Page 1

The Messenger a publication of the

Evangelical Mennonite Conference

Volume 56  No. 1 January 2018

Mental Health in the EMC:

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going page 6

INSIDE: NLCF Holds Service of Reconciliation page 10 ISTOCK

Hearing From God page 13 Council Embraces Change, Grapples With Reality

page 16


The Reconciling Wonder of Our Faith


ecently EMC, CMC, and EMMC representatives were asked at an SBC chapel panel discussion: why be part of a denomination? They responded. What they did not ask, as I later reflected, was this: Before there were denominations, what was there? There was the Church. When early Christians wanted to learn, they did not have TV, the Internet, or a Bible. They gathered, even at odd times, whether slaves or masters (Acts 20:7-12, Heb. 10:25). There was one Church. Then there were two churches, Eastern and Western. After that, the Protestant Reformation occurred in the West. Then came liberal and conservative movements, a fragmented Evangelicalism, and, amid them, scores of Anabaptist groups. This is an over-simplification, but you get the point.

Today there are many independent churches. Some Christians decide not to join any church or say, wrongly, that they don’t need a church. With that, the trend toward division and individualism reaches its logical, if sad, conclusion. Yes, we can defend identifying, participation, accountability, togetherness, and working together. It’s harder to defend individualism as people or churches. Each independent Christian, each independent church, and each denomination teaches that Jesus came into the world to bring us together, yet, by our separateness we partly contradict this. When, though, a Christian joins a church, a church joins a denomination, or denominations merge, each step better represents the reconciling wonder of our faith: Jesus Christ. – Terry M. Smith

They were asked why be part of a denomination? I ask, before denominations what was there?


Volunteers and William Booth

2  The Messenger • January 2018

in London, he led a new movement with his wife Catherine. What to name the new group? Volunteer Army was suggested, but William Booth objected. Once we become a Christian, he held, we are expected to act a certain way; Christians are more than volunteers. General William Booth Such a reality is basic to any church movement. The movement Booth co-founded was called the Salvation Army. Keep serving. “Your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). – Terry M. Smith WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


he EMC, within local churches and wider, would not exist without volunteers, Christians who serve without being financially paid. Our conference’s local, national, and international activities depend on volunteers. The EMC has five boards and more committees with many volunteers. Just ask the National Youth Committee how busy it is over a two-year cycle in planning for Abundant Springs (just past) or for TRU, our youth leaders’ event (to come in 2018). Ask Gerald Reimer, conference youth minister, to list all of the volunteers this year. (Prepare to be patient. It’s a long list.) Consider the work done by volunteers for our yearly EMC national convention held in Regions One through Nine. No one is paid on the Nominating Committee, whose main task is to seek even more volunteers to help carry out the vision, values, and programs to which the EMC is committed. Church reporters are unsung heroes who keep you updated on their local church’s activities. Yet volunteer isn’t an entirely correct term, at least according to William Booth, a Methodist minister. When Booth saw that Methodist churches, despite their lower class or common roots, were failing to reach the poor

Table of Contents Features




Mental Health in the EMC: Where We have Been and Where We Are Going – Irma Janzen and Heidi Dirks

10 NLCF Holds Service of Reconciliation

– Pastors Kevin Wiebe and Jacob Enns

13 Hearing From God – Dr. Phillip Cary

Archives Alcove

Is It Important to Tell Others of Christ's Grace? – Terry M. Smith

19 Further In and Higher Up Tracking the Un-Guessable Lord – Layton Friesen

24 Window On Missions

Your Church is a Missionary Search Committee! – Ken Zacharias

16 Council Embraces Change, Grapples With Reality

34 Here and Far Away


35 Stewardship Today

– Terry M. Smith

A Legacy of Giving – Brad Friesen

2 Editorial 3 Pontius’ Puddle

33 Shoulder Tapping


Take a Winter Walk – Loreena Thiessen

20 With Our Missionaries 29 In Memory


36 Kids’ Corner

4 Letter 25 With Our Churches

Overwhelming and Overwhelming – Jocelyn R. Plett


22 page

28 • The Messenger 3

The Messenger


Volume 56 No. 1 January 2018

Obedience and a New Year of Grace Ahead



Submissions to The Messenger should be sent to The Messenger is the publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference. Its purpose is to inform concerning events and activities in the denomination, instruct in godliness and victorious living, inspire to earnestly contend for the faith.

It is published 12 times per year, six in print (also online at and six in a website format at To get the most out of The Messenger, viewing both versions is encouraged. Letters, articles, photos and poems are welcomed. Unpublished material is not returned except by request. Views and opinions of writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Conference or the editors. Advertising and inserts should not be considered to carry editorial endorsement. The Messenger is published by the EMC Board of Church Ministries, 440 Main St, Steinbach, Man., and is a member of Meetinghouse and Canadian Church Press. Subscription rates (under review) 1 year print subscription $20 ($26 U.S.) Manitoba residents add 8% PST. Single print copy price: $2

Jesus came in obedience to Earth. Jesus did his ministry in obedience. Jesus went to the cross in obedience. Jesus was lifted from the grace and seated at the right hand of God in response to His obedience. I was recently challenged to perform random acts of kindness as a measure of God’s goodness to us, His children. It was fun and personally rewarding. Then I was asked to do a specific act of obedience. It was not fun and somewhat painful. I felt like the Pharisee who, upon reflecting on his own performance, was pleased that he was not like the sinner who was cut to the quick with his inadequacy to face God’s glory. As an altruistic Pharisee I was confident

in my abilities. As a sinner saved by grace asked to obey a command of God, I could only trust in God’s wisdom, in God’s strength, and in God’s purpose. I pray that my obedience extends to random acts of kindness, but that it always starts with God’s Word. If I had a New Year’s resolution it would be for obedience. If every day is the first day of the rest of my life, then today and tomorrow, and the day after that, are all new days for a new year of grace ahead. Thanks be to God, the Author and Finisher of our faith. – Gordon Dyck Steinbach, Man.

Can you read old German script?

The Evangelical Mennonite Conference seeks volunteers to translate letters, sermons, diaries, and documents from earlier KG/EMC history into modern German and then English. If you are willing, contact Terry Smith at the EMC national office (204-326-6401;

Subscriptions are voluntary and optional to people within or outside of the EMC. Subscriptions are purchased by the Conference for members and adherents. The Messenger is available for free to all online at: If you wish to sign up for our email newsletter pleaase contact Andrew at: Digital copies are free. Change of address and subscriptions Undelivered copies, change of address and new subscriptions should be addressed to: 440 Main St, Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5 Phone: 204-326-6401 Fax: 204-326-1613 E-mail: Second-class postage paid at Steinbach, Manitoba. ISSN: 0701-3299 Publications Mail Agreement Number: 40017362 Advertising The Messenger does not sell advertising, but provides free space (classified and display) to enhance our Conference, its churches, boards, and ministries; inter-Mennonite agencies and educational institutions; and the wider church. Ads and inquiries should be sent to

4  The Messenger • January 2018

Advancing Ministry Through Prayer EMC Missions invites you to come and discover the power of prayer and worship in a cross-cultural setting. Pray with our EMC missionaries and local believers as together we seek to strategically advance Christ’s Kingdom as God envisions it.

Minga Guazú, Paraguay

Dates: March 6-19, 2018 (12 days in-country) Registration Deadline: January 26, 2018 Cost: $2400 (approx.)

Call the EMC office at 204-3266401 or email Diana (dpeters@ to request an application form.

Column • Archives Alcove

Is It Important to Tell Others of Christ’s Grace?


s it important to tell others of Christ’s grace in our lives as Christians and churches? Does it matter if we preserve EMC history? Should we help others to learn from our history? Scripture says, “In the future, when your child asks, ‘What is the meaning of what the Lord has commanded you?’ (Deut. 6:20), what are we to do? “Tell them.” (Deut. 6:20). We know this how? Because an ancient page was preserved, translated, printed, and made available to us. The EMC Archives Committee thinks it is important to share the story of Christ’s grace within our conference. That’s why it’s worked despite few committee members, a tiny budget, and limited resources. And it does so with the clock ticking on some major projects. Your help is needed. Don Kroeker (Fort Garry), a City of Winnipeg records worker, has served on the Archives Committee since the mid-1990s—longer than my nearly 21 years as executive secretary. Loren Koehler, who has served as an EMC missionary, has assisted for two periods as a volunteer in the archives and since 2007 on the committee. Dr. Glen Klassen (Steinbach EMC), a scientist and professor, has served for several years. Cyndy

Cyndy Warkentin

Don Kroeker

Glen Klassen

Loren Koehler

Warkentin (SNC), a voice teacher and a pastor, became involved in 2017. Among the tasks of the committee, three projects have priority and urgency. Time is not our own side to complete these projects successfully. The EMC, thanks to EMC Project Builders, is a partner within the Mennonite Archives Information Database (MAID), a photo- and text-sharing research service. While our photos have been transferred from print to a digital format, work is needed to adjust the descriptions so that researchers will benefit. Volunteers are needed to assist with this. The EMC stores archival materials at the Mennonite Heritage Archives (MHA) on the CMU campus. Half of our holdings’ descriptions are in a format that researchers can use; half are not. A volunteer worker is needed to complete this project. The archives contain what Dr. Royden Loewen has called a “treasure trove”: sermons, diaries, letters, records, ministerial documents, and much more. Some of these are written in gothic German script, known to fewer members. There is a need to select documents that have priority and to translate them into modern German and English. Volunteer translators are needed. The Archives Committee, which serves under the Board of Church Ministries, has a budget of $1,900 per year. Out of this come a fee and some delegate costs related to the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, an EMC archival storage fee with MHA, and a MAID maintenance fee. As a staff person who has worked with the committee in various ways for nearly 21 years, I can say there isn’t much left for any project. The Archives Committee’s work isn’t flashy. It doesn’t attract the attention of foreign missions and church planting. How can it? Yet as memories fade, language changes, and voices within the EMC Archives are silenced, there is a loss to our children, our grandchildren, and us. The testimony within history matters! More volunteers and added project funds could make a real difference. Meanwhile, the committee is doing what it can in your name out of service to Christ.

by Terry M. Smith Executive Secretary

Does it matter if we preserve EMC history? The testimony within history matters! More volunteers and added project funds could make a real difference. The clock is ticking on some projects • The Messenger 5

Mental Health Initiative 2018

Mental Health in the EMC:

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going


by Irma Janzen and Heidi Dirks

6  The Messenger • January 2018

Where We Have Been

Psalm 13 begins with these words, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” We do not know exactly what the Psalmist’s circumstances were when he penned these words, but we do hear the agony, the feelings of God having forgotten him, of God hiding His face from the writer. What we do know is that many people, maybe including most of us over the roughly 4,000 years since those verses were written, have echoed these words in times of terrible distress when it seemed as if God had either forgotten us or hidden His face from us.  It happens often when we pray and pray and pray and pray some more and yet we see no evidence of answers to our prayers or of the changes in the things we are praying about. Many or maybe all of us have cried these words and some of us are people who are living with serious and long term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, clinical depression or a variety of other neurological disorders. Then there is another larger group of us who have loved ones, family members, friends, fellow-congregants who have cried those same words because we feel so helpless in walking with our loved ones for whom life is mostly agony and despair. We are not able to help and it just seems as if God is nowhere within calling distance to

come and bring us relief. Not even in the days of The Messenger, texting, and all the other wonderful ways in which we communicate today!

Are we able to sit in silence and to listen to their pain? Are we able to hold their hand in the darkness?

How Do We Respond?

How do we as Christians respond both to God and to our community in amid these realities? Do we give up and say God is not doing anything so why believe in Him? Do we reprimand our friends and family members for not believing or even by suggesting that God does not hear because we have sinned? Do we walk away and say we can’t do anything and leave them to whatever happens? Or are we as believers perhaps in a position to walk alongside and love and to bring a tiny glimpse of hope amid the darkness? Are we able to sit in silence and to listen to their pain? Are we able to hold their hand in the darkness? Are we able to refer them to resources such as medical doctors, therapists, and mobile crisis units at the appropriate times? Are we able go with them to an appointment they don’t have the strength to get to on their own? Are we able to continue to walk with them through the many weeks, months or even years?

Understanding Needed

This takes a lot of understanding, understanding both of the illness and other issues with which the person may be struggling. This takes leaving our fears with God and asking Him for wisdom as to how best to do this without giving simplistic answers. This includes grace and humility on our part because we probably don’t have helpful answers to give. This takes much prayer and faith that God is working in ways we cannot yet see and of living with hope for that which we do not yet see. • The Messenger 7

Many of us are not comfortable with things we cannot fix quickly because we are so busy and have many urgent things to do so we don›t want to become involved. Maybe we not want to be too involved because it will take too much effort. Some of us are scared because we feel helpless. Some of us who have a mental illness are even scared to let others know because we fear stigma and rejection or even that we will be told we are weak or don›t have enough faith.

Younger Generation Sees Need

First, by seeking to help early on so many major crises can be stopped before they actually become crises; and second, also because of the ongoing support many people need now and will for years to come.

Having heard many stories especially during the 1990’s and early 2000’s when I (Irma) was working with the Mental Health and Disabilities Program for MCC Canada, I was so glad that the younger generation is seeing the ongoing and continuing need for more education and understanding of mental illnesses and how we are able to

8  The Messenger • January 2018

help. First, by seeking to help early on so many major crises can be stopped before they actually become crises; and second, also because of the ongoing support many people need now and will for years to come.

Where We Are Going

I (Heidi) am privileged to serve as a member of the EMC Board of Church Ministries, and we are excited to be starting a Mental Health Initiative with the support of several members of our EMC churches who are experienced and skilled in the field of mental health. We believe that it is important for churches to talk about mental health and how to support people who are struggling with mental illnesses.

A Need to Talk and Help

The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that 20% of Canadians will experience


Dan Dacombe's workshop on mental health was popular at Abundant Springs 2017.The entire weekend revealed a clear need for more assistance in this area.

a mental illness at some point in their life, with 8% of adults experiencing major depression. Between 10 and 20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness, with 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth experiencing a major depressive episode. These statistics are not meant to create fear, but rather to highlight the need for churches to talk about mental health and help individuals and families access appropriate care.

are struggling with mental illnesses. Mennonite Central Committee has already done much work, as Irma has already described, and EMC churches are already integrating many practices that promote positive mental health. This BCM mental health promotion initiative aims to support churches in the positive practices they already have in place, and to provide information and resources to further develop these positive practices.

A Year-Long En-

This BCM mental health promotion couragement Articles exploring difinitiative aims to support churches in the ferent mental health topics will appear in positive practices they already have in place, The Messenger in print and online over the and to provide information and resources to next year. Our hope and prayer is that further develop these positive practices. these articles will be

Abundant Springs

This need was especially clear to me while at Abundant Springs in May 2017. I was able to attend Abundant Springs as the campus counselor, offering to talk to youth and leaders throughout the weekend, and consulting with leaders when concerns came up about their youth. Many conversations about mental health were sparked by the well-attended workshops led by Dan Dacombe (Heartland Community Church) entitled Faith and Mental Illness. Feedback from both youth and leaders was very positive, and many leaders asked for more resources to help them support youth who

an encouragement to those who are in distress, and provide practical information about mental health to support those who are caring for individuals who are struggling. Irma Janzen, MEd, MA, has served in education, as the coordinator of MCC Canada’s Mental Health and Disabilities Program, and as a pastor. She is part of Fort Garry EMC.

Heidi Dirks, BEd, MA (counseling), serves on the EMC Board of Church Ministries. She is part of Braeside EMC. • The Messenger 9

NLCF Holds Service of Reconciliation by Pastors Kevin Wiebe and Jacob Enns


n Oct. 29, 2017, New Life Christian Fellowship, which meets in Stevenson, Ont., held a reconciliation service to apologize to Jake and Anna Enns, the former pastoral couple at the church, for wrongdoings committed against them which led to their dismissal.

The Event by Kevin Wiebe


Despite our church being less than 20 years old, it is no stranger to conflict. I don’t think any church is. Earlier this year our church board was taking stock of events of the past, and the various conflicts that have occurred. As the conversation continued, one board member took note that there was one incident that stood out from our past, where we as church leaders had not done our part in properly reconciling matters. Our church, and our leadership specifically, acted deceitfully in the dealings with the former pastoral couple, a mistake which led to the painful dismissal of Jake and Anna Enns from their position as our pastoral couple. In this conversation about those events, a board member proposed that we hold a reconciliation service where we as a church would publicly take responsibilA chapter is closed as NLCF continues to move forward. ity for and confess our poor treatment of Jake and Anna. After discussion, prayer, and gracious with NLCF, and they again demonmore discussion, we decided to approach Pastor strated that by humbly agreeing to come and Jake and see if they would be willing to take part take part in this service. in such an event.

Moving Beyond Empty Words

As the current pastor of NLCF, I have often said that confession without repentance is just empty words, but repentance without confession leaves a relationship without proper restoration. In our situation, it was definitely the latter. Repentance had taken place, but there had been no formal confession to mark the official close of that chapter in our church’s history. Even in the midst of the wrongdoing against them and to this day, Jake and Anna have continually been

10  The Messenger • January 2018

The Apology

The service was held as part of the morning service on Oct. 29, 2017, and the church board and ministerial all came forward with Jake and Anna, where an apology was read to them by our church’s lay minister, Bill Friesen. The apology was sincere, and it was an emotional morning for all of us. Here are the words of apology that were read: Jake and Anna, this church as an institution and the leadership team during your time here sinned against you by dealing with you

and realized what had gone wrong, and recognized that repentance was needed. Both Nehemiah and Daniel took ownership and responsibility for what happened among their people, even though as far as we know, they were personally not responsible for what had happened.

Biblical Examples

In the Bible we have the story of Joshua, how he made a binding agreement with the Gibeonites not to destroy them. The treaty was a trick on the Gibeonites’ part, but Joshua would not violate it because it was on his part a binding oath. Over three hundred years later, Pastor Kevin Wiebe presents to Jake and Anna Enns a painting of the King Saul violated that treaty and New Life Christian Fellowship's meetingplace by Emily Wiebe. he tried to wipe out the Gibeonites. deceptively. This resulted in the ending of your Then some years later, under King David’s fruitful ministry in this place. We accept that this rule, God sent a famine in response to the church as an institution is responsible for the sitwicked deeds of King Saul for violating that old uation that caused you so much pain. Today we treaty. And it fell to David to deal with the situas the leadership of New Life Christian Fellowation, and he took ownership of the matter, and ship recognize and confess that you were sinned dealt with it. The stories are found in Joshua 9, against by the leadership of this church. We puband 2 Samuel 21. licly commit to doing things differently, and we In Nehemiah 1:6 we find that Nehemiah took apologize. As representatives of this church, we personal ownership of the sin that had been humbly ask both God and you to forgive NLCF committed that had resulted in the current state for those past wrongdoings. of affairs for the city of Jerusalem. And Nehemiah prayed for forgiveness and decided to do The Response something about the situation. He rebuilt the Following the apology, Jake took a moment to wall that had been destroyed. offer a moving response and sincerely grant his In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel writes the sad forgiveness to the church. A painting the NLCF story of the rebellion and punishment of his building, painted by Emily Wiebe, was given as nation. Daniel was a youth when he was taken a gift to Jake and Anna to mark the occasion. A captive to Babylon, and therefore not responsifew weeks after the event, following some reflec- ble for what had happened. But in Daniel 9:4-19 tion of those events, Jake said, “It was a healing we have the prayer, and we see how he took event for myself, and according to scripture it ownership and responsibility for the sins that was the path to go.” had been committed. – Pastor Kevin Wiebe

Pastoral Reflections by Jacob Enns

Often when conflict and pain happens, people just cover and bury it, hoping it will go away. This unfortunately happens in churches. It is wrong. We have clear examples in scripture where leaders reflected on the histories of their people,

Taking Ownership

In our time today, as church leaders, we also need to take ownership of the sins that have been committed, even though we personally may not even have committed them. As in the story of Achan in Joshua 7, the whole community was implicated by a withdrawal of God’s protection when Achan sinned. So too, • The Messenger 11

think what could have been had the people who wanted me out not done what they did. The current pastor and leadership team took ownership for what had taken place and with the reconciliation service showed the church and community they had repented of those events and wanted reconciliation. I was blessed by that.

A Recommendation

Leaders at the reconciliation service: minister Bill and Sarah Friesen, Emily When something like this and Pastor Kevin Wiebe, Pastor Jake and Anna Enns, board chair Johny Letke- happens (in my case a wrong terman and board members John Friesen, Jimmy Enns, and John Neufeld. mination), my recommendation

sometimes the whole faith body suffers when sin has been committed and is not dealt with. When a faith community takes ownership of what happened, and addresses the deeds that happened and calls them what they are, and works toward reconciliation by repenting and asking for forgiveness, it opens the doors to restored relationships, to new opportunities and fresh growth. That was our experience at NLCF.


Even though there were no bad relationships between us, Anna and I, and the current leadership of NLCF, we were grateful for that church to see our dismissal for what it was when it happened, and to take ownership and show repentance. For the leadership of NLCF to take ownership of the events that happened and call them what they were, that showed that they were sorry and repentant for what had happened. It also showed that they were seeking healing from that event, and wanted us, the terminated pastoral couple, to experience healing as well.

A Measure of Relief

Personally, even though we had forgiven the people who wanted us gone and we on a personal level had always been in good standing with NLCF, I as a former pastor of that church sensed a measure of relief. It was as if my bond with NLCF was again a little deeper now. It was also somewhat bittersweet. I could not help but

12  The Messenger • January 2018

to church leaders would be to consider and pursue the possibilities of reconciliation when relationships have been damaged. This will do a number of things. First, it is biblical to pursue reconciliation. We have clear mandates from scripture to do that. Second, it may very well expose those with pride who are struggling with selfish motives. Third, it tells the congregation that the leadership is united, and has the best interest of the people at heart. Fourth, it sends a message to the community that this church takes ownership and responsibility. As much as one does not want to go through a church conflict where one is terminated, with God’s guidance, and surrender to Christ, God can even use that to produce a harvest of spiritual growth. – Pastor Jacob Enns

Recommended Resources Kevin: Dr. Jeremy M. Bergen wrote a paper, Whether and How a Church Ought to Repent for a Historical Wrong https://www. Whether_and_how_a_ church_ought_to_repent_ for_a_historical_wrong. Jacob: Jim Van Yperen, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict (Moody).

Kevin Wiebe

Jacob Enns


Hearing From God by Dr. Phillip Cary, SBC Leadership Conference 2018 speaker


mong evangelical Christians today, a great many people are anxious about how to hear God speak. Christians of an earlier era would have found this odd. They assumed that when you wanted to hear God speak, you listened to his Word. You studied Scripture, heard the Gospel preached, and joined in Bible-based worship, singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” as the apostle says (Col. 3:16). That is what happens when the word of Christ dwells among us richly, which is the same thing as saying that a congregation is “filled with the Spirit” (compare Eph. 5:18-19). When the biblical word is spoken and sung and taught among us, then we are hearing what God has to say to us.

lives. We’re supposed to listen for the voice of God in our hearts, rather than in an external word like the Bible or Christian preaching and teaching. We’re told that this is how we find God’s will for our life. Again, Christians of an earlier era would have found this very puzzling, back when children memorized the ten commandments and a great deal of preaching was devoted to the sermon on the Mount, all in order to know what is God’s will for how we should live.

We’re told that this is how we find God’s will for our life.

Different Ideas

And yet many Christians have recently been taught quite different ideas about hearing God speak—and a quite different practice of the Christian life. It is presented, in fact, as a set of practical ideas we are supposed to apply to our


The new way of hearing God’s voice and learning God’s will has severe drawbacks. Above all, it’s new. Christians have only been trying to apply these ideas for a few decades, going back at most to the 19th century, which is not very far back in the • The Messenger 13

Christian tradition as a whole. These are not practices you can find in the Bible, where no prophet is described as listening for God’s voice in his heart.

Overlooks the God Who Speaks

I can learn the words of Scripture by heart, take them in and make them part of myself, but they originate outside my heart, like the words of every real person who is other than me.

And these supposedly “practical” ideas are, frankly, bad for us. First of all, they get us used to thinking of an imaginary God, not the God who speaks to us in Holy Scripture, in the witness of prophets and apostles and Christ himself, all of whom address us in external words. I can learn the words of Scripture by heart, take them in and make them part of myself, but they originate outside my heart, like the words of every real person who is other than me. To try to hear God’s voice as if it came from within me is thus to treat him as if he were not real. Think of the real people you love: if you want to know them, you have to listen to their words, which you don’t find by looking inside yourself.

Undermines Moral Responsibility

Secondly, these ideas are bad for us because they undermine moral responsibility. The new way of “finding God’s will for your life” assumes that God is supposed to make your decisions

14  The Messenger • January 2018

for you. It’s as if important decisions about career, marriage, and family were not really your responsibility but God’s. If this were so, then Jesus would have told a story about servants who wisely buried their talents in the ground until they received instructions for each investment decision they had to make. The Bible would have warned us against seeking wisdom and learning good judgment, as if that were a form of disobedience. The truth is that the decisions really are our own, which is why we are responsible for them, and why learning wisdom and good judgment are important moral responsibilities (see Prov. 4:5-9).

Psychologically Unhealthy

Thirdly, these ideas are bad for us because they are psychologically unhealthy. In order to listen for an imaginary God we have to practice self-deception and get good at it. We are forbidden to recognize our own voices for what they are. Whereas the truth is that the voices in our hearts are our own, and that’s okay. We should get to know our own voices, not because they are God speaking, but because self-knowledge is an important aim of the moral life and an important component of psychological health. It’s okay that the voices in our hearts are merely human; they don’t have to be God to be worth listening to. We experience this every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer: it is God’s Word we’re praying, but with our own voice. This happens also when we learn God’s Word by heart and pray it silently. The Word is God’s, but the inner voice is our own.

A Young Woman at Risk

Think of what happens when young people, who often don’t know themselves very well, try putting these ideas into practice. Imagine a young woman coming back to her dorm room after a long night, saying to herself in a loud, excited voice: “Oh, I love my boyfriend so much! He always takes care of me. He never wants to leave me alone. He never lets me out of his sight. I can’t ever get away from him. He’s always in control. He controls me so much sometimes I feel like I can never escape.” And then her enthusiastic monologue trails off and a very different voice comes out of her, a quiet little voice that says, “I really don’t feel good about this.” No doubt that’s the voice of wisdom and responsibility, and probably chastity as well. The loud, excited voice was trying to convince her that she’s got a great thing going. But the quiet little voice comes from deeper in her heart, where she feels there’s something wrong before she knows what it is. The sad thing is not that she listens to the quiet little voice, but that she can’t admit it’s her own. She has to label it God’s voice in order to take it seriously. Apparently she’s never thought of her own voice as something worth listening to. Maybe she’s used to thinking her own feelings and thoughts don’t matter because no one has ever seriously listened to her. At any rate, in order to heed the wisest and most perceptive

voice in her own heart, she feels it has to to come direct from God. She can’t admit it’s her own voice because that would make it unimportant. And that’s a shame.

Teach Maturity

The new practice of “hearing God” prevents her from developing moral and spiritual maturity, and it puts her in harm’s way. Trying to apply it to her life makes it harder for her to know herself, to recognize the wisdom that has already been given to her. It makes it hard to stand up to manipulative people like her boyfriend, who will no doubt assure her that it was God who wanted them to get together. (There are boys who actually do this at my university.) Instead of this, the Church should be teaching her moral responsibility and the pursuit of wisdom, which includes self-knowledge. And it should direct her to find the truth of who God really is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not in the thoughts of her own heart. Dr. Phillip Cary is Professor of Philosophy at Eastern University in St. David’s, near Philadelphia, PA. He is the speaker at SBC’s Leadership Conference on March 16-17. For information, contact SBC. • The Messenger 15


Council Embraces Change, Grapples With Reality Statement of Faith, 2018 budget, conference restructuring supported


TEINBACH, Man.—Conference council delegates on Nov. 25, 2017, affirmed the revised Statement of Faith and provisionally approved the conference’s restructuring, while grappling with current financial realities signified by a 2.6 percent budget decrease, a review of how some EMC missionaries are funded, and the need to plan toward stable funding. Moderator Abe Bergen welcomed delegates. A musical team led in singing and Garry Koop, senior pastor of host Steinbach EMC, reminded delegates from where our help comes (Psalm 121).

General Board

Abe Bergen said that the Church Planting Task Force, which formally relates to the BLO, has been invited to send a representative to General Board meetings. Fundraising is changing and there is a need to address this; local church decisions affect what we do together, he said. A proposal on forming a task force on Women in Leadership has been received, discussed at length at the board level, and tabled. [The tabling happened so input could be sought from women.] The 2018 convention is at Western University, London, Ont. Peter Doerksen (Vanderhoof) will speak on being Rooted in the Gospel. The Statement of Faith revision process has involved much input from churches and two motions were made in July 2017: to replace the 1996 statement with the 2017 statement and to

16  The Messenger • January 2018

move footwashing from the Statement of Faith to that of Church Practices. Both motions were carried at this meeting.


The moderator said a Conference Restructuring Committee (CRC) was struck to address three needs: a fragmented structure with independent boards; little accountability among boards for inter-relationships; and little room to promote a vision together. Members were added to the CRC, boards were consulted, staff members were engaged throughout, consultants were used, and other agencies were consulted. The CRC proposes changes to the administrative handbook: that an executive team serve all boards, a personnel management team deal with hiring and supervision, and job descriptions be revised for staff members. Boards are being asked to review the job descriptions toward approval over the next two meetings (by March). Conference council Abe Bergen, Moderator: Restrucis asked to allow turing addresses needs.

these changes subject to approval by the boards. Q: How large is the Executive Team? (Current staff members.) Q: Once the boards have approved this, what’s next? (Implementation.) Q: Are staff levels affected? (Not part of the mandate.) Comment: There is confidence in those who’ve thought of this. Let’s move on to other matters. Q: The EMMC went through restructuring that created conflict. How similar is this? (Other groups were consulted. The counsel was to talk, talk, talk. This has happened.) Q: Does this affect budget and positions? (No.) Caroline and Henry Krahn reported on their work in Bolivia. Comment: In the EMMC’s case, people at top were excited, but were better at talking than workers are needed, Ascend’s internship prolistening. With more power to the Executive gram needs promotion, and a new field is being Director and the executive team and less to sought. boards, hopefully big things will still come to Len Barkman, BOM secretary, outlined conference council. (Formed PMC in response the current missionary support model: some to perceptions of power. Not a big redistribuworkers get full support; associate workers get tion of power, but a clarity of roles.) partial support; and others operate with a hybrid The motion carried. (workers under AIMM and in Bolivia receive a base support, but can raise funds). Mennonite World Conference The board is looking at changing the supLayton Friesen, EMC’s representative, outlined port process for workers getting full support, he the history of MWC and a bit of the EMC’s said. The reasons: current funding levels affect involvement: Christian Neff founded the MWC recruitment and new fields and there is a need in 1913, convinced of strength in unity and a to build stronger connections between church need for loyalty to one another. P. J. B. Reimer, and missionaries. of the EMC, attended and reported on the 1968 Henry and Caroline Krahn said that tensions general assembly in Amsterdam. on a colony in Bolivia resulted in people moving Two-thirds of Anabaptists live in the southto land bought near San Jose. School and church ern hemisphere, and the declining church in buildings were moved. Europe and North America needs them, FriKen Zacharias, foreign secretary, said that esen said. MWC emphasizes worship, prayer, churches are assisted with missions confermission, and service; and he encouraged the ences. Prayer teams are being planned: Paraguay strengthening of global relationships through (March 6-19), Guadalajara (Feb. 6-13), and 25 people from 10 EMC churches attending the Bolivia (tentatively in Oct. or Nov.). Hurricane next general assembly (2021 in Indonesia) and Nate has hurt Nicaragua. Its government is by using worship materials for World Fellowship responding and so is MCC. The BOM is giving Sunday (held near Jan. 21), including an offering $10,000 to assist through MCC. to help churches elsewhere.

Board of Missions

Brad Brandt, vice chair, said John 13:35 is a missions verse—that people will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love to one another. The BOM has shifted medical insurance carriers, Beth Koehler is assisting in a prayer focus, more

Board of Trustees

Gordon Reimer, chair, said that there is a need to look at a sustainable model for EMC funding. The EMC pension plan is reviewed regularly. For budget 2017, $418,734 is needed by year’s end. For 2018, the budget has been reduced 2.6% to $1,899,000 from $1,950,000. Most boards • The Messenger 17

have reduced their budgets, the BOT excepted because of salaries. Comment: Concerned about a decrease for missions and church planting, the major reason for the conference. Some funds are being raised on the side. The budget does not reflect actual spending. (The full expenditures of all boards are provided in a recently published bulletin insert. The comment is a useful reminder to reconsider how reporting on budgeting is done.) Comment: The budget was well-prepared. Glad to see decrease. Can support it. This church will give the same in 2018 as in 2017. The motion to approve the budget was carried. Gord Reimer said that the board calls each church.

Board of Leadership and Outreach

Richard Klassen, chair, said the BLO cares for the EMC ministerial. Layton Friesen, conference pastor, said he has been impressed by the EMC’s hospitality, the leadership of pastors and deacons, and unity in the conference. This is to be celebrated and thanks given. Layton walked delegates through the conference’s website, looking at the many resources available to ministers and churches: a counseling benefit, pastoral search committee materials, material on pastor and congregational evaluations, a pastoral salary guidelines worksheet, policies on sabbatical and severance, and information on conference supported benefits. These documents reflect our theology, he said. Ordination is the way we make pastors, Layton said. It’s proposed that the EMC move from an examination to a process of ministry formation. Further discussion will happen. Charles Koop, church planting coordinator, called on Abe Bueckert to report about the Gospel Light Fellowship. Abe said the church meets in Medicine Hat, Alta., and will be moving into a larger rental space in the same building. Koop asked if we are willing to take risks, to give our best people so that churches are built. There is a need to move beyond building our local church to building the Kingdom of God. A moment of prayer was held for more workers (Luke 10:2). The Dauphin work is not sustainable, he said, so Oscar and Mirna Hernandez’s formal

18  The Messenger • January 2018

involvement ends in December, though they will stay in the community till June. Pray for church plants. Not all are going well. There is some mystery why Richard Klassen is the new BLO chair: some are not growing. The BLO cares for the EMC ministerial. In Alberta, efforts continue in Airdrie and Two Hills; in Saskatchewan, Pastor Frankie Kim and Simon Hyounjin Yoon engage in Indigenous ministry; in Manitoba, Aberdeen (Winnipeg) has a Spanish work and Logos (Winnipeg) has Pastor Jabez Lee in training. Take courage, Koop said. God is at work in our conference. To him be the glory!

Steinbach Bible College

President Rob Reimer was grateful for the EMC: its giving, prayers, and an increasing number of its students. While 80 percent of graduates do not become pastors or missionaries, most serve in the church.

Board of Church Ministries

Heidi Dirks, BCM member, said that a new Mental Health Initiative seeks to help EMC churches in the areas of mental health, especially with youth. Articles will appear in The Messenger throughout 2018 and workshops will be held. Joel Jolly, worship committee member, highlighted local efforts in worship. Kevin Wiebe, BCM and education committee member, said that a sequel to Living in God’s Kingdom is being developed by the EMC, EMMC, and CMC for 2018. Andrew Walker, assistant editor, requested that churches encourage more people to sign on to The Messenger’s various formats (website, PDF, print). Feedback is welcomed. Print continues to be valued. The moderator closed the day in prayer and blessing. – Terry M. Smith

Column • Further In and Higher Up

Tracking the Un-Guessable Lord


subtle change in his bearing. Disciples do not predict where Jesus will go by trying to be supersmart—they can only follow. Once we see Jesus, we can think about it. We can try to appreciate with our intellect something of the love we see unfolding. First we look and then we treasure up all these things, pondering them in our heart. For example, after Jesus lived, the disciples saw the Old Testament as full of references to Christ. Before Christ came and lived however, no one could have guessed his life would happen as it did. But this order of first looking and then thinking is sure hard for us modern people. We have a hard time believing that after all these centuries we still need to keep tracking Christ’s every move. We constantly seek the “key” to Jesus’ life. We try to detect a pattern or principle that we can detach from Jesus and put to use in our lives. I see this mistake happening often. We say for instance, Jesus showed hospitality; we then go and detach hospitality from Jesus and make it a kind of free-standing principle or idea in our lives and tell ourselves that we are still following Jesus. It’s a lot easier just being generally hospitable than it is following Jesus. I can get hospitality. But you cannot be a disciple by following general principles like hospitality (or leadership, or counter-cultural resistance, or honesty, or nonviolence, or whatever other detachable principle). Jesus is simply unpredictable and he will always bust open my lousy principles and concepts. In order to be Christ-like I have to track his footsteps through the gospels in daily looking and attentive curious waiting. What this means is that we must keep going back to the words, the phrases, the sentences in the Bible that tell the story of Jesus. Nothing can ever substitute for contemplation, for sitting with Mary at the feet of Jesus and listening to what he says next.

by Layton Friesen Conference Pastor

Nothing can ever substitute for contemplation, for sitting with Mary at the feet of Jesus and listening to what he says next.


or the first centuries of the Church’s life, there was much debate about exactly who this Jesus was the Church found itself worshipping and following. One of the simplest and most profound truths it discovered was this: you will never predict who Jesus is by thinking profound and lofty philosophical thoughts, hoping that your rational concepts somehow coincide with Christ. The mistake that was so hard to overcome for these early Christians was the belief that by thinking philosophical Greek thoughts about natures and essences, eventually they would figure out who this God-man was. That never worked. So if not by thinking, how else? By looking. By watching to see what he does, how he lives, and the manner of his speech. What kind of choice does he make here? What does he refuse there? How does he act in this situation here? The mystery of Jesus appears in the manner in which he takes the days his Father gave him, and weaves an utterly unique, never-anticipated tapestry from them. Jesus arrives and lives so freely, with such dashing improv, that no human could ever guess what he would do next. When the Church finally came to this basic discovery in the 7th century (thank you, Maximus the Confessor) they arrived at a beautiful vision of who Jesus was that has never been surpassed. When you watch Jesus acting, the humanity and divinity appear in matchless unity. Thus, the basic act of the disciple is looking. Staying alert. Watching intently. Noticing the • The Messenger 19

With Our Missionaries

Polar Bear Marathon Has World-Wide Impact CANADA In December 2017, the 6th Polar Bear Marathon took place in Churchill with 17 International runners. It was a challenging event this year because of the indirect effects of the railroad tracks not being in service. We had Mohamad Ahansal from Morocco run with us. He is a long-time friend from the Sahara Desert, a true “son of the desert,” which is where I met him while running the Marathon des Sables four times. We also had three runners from Mexico, two from Germany, three from Toronto, several from Churchill, and two from Tadoule Lake. A concern, of course, was to keep the three Tarahumara runners from Mexico safe and warm. The three, from the Copper Canyon, did really well. The father, Santiago Ramirez, ran 50 km in five hours and four minutes. Mario, son to Santiago, ran the full marathon, whereas Juana, daughter to Santiago, ran the half marathon. All were kept safe with no frostbite, even though it was -22 C with chilly wind. The Athletes in Action dessert night in Steinbach, Man., went very well, with over 200 people coming. Some just showed up without registrations. The Mexico connection to the Polar Bear Marathon is pretty huge. I was totally surprised to have this become such a big media event. A radio station in Toronto requested an interview with me about the Tarahumara runners. What is so special is that one runner from Mexico is a believer in Jesus, which makes the whole event of the running ministry more meaningful. Many of you may have heard of the book Born to Run by Chris McDougall, where he writes about the Copper Canyon, the Cabello Blanco 50 mile ultra marathon,

and barefoot running. Often the Tarahumara runners run in sandals and the girls run in skirts. Lorena Ramirez is another family member who is famous for her long distance running in Mexico. She could not be with us, because she was running somewhere else during that Polar Bear Marathon weekend. David Peters was my translator for the Ramirez runners, and he came with me to Churchill to help. He has written more about what happened when the Ramirez family returned to Mexico. Their reception was huge, he says. He called it a “zoo.” The runners were met at the airport by media and government officials, and a press conference was planned with the governor at his palace. (The governor also congratulated them on his Facebook account.) Only then could they go home. A scientist in Churchill had filmed the marathon and he put it on YouTube. This was picked up in Mexico and, in turn, shown on Mexican national television. David also informed me that Mario was given a house by the governor for all his accomplishments. Pray for Mario as his dream is to develop a Christian school for his Tarahumara people. I have a long list of people to thank for all the help that was given to organize the marathon in Churchill to the dessert evening in Steinbach. It was a massive event that influenced many people worldwide. Thank you. I greatly appreciate your continued prayers. – Albert Martens


Albert Martens (Steinbach EMC) serves with Athletes in Action. He has a long history of ministry and long-distance running and combines the two in service to Christ.

20  The Messenger • January 2018

With Our Missionaries

Thankful to See Many in Canada! The centre was a very busy place from mid-September till we left with many people renting the rooms. This included one group with 22-plus people and another who filled all the rooms and brought tents for the children. We did manage to get things in place at the Centre so that we could come home for our furlough on Nov. 3. This included training Irma (our Spanish worker) to run the automatic washing machine, and train Arnaldo and Irma on how to take care of the bookstore and have enough material for the Sunday School teachers to use till we return. Our director Bill Kehler will be part-time at the centre, making sure that it all keeps running. We have been able to see many of you during our time here in Canada for which we are so thankful. Reporting in your churches is not something that we are very good at, but we do really enjoy the visiting afterwards. We reported in Taber, Picture Butte, and Swan River, to the Board of Missions that met in Steinbach, gave a short report at Conference Council, and reported to La Crete and High Level churches. We also were blessed to meet with a prayer group in Manitoba who faithfully prayer for the work in Bolivia every month. There we got to meet Dietrich and Nettie Friesen who are a huge asset to the Bolivia work. Attending the EMC leadership retreat was a real highlight and something that we had desperately needed to



help us refuel. We thank Ken Zacharias for encouraging us to attend. To personally meet again with many of you, our faithful prayer warriors, just warmed our hearts. The way you follow the work God is doing in Bolivia helps motivate us to return and continue to be faithful where God has placed us. – Henry and Caroline Krahn Henry and Caroline Krahn (Picture Butte) serve in hospitality and literature ministry near Santa Cruz, Bolivia.


Nancy Friesen (Picture Butte) completed her Spanish studies at the Rio Grande Bible institute in December 2017. She will be leaving for Bolivia on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, to begin her service with ministries that the EMC is involved with among Low German Mennonites. Her initial involvement will be teaching English in the Pailon school. She will also serve in administration as the MEM legal representative in Bolivia as it pertains to government reporting and helping missionaries with visa documentation work. Pray for Nancy as she begins her ministry and as she continues to become more fluent in the Spanish language.   – Ken Zacharias Foreign Secretary EMC Board of Missions


Nancy Friesen Returning to Bolivia • The Messenger 21

With Our Missionaries

Going the Distance KENYA


“Nothing could prepare me for the distances we travelled,” happier a says Aoife Garvey, Supporter Marketing Manager with few months Concern Worldwide, in a recent conversation with Katie, on.” our MAF Kenya Information Coordinator. It encour“Thanks to our pilot Melvin and the use of the MAF ages us to plane, our one hour flight cut down an entire days travel by see the varicar,” said Garvey. “The distances between each village were ous groups vast, and it gave me an insight into how isolated communi- working ties must be and how challenging it is for organizations like together to Concern and MAF to support vulnerable communities.” seek soluConcern Worldwide partners with local organizations tions for the people living in isolation in northern Kenya, to respond to emergencies resulting from floods, drought both immediate and long-term. We are thankful that we and violence, an aspect of their involvement which is vital can be a part of bringing the organizations and solutions at this point in time. In response to the ongoing drought to the people, saving time and resources, all for the glory in northern Kenya, the organization recently launched an of God. emergency response in the Marsabit area, focusing on cash Aoife also told Katie, “Our pilot Melvin was fantastic! transfers, and the provision of water and health and nutriOne of us was a nervous flyer, and he got to sit beside Meltion services. vin for the flight, while Melvin explained everything to him In July, Aoife and three other staff made a trip to Kenya throughout our journey. Melvin chatted to us throughout to gather footage of Concern’s work around malnutrition the flight and made it a really pleasant experience for us all!” to use in an advertising campaign. In September, another – Kari Peters group from Concern and UNICEF made the trip to Ileret, near the Ethiopia border, to observe the distribution of the Kari and Melvin Peters (La Crete) serve with MAF Kenya. monthly feeding program for famiCourses on Anabaptism at Otterburne, Man. lies with children five and under. It was Radical Reformation: History Thought and Practice, encouraging to hear them report that the May 14-18 Instructor: Dr. Layton Friesen local people felt that Its glories, weaknesses, historical events, transformation, witthings were better ness, and meaning today give a captivating glimpse of what it means to now than a year ago. be a radical follower of Christ in this pattern. One member of the group comComplicated Faithfulness: Issues in Contemporary mented, “A personal Anabaptist Theology highlight was meeting a beneficiary our May 21-25 Instructor: Zac Klassen colleagues had met Enduring issues such as baptism, the ban, ecumenism, the church/world and interviewed at distinction and pacifism are explored through modern writers who disthe height of the cuss Anabaptist theology as a gift to the broader Church. drought back in February. His situaClasses are offered for graduate and undergraduate credit, and for audit. tion was improving Those seeking EMC credentials are encouraged to take it for credit. and we could see his wife and children For information contact Admissions: 1-800-668-7768, 1-204-433-7488, looked healthier and

22  The Messenger • January 2018


With Our Missionaries

Quest will Celebrate a 10-Year Anniversary BRAZIL


Recently we were challenged that 2018 would be a year of firsts, a year of new things. As we approach our 10-year anniversary of Quest’s ministry this coming March, this is exactly what we are anticipating in Brazil. These firsts will be starting now in January when Quest will be holding the largest camps thus far. God has been building our Christian Camping ministry into what has become a model for the Christian Camping world around Brazil. It includes our eight-day intense volunteer staff training, healthy home-made menus, cooperative (instead of competitive) programing, and physical/emotional/spiritual safety all which support this evangelistic ministry. Each year we also have an increase in invites for our itinerant ministry. Quest Brazil is regularly sought by churches to come run retreats for various focus groups. We prepare and run customized programing for each of these events built on the expectations and desired outcomes set by the groups’ leaders. Though churches account for the majority of our itinerant ministry events, we also provide this for schools and businesses. “The Burnhams, under torturous conditions,

learn more and RSVP at

befriended their guards, comforted their fellow hostages and kept their faith in a God who seemed to have abandoned them.” – USA Today

February 10 7 pm Blumenort EMC


Gracia Burnham is the author of theofNew YorkYork Times bestselling the Presence PresenceofofMyMyEnemies, Enemies, author of the Gracia Burnham is the author the New Times bestselling book book In In the author book To Fly Again, and new founder andfounder Gracia of Burnham Foundation. GraciaFoundation. Burnham Gracia knows what it is like of the popular bookof Tothe Fly Martin Again, and the Martin & Gracia Burnham Burnham knows what it isWhile like toserving have lifeas spin out of control. missionarieswith in the Philippines, Gracia and to have life spin out of control. missionaries in While the Philippines New Tribes Mission, Gracia and her husband Martin were kidnapped by terrorists and spent the next 13 months as hostages in the Philippine her husband Martin were kidnapped by terrorists and spent the next 13 months as hostages in the Philippine jungle. jungle. On June 7, 2002 captivity ended for these two missionaries in a violent rescue that left Martin Burnham On June dead 7, 2002 captivity ended for the two in a violent rescue that left Martin Burnham dead and Gracia wounded. and Gracia wounded. Their story of faith in the midst of terror and tragedy is known to millions. Their story of faith in the midst of terror and tragedy is known to millions. WHEN:




Blumenort Evangelical Mennonite Church • 59 Center Ave, Blumenort, MB • • (204) 326-1644 A love offering will be received.

Shannon and Dwayne Klassen with family

As a ministry, we have also expanded our own events to include retreats for women, men, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and couples. We are looking at increasing this list to include events for young adults, families, and others. Another huge thing we are looking forward to in 2018 is the completion of the first building of our ministry facility. The building process has been going the past two and a half years, with visioning and engineering work starting a number of years before that. Dependent on God providing the funding, the Panapaná building will be completed before the end of the year. As a part of that process, the whole building, except the dining hall, will be tiled this January. And this fall plans are in works for a Canadian work team to work on the completion of this project. With all this happening in 2018, a major milestone for our ministry and team is taking place in March. March 27 marks 10 years of Quest being a registered Not-For-Profit organization in Brazil. The weekend of March 23-25 we will be celebrating 10 years of God’s goodness and blessing poured out on Quest. – Dwayne and Shannon Klassen Dwayne and Shannon Klassen (CBF, Swan River) serve in Brazil under Quest.

C O N TA C T: • The Messenger 23

Column • Window On Missions

Your Church is a Missionary Search Committee!

by Ken Zacharias Foreign Secretary

In 2018 the EMC Board of Missions is praying and discerning for a new destination point for EMC missionaries to enter under its full administration.

24  The Messenger • January 2018



id you know that your local church is a Missionary Search Committee? Pastoral search committee members often find the process to hire a pastor to be a difficult responsibility. It is a time of celebration when the local church has processed a candidate and has hired a pastor for their congregation. EMC Missions does not form a search committee as we “search for and engage” missionaries. Yet, in a broader sense, we have sixty-four search committees, each one of the churches in our conference. Churches are encouraged to actively search for potential missionaries in their congregation who have the spiritual character, witness, and preparation to serve cross-culturally. But what might be improved is how intentionally some churches look for missionary candidates. Church mission committees should see that one of their primary responsibilities to be to look for missionary candidates within their congregation? How does it work? Well, it works similarly to our Pastoral Search Committees. Each congregation looks for people who could effectively serve. The job description and position are advertised and the search committee begins to discern who is the right applicant for their local church. Although churches may vary as to specific job descriptions, search committees are united in that the chosen candidate one who is strong in their spiritual character and Christian witness. This is the first requirement, stated or unstated, for all candidates. Standards are high! This requirement is the same for both pastor and missionary. One mission agency says, “If you are not convinced that the (missionary) candidates exhibit the level of spiritual character that would qualify them to join your own church staff, then don’t recommend them for missions!” EMC Missions is looking for gifted people with spiritual character to serve in one of more than twenty countries in which the EMC is ministering. The job descriptions vary, but include those who are qualified to serve in both ministerial and professional disciplines and who are

gifted to serve, among others, in one of the following professions: Church Planting Teaching Medical Aviation Radio/Media Business for Mission Bible Translation Community Outreach Counseling In 2018 the EMC Board of Missions is praying and discerning for a new destination point for EMC missionaries to enter under its full administration. With an emphasis in church planting, a four- to six-person team is being recruited. We are inviting each one of the 64 church search committees to ask who in your congregation is gifted to be a part of this new team. The EMC has been blessed as a conference. Within our churches we have ministerial, professionals, and blue collar workers who love the Lord and who are gifted to serve. Although most positions require a Bible college background, there are positions where this is not a necessity. For some mission opportunities, the candidate will need to work cross-culturally in a language and setting unfamiliar to them. Search committee work is hard work, but it is rewarding when the church selects and engages both pastoral staff and its missionaries. A Missionary Search Committee can help us do this well.

With Our Churches Blumenort EMC

BLUMENORT, Man.—On Nov. 26 2017, Pastor Anthony Reimer performed the baptismal ceremony for eight candidates. Rachel Cox, Jayda Brandt, Clarissa Brandt, Kailey Schroeder, Kristi Nerbas, Morgen Penner, Laticia Peters, and Adrian Petkua dedicated their lives to be servants of Christ through baptism. Prayers for strength and direction for these new followers are always appreciated. In other church news, our ladies’ programs have been thriving this past year. We have done a secret prayer sister program for the past year and will have a reveal pizza party at the end of January 2018. As a participant myself I have found it very enjoyable and rewarding to keep a specific person in my prayers as well as uplifting her with notes and gifts throughout the past 12 months. Mom’s Morning Out is a time of fellowship that we host in our church basement every other Tuesday morning. We invite moms with young children from the congregation and community to spend time in fellowship, devotions, and lots of fun activities, including meal preps, crafts, and testimonies.

Evangelical Fellowship Church


Eight Baptized, Ladies’ Programs Thrive

Involved in baptism on Nov. 26, 2107: (front) Adrian Petkau, Clarissa Brandt, Jayda Brandt, Kristi Nerbas, Pastor Anthony Reimer, (back) Rachel Cox, Morgen Penner, Kailey Schroeder, Laticia Peters.

Also there will be a ladies winter retreat on March 2-4, 2018, at Camp Cedarwood. We pray that it will be a time of rest, encouragement, and fellowship for the ladies of our congregation. – Janice Harder


Church Changes Location, Intercedes for Persecuted We have felt very blessed and encouraged to meet like this in this larger venue. One former pastor also encouraged us when he emailed to say, “A Bingo Hall changed to a church. I’d say that’s a miracle and grand display of God’s amazing grace and power! 1 Cor. 15:58.” – Mark Gerber EFC

FORT FRANCES, Ont.— On Nov. 11, 2017, EFC changed locations! That day Ike Friesen, a person involved in the church’s beginning, shared with our congregation during our very last service at 560 Webster Ave. We were mostly standing inside the empty building while we said goodbye to this place. We then drove to our new location at 605 McIrvine Road, a former bingo hall, with lots of room and lots of parking space. After a bit of looking around the new place and also enjoying some refreshments, we then had our very first church service here. Since this was officially a day of remembrance, we remembered our fellow believers in so many countries where often they are under much pressure and even severe persecution (IDOP). And so we then also especially took some time to fervently ask the Lord to undertake. We focused especially on the country of North Korea.

Ike Friesen stands near the old meetingplace of Evangelical Fellowship Church. • The Messenger 25

With Our Churches Crestview Fellowship


Crestview Holds Candlelight Service

In a skit, a younger man (played by Scott Groen) and an older man (played by pastor Darrel Guenther) spoke of lyrics from different Christmas carols and how they relate to redemption and salvation through Jesus. We were left with the question of what will we do with Jesus this Christmas season: just sing the songs without any thought to what they mean or embrace Jesus and believe and trust in Him as Lord.

WINNIPEG, Man.—On Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, Crestview Fellowship Church hosted our annual Christmas Eve candlelight service. This year the church decided to change it up a bit and also host and enjoy a potluck meal following the service. The service included special features of a skit and readings, inspirational Christmas music, and worship through the message given by Pastor Darrel Guenther. The message series for the month of December was “Songs of the Season,” and this Sunday focused on “Joy to the World.” This evening was well-attended, including not only the members of the church but many community members who enjoyed the evening with us. – Jenaya Groen

•• Blumenort EMC

Eight Baptized, Ladies’ Programs Thrive


BLUMENORT, Man.—On Nov. 26, 2017, Pastor Anthony Reimer baptized eight candidates. Rachel Cox, Jayda Brandt, Clarissa Brandt, Kailey Schroeder, Kristi Nerbas, Morgen Penner, Laticia Peters, and Adrian Petkua dedicated their lives to be servants of Christ through baptism. Prayers for strength and direction for these new followers are always appreciated. In other church news, our ladies’ programs have been thriving this year. We have done a secret prayer sister program for the last year and will have a reveal pizza party at the end of January 2018. As a participant myself I have found it very enjoyable and rewarding to keep a specific person in my prayers as well as uplifting her with notes and gifts throughout the past 12 months. Mom’s Morning Out is a time of fellowship that we host in our church basement every other Tuesday morning. We invite moms with young children from the congregation

26  The Messenger • January 2018

and community to spend time in fellowship, devotions, and lots of fun activities, including meal preps, crafts, and testimonies. Also there will be a ladies winter retreat on March 2-4, 2018, at Camp Cedarwood. We pray that it will be a time of rest, encouragement, and fellowship for the ladies of our congregation. – Janice Harder

With Our Churches Mennville EMC

MENNVILLE, Man.—We are thrilled to welcome and also introduce to you our new pastor, Michael Vanderzwaag. He comes to us from the Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Swift Current, Sask. It is heartwarming to hear the story of his journey and how God called him into ministry and then how that led him to Mennville. He has been with us for only a short time, but it is truly a blessing to see how he fits so perfectly into our lives. We are thankful for his youth and enthusiasm and his willingness to work alongside the present ministerial in our church. The Installation Service was held on Nov. 12 and it was such a special morning for all of us here. He had his parents Pete and Gloria here as well as Grandma Lorraine for support. Michael, Gloria, and Lorraine also did special music

He asked me about a homeless man he saw on our way to a hockey game. I thought I’d use the moment to teach him about generosity, but what he did next brought tears to my eyes. To read the rest of the story, visit



Church Rejoices in New Pastor, Michael Vanderzwaag

The congregation at Mennville prays for their new pastor.

during the offertory. It was beautiful. Thank you so much for that! We also affirmed Michael into the membership during the service. One of the ministers here, Barry Barkman, chaired the service, and he said there were people to thank for getting us to this point. Thank you to the Pastoral Search Committee who worked hard to find someone and started the process of hiring someone. Thank you to the EM Conference who helped us connect with Michael and guiding and encouraging us. Thank you to the Mennville church family who prayed for this to happen. Thank You to Michael who obeyed the call from God to pursue this small country church called Mennville. Thank you to Layton Friesen, conference pastor, who helped us with the service. It is always a blessing and privilege when he “comes home.” Thank you to God who saw who and what we needed here and opened doors. Although our numbers have declined in the last number of years because of post secondary schooling and families relocating to bigger centres, we are alive and well and trying to be a light in these troublesome times in our corner of the world. May you have joy and peace as you serve Him in your corner wherever that might be! – Luella Brandt • The Messenger 27

With Our Churches Steinbach EMC

Church calendars in December always include many special celebrations, reminding us again and again about the coming of Jesus to bring light into a dark world. Our sermon series for December was “Light the Way.” On the first Sunday of Advent, Pastor Garth Koop spoke on “The Light of Christmas.” Light is a major theme in the Scriptures and is mentioned in many of the Christmas carols we enjoy. The second Advent Sunday included a very joy-filled celebration—a baptismal service. Five people shared their testimonies and publicly pledged their allegiance to Christ as Saviour and Lord and expressed their desire to follow Him. The congregation welcomed them as members of our church family with this response: “We rejoice with you as you publicly commit to following Christ. We look forward to fellowshipping with you and pledge ourselves to uphold and strengthen you in the Christian life as together we Gather, Grow and Go.” Jac and Mary Koop were accepted as members by transfer on Dec. 24. Many seniors gathered in our beautifully decorated gym on Dec. 1 to enjoy a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Special guests from Winnipeg, the Chapel Brass Band and Male Chorus, provided the entertainment with the beautiful sounds of Christmas and the retelling of the story of Christ’s birth. The evening closed with a short devotional by Ron Babel. The seniors celebrated again on the morning of Dec. 19, with coffee, apple cider, and biscuits (schnetje). The Grade 5 choir from the Mitchell School, consisting of 88 singers under the direction of Shannon Sawatzky, delighted the audience with part of their school Christmas concert entitled “Let Your Light Shine.” Enthusiasm and energy were evident in their presentation, including a variety of instruments and choreography interspersed with video clips featuring many of the children. On the evening of our Sunday School program we were greeted with a startling announcement: “Christmas is cancelled! You might as well all go home.” After all the mayhem and chaos of the rehearsal, the narrator was ready to scrap the whole program. Fortunately, things eventually settled down and the performance went on as planned. What a relief that Christmas was not cancelled after all! As the Bethlehem Story unfolded through narration and song, reminding everyone that

28  The Messenger • January 2018


Light the Way

Baptized at Steinbach EMC on Dec. 8 were Chelsea Falk, Susana Wall, Annie Wiebe, Tyler Banman, and Shaylene Wiebe.

Christmas can never be cancelled, the sanctuary was once again filled with the joy of our Saviour’s birth. On Dec. 24 Pastor Garry Koop read from Isaiah 60, “Arise, shine, for your light has come,” and continued our sermon series, “Light the Way.” We were challenged to shine our lights to the people around us and to display Christ’s presence, His character, and His will. Pastor Jason Heide spoke on Christmas Day on the topic “God With Us.” Praise God for the promise of His presence! He is always with us—in our humanity, our fallenness, our sin, our condemnation, and our shame. We can trust in God’s unchanging character and dependability throughout this new year, 2018. Emmanuel—God With Us! – Martha Kroeker

Free for Sunday School! Contact or 204-3266401.

With Our Churches Rosenort EMC

ROSENORT, Man.—What an exciting time at the Rosenort EMC! On April 2, 2017, we welcomed into our membership Allan and Susanna Waldner, John and Helen Hiebert, Abe and Justina Klassen, Janelle Waldner, and Esther Thiessen. On April 30 four got baptized: Jordan Peters, Vanessa Peters, Joshua Dueck, and Mitchell Dueck (Pastor Ward Parkinson and Scott Dick were nearby). On May 28, 2017, we had a deacon commissioning service for Bryan and Patty Loewen and a pastor installation for Ward and Janine Parkinson. – Anita Peters


Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

•• In Memory

Albert Klassen 1927-2017

It has pleased our Heavenly Father to take home his servant, Albert Klassen, at the age of 90. Albert was born near Gouldtown, Sask., on Feb. 24, 1927, to John D. and Margaret (nee Schellenberg) Klassen. He was raised on a grain farm until age seven, then moved to Carrot River, Sask., in a covered wagon. At

age 10, he moved again in Dec. 1937 when his parents took up a homestead at Orley, Sask.. He attended Motion School until age 14. Then he went to work cutting cords of wood at home in the morning, and brought wood to the store in the afternoon. He did this in exchange for groceries. Albert met Marie Doerksen when he was 17. They were baptized, then married in the Anglican Church on Oct. 5, 1946, in Tisdale, Sask. Albert and Marie raised five children: Audrey, Rosalie, Donald, Marvin, and Glen. The family moved to Burns Lake, B.C., in 1953 and this was home for the rest of their lives. Albert accepted the Lord after attending revival meetings and served his God faithfully. He enjoyed a

variety of jobs. In retirement spent many hours volunteering at the Pines Care Home and picking up litter in town. He took pride in clean streets. He also enjoyed woodworking hobbies such as building birdhouses and windmills. He spent many hours helping cut blanket squares for MCC. Albert’s 90th birthday was initially celebrated with his family, and then again with his church family the next day. On April 15, 2017, he broke his hip and had surgery. He never really recovered from the accident and spent six months in hospital while waiting to move into the Pines. His health deteriorated until he passed away on Oct. 27, 2017. Albert was pre-deceased by his wife Marie on Aug. 5, 2012. – His Family • The Messenger 29

In Memory

Wilbert Barkman 1944-2017

Wilbert Barkman died suddenly on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, one week after his 73rd birthday. He was predeceased by his mother, Annie Barkman, in 1982; his father, John J.R. Barkman in 1997; and by his brother Mervin in infancy. He is survived by his wife Sarah; one son, Darrel (Bertha) Barkman; two daughters, Gloria (Curt) Reimer and Sandra Peters; six grandchildren, Jessica (Tyler) Hrdlitschka, Tiffany (Spencer) Skoreyko, Amelia and Tyson Reimer, Nicole and Brianna Peters; as well as two great-grandchildren, Isabella Hrdlitschka and Sadie Skoreyko. He also leaves to cherish his memory two sisters, four brothers, and their families. Dad was born in Steinbach, Man. on Oct. 20, 1944, to John J. R. and Annie Barkman. Being the firstborn, he was able to welcome all seven of his siblings to the family. A large part of Dad’s childhood was spent in Washow Bay, Man., where his father owned and operated the local General Store, which included a gas bar and post office. Dad loved to joke about how he got paid in fresh cheese and Pepsi for working in his father’s store. Dad was baptized in the Mennville EMC at the age of 15. Dad met our mom Sarah (nee Unger) when his

30  The Messenger • January 2018

sister Marion brought home a friend from Steinbach. They were married on June 12, 1965. It was a huge blessing to Dad to have our whole family present as he and Mom celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary two years ago. Early in their marriage, Dad worked a variety of jobs until an opportunity presented itself to haul feed for the Co-op Store in Blumenort, Man., and his trucking career began. God saw fit to end that career 46 years later at a rest area near Hillsboro, North Dakota—not meeting his delivery time for the first time in many, many years. Dad was a creative and innovative thinker and enjoyed a variety of hobbies. He was an antique car enthusiast and spent many hours attending car shows or driving in parades with his restored 1958 Chevy Biscayne, a likeness to the one he owned when he and Mom were dating. He determined to build a desk for each of his grandchildren for their 13th birthday and would have completed that task had he been given one more year. Dad spent countless hours customizing model tractor/trailer units, displaying his handiwork at numerous toy shows. He meticulously built a replica of the Barkman General Store—his attention to detail astounding. Dad was a self-taught accordion and organ player, an avid reader,

and he loved family gatherings and his coffee dates—especially with his brothers. We will most certainly miss Dad’s quiet and gentle spirit, his quirky sense of humour, and the teasing twinkle in his eye. He worked hard for his family and we always looked forward to his homecoming from each trucking trip. Dad has driven his last mile and he is Home. The funeral service for Wilbert Barkman was held on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at 2 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, Man., with a viewing prior to the service. The burial followed at the Heritage Cemetery, Steinbach, Man. Donations in memory of Wilbert were made to the EM Conference. – His Family

In Memory

Danny valued connection with friends at the coffee shop, job site, or church.

Daniel Klassen Loewen 1946 – 2017

At the age of 71, on November 12, 2017, Danny K. Loewen passed away with family at his side at the Morris General Hospital. Just four short months earlier a brain tumour was discovered and operated on at Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre. One of the verses that he memorized and claimed as God’s promise for healing is found in Isaiah 41: “Fear not for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Danny is survived by Florence, his loving wife of 47 years; son Carl and Lisa (Isaiah, Jacob, Sam, Malachi); son Marc and Amy (Micah, Justice); daughter Corrina and Derrick (Freya); and daughter Marilyn. He is also survived by siblings Ester Loewen, Ernie Loewen (Mary Ann), Ed Loewen (Joy), Laura Thiessen (Harold), Maryanne Siemens (Randy), and many nieces and nephews. Danny was predeceased by his parents David and Tina Loewen and sisters Linda and Liz.  Danny was born on the family farm on July 20, 1946. As a young man, his help was needed at home, and he took grades 9 and 10 by correspondence so he could help his parents while he studied. After his

and grandchildren. He prayed daily for family, friends, and missionaries. Danny served the church and the wider community. He was generous with his time and money when he believed in a cause. He was willing to help, whether financially or with his time and skills. He believed in the importance of mission work and having a son in the mission field made supporting missions much more personal. Danny cared deeply for Florence and his family until the end. His heritage was rooted in Christ and his faith carried him until the day he went to be with Jesus, the true healer. The funeral service was held at the Rosenort EMC on Friday, November 17, 2017, with pastor Darren Plett officiating. – His Family

grade 12 graduation, Danny attended MIT in Winnipeg, and did his electrical apprenticeship, earning his Journeyman papers in 1970. On June 20, 1970, Danny and Florence were married. After establishing his electrical business, he started farming as well. Danny and Florence raised their four children on the family farm. Danny loved the beauty of God’s creation, growing crops, flowers, and gardens. Working together with his family, he spent many happy hours making the yard look spot on. He enjoyed drives west to check the growing crops throughout the summer. Harvest was always a celebration of working together as families and being thankful for God’s rich blessing.  Danny valued connection with friends at the coffee shop, job site, or church. He was wellrespected and known for his quiet nature, quick wit, and integrity. He was honServing And Learning Together est and believed in doing Commit a year to serve alongside quality work. Danny loved others in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Latin America to discuss politics and rent events; he always loved a good story. At family gatherings, Danny was often seen in conversation with his nieces and nephews, International Volunteer Exchange Program making a point of connectOpen your home or workplace to an international volunteer ing with them and finding out about their lives. Reading the Bible and praying were important to Danny, as was the salRelief, development and peace in the name of Christ vation of their children

LIVE OUT YOUR FAITH • The Messenger 31

In Memory

Jean Marjorie Plett (nee Eidse) 1930 – 2017

“Well, we had a very nice trip together, didn’t we?” Sitting up in her hospital bed days after a massive heart attack three weeks before she died, Mom spoke these poignant words. She didn’t quite understand what had happened, but somehow wanted to comfort the family that surrounded her bed. And, in retrospect, a very nice trip it was. Jean was born on June 7, 1930, in Lowe Farm, Man., the youngest daughter of three, to John and Anna Eidse, humble farmers during depression years. Jean had fond memories of climbing trees, helping her Dad fix the tractor, and making music with her sisters. Jean attended Steinbach Bible Institute where she developed a strong desire to serve as a missionary overseas; and when she met Gladwin Plett, who became her husband and the love of her life, that desire flamed into a commitment and life’s work. Jean and Gladwin married in 1952. Their first child, Beverly, was born in 1954 and the young family traveled to St. Vincent and then to Bequia where they served for four years. While there Barbara and Brian came along. and Jean mothered her young family in a

32  The Messenger • January 2018

strange new place without electricity or running water and the dangerous ocean a few hundred yards from the front door. Missionary work took Jean and Gladwin to St. Lucia for the next eight years with furloughs in between. Jean formed lifelong friendships, homeschooled her three Bs, taught Bible classes, and made home a happy place for her family and all who came. Going on to serve in Portage la Prairie and then Germany, Jean continued to be above all, a supportive wife and caring mother, while making friends and taking a genuine interest in everyone she met. Mom’s curiosity and appreciation of beauty made all her life a fascinating adventure. She asked questions, drew pictures, planted flowers and loved watching them bloom. How it pleased Mom when folks walking by admired her flower garden! Mom loved birds. One of her favourite activities was sitting with Dad at the kitchen table and watching bird feeder activity. Mom loved her children and her grandchildren. There were sleepovers, and crafts, and suppers under the apple tree. Mom collected and saved all the treasures her children and grandchildren made. When Gladwin died in 2011, Mom’s heart broke and never mended. She continued to be devoted to her family, but the light in her eyes was gone. She carried on bravely, continued to listen to our stories and ask us about our day when we visited. She continued to care for her friends and be awed by a sunset. She loved food, especially corn. And ice cream. She was one in a million. She will be missed. She passed away on Dec. 20, 2017, in Winnipeg, Man. Gone ahead

are husband Gladwin Plett, parents John and Anna Eidse, sisters Erna and Renetta Eidse, and daughterin-law Sherry (Brian). Left to love and remember are Bev Plett (Gwen), Barbara Hild (Conrad), Brian Plett (Wave), and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We have deep gratitude for the staff of Donwood Manor, especially those who cared for Mom in her final days. Her funeral was held at 11 a.m., on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at Friends Funeral Service in Winnipeg with Pastor Gerald Hildebrand officiating. Interment followed at Glen Eden Cemetery. – Her Family

Calendar Canada February 18 EMC Day of Prayer Your Church

Alberta March 2-4 Young Adult Retreat Camp Nakamun, Busby, AB

June 1-2 MCC Charity and Auction Didsbury, Alta.

Manitoba March 9-11 Young Adult Retreat Camp Nutimik, Whiteshell Provincial Park

Shoulder Tapping With any applications for EMC church pastoral positions, candidates are expected to also register a Ministry Information Profile with the EMC Board of Leadership and Outreach, which can be obtained through Erica Fehr, BLO Administrative Assistant, at or 204-326-6401.

Additional EMC Openings Often there are more churches looking for senior, associate, youth, and interim pastors than are identified on this page. For information on additional openings, contact conference pastor Layton Friesen (; conference youth minister Gerald D. Reimer (greimer@emconference. ca); and church planting coordinator Charles Koop ( The national office phone number is 204-326-6401. Talk with Erica Fehr, administrative assistant to the BLO, to request a cell number for a particular person.

Kola EMC, a rural congregation, is seeking a full time senior pastor. Our beloved pastor will be retiring this spring and we are in need of a new shepherd. Kola EMC is a church of about 100 attendees with many young families and children. This closely knit community is located just south of highway on the Man./Sask. border. Successful candidates will preach regularly, visit and support individuals in the congregation, advise ministerial boards, lead or organize small groups, initiate growth and development and outreach. Please submit your resume or questions regarding the position to Adam Bajus at littlecreek@ or to Kola EMC, c/o chairman, Box 2, Kola, MB R0M 1B0 The EMC’s Campaign of One is looking for one church planter to work in urban Canada. Is that person you? Are you being called to start a church in Windsor, Ont.? If interested, contact Charles Koop, EMC church planting coordinator, at 204-326-6401 or

EMC Positions*

Other Positions

Evangelical Fellowship Church of Fort Frances, Ont., seeks a pastor to come alongside the congregation as we minister to each other and our community. We are open to the options of a part- or full-time pastor. We are a diverse congregation and this we see as a strength. If you have a heart for the lost, a clear understanding of God’s Word, leadership experience, and would enjoy working with our Church Board and Elders, contact us. Fort Frances is an area of great opportunity for “letting your light shine.” This may be where your next big adventure for God is waiting. Please send your resume to johanneslgerber@gmail. com or leave a message at 807-274-2328.

An international school in a creative access country in Central Asia is looking for qualified teachers: Secondary English, Secondary Maths, Secondary Science, Principal. Our school is dedicated to transforming the lives of our students, the communities we’re part of, the country we serve. You’ll be able to apply your skills in an exciting and challenging environment that will transform you as you transform others! You’ll be supported by a friendly, vibrant team of committed colleagues. Parents are involved in many aspects of the school, giving it a unique family feel. You are welcome to serve for a year or longer. For information and an application, contact

Attention, Christ-centred high-school teachers, snowmobile and boat sales and service people, pastors, and police officers: Are you growing weary of feeling redundant? Are you tiring of working where you're replaceable? Are you longing to be useful where a Christian presence isn't, unless you are? Fort Chipewyan, in northern Alberta, may be the home of spiritual challenge and blessing for you! Call Arlyn van Enns at 780-697-3818. Steeprock Bay Bible Camp is seeking a seasonal director for 2018. SBBC is an evangelical interdenominational ministry located in the northern part of Manitoba`s parkland, near Sapatoweyak Cree Nation. ” We currently offer five weeks of junior camp and one week of teen camp. For further information or to submit a resume, please contact us at info@ or call the board chair Ferlin Abrahamson at 204-281-2879. Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, located in Winkler, Man., is seeking a full- or part-time associate pastor. We hold to the Anabaptist theology and have accepted The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. We are currently not affiliated with a Conference. Currently we share our facility with another congregation. Our congregation consists primarily of seniors. The associate position would focus on visitations (both home and hospital), preaching, and teaching (which includes Bible study and/or adult Sunday School class). Please submit resumes to Search Committee, WBMC, Box 1207, Winkler, MB R6W 4B2 or email to

Where are position ads to be sent? Please send all position ads, including pastoral search ads, to All ads are to be 150 words or less. All ads can be edited. Please advise us when it is no longer needed.

Ministry in an Evangelical Anabaptist Setting The priesthood of all believers and the dignity of vocations (beyond priest, monk, and nun) are two biblical truths rediscovered during the Protestant Reformation. In an Evangelical Anabaptist understanding, all moral types of work can be Christ-honouring for believers. At the same time, most of our churches do set aside some individuals for special functions of spiritual leadership, teaching, and preaching. Not all settings are the same. Some of our churches elect ministers from within their midst. Others choose a minister from outside of the congregation. Some of our churches have full-time paid pastors, either solo or in a multi-staff setting. Others have a team of hired and selfsupporting ministers. Some pastors are bi-vocational. Our ministers reflect a variety of educational paths: most have Bible college and some have seminary; other training is also common.

When experienced pastors or new graduates from outside the EMC wish to pursue pastoral openings in our conference, it is wise to look at the EMC Constitution, including its Statement of Faith and Church Practices, and our Vision and Values. Copies of these can be found online. Familiarity with Anabaptist history and doctrine are assets or will need to be developed. To be commissioned or ordained with national recognition within the EMC requires an examination by and approval of the Ministerial Examination Committee, Board of Leadership and Outreach. Please contact Layton Friesen or Erica Fehr for details.

Pastoral Search Committees

There are resources available to assist you in your search and deliberations. Please contact Erica Fehr for resource materials. • The Messenger 33

Column • Here and Far Away

Overwhelming and Overwhelming

W Releasing my tight grasp on the process is, you can imagine, both terrifying and immensely relieving. Drive me to your Word, Lord.

34  The Messenger • January 2018


by Jocelyn R. Plett www.writewhatyousee.

ithin this transition we’re experiencing now: adjusting to Canadian culture, home-ownership, Canadian schools, financial management, and mourning our Madagascar life, I tread the tightrope of tension of wanting to be “home” (comfortable, routine, relaxed) and wanting to be stretched to greater growth and maturity (which often entails discomfort, new stimuli, agitation). This tension is, in a word, unsettling. I’ve reached a point where I am so overwhelmed I’m ready to let go of control and trust that what I’ve learned (by God’s grace), and the grace of God itself, will carry us through. Releasing my tight grasp on the process is, you can imagine, both terrifying and immensely relieving. Golly! We serve such an amazing God who knows us so intimately, who has planned our life route with our best interest in mind, who is concerned with His own glory and therefore will lead our lives to that end. A God who comforts, counsels, sustains, empowers, rescues, redeems, admonishes, corrects, disciplines, and loves us with such fierce, gentle love. Church, we live in a tumultuous world; upheaval and change will face us at almost every turn. It’s immensely thrilling to realize that Christ, God-with-us, grants us not only direct access to the ear of the Professor of Life, but gives us a personal tutor and Counselor, who teaches us according to our unique learning style, who comforts us when we are frustrated over particularly difficult problems and encourages us to keep on. It’s overwhelming! And yet, I’ve been trained up in a culture that teaches that my hard work brings about good results. How does one release this mentality in the face of God’s provision of everything I have

and need? (Eph. 1, Gal. 5). It is a battle of cultures, to be sure. I am overwhelmed by the swirl of events that happen around me beyond much of my control; yet also overwhelmed by God’s supreme sovereignty and the Spirit’s ultimate work in me to provide what I need, and the gifts provided—not earned by hard work!—required to do well on the mid-term exams of life. Was the Christ Child overwhelmed by the swirl of events beyond His human-infant control, I wonder? He was at the mercy of human parents’ care, after all. Yet surely knowing better than I do that He was at the mercy of a Divine Parent’s provision. Can I be any less cared for by this same Heavenly Father even while I battle to make sense of what is going on around me? I choose to see the double-sidedness of being overwhelmed: the discomfort of being out of control and the thrill of not being in control because God is. Lord, help me to keep the crises that threaten to overthrow my footing in clear contrast to the overwhelming gifts You give, in your mercy, every day. Drive me to Your Word, Lord, where I will find salve for my frayed mind and heart, and a quietness that brings the cacophony of life’s busyness into submission.

Column • Stewardship Today


few weeks ago, we welcomed our first grandchild into the world. Amidst my great joy, I have recently found myself reflecting on the incredible responsibility of raising children. Scripture advises that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV). Looking back at my own childhood, I believe my parents did a fantastic job raising their children. Mom and Dad were involved in many aspects of the local church: serving on boards and committees, teaching Sunday school, and leading small groups. They truly lived out their belief that both their time and money belonged to the Lord. I remember well the way they modelled biblical stewardship. This was not something that they talked about, but we kids could see it in the way our parents lived their lives and managed the household. Without fail, right off the top came their giving to the local church, then to Christian charities, and finally household needs. As children, we wrestled with knowing that a new car, a home convenience, or a vacation would never get in the way of their giving. I clearly recall my dad, who always had great ideas and big plans, sitting down with Mom to figure out what we could afford. Many times, those big plans were re-arranged so we could live within our means. Did I regret not going on a fancy vacation, or not having a car with power windows and air conditioning? Maybe at the time, but now I cherish those decisions and the way my parents were modelling generosity for my siblings and me. When I became a parent, the world I raised my children in was quite different from the one in which I had grown up. Nevertheless, those core values instilled by my parents remained. Amidst rapidly advancing technology, increasingly influential media, and shifting societal values, my wife and I did our best to model biblical stewardship and generosity for our kids. We hope that at least some of the time we got it right. Now, I want to continue modelling these values for my grandchild. Many of my clients at Abundance Canada share a similar desire to instill generosity in their


A Legacy of Giving

children and grandchildren. Yet, giving today is not as visible as it once was. Automatic withdrawals, the tap of a credit card, and online virtual donations are the norm. Our grandchildren won’t often experience placing money in the offering plate or buying material goods to send to charity. However, recently my wife and I established a family foundation to keep our family focused on generosity into the future. The term "family foundation" sometimes makes people think of wealthy philanthropists like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey, but anyone can give in this way. Our family foundation is like a unique savings account for a portion of our family giving. As the leaders of the family, my wife and I seed the account and commit to contribute funds on an annual basis. We encourage our grown children to give to the account as well, and in time, we hope our grandchildren will do the same. Every year, we meet up to prayerfully decide how a portion of the funds will be disbursed. We look forward to these opportunities to gather everyone together to connect, pray, and discuss what charities are important to us. This structure helps keep generous giving front-and-centre throughout the year. Perhaps a family foundation would be helpful for your family, too? I am quickly learning that grandparenting is a wonderful blessing and an awesome responsibility. Following in my parents’ footsteps, I hope and pray that my family is developing an enduring understanding of the importance of generosity and establishing a legacy of joyful giving for generations to come.

by Brad Friesen

I am quickly learning that grandparenting is a wonderful blessing and an awesome responsibility. May my family understand the importance of generosity.

Brad Friesen is a Gift Planning Consultant at Abundance Canada and is in Abbotsford, BC. To learn more about setting up a Family Foundation and other gift solutions, call Abundance Canada at 1.800.772.3257 or visit • The Messenger 35

Column • Kids’ Corner

Take a Winter Walk

by Loreena Thiessen

Look around. What do you see? Snow has turned everything white and sparkling. Remember, all the things you enjoy God has made. Remember to thank him.



winter walk is different from a summer walk. It takes planning. The first thing you must do is check the weather. How cold is it? Is a storm coming? This will determine everything else, what you wear, where you’ll go, what you’ll do. You’ll be happy longer, playing outside, if you dress appropriately. A sweater over your indoor clothes will keep the cold out. Wear long socks and cozy snow pants and you’ll feel toasty warm. Winter boots will keep out the snow even if it’s deep. Wear water proof mitts to keep your hands dry and warm. Pull a warm toque over your head and ears. You don’t want frostbite. Keep your neck covered with a scarf so the wind won’t blow in. And zip up your parka against the cold air. There, you’re all set. Now step outside. Take a big breath. Isn’t that refreshing? Where will you go? To a park? Into the forest? Around your neighbourhood? Look around. What do you see? Snow has turned everything white and sparkling. The trees are bare. Paths are covered. Did any birds stay for the winter? Do you spot any other animals? Even if they’re not within sight, there may be signs they were here. Look for bird tracks, or rabbit paw prints. There may be the hoof prints of a deer around a tree trunk or going into the woods.

How does the sky look? Is it a winter sky? Any signs that a wind is blowing? Look for branches swaying or the rustle of dry leaves still hanging on. What can you hear? Are the sounds natural, like birds singing, or the chatter of squirrels? Or are they man-made sounds, cars going by, an airplane overhead, a train whistle or a siren? You may even hear children shouting. Touch the bark of a tree trunk. How does it feel? Can you find something soft, like moss, or smooth like a stone, or a bench? Is it warm or cold? Can you taste the air? What does snow taste like? Make sure it’s clean snow. What do you smell? What does a tree smell like? Choose a spruce or a pine. Sniff a small branch with needles and describe its smell. Walking outside is good for you. It’s good exercise. It builds muscles. Activity: Things to do on a walk. It will keep your bones and Take a sled. You can ride it, pull it, or slide down a hill, if there is one. joints healthy. It lowers Make art with twigs and berries. Make shapes. Notice the texture your body’s blood pres(bumpy and lumpy, smooth or prickly). Draw with a pointy branch. sure. Walking among trees Make a snow angel. and breathing the cool air Look for animals or signs of them, like tracks, animal droppings, will make you feel refreshed bark nibbled off tree trunks, digging or scraping for hidden food, and light. You’ll be ready tunnels in the snow. to relax indoors, eat a good Bring a camera. Take photos of your nature art, animal signs, supper, and sleep well. trees, shapes, light, shadows, and angles. Remember, all the Name as many plants or animals as you know. things you enjoy God has made. Remember to thank Caution: Always go with an adult. Stay on the path and stay away him. from roads, fences, or water. Never put your tongue or lips on metal Read Psalm 65:9-13. outdoors.

36  The Messenger • January 2018

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Featured Articles: inside: Mental Health in the EMC: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going (p. 6) NLCF Holds Service of Reconciliation...

The Messenger January 2018  

Featured Articles: inside: Mental Health in the EMC: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going (p. 6) NLCF Holds Service of Reconciliation...