 80
Johan Nicolaas van den Berg (Han), long time worker for Commission
on Overseas Mission (COM) and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker,
died at the age of 80 on February 21, 2005 in Olds, Alberta.
New documentary on mental
While mental illnesses wreak havoc on a family and individuals who
suffer from one of dozens of diagnosable and treatable mental illnesses,
the church has not always lived up to its promise of offering a community
of respite, support and hope. A new documentary for ABC-TV, currently
being taped and produced by Mennonite Media, will examine the impact
of mental illnesses on individuals and society.
- Life in Cuba: Commentary
Depending on who you talk to, life in Cuba is great, good, or ripe for
improvement. Much depends on context.
- Seeking the cinematic Christ:
London group examines film with Anabaptist eyes
As the film industry prepares for the Feb. 27 Academy Awards, some religious
groups are suggesting that Hollywood has nothing to offer the faithful.
But Vic Thiessen, executive director of the London Mennonite Centre,
believes that the movie mediums tremendous power to influence
lives, thoughts and even beliefs makes film-watching vital to understand
the modern world, even if the messages do not always fit into Christian
- Gabrielle Plenert on CBC Tapestry
Gabrielle Plenert, 17, gets help from CBC radio technician Ron Goede
in preparation for an interview for Tapestry, a weekly exploration
of spirituality, religion and the search for meaning.
- Former Missionary Nurse in
Dorothy Giesbrecht (Andres), 79, who spent 26 years as a mission worker
in India with a the Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), a predecessor
agency of Mennonite Church Canada Witness, died on Feb. 4 in Abbotsford,
Union Biblical Seminary welcomes
After more than seven years guiding the Union Biblical Seminary (UBS)
in India, Leaderwell Pohsngap recently retired, turning over leadership
to his successor, Samson Parekh. UBS has been a longtime ecumenical
partner of the Mennonite family in North America.
- VBS Curriculum on Psalms available
A young boy smashes into his father’s brand new car with a
riding lawnmower and feels like an idiot. He attempts to recruit his
sister to keep the accident a secret. This is one of several plausible
scenarios set up for teachers in the new Vacation Bible School 2005
curriculum available from Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN), Celebrate
the Psalms! Our God is Awesome.
- Tsunami response: Macau, China
Despite studies in recent decades that suggest the church and Christian
faith is irrelevant in today’s society, the response of individuals
to tsunami appeals by church aid organizations suggests otherwise.
Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers, Tim and Cindy Buhler are
actively engaged in planting a relevant congregation in Macau. This
disaster opened up an opportunity to model discipleship and caring
in their fledgling church. The congregation responded in prayer for
the victims and then collected a Sunday worship offering for relief
–their largest offering ever.
Art for Relief
A last minute chance to wrap up some loose ends has resulted in a
unique fundraiser for tsunami relief in South East Asia. Over the
Christmas holiday break, Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage
Centre (MHC) Art Gallery was packing up an exhibition of 60 Indonesian
artworks in preparation for their return trip home. While working,
he suddenly struck upon the idea of offering the artworks for sale
with a portion of proceeds going to support Mennonite Central Committee
(MCC) relief efforts in the stricken region.
- A different Christmas
This past Christmas Eve, Jean and her 9-year-old daughter decided
to do something different. Jean is a cardiologist in a major hospital
in Chongqing, a booming commercial centre in west-central China. She
is also a member of the Chinese communist party, though she seldom
talks about it. And Jean is a student in the Advanced English Program
at the Chongqing University of Medical Sciences, where Philip Bender
teaches with Mennonite Church Canada Witness and its partner, China
Educational Exchange (CEE).
- Commentary - Tsunami: How
to respond as communities of faith
A display in the Mennohoff museum in Shipshewana, Indiana says “Where
there is muck and mud, Mennonites are sure to follow.” During
this past 2004 festive season, the world paused and turned to TVs,
radios and newspapers as the photos of mud and destruction in Asia
were unveiled. The outpouring of aid from nations is commendable,
but will never set right or restore the lives of the thousands lost.
Working with the millions directly affected is a task that will carry
on for many years.
- This week in Cachipay:
100 days in Colombia
It was an intense, joyful, tragic, profound, hopeful, tear-filled,
tension of life and death, of pain and joy. It was a time for being
the church, for being a sign of the kingdom.
China program helps children
hear words, others hear the word
While his mouth works fine, Little Wen’s ears fail him. He cannot
hear sounds well enough to repeat them. At least, he could not, before
his grandfather brought him to Nanchong from their home in Sichuan
Province in western China.
- Muslim midwife
sings psalms for safe deliveries
Jonye Traoré, a woman who has known much sorrow, kneels beside
a laboring soon-to-be mother, gently coaxing new life into the
world. Traoré often uses the biblical psalms of protection
to ward off death and the many other unseen enemies that crouch in
the shadowy corners of rooms during childbirth in the region
around Saraba, Burkina Faso. Malevolent spiritual powers and
microscopic afflictions, like tetanus, wait to pounce on the fragile
new life emerging from the womb.
- The Big House bursts seams
Although Annette Castillo holds the unenviable position of managing
an orphanage during a chickenpox epidemic, she continues to smile
broadly. Clearly, Castillo loves the place to which God has called
her. That place is La Casa Grande, located just north of Cotonou.
Tokyo Mennonites weave Christian
color into tapestry of life
Loneliness and desperation drove Kanako Aizawa to church.
Knowing little English, she had left the security of her native Japan
and followed her husband to California where he was studying.
Her young daughter, Mana, cranky with chronic ear infections, also
struggled with a developmental disability. Mana’s babysitter
told Kanako that she could find hope in Jesus and invited her
to the church where the babysitter’s father served as pastor.
- Internship program enticing
way to test gifts
When you mix equal parts of mission, school, and an international
location, exciting seeds are planted. An early plan of Mennonite Church
Canada Witness was to offer mission internships to students and others
as a way of experiencing international ministry and testing individual’s
interests and gifts in another setting.
- “Without prayer, I wouldn’t
know how to be”
Prayer is the most important part of Clara Dyck's spiritual life,
she adds. “Without prayer I wouldn’t know how to be. I
don’t know how people get along without prayer.”
groups enter new territory as single entity
In many ways, the journey facing the newly formed Native Mennonite
Ministries is similar to the one undertaken by Abraham many centuries
earlier. “This is new territory,” Lawrence Hart, a pastor
from Clinton, Okla., told the 18 representatives from agencies in
the United States and Canada who had gathered to discuss forming the
- Poet, professor explores Cheyenne
peace chief's connections to Mennonites
As a poet and university professor, Raylene Hinz-Penner has written
lots of poetry, prose and lectures. But nothing has equaled the impact
she's felt from interviewing Lawrence Hart – a Cheyenne peace
chief and Mennonite pastor – to write and share his life story,
- Interesting inquiries: Mennonite
Media tackles questions of faith, sausage
A few years back, a firefighter pilot with the British Columbia government
was stationed in Williams Lake, B.C. “Our dispatchers were Mennonite
ladies and would bring some sausage to the base for us,” this
pilot wrote to Third Way Café early this year. He is now retired,
lives in Washington state and misses those sausages. “[They
were] absolutely great. I would appreciate any help in finding a place
near here when I can find some more of your sausages.”
Suderman on study leave
Jack (Robert) Suderman, executive secretary, Mennonite Church Canada
Witness, will be on professional development leave from January 1