The Messenger a publication of the
Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Volume 58â€‚ No. 4 July 2020
Accept One Another page 6
Ministerial and Conference Council Reports Inside pages 20-25
ALSO INSIDE: To My EMC Family: Thank You and a Few Suggestions page 10
Examine the Day page 13
Allow Me to Say Thanks
he lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). Ordination is not a professional standing or a personal achievement. It is a response to an unexpected call. This July it’s been 35 years since I became a minister and 23 years since I formally began in the national office. Allow me to say thanks to the Triune God and to you. Consider me a displaced Mainliner re-rooted through Evangelicalism who is enriched by Anabaptism. I’m indebted to the United Church, via my parents, for introducing me to church life and stories of Jesus, and for spurring me to critical thought and social justice. (If only more of the United Church would teach what is of “first importance” in the Christian faith.) The Evangelical Church re-rooted me, grounded me, in the gospel: “For what I received I passed on as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he
appeared…this is what we preach, and this is what you believed” (1 Cor. 15:1-8). I’m indebted to pastors consulted while considering a call to pastoral ministry. My gratitude goes to hundreds of ministers, priests and professors, men and women, who have shared their lives and books with me. Some of them peer over my shoulder now. I’m thankful to the EMC and the wider Mennonite Church. At its best the Anabaptist church combines what’s of “first importance” about Jesus while pursuing peace (Heb. 12:14) and justice (Micah 6:8); this joins together Scriptural truths from my Evangelical connections and United Church roots. A key Mennonite is Mary Ann—my first MA and the most important. I’m grateful she took the risk of marrying me after I completed two years of Voluntary Service with MCC; then she worked for a year while I earned a degree from MBBC. We served in Creighton for 11 years and she knelt beside me as I took ordination vows. She’s a key reason I’ve been here for 23 years. – Terry M. Smith
I’m thankful to the EMC and the wider Mennonite Church.
Note on Discussion Within The Messenger Every community will have a diversity of views and opinions, which provides opportunities for us to learn from each other, being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Our discussions are inevitably impacted by our own experiences, and the experiences of people in our lives. These discussions should also reflect the reality that some groups and individuals have not always felt welcome in Christian communities. We welcome your responses to articles and topics discussed in The Messenger. – Board of Church Ministries
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; email@example.com).
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Table of Contents Features
‘Accept One Another’ – James Driedger
10 To My EMC Family: Thank You and a Few Suggestions – By a Missionary
13 Examine the Day – Professor Andrew Dyck
Departments 2 4 16 20 32 33
Editorial Letters and Notices Missions News In Memory Shoulder Tapping
Giving in Turbulent Times – Tim Dyck
15 A Path to Peace
Getting Help Without Being a Gossip – Kevin Wiebe
18 Window on Missions
What is Happening Now in Nicaragua? – Pedro Luis Espinales and Ken Zacharias
19 Further In and Higher Up A Cornered Cat or Hungry for Honey? – Layton Friesen
31 Writings Shared 34 His Light to My Path Consider the Creator – Karla Hein
35 Stewardship Today A Generosity Hat Trick – Kevin Davidson
36 Kids’ Corner
What Can You Do? – Loreena Thiessen
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 3
Letters and Notices
Volume 58 No. 4 July 2020
Complaining About Restrictions?
EDITOR TERRY M. SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org
ASSISTANT EDITOR ANDREW WALKER email@example.com
Submissions to The Messenger should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.issuu.com/emcmessenger) and six in a website format at www.emcmessenger.ca. 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 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: www.emcmessenger.ca If you wish to sign up for our email newsletter. Pleaase contact Andrew at: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org www.emconference.ca/messenger 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 email@example.com.
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I have heard quite a few people, many of whom are Christians, complaining about the restrictions being put on us because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am not here to discuss the necessity or effectiveness of any of those measures. I am also not here to draw a comparison between the Manitoban or Canadian government and the Roman government of New Testament times. Yet I can’t help but think of Peter and Silas (and countless Christians unjustly imprisoned since then) and what their reaction was. They very well could have sat together and discussed how unfair it was of the government to restrict their movement, to “cut them off ” from the fellowship of believers, to choose the health of society (as perceived by the political leaders) over their personal freedom and economic activity. They didn’t. They sang hymns of praise to the God they knew was bigger than any circumstances. They knew they were still part of the fellowship of believers because Christ’s Body is not dependent on physical proximity. They knew the Church was
Guidelines for letters
Letters published are generally to comment on issues raised in The Messenger. The magazine reserves the right to edit letters for length, style, legality, and taste. It can refuse publication. Letters by regular mail and by fax must contain a handwritten signature with at least the writer’s first and last names and an address.
praying for them and they joined in from their cell. Even when an earthquake broke down the prison walls, they sat and they sang. We are much more privileged than they. No one has told us to stop reading our Bible. No one has told us to stop praying. No one has told us to stop singing. We have been given an unprecedented (in our context) opportunity to display that Christianity is about so much more than attending church on Sundays. Brothers and sisters in Christ, whatever you may feel about the government’s and public health office’s decisions in these difficult times, please take every opportunity to praise our good God and to show love to those who are suffering instead of complaining. We look forward to physically gathering as our individual church bodies again in the not too distant future and even more to gathering together as the entirety of Christ’s Body in the presence of our Lord someday. Bethany Matejka Birch River, Man.
For letters by e-mail, the writer’s name and e-mail address are deemed to be an electronic signature. The writer’s regular postal address is to be included in e-mail correspondence. The writer’s name and general address are to be published. In sensitive matters, names may be withheld. Letters to the editor are to be 250 words or less.
Column • Focus On
Giving in Turbulent Times
Tim Dyck Executive Director
When the COVID-19 crisis first arrived on the scene in Canada, the Board of Trustees was very concerned about the effects of the economic downturn on Church and Conference giving. However, in the first six months of 2020, EMC expenses are down, revenues are up, and we have a surplus at the half way mark of the year. Praise God for this wonderful news! Part of the reason for the surplus in June is due to receiving a major gift a month earlier this year, but the overall picture is still very positive. EMC national staff moved quickly to work from home and the office was closed during the month of April. Prayer teams were canceled; staff returned home from overseas and canceled all subsequent travel. Trustees requested that discretionary expenses be minimized. All of this resulted in lower expenses for the first six months of 2020. What was not expected was the strong support for both local church and EMC ministries. Revenues at EMC in the month of March were considerably lower than previous years and it looked as though the dire predictions of funding shortfalls would be realized. In May, the Trustees sent a survey to all EMC churches, asking about giving in their settings. With few exceptions, the churches indicated that giving in their
church remained on par and that they expected to meet budget by the end of the year. There is still a great deal of uncertainty moving forward into the coming years. The economic recovery in Canada is still shaky, and a second wave of the virus in the fall could have devastating effects. For this reason, the General Board has agreed that EMC should plan to reduce the budget for 2021, while remaining hopeful that support will continue to be strong. Praise God for faithful donors in EMC churches who continue to give to support the ministries of the local church. Praise God also for the faithfulness of churches who pass along the finances needed to carry out EMC ministries we do together in Canada and beyond.
What was not expected was the strong support for both local church and EMC ministries.
Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Year to Date Financial Report January – June 2020
Income* Expenses Excess/Shortfall
General Fund 2020 940,178 788,255 151,923
General Fund 2019 681,381 915,515 -234,134
We give thanks to God for the continued strong support of EMC ministries, and we acknowledge the contributions of EMC churches and individuals who give so generously. - The Board of Trustees *Income includes donations and transfers from other funds (e.g., estate funds).
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 5
‘Accept One Another’
By James Driedger
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he apostle Paul figured he could be “all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22). So, who is Paul for the EM Conference today and in its mission to advance Christ’s kingdom culture? I want to suggest that Paul is our mediator, and that he is so through his appeal to the church in Rome to “accept one another” (Rom. 15:7). While this phrase was written to mobilize the support of the fractioning church in Rome, that Paul might have a base from which to continue his work in Spain, I believe that through the Spirit of God it is a phrase for us. To grasp the meaning of Paul’s words “welcome one another,” we must rewind to chapter 14, where he writes: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him” (14:1). By calling a group within the church — that in time he will refer to as the “strong” (15:1) — to welcome those who are “weak,” Paul reveals a fractured church. And the question is: “What were they divided over?” Were they divided on matters essential or non-essential to the Christian faith?
expression itself reveals that this group had saving faith even if it was deficient. We should not view this, therefore, as a Christian/non-Christian divide; it speaks of an in-house divide, as it were, that Paul did not view as essential to the integrity of this Christian community. What were these Christian’s divided over? There were two matters: (1) the “weak” ate only vegetables, probably to avoid food sacrificed to idols, while the “strong” ate all food (14:2, 21); and (2) the “weak” valued one day in the week above the others, while the “strong” made no distinction between days (14:5). One of the greater challenges for early Christianity centred around the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians as it pertained to the relevance of the Law. The “weak” in our passage were likely Jewish Christians who abstained from non-kosher foods and observed the Sabbath. They had trusted in Jesus as Messiah, but were unable to accept that in Christ certain practices, that for so long had defined them as the people of God, were no longer binding. How does Paul seek to mend this division over non-essential matters?
One of the greater challenges for early Christianity centred around the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians as it pertained to the relevance of the Law.
Describing One Party
To begin, we must not fail to recognize that Paul refers to one party as those “weak in faith.” The
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He begins by countering the mutual judgment that defined this community with a call for mutual acceptance. “Let not the one who eats [the “strong”] despise the one who abstains [the “weak”], and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him” (14:3). Paul is cognizant that those with more freedom in Christ have the tendency of looking down upon those with less freedom as legalists, while those with less freedom often view themselves as the righteous remnant who have resisted compromise unlike those others. Paul finds this unacceptable. When we judge someone’s faith over a matter that we disagree on, but that is not essential to Christianity and its moral vision, we set ourselves up against God who has already welcomed that person. To be sure, Paul is not calling for total tolerance, but he is calling for tolerance within the confines of the faith.
Paul’s second argument stresses the importance of godly motivation. Undermining the significance of any day or diet, he writes: “The one who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honour of the Lord” (14:6). The reason why someone eats
When we judge someone’s faith over a matter that we disagree on, but that is not essential to Christianity and its moral vision, we set ourselves up against God who has already welcomed that person. something or esteems a day as holy, for Paul, is more important than the practice itself. He does not say that any action one can think of is now permissible as long as they claim right motives; but in matters not antithetical to the gospel, Paul will tolerate diversity as long as people live to honour God. And in this divide, he is sure that both parties “live to the Lord” (14:7). Paul directs his final argument to the “strong,” instructing them to not “put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother or sister;” if they do, they are “no longer walking in love.” (14:13, 15). Those who are “strong” are not to jeopardize the faith of the “weak,” by pushing them to do (or not do) something that they view at odds with their faith, as this often results in disillusionment and (at worst) the destruction of their faith. Paul believes that there is something more important than one’s liberty in Christ—namely, the building-up of the church. Paul would always have you seek the good of your church over your personal freedom. This is not to say that one must change their convictions and practices per se; but they should be filtered through a does-this-build-up-thechurch? grid.
The Way of Christ
For Paul, this is the way of Christ. “We who are
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strong, have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak… Because Christ did not please himself ’” (15:1, 3). That Paul would draw a comparison between Christ’s sacrifice and the duty of the “strong” to change their diet may appear unwarranted, but it is intended to jolt the reader. If Christ was willing to lay down his life for those who are “weak,” will the “strong” not make these lesser sacrifices? Paul closes by praying that God would grant this church to “live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify God” (15:5-6). Notice that Paul prays that they would live in harmony with one another. What does harmony imply? It implies the absence of unison. When Paul prays for unity, he expects a measure of diversity to remain; yet Paul believes that “with one voice” this church can still glorify God.
It is without question a significant and necessary discussion and it cannot be fully separated from the gospel’s implications (which are surely essential), but the matter never makes it into Paul’s core statements about the gospel. It is never listed in those vice-catalogues deemed antithetical to the gospel and finds no mention in the Church’s early creeds. I’m aware that rigorous discussion is a prerequisite before we can agree on what constitutes an essential of our faith, but my conviction is that Paul would be disheartened if we were unable to move in the direction of harmony—not uniformity—on this matter. Listening to Paul our mediator, therefore, let us refrain from criticizing those whom Christ has already accepted; let us recognize the wholehearted faith of many with whom we disagree, and let us consider the benefit of our conference above our individual preferences.
Paul closes by praying that God would grant this church to “live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify God”
I invite you to welcome Paul the mediator to guide us as a conference in the coming months. There are matters that we disagree on that have the potential of threatening our harmony in advancing Christ’s kingdom culture. To, semi-reluctantly, speak to the elephant in the room: we are divided on whether women may serve as pastors in our conference. While, at this time, I identify as a soft-complementarian (though admittedly, I find this term and egalitarian unhelpful and a barrier in this discussion), I would like to suggest that this divide is over a matter non-essential to our faith.
James Driedger (MDiv, PTS) is an associate pastor at Blumenort Community Church. He lives in Steinbach with his wife and two sons.
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 9
To My EMC Family: Thank You and a Few Suggestions By a Missionary
ear EMC family, These unusual times, combined with an online course on missionary care I’ve been taking during lockdown in Eastern Europe, have meant a lot of introspection. This introspection has included thinking about what EMC has done well in the course of our 20-plus years as overseas workers. Thus, this letter: I wanted to take a moment to thank you for these things, with a few other suggestions sprinkled in.
As someone who has “married into” to the EMC (I met my husband while working in overseas missions), from the beginning I was welcomed, and this has continued throughout the years. EMC churches, small groups and families have readily given us space to share our experiences and to let us communicate how we’ve seen God work through our common mission. But it’s not just a welcome because we are missionaries; it’s a welcome because we are people. When we’ve met with EMC leadership, they have wanted to know how we are really doing and have
given their unhurried time to listen to us. We are grateful for this hospitable listening. Christian psychiatrist Dr. Curtis Thompson writes in his book The Soul of Shame, “Good listeners energize the storyteller, and so encourage the story to be told more faithfully.” We want to be able to tell our story faithfully, and those of you who have listened attentively have helped us do that.
Committed to Us
Which brings me to another point of thanks: EMC has also been committed to us through tough times. Just over nine years ago I suffered an accident while on the field, and we received encouraging emails from many in the EMC family, reassuring us of their prayers. When we were finally able to visit some of those who had prayed, I remember one of our supporters saying, “We’re so glad you’re okay.” Then, with a catch in her voice, “That was a scary time.” Even with all the miles separating us, they entered into our harrowing experience and kept us buoyed through their prayers. More recently, my husband appreciated a call from EMC staff to find out how we were
But it’s not just a welcome because we are missionaries; it’s a welcome because we are people.
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coping with lockdown. These thoughtful gestures show care and have kept us connected to you. This is in addition to regular emails, where your prayers and the sharing of your news help keep the link strong.
A Gathering of ‘Misfits’
Another event I appreciated was a gathering of missionaries during missions week at our home fellowship in Manitoba. The facilitators were themselves missionaries, and through the fun games and thoughtful sharing time, we realized we were with others who get our strange life. In a way, missionaries are forever ruined for normal living. This has its pluses, like being able to critically evaluate our relationship to worldly possessions. But it also means that we are often misfits in our “home” culture. (Just ask a missionary kid, “Where’s home?” and see how long it takes her to answer.) So, gathering with other misfits within the EMC family has reassured us that we’re not the only weird ones out there.
of viewing and doing life are the mainstays of our overseas service, and we often look for people in the host culture who can help us navigate the new waters. But when re-entering Canadian culture, we have to go through this process again. We are usually missing friends and home, we may be grieving the loss of stability, or may be facing changes in ministry focus. We may do strange things, like pine after bread baked in a clay oven, or have trouble thinking of the English word for an everyday object. We may even have troubling questions about God and His ways of working. Here is where having safe people to be with, who will put up with our unusual ways and let us process through the changes we’re going through, can be a lifeline. The church family receiving us can ask if we do have those close relationships and encourage us in that direction if we do not.
One other thing we’ve appreciated about our home fellowship is their willingness to try new ways of connecting.
Related to this, we might have benefitted during longer furlough times from having cultural guides to help in our re-acculturation. Working in a different culture, adjusting to different ways
New Ways of Connecting
One other thing we’ve appreciated about our home fellowship is their willingness to try new ways of connecting. After we moved to a new field two years ago, they organized a Skype call with us within the Sunday morning service. Yes, it was perhaps a bit chaotic, and maybe the screen froze more than once, but we appreciate their willingness to touch base and allow the whole congregation to ‘see’ us.
I’ve already mentioned a couple of suggestions for strengthening the missionary-church relationship, but I’ll add two more here. Through my missionarycare course, I have been impressed by the reality of living an embodied faith— our bodies influence our souls and vice-versa. This means that how our bodies are doing can give us a clue as to how our souls are doing.
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In The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress, Christian psychologist Dr. Archibald Hart shares his own experience: “Since realizing that my body is intelligently designed, I have changed my attitude to pain and try to listen to the discomfort my body creates when I am under too much stress…I attend to the pressures in my life. I force myself to slow down, change priorities, and relinquish responsibilities that are not mine alone.” While it is my job to monitor my own health, supporting fellowships can ask us about this area as well. The temptation is to just pray for health issues to go away (which is also important!), but in some cases they may point to inner issues which need to be talked about: anxiety, fear, trauma, relational conflict within the missions team, disappointment, among other things.
Which brings me to my last thought: keep us accountable for our Sabbaths. This is embedded in a wider concern for our spiritual health, but I mention Sabbath rest specifically because we can be busy with ministry and lose the priority of quiet, unhurried time with Jesus. Furloughs theoretically provide a chance to reassess the shape of our daily lives, but often such times can be no better, with full travel schedules packed with speaking engagements.
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Ask us about our vacations. Ask us about our spiritual retreats. Ask us about what we need to do to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen well. Just the questions might be enough to make sure we include these vital elements our lives both overseas and on home soil.
Thanks for Listening
Thanks again for listening. The prayerful, thoughtful support of our EMC family has been a key part of us being able to stay on the field. I hope my letter has encouraged you in that; it has certainly helped me put to pen some thoughts percolating in my head and heart for the past few months. As my prof said in her last lecture of the course, “Speak the truth.” We missionaries may sometimes be afraid to do so because we don’t want to disappoint those who have sent us or jeopardize our support, but effective, Christ-rooted ministry depends on open communication with you. Something for us to keep growing in, don’t you think? Many thanks and blessings. The author is a missionary with Wycliffe Canada serving with her family in Europe. She and her husband are training a new generation of missionaries to go to the least reached.
Examine the Day By Professor Andrew Dyck
s a boy, I picked raspberries for several summers. Whenever I had filled a flat with fruit, the farmer would weigh it on a balance scale to discern two truths: the truth of how much I had picked and the truth that I had not hidden rocks or dirt clods under the berries. The pointer or tongue of the scale pointed out the truth of my berries’ mass. In Latin, the tongue on a scale is its examen. As Christians, we need an examen to help us discern the truth about our lives. Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In Romans 12:3, we’re reminded to think about ourselves truthfully “with sober judgment.” Sadly, self-examination can debilitate us with crippling guilt, paralyzed decision-making, or glib self-praise. We need a more truthful and more loving examen. 1 John teaches us two complementary practices that comprise the examen we need. With these practices we welcome God to inspect our lives, freeing us to live in peace.
Confession, Acts of Love
One part of the examen is acknowledging to God
our sins (1 John 1:8–2:2). God expects us to stop sinning (1 John 2:1)—to become like Jesus. To say we’re already free of sinning is to lie and call God a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). Instead, we need the habit of naming our specific sins and confessing them to God (1 John 1:9). As we become honest about our sins, we’ll discover that God is so faithful and righteous that he forgives and purifies us through Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9, 2:1–2). The other part of the examen is acknowledging to God our acts of love (1 John 3:18–24). We need to notice the ways in which we’ve cared for other people concretely and practically (1 John 3:18). This is necessary whenever we feel
1 John 1:8-2:2 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)
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inwardly accused of failing God and others (1 John 3:20)—especially when this feeling is due to self-doubt or excessive scrupulosity. Our loving actions are God’s love moving through us to others. When we see this, our inaccurate hearts can be reassured in God’s presence (1 John 3:19). We can be at rest, knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work through us (1 John 3:24). Whenever we practice these two habits— confessing our sins and noticing God’s love in our own loving actions—we rely on God to show us which realities we need to see. Left to ourselves, we are blind to the truth of our lives. However, God has not abandoned us to our own devices. Our divine parent has promised to comfort and discipline us, according to our need.
children. They can help us in times of decisionmaking. Asked over weeks and months, they can help us discern the movement of Jesus’ Spirit in our lives—especially when a wise Christian accompanies us.
A Five-Part Prayer
Two models are particularly helpful for learning to pray an examen true to 1 John. In the book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life (1995), Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn recommend we take a few minutes each evening to become quiet in God’s presence and then ask, “For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?” These simple questions open the door to God’s loving examen. They offer us an end run around self-condemnation and self-deception. They’re suitable for all ages, including young
1 John 3:18–24 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: we know it by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)
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A recent adaptation of the examen from the Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) invites us to retreat each day for a five-part prayer (SJ New Orleans Province). Recall that you’re in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s gifts in the past day. Ask God by the Holy Spirit to help you look at yourself honestly and patiently, without condemnation or complacency. Review your day’s actions and attitudes, noticing where you acted freely and where you were swept along without freedom. Lastly, talk with Jesus about your day: thank, confess, resolve, and rest. (Limiting the prayer of examen to 15 minutes helps us avoid becoming self-absorbed.) God has destined us to be joy-filled instead of guilty, righteous instead of sinning, and confident instead of merely optimistic. Prayerfully receiving God’s examen is a wonderful way of allowing God to work these transformations in our lives. Andrew Dyck, PhD, is assistant professor of Christian spirituality and pastoral ministry for MB Seminary at Canadian Mennonite University. He and his wife Martha are part of Westwood Community Church and Winnipeg’s Imago Dei group. Reprinted with permission, with minor revisions, from Mennonite Brethren Herald (Nov. 2007).
Columns • A Path to Peace
Getting Help Without Being a Gossip
by Kevin Wiebe
hings were going just fine, or so you thought. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but what is? Then out of nowhere what you thought was going well just turned out to have been naive optimism, and now you get to be the next person to take your turn going for a ride on the conflict carousel. You don’t know what to do and you could use some advice, but you truly love the people you are in conflict with and don’t want to be spreading gossip about them. And, yet, you feel that if there is any hope for things to get better you will need to talk to someone. So, what do you do? How do you involve someone without becoming a gossip? If this describes you then there is good news: far too often people don’t give a second thought to whether or not they are actually getting help or just spreading malicious gossip. So, if you want to get help in such situations, but don’t want to spread gossip, that is a better starting point than most. When there is conflict between Person A (let’s call him Adam) and Person B (let’s call him Ben), it is very natural for each of them to feel the need to talk to a third person about this. Conflict management studies refers to this other person as Person C (let’s call him Charlie), and this process of seeking outside support is referred to as Triangulation. So, in this conflict between Adam and Ben, for the sake of argument let’s say that Adam goes to Charlie to talk about it. What happens next? Well, Charlie may take Adam’s side, get involved, and also be in conflict with Ben. Or Charlie may agree with Ben and then Adam feels betrayed by Charlie and is now in conflict with both. Or perhaps Charlie helps Adam see the error of his ways and helps him to reconcile with Ben. Or perhaps Charlie does nothing but talk to others about the newest juicy gossip about the issues between Ben and
Adam. Charlie may even refuse to get involved, which can be a very respectable course of action at times. While it is important that the person you speak to have a healthy relationship with you that will hold you in an unconditional positive regard, they should also be someone who isn’t afraid to help you see the errors of your own ways and help you view your “enemy” as someone also made in the image of God. Do not bring the matter to someone who is prone to gossip, but who you know to be trustworthy. Furthermore, you should be careful about your expectations. Unless you are getting a trained mediator involved, don’t expect them to go to the person you are having trouble with. You will need someone to talk things through with, to be honest with, and to care for you through the difficult process. Find someone who cares about making peace, not just faking peace, and who is bold enough to hold up a mirror to you to gently show you your own part in this problem.
Far too often people don’t give a second thought to whether or not they are actually getting help or just spreading malicious gossip.
(Please note: While this advice is healthy and applicable to normal conflict, it is very harmful when applied to situations of abuse. Abuse is not conflict; it is criminal.)
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 15
With Our Missionaries
The Time I was Almost Famous
SIDE TRACK BANDITS
16 The Messenger • July 2020
SOUL CATALYST FILMS
Let me tell you about a time I was almost famous. A few years ago, some of my friends and I made a YouTube channel. For a year we wrote and produced a short video every two weeks. We tried westerns, we tried superheroes, we dabbled in comedic horror and bad puns. Some of it was funny; everything was original. For months, our videos got only around 250 views or so, which coincidentally was about how many friends and family members we all had. Then one day, we had a hit. Tens of thousands of people saw it. They talked about it on Steinbach Radio. An uncredited screenshot was featured in a Buzzfeed article. It captured the cultural zeitgeist. It was... 20 Halloween Costumes for Procrastinators. Yes, a list video. Exactly the type uncreative, click-bait trash we had been trying to avoid. There wasn’t anything original about it. No scathing critique of popular culture or trends. We were just experimenting, but we stumbled into a way to get the audience we wanted. Strangely, the success of that video took the wind out of our sails. We realized we didn’t just want a large audience, we wanted a large audience that liked what we liked, that understood our vision. We still made a few more videos, but a part of the joy was gone. Today, I’m part of a filmmaking/missions team called Soul Catalyst. We are experimenting with reaching out to the larger culture through film. Our goals might sound more holy, but we’re still wrestling with the same problem. Is it possible to engage the internet while still being authentic to our calling?
In case you thought this wasn’t about you, I’d like to suggest that Christianity in general faces this problem, especially in today’s modern online world. Missions theorists talk about how the Apostle Paul focused on the major cities of his day to spread Christianity. Today, the internet is the last major city. But we avoid it, because we know how empty online fame is. We’ve seen others take the shortcut and we don’t want to sell out the incredible hope and vision we have for a few likes. And yet, just because it’s easy to do wrong doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing right. The challenge calls us to something higher. To step out of our closed communities and seek an audience with the world, while still holding true to our vision with the help of those same communities. In the next few weeks, we at Soul Catalyst will be trying to increase our online presence. Obviously not every piece of content will contain our whole vision or be serious and thought provoking. But we want to be intentional about what we are doing. We aren’t trying to start a movement. We are trying to be part of one. We don’t want to build our audience. We want to build God’s. Join us on the street corners of the last city. – Alex Reimer Alex Reimer (Prairie Grove) is an EMC Associate Missionary and a filmmaker who serves with Greater Europe Mission in Kandern, Germany. Check out https://www.soulcatalyst. org/ (Alex is on the right.)
With Our Missionaries
Empowerment the Key to Self-Sustainability UGANDA/SOUTH SUDAN
The people of South Sudan have witnessed incredible violence, fled their homes, and suffered immensely because of lack of food, clean water, and shelter. Many continue to suffer or are paralyzed with fear and poverty. Serving South Sudan will bring a church planting model that promotes, sustainable development to grassroots communities providing clean drinking water, economic empowerment, social integration, church empowerment, and education. Empowerment is the key to self-sustainability, both for the South Sudanese refugees and the national Ugandans in Northern Uganda. Our leaders as serving some of the most vulnerable people in the world. For example, let me introduce you to Mr. Sam, whom one of our leaders has chosen to help (told with Mr. Sam’s permission). As you can see Mr. Sam has only one leg. (Many people have experienced the effects of disease and war and are maimed without hands, arms and legs.) This makes him particularly vulnerable and it is difficult to support his family in this harsh environment. Yet Sam is resilient, like many who have to survive, and is a serious farmer, even faithful in giving tithe to the church community, though little. When we chose him as a vulnerable to support to empower him with farm tools and seeds, you cannot imagine the joy that he experienced. It also helped to further his dignity as a father and man of the household. Serving South Sudan has five key leaders who live across Northern Uganda close to the South Sudan boarders, most of them living in the refugee camps. They are working with many volunteers that have been trained in Church Planting through Avant Ministries and are not
Gordon and Sharon Skopnik are shown here with their family.
Mr. Sam works hard to feed his family.
only planting churches but empowering lives and communities. A key ministry during this COVID- 19 crisis is serving the vulnerable. Refugees are in a community that are already locked in as they live in camps up to over 300,000 people. Now they are even more locked in, and cannot find food to survive. Mr. Sam is not the only vulnerable person helped. Through Avant Ministries, Serving South Sudan is serving possibly thousands of those refugees. Through our leaders and volunteers we are providing hoes, seed, chickens, goats, pigs, good in kinds, and other resources to empower refugees who live in these camps. Then they are able to be contributors not only to the churches, but to the community. These people include young widows with children, more mature widows, orphans, and people with disabilities. One of our leaders found a group of 300 orphans from South Sudan that were struggling to survive in a remote location in Northern Uganda. We were able to help them with food and clothes; but, most importantly, we helped them so they could prepare some land and farm. They could begin to provide themselves with needed food and did not have to continue to wait for some good Samaritan to come to save them. The fact is without our national leadership these 300 orphans may have been totally abandoned. This is the power of God at work through Avant Ministries in project Serving South Sudan, and we thank Him that we can join Him in His work. And you, as the EMC under which we serve, are a part of it. – Gordon and Sharon Skopnik Gordon and Sharon Skopnik (Wymark) serve with Avant Ministries.
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 17
Column • Window on Missions
What is Happening Now in Nicaragua?
edro Luis Espinales, a pastor in the FIEMN, our sister conference, and member of the Anabaptist Emergency Committee, updated us on the pandemic’s effects on Nicaragua and FIEMN within it. Here’s his report with additional thoughts. Nicaragua is vulnerable in health, economy, and environment. Since 2018 we have been in an economic recession because of the socio-political crisis. Many companies have closed and there are many unemployed people. Then COVID-19 arrived and it spread rapidly through Central America, affecting us with illnesses, deaths, and more unemployment. Except for Nicaragua, the Central American countries have taken prevention and containment measures. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have criticized our government for ignoring recommendations given to face this crisis. Other Central American countries have followed the international guidelines and can receive donations or credits from international financial organizations for medical supplies and food. COVID-19 has affected the life of the Nicaraguan Mennonite Church (FIEMN) in these ways: 1. The National Council and the Pastoral Council recommended that congregations suspend their church services. 2. There is concern that if pastors do not give good pastoral strategies during this crisis, people will become discouraged and withdraw from the congregation or will change churches. 3. Many congregants are unemployed, have food insecurities, and have difficulty paying for basic services. 4. Schools have not been closed, although most parents are not sending their children for fear of the virus. In schools children received a snack and at home there is a food shortage. 5. In the church communities they also feel the food shortage, and those with land do not have the seed to plant their crops because the banks are not giving credit.
By Pedro Luis Espinales
with Ken Zacharias, Director of Global Outreach
Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua and elsewhere and for our missionaries and their families.
18 The Messenger • July 2020
6. Neighbouring Costa Rica’s borders are closed. Many people have gone there in the past for work and sent money home, but they cannot. 7. According to the Central Bank of Nicaragua, the minimum monthly wage in cities ranges from $158 to $278 CAD depending on the labour sector; a day labourer working in fields earns about $119 CAD per month. It is estimated that a family needs to spend much more on basic foods each month: in June 2019, it was $556 CAD; now it is $794. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that one effect of the pandemic will be global food insecurity. There are positive outcomes in the life of the Church: 1. As churches are closed, families meet together; they read the Bible, meditate, and pray. 2. As families meet together, this will result in a revival among siblings and relatives who are not believers and others who know the Lord but who have left the church. 3. When churches re-open there will be more people present. 4. The Church of Jesus is being redefined. Other countries are being similarly affected. Please remember the Global Pandemic Emergency Fund. The EMC, MWC, MCC and other global Anabaptist agencies are pooling resources to assist the global Anabaptist church. The EMC invites contributions with the designation: Global Pandemic Emergency Fund. The fund exists to assist people around the world, including in Nicaragua. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua and elsewhere and for our missionaries and their families. Thank you.
Column • Further In and Higher Up
A Cornered Cat or Hungry for Honey?
by Layton Friesen Conference Pastor
hristians have a complicated relationship with the law of Moses. As far as we can tell, Jesus and Paul kept Moses’ law faithfully all their lives. For them this was part of how they lived their Christian lives. But in passages like 1 Cor. 15:56 and Rom. 7:5 the law is described as arousing sinfulness, goading it in almost demonic fashion. How is it possible to reconcile this fact of law arousing sin in the flesh with the loving delight we see for the law in Psalm 19:7-10 where it’s sweeter than honey, refreshing the soul? We cannot grasp the demonic effect of the law if we see it as merely human rules and regulations. The law is an apocalypse, the actual entrance of God himself into the world. The law of God is not something external to God. It is God coming to his people, being vulnerable then, showing them his inner life and will, and sharing with them the thoughts and intentions he has for creation. God’s law is God. But here’s the thing: As God comes near, unredeemed humans are given a better way to hurt God. Now their rebellion against him moves from being a vague ignorance to something calculated and pointed, a knife driven knowingly into the very heart of God. Here’s an analogy. Who in your life is most capable of hurting you? A stranger or your mother and father? The people to whom we have opened ourselves, revealed the inner thoughts of our heart, with whom we are in covenant, these people have a deadly ability to wound us in a way that no stranger can. Likewise, without the transforming renovation of the heart that comes from baptism by the Spirit of Christ, God revealing himself in the law only goads sin into action. It gives the sinful heart a deadly entry into the affections and love and will of God, a temptation the rebel human heart will never resist.
This culminates on the cross when the God of Israel comes so near that we literally plunge a spear into his heart. Something entirely different arises after Pentecost. When our hearts are set aflame by the Spirit of Christ our appetites are changed to long for the presence of God in his revealed will for our lives. Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, for example, become something refreshing to us. We cherish this law, meditate upon it, and bend our lives to be united to the God who is it. Through this law God enters our life and we enter his. There are no neutral bystanders or observers when God draws near. The more openly God shows himself in his will, the more humans are goaded into two opposite reactions: worship and revolt. We either desperately fight like a cornered cat or we crave his law (God!) as a sweet tooth craves a spoon of honey. To be filled with the Spirit of Christ and to walk by this Spirit is to fulfill the law of Moses. It’s to become someone who finds a deep resonance between our own being and the being of God. God’s presence in our being makes us long for union with the will of God. I beg you to receive the Holy Spirit of Christ. As your appetite turns, God’s law becomes “more to be desired . . . than gold. . . sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10).
There are no neutral bystanders or observers when God draws near.
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 19
Ministerial Looks at ‘Pentecost, Pandemic, and Possibility’ WORLD—The EMC’s ministerial on June 26, 2020, held its national meeting by Zoom, spending an afternoon where it listened to opening thoughts by the BLO chair and learned of coming events, heard five challenges based on Acts 2, met in small groups for discussion and prayer, and shared thoughts as an entire group.
Richard Klassen, BLO chair, welcomed ministerial members to its first national meeting by Zoom. He invited the ministerial to dream big and be open to the Spirit in doing new things, setting our thoughts above (Col. 3) and pressing on (Phil. 3). Church renewal, he said, hinges on the life of Christ.
In Acts 2, said Layton Friesen, conference pastor, the church was all in one place and we are today. James Driedger invited ministerial members to a theology conference, hosted by Blumenort and the BLO, on Nov. 26-27 in Blumenort that will focus on how to minister to people dealing with same-sex attraction.
20 The Messenger • July 2020
A teaching letter on Gracious Judge, Holy Saviour has been released and feedback is welcomed; the topic might be carried into an issue of Theodidaktos. The issue of men and women in ministry is being pursued with readings from two books assigned [chapters three to 11 of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Piper and Grudem, eds.; and Men and Women in Christ, Andrew Bartlett] and monthly videos of leaders interacting with the materials. In the fall, the EMC will grapple with how to apply this to us.
The main portion of the afternoon was spent on asking, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to the churches through Acts 2:121?” Layton said the EMC is in a crisis—originally a term to describe a stage in medical care where a patient begins to recovers
News or not. Which will be defeated, the Good News or the disease? Stephanie Unger read Acts 2:1-21 and Layton led in prayer. Five speakers presented (a sixth person, Venus Cote, had technical difficulties, yet her thoughts might be shared in the future). After a pair of speakers, groups met to discuss or pray.
The Integrity of the Net
Dan Comrie (Braeside) said he had served as a Pentecostal pastor for 30 years and during that time he has observed healings and been healed himself; and while he has observed abuses, he is not a cessationist in spiritual gifts. In Acts 2 we see an event that people did not orchestrate and where God was at work. He said that the Dan Comrie early disciples were not line fishers; they fished by nets. The Church is not to be concerned about attracting people, like line fishers, but to be concerned, as net fishers, about the integrity of the net. The Church is to be concerned about the integrity of its message.
All the Gifts are Needed
Terry Smith (Steinbach EFC), who was in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada for about three years 40 years ago, said all of the Spirit’s gifts are to be used by all of the Church because they are given to strengthen and protect it, and to help it carry out the mission given by our Lord. To dismiss or ignore some gifts is as bad as to misuse them. Pentecostalism is a huge movement, and while some pastors go “off the rails” in healing and exorcisms, “name and claim it,” and “health and wealth,” and misuse some gifts, the EMC can learn from Pentecostals and is to use the gifts.
Humbles and Enables
Michael Vanderzwaag (Mennville) said that the Holy Spirit throws people into confusion and is moving still. The humbling thing in ministry is to know that we rely on Someone greater and can’t fix everything. The Holy Spirit humbles and enables us, yet we have
to be careful not to get ahead of Him. In the midst of the pandemic (fear not; this too shall pass), God is still on the throne and his Holy Spirit is still working to draw people to Himself. He still moves and enables.
Pandemic of False Worship
A missionary (Blumenort) said that Acts 2 and Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks) fit into God’s larger work. The Early Church existed in a more difficult time than we do today; it lived during a worse pandemic of false worship amid the Roman Empire. Yet the Church survived and turned the known world upside down. She spoke of being assisted by the Spirit during a ladies’ discussion in Germany: two conservative ladies had raised their hands to comment or ask a question, and she had wondered how difficult the questions would be. However, the comment was about Janice’s “personal” relationship with God, and the question was how Janice became a Christian. She was concerned about ministering to a large under-reached people group in the 10/40 window.
A Break-Out Thought
In one small group, a pastor asked: How many EMC churches celebrate the Day of Pentecost? Another replied that his church does not. The first pastor said that the EMC celebrates the coming Jesus at Christmas, yet tends not to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Build Up Each Other
After coffee break, Stephen Warthe (Portage) said Acts 2 speaks of prayer, the anointing, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and for fellowship. These items flow into each other and we can’t have one without the other. Prayer is the foundation for the Book of Acts. We need a fresh awakening and passion for prayer. They were united, focused, bold, and persistent in prayer. The anointing is needed to share Christ’s message. What is fellowship? Fellowship is more than talking together after a church meeting; it is more the intentional investing in the lives of one another, building each other up in truth and love. Portage has divided the church into small groups so they can share and pray with each other.
There is a need for anointed, not just gifted, teaching. We don’t have to go to have an impact on people; people are coming to Canada. Churches need to be more intentional to attract people and require the Holy Spirit to reach out.
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 21
News Pentecost is the reversal of the Tower of Babel. A posture of listening and learning is needed. Listening is needed as we move into First Nations circles (Koreans are reached out). The Spirit rested on each one of them. It’s exciting to see God moving in the EMC and our coming together to celebrate God’s message and work in a mighty way. People gathered for ritual and God interrupted them. Peter spoke boldly for Jesus. We need to be bold that Jesus is the only Saviour. What is God birthing through COVID? God is the great neutralizer. There are no distinctions between classes of people. Why not hold regular services outside? The Salvation Army used to hold them on street corners. We don’t have to rely on our skills, but on God’s Spirit and the Church will grow. Acts 2 shows how to interpret the Old Testament (Joel): through the lens of Jesus. The disciples were excited to realize that they could have Jesus with them all day [through the Spirit] not just in the flesh.
Maybe there are things we need to address. Maybe we’re restricting the Spirit by not repenting and being lukewarm. God comes down to His creation. It is his work. Numbers 11 speaks of Moses’ hunger that all would be prophets. We need to be hungry for the Spirit. Notice “the” prayers [set, not spontaneous]. Fellowship is partnership.
Layton Friesen said it had been a “rich time” and encouraged leaders to take seriously the medicine given: Dan reminded us of God’s sovereignty; Terry of how we need to think about our Pentecostal brothers and sisters; Michael of the pace of God; Janice of what it means to personally surrender to the Holy Spirit; and Steven of how prayer, anointing, gifts, and fellowship work together. Pastors are finding that the reopening Location: Blumenort Community Church or Online of churches is harder than to close them. 15 lessons, meeting every Sunday evening. Starting Oct. 18, This is a time for spiritual depth, so focus 2020 and ending Feb 14, 2021. on what the Holy Spirit is doing rather than on logistics and politics, he said.
Perspectives is a dynamic 15-week discipleship course designed to help students explore some of the big questions of life. What is your spiritual identity in Christ? What purpose, what work, what mission does God have for you? How can you be a part of what God is doing, locally or globally? Check out https://bit.ly/3jq9v9C to sign up.
Don’t forget to check out the early bird and member discounts.
22 The Messenger • July 2020
Richard Klassen thanked Layton, the speakers, and tech support. He then led in prayer in gratitude for God’s “wonderful grace to us”—that we are of different cultures, countries, and languages, yet we are one. – Terry M. Smith
Council Discusses Boards’ Questions WORLD—Conference council delegates on June 27, 2020, met by Zoom, heard updates on boards’ activities, and discussed questions proposed by the boards.
Welcome and Devotional
Moderator Barry Plett welcomed delegates to the Zoom meeting and encouraged them to view any video reports previously posted to avoid “redundant” questions. Tim Dyck, executive director, outlined the electronic process. In his devotional Ward Parkinson, vice moderator, said “the Bible is more than words on a page.” God wants to communicate his own life and Jesus came to reveal his heart, partly captured in Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the prodigal son. Eugene Peterson said the Book of Revelation does not say more than the Bible’s other books, but is to fire our imagination. Revelation 21:3-4 says what it means to be home. With committee chair Leonard Plett guiding, delegates affirmed the slate of candidates.
Youth is high and The Messenger is down, reflecting the priority to engage the next generation for the EMC to survive. Communications is distressingly down. Convention and The Messenger are two main ways to reach seniors. Tough to know where to place priorities without background. There’s a need to analyze the effectiveness of ministries. Zoom saves money, which could help in finances.
Board of Missions
Coaldale has asked for more time to decide its relationship with the EMC, though from the EMC perspective it is a member church, said the moderator. Grace Community Church has closed and delegates were welcome to comment. None were offered. The moderator said that four years ago when the EMC faced the need for budget cuts, an equal percentage was removed across the boards. With a desire to do it differently amid the COVID crisis, a quick poll of values and priorities was taken of pastors and regional representatives (see sidebar for results). Among the delegates’ comments on the results: The list reflects short-term cuts, but likely not the longterm priorities of the conference. Some surprises. Youth and theological resources were up and convention and The Messenger were down. These reflect leadership, not necessarily congregational priorities. The list could be a guide in cutting. The list has overlapping categories better reduced to five or six.
Brad Brandt, chair, and Ken Zacharias, Director of Global Outreach, reported; and a video report was shared from Chris Kroeker with Travis and Rosey Zacharias. The EMC is part of a unified response to the COVID crisis among Anabaptists worldwide and EMC Missions designated a special projects fund of $10,000; surpassed, it is now set at $20,000. In Paraguay workers respond to needs for food, medicine, and rides for medical care; a benevolence fund was raised to $5,000. What binds together evangelism, food, medicine, radio? The Church, Brandt said. God called the EMC to expand its presence in Paraguay. Seeking a smaller, growing city (reflecting the rural to urban shift), 10 years ago a team moved into Minga Guazú, which had only one evangelical church. Many needs exist within family life, and people need the freedom and salvation that Jesus gives. There is a vision to plant churches nearby because people do not travel far to attend a church. More workers are needed and the BOM has approved workers to serve in
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 23
News general church planting and planting with special attention to youth and children. Attitude, character, and being a team player are important traits for workers. When asked to speak to expansion plans, Zacharias said that a ministry in Spain to Muslims is being explored, though a needed field visit was postponed by travel restrictions. In First Nations’ ministry, conversations have been held and a committee formed. Please pray as Prayer Teams are on hold, he said, and Bolivia is affected by COVID where the EMC works. The breakout time was for prayer for EMC Missions.
Board of Leadership and Outreach
Richard Klassen, chair, said that he was stepping down after 25 years of serving on EMC boards. Major BLO projects have been completed or are underway: The Statement of Faith review, women in ministry, and the minister’s manual. The board’s work is assisted by the conference Richard Klassen pastor’s being a gifted writer and the BLO is dealing with some tough issues. Layton Friesen said the BLO wants to assist churches in renewal. The breakout question: how might the EMC empower its congregations to spiritual renewal? Among the responses: The EMC has a history of renewal, yet needs to see sister churches as part of it. Appreciated the videos sent during the COVID crisis. Need videos with stories of church renewal. In travelling and training by national staff, focus on more people, not just pastors. Two groups asked what is meant by renewal. What are we talking about? How do we get it to the grassroots? Ideas are needed on how to help the congregation share the vision. We need non-EMC churches to push our thinking toward renewal. The next generation is key to renewal. Give them role models in gender and ethnicity. Encourage pastors to enroll in a church renewal program. In rural areas, renewal can follow visits from national staff. Good conversation. Glad the EMC is doing this.
24 The Messenger • July 2020
Church Planting Task Force
Travis Unger, chair, and Gerald Reimer, Director of Canadian Church Planting, reported. As we plant churches and expand within more cultures, the declining subsidy model is being revisited. The CPTF is involved in discussions with the BOM on Muslim and First Nations expansion. Travis Unger The issue for the breakout was: In what kind of faithfilled creative ways, beyond our 10-year declining subsidy program and while seeking to connect churches, can we support our church planting ministry in Canada, particularly in cross-cultural urban settings?
Visits from national staff are helpful. Local churches could develop daughter churches. Prayer teams could support local churches. Wealthier churches could support poorer churches. In one model, churches focus on community development (for instance, a doctor’s office) and a church develops from this. Intentionally send in a team (teachers, construction workers) to a reserve. As it lives there for years, learns the culture, and is involved in the community, this can easily lead to a church. People want to give to people, not projects. Churches could sacrifice to help church plants and plants could tell of needs. One experienced pastor said he had chosen to be selfsupporting. It was a way to gain credibility and expand contact in the community.
Board of Church Ministries
Kim Muehling, chair, said that a Communications Plan was approved and an Implementation Committee was formed. The National Youth Committee is encouraging youth leaders to attend an alternative event instead of TRU. Youth leaders are connecting by Zoom chat, which will continue post-COVID. Ruth Block is now involved in the administration of Abundant Springs. New resources are available: Doris Penner’s EMC history book, Layton Friesen’s study of early Anabaptism, and Darryl Klassen’s deacons’ training videos. The national
office has new computer equipment and a video studio, and the EMC has a new website. The issue for the breakout session: how are you and your churches teaching the faith to young people? What’s working, or not, or dreamed of? How can the EMC help?
We need VBS materials based on the EMC Statement of Faith. (Are recommendations needed on Anabaptist curriculum?) Need to visualize the holistic education of youth from very young to adulthood and see how they move through them. Good job, BCM, for what you are doing. Biblical literacy needs to speak to parents first, not just youth. Need to highlight the parent-child relationship. The youth who stay in the church are those who see their parents involved.
Board of Trustees
Gord Reimer, chair, said the June update is that receipts were strong ($839,553) because of the timing of a yearly large donation, one-time donations, and government funding. Disbursements were lower ($788,255) because of COVID-related shutdowns. The board knows a strong Gord Reimer response is needed to break even at year’s end and, amid uncertain times, wants to prepare for a reduced budget in 2021. The 2019 financial audit was completed and Tim Dyck was thanked for doing so under COVID conditions. Delegates approved the audited financial statement. The moderator said that we are grateful for how things look now financially, but the BOT has warned of COVID’s “lag effect” and a need to be “leaner” in 2021.
The moderator said delegates were previously asked to identify trends later categorized as church and culture,
role of leadership, the next generation, the culture of the church, church and conference relationship, and the need for spiritual renewal. In leadership, the BLO is exploring the role of women, he said. For the next generation, the GB neglected to fill the gap created by Gerald Reimer’s new role and this will in future require more money or changed expectations. National staff are studying and pursuing church and conference connections, and church renewal is being worked on. A theology conference will be held on Nov. 26-27 on pastoring people with same-sex attraction. The break-out session had three discussion choices: how to approach government with concerns about COVID meeting restrictions [a letter/petition was received by the national office], social justice (Black Lives Matter and other issues), and how we are nurtured spiritually amid COVID. Among the responses:
Government and Restrictions
What is a more Anabaptist approach? An active peacemaking role is needed in the community prior to a pandemic. Consider what has been prevented from happening by the lockdown. We need to be involved with silent issues such as intimate partner violence, which would help us to be more salt and light. This letter is largely a charter grievance, yet more than churches were affected and asking for special treatment is not a good witness.
Tensions in relations with First Nations are more common than with Blacks in Canada and there is concern that FN not be overlooked. There is a need to address racism in congregations. Need for honest reflection on what we carry wittingly or unwittingly that perpetuate the problem.
It takes specialized, elite people to do ministry now because it is electronic. Others feel useless. This is negative. The moderator said that more responses can be forwarded.
The moderator said the technology had worked better than thought, and he thanked the technical support staff for their work. He closed in prayer. – Terry M. Smith
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 25
A Ministerial Theology Conference Discussing What? What? An EMC Ministerial theology conference. No, I mean what? A theology conference on sexuality called Desire: Pastoring, Same Sex Attraction and the Church. Wait . . . What!?! Yes, we are pastors getting together to discuss sex. Why? Because we want to understand better how to preach, teach and pastor in a world that desperately needs the good news of Jesus when it comes to sexuality. When? November 26-27, 2020 Where? Blumenort Community Church, Man. The Church, as followers of Jesus and readers of the Bible, has a wonderful set of convictions about sexual desire—these bodily attractions that push, pull, inspire, and sometimes defeat us, but then also draw us into beautiful union with each other. On the matter of our bodies and its desires our society seems to go off in all directions. We vacillate wildly between indulgence in every conceivable desire and a merciless shaming and punishment for those who transgress our standards. We both worship bodies and dispose of them if they fail our standards. Our world has trouble with bodies and this leads to confusion about sexuality. This turmoil has involved the Church. In our time, we cannot help but be much more conscious of what we believe, how we live it, and where the gaps are in our understanding. The question about same sex attraction especially has compelled us to think deeper about what the Bible actually teaches. The Church is also very aware of how hard it is to direct the powerful energy that sexuality presents within us. Many of us have been overwhelmed by this power and defeated by lust, broken marriages, pornography, and desires that seem untameable. What’s to be done? So the EMC Ministerial needs to discuss sexuality. The planners of this theology conference (James Driedger, Barry Plett, Jennifer Kornelsen, Dallas Kornelsen, and Layton Friesen) see two aspects of how we want to address this. First, we believe we have a lot to learn about what the Bible teaches about sexuality. There is no better time than now to dig deeper into the Scriptures and be more fully grasped by its vision of sexuality as a God-imaging part of our lives. The Church has ancient convictions drawn from the Bible about the mystery of marriage between a man and a woman. We need to learn how single men and
26 The Messenger • July 2020
Pastoring, Same Sex Attraction & The Church
An EMC Ministerial Theology Conference Blumenort Community Church Thursday November 26 - Friday November 27, 2020 Faithful, Gracious & Informed in the church & in the world
women living in single-hearted celibacy offer the Church a picture of how all of us will all one day be wed to our Lord. Our bodily desires are not to be squelched or stuffed in a box, but are to be directed towards the end to which God has called us—the resurrection of the body into the Kingdom of Heaven. Secondly, we have much to learn about how Jesus effortlessly gathered broken people around him. They liked him and he liked them. How can those ancient biblical convictions be practiced so that they actually, really do feel like good news to the folks in our midst who walk in brokenness? Especially, we want to talk about how the Church lives the good news with those who experience same sex attraction. They are not the only ones who sometimes experience the Church as a condemning place, but their case gives us a good place to start thinking about ways Jesus brings transformation, Spirit-empowerment, community—in short, salvation to people with hidden brokenness. Our hope is that this study conference will equip our leaders to engage our congregations in interesting and faithful conversations about how thirsty creatures like us will one day find what we all truly desire. – Layton Friesen, EMC Conference Pastor
Klassen Develops an Introduction to Deacons’ Ministry STEINBACH, Man.—Is your congregation seeking deacons, looking at their role, or does it want to help them succeed? This free resource, produced by Dr. Darryl G. Klassen with EMC support, can help. The four-part video series looks at deacons: their role, qualifications, visitation and active listening skills. The teaching times are brief and a short leader’s guide assists with questions for discussion. The free video series and discussion guide are available on the Church Resources section of the EMC website. When Darryl served as a pastor in Crestview and then Kleefeld, he observed deacons. While studying at Providence Theological Seminary, he wrote a Doctor of Ministry dissertation (2015): The Calling, Giftedness, and Ministry of Deacons in the Evangelical Mennonite Conference: Developing a Biblical Understanding for Conference Practice. Klassen, an EMC minister, is engaged in a ministry of preaching, teaching, and writing. He lives in Blumenort, Man., with his wife Sharon. He has studied at SBC (BRS) and PTS (MACS, DMin). The series was produced through the BLO and BCM. Sister conferences and independent churches are welcome to use it.
The series can be found at https://www.emconference. ca/deacon-training AN INTRODUCTION TO DEACONS MINISTRY (Free) The Role of a Deacon (17:03) The Qualifications of a Deacon (20:38) The Art of Visitation (15:27) The Ministry of Listening (17:38) Leader’s Guide available (free) – EMC
Darryl G. Klassen
New Church Planters Appointed in Winnipeg The Church Planting Task Force is pleased to announce our newest church planter couple serving in Winnipeg. Ibrahim and Phebe Zabaneh have been living there for seven years and have already planted one church among Arabic-speaking people. They began working in partnership with the EMC on July 1. Their ministry includes assisting newcomers with adjustments into our communities and sharing the Gospel as they build friendships. They are thrilled to share their lives. Please pray for them as they have many opportunities to do outreach, discipleship, and caregiving. CPTF
– Gerald D. Reimer, Director of Canadian Church Planting Ibrahim and Phebe Zabaneh
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 27
One hundred years ago, bread was the beginning of MCC’s work. Relief kitchens in Ukraine (then southern Russia) fed families who had been displaced and were starving. Neighbours from around the world provided loaves of dark, wholesome bread. Now a century later, MCC still works to meet the needs of people who are hungry and sometimes cannot afford even one meal a day. But where 100 years ago you would find bread, today you might see rice, beans, cooking oil, or even a paper voucher. While MCC’s mission remains more important than ever, our work has adapted with increased focus on different forms of relief for different contexts, more robust program monitoring, and even gender analysis.
MCC PHOTO/MATTHEW LESTER.
MCC Today — Bread in Many Forms
Nsimire Mugoli and her husband Chubaka Birhonoka in Mubimbi camp in DR Congo cook beans and porridge made with ingredients from their emergency food distribution in early February 2020.
The war in Syria has now entered its ninth year, displacing millions of people. There are more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, where MCC and our local partners are providing vouchers than can be redeemed for food in shops. When people receive vouchers rather than food packages, they can choose what works best for them, providing dignity and a small sense of normalcy. However, inside Syria, MCC partners are providing packages of food that include items such as pasta, cooking oil and chickpeas. In the midst of conflict, sometimes food just isn’t available, or it isn’t safe to go out to shop. MCC partners are able to secure food locally in bulk, which helps strengthen the local economy and provide foods that people are used to eating. There isn’t one right way to offer relief. It’s important to understand the context and choose the right method.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Over a century of work, MCC has also increased our focus on monitoring and evaluation. Program monitoring provides accountability to donors and, equally important, provides accountability to local communities. The evaluation process allows people to provide feedback on what
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takes place in their community. It’s also an opportunity for people to see results and celebrate what was achieved together. Of course, evaluation also helps us learn and improve when a project doesn’t go as expected. In one agriculture project where I worked in Zimbabwe, smallholder farmers were struggling with a pest—the maize stalk borer. The project was set up to help farmers intercrop corn with a new kind of grass called desmodium to help repel the pests. This worked well for those farmers, until we learned the pests had been forced into neighbouring fields, eating those crops instead. So, we adapted to include a special sticky grass, planted around the edge of the plots, called napier grass. This grass attracts pests; but because it’s sticky, when a stem borer moth lands on the grass it can’t move and gets trapped. Thanks to monitoring, the project now reduces pests using a system that is affordable, accessible and easy to replicate, while maintaining relationships between neighbours. We are now applying this pest control practice in other projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
News Gender Dynamics
Over the years, MCC has increasingly recognized the need to understand gender dynamics, and how women and men access and control resources. When we consider the impact of gender dynamics before distributing resources, we can challenge systemic inequalities and build efficient and equitable solutions. For example, during a relief project in the refugee camps of Shasha and Mubimbi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MCC did a gender analysis before deciding what food to include. Corn is an important resource, and women are usually responsible for preparing it as a thick porridge. But since the camps didn’t have grinding mills, we realized that if we provided whole corn, the women and girls would have to walk through forest, 10–15 km each way, to find a mill in a nearby community where the corn could be ground. The journey could expose women and girls to warring parties and sexual exploitation. Or their food could be stolen along the way. The trip would also be physically tiring, and the increased pressure on the mill could lead to conflict between the host community and the refugees. Hearing that feedback from the community during the gender analysis, MCC decided to provide ground corn meal for the first two months of the project, and then supply a grinding mill that would be co-owned and operated by the refugee and host community groups. This reduced the burden and risk for women and girls, while also strengthening relationships between the host and refugee communities because people in the surrounding area could also use the new mill. It also minimized the harm that could have come from the good intentions of relief work.
One hundred years have given us countless opportunities to learn and improve. In these uncertain times, the core work of MCC—providing relief, development and peace—is more important than ever. And the MCC of today is constantly evaluating and learning to serve in the best way we can. We’re so thankful for your faithful support that allows us to continue to provide bread, in all its forms, in the name of Christ. – Vurayayi Pugeni Vurayayi Pugeni is MCC’s Area Director for Southern Africa together with his spouse Thelma Sadzamari. Note: This is the second of three articles on MCC’s Centenary.
Together we’re celebrating 100 years of relief, development and peace in the name of Christ. Thank you for your support of MCC. Join the centennial celebrations! mcccanada.ca/centennial
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 29
SBC Virtually Finishes Semester Although Teams was limited to only four videos per screen, we still taught between one to two and a half hours per course looking for discussion, chats, small groups, and presentations to keep classes engaged.
Connected by Meetings
SBC has held many classes and events online.
In the 2006-07, I wrote optimistically about making SBC courses accessible to working students. “SBC continues to look for more ways to make courses accessible to working students. This fall Dr. Arden Thiessen’s Pastoral Ministries course is being delivered to a pastor in Ontario via webcam…If the test is successful, more courses may be delivered online.” The test worked fabulously. Now in 2020 SBC is fully online. And we are living happily ever after! Not quite. That’s not the way change happens in a Bible college, even in one considered tech friendly. SBC has been teaching online since 2012 with a fully online BA degree in 2017. Our online program has quietly grown to over 60 courses taken this year. But then COVID-19 changed everything.
Very Different Worlds
Faculty and students discovered what many churches are also discovering, that live and online classes or churches belong in very different worlds. This digital divide is like crossing the ocean to minister in a foreign culture. Classes of 75 minutes or even sermons of 30 minutes become difficult to endure in a digital world with shifting images and attention spans of six to eight minutes. Realizing that college life would change radically in a short time, SBC shifted to online in just a few days. On March 16 the Introduction to New Testament class was taught in a live class with Microsoft Teams connecting to students in self-isolation. Teams gave students and faculty a common space to collaborate using chat, video, and more. By the end of the week the technical issues were mostly solved, and all students and staff were fully online.
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Since March 23, video classes, chapels, announcements, meetings, and events like Social Butterfly, Hootenany, and Worship Night have connected the SBC community during this pandemic. Since Manitoba limited gatherings to 10 people, in-person end of the year celebrations including graduation were no longer a possibility. So, we compressed seven hours of weekend activities, including celebration chapel, spring concert, graduation ceremonies, and grad banquet into one hour of Livestream on April 23. The virtual graduation event anticipated a live graduation sometime in fall of 2020. We sang, announced the graduates by name, presented a video tribute to each degree grad, and gave awards. Instead of a banquet, the faculty had a Zoom meeting to reflect on the end of the year and pray for each other and our students. Will we celebrate the live graduation with these students next year? We can only hope.
Our transition online, like many of yours, has been challenging. While the commute to class has improved (a few steps!), working and studying from home was isolating, watching screens all day was fatiguing, and motivation to finish the year needed strong encouragement and prayer. Still a highlight of my week was Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. when several students and I gathered online to talk about our week, focus on God’s presence in our lives, laugh together, and pray for each other. If we had been on campus this meeting would have ended at 12 for lunch. But online, the gathering continued until 12:30 p.m. or more because we had no place to go. This small gathering is the closest thing we had to being at home with our SBC family doing what we do well. Community. Check out SBC chapel talks and year-end Celebration Chapel on the Steinbach Bible College YouTube site. – Dr. Terry Hiebert Dr. Terry Hiebert is academic dean at SBC. This article was submitted on May 21.
Column • Writings Shared Dad, God, And Me: Remembering a Mennonite pastor and His Wayward Son, Ralph Friesen, Victoria, BC (Friesen Press). 275 pp. $22.50. (paperback) ISBN 9781525560880. Reviewed by Thiessen siblings: Paul, Danny, Afrieda, and Loreena, all with EMC connections and all following Christ in his Church.
he very innocent looking photograph of Ralph and his father on the cover of this book introduces the beginning of a complex father-son relationship expressed in the subtitle: Remembering a Mennonite Pastor and His Wayward Son. This is a story that gives glimpses into the history of Steinbach, as well as the theology and past religious practices of the EMC. More personally, this is an account of a pastor and his son. The author tells of his growing up years with a father who is very busy—too busy to take time with his son. The pastor-father is businessman, a preacher, and an influential leader, and yet the son rejects his message. When Ralph is a teenager, his father suffers from a stroke and everything changes for the family. The once very busy father is now an invalid and needs a lot of help. Ralph’s reflections on caring for his father show a different kind of father-son relationship. Now his father is always present. But it is not the same father. At the same time as Peter D. Friesen was much appreciated by the church, Ralph feels distant from his father: “I would say that those of us who were never baptized wished for his blessing, but were not able to receive it in this way because of everything else we would be obliged to accept” (183). Of his teenage experience at Red Rock Bible Camp, Ralph says, “I turned my heart into stony ground,” rejecting the pressure to follow Christ. Although as a child he had once identified with Christianity, as an adult he could no longer say, “I have decided to follow Jesus,” but was unsure of what or whom to follow. Having grown up in Steinbach and understanding many of the issues that Ralph writes about, my brother Danny, my sisters Alfrieda and Loreena, and I decided to read this book and discuss it. We found ourselves a part of this story as we read details about our father, Isaac J. Thiessen, the shoemaker.
As we sat together reflecting on Ralph’s story, Loreena said, “I’m Ralph!” As a teenager, there was a time when she thought that if everything was considered sinful anyway, then you can do whatever you feel like doing. Reflecting on the teaching that everything was either good or evil, Danny said that it had taken him years to get a more balanced view. He felt that strongly opinionated parents can sometimes cause children to block out much of what they hear. Alfrieda emphasized her appreciation for Ralph’s transparency. Even if you didn’t grow up in Steinbach, as we did, this book is helpful for understanding the early thinking in our churches. If you are looking for a story with a happy ending where the wayward son repents of his sin, accepts his father’s faith, and becomes a follower of Jesus, you will be disappointed. But if you are willing to listen to the thoughts and experiences of a person who tells his life’s story with honest vulnerability, by reading this book you will gain some insights that may help you to understand similar people around you. This book may even help you to understand yourself.
Even if you didn’t grow up in Steinbach, as we did, this book is helpful for understanding the early thinking in our churches.
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 31
He and his younger brother Alfred He was predeceased by granddid a lot of baling together. He and his daughter Erin Unger (stillborn), his older brother Edwin started Dueck parents Jacob and Elizabeth Dueck, Laminated Rafters on his parents’ his sister Elma and husband Levi yard and it grew into a huge busiDueck, and his older brother Edwin. ness which the two brothers shared Donations in memory of Wilbert P. around 20 years. He sold his share to Dueck were made to the Gideons. The his brother and was self-employed. He family wishes to express our gratitude did hog farming, built houses, had a to the staff at Bethesda Hospital and Re-Nu-A-Door to Dr. Bernard for all the care they Wilbert Dueck cabinet business, built a lot of bio gave. 1935-2019 techs, and also did stucco wiring. He The funeral service was held on and his wife Lena worked together in Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at 2 p.m. at Wilbert Dueck, 84 years, of Steinbach, many jobs. Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, Man., formerly of Rosenort, Man., A ladder fall in 2008 really set him Man., with Pastors Garry Koop and passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, back. He had lip cancer from which Amos Fehr officiating. Interment was at Bethesda Regional Health Centre, he was miraculously healed. He went at Rosenort EMC Cemetery, RoseSteinbach, Man. through two huge floods and moved nort, Man. He is lovingly remembered by to Mitchell away from the flood area – His Family his dear wife Lena of 59 years and in 2011. He really enjoyed singfive children: Wendy (Amos“When Fehr), ing indenythe Mitchell choir. He therefore they thoroughly the sum of the New Testado we not see them and using catabaptism, not toLena the glorydid of Goda lot of Valerie (Frank Unger), Clairement, (Gord his wife or with the good of their consciences, but as a pretext for seditions, Anderson), Gerald (Lara) and confusion Jasonand tumult,music and together too. which things alone singing they hatch out? ” —Ulrich Zwingli, Swiss Reformer in Zurich (Gaylene); 16 grandchildren Andrew, After five and a half years, Justin and Rachel Fehr, Stephanie, they moved Steinbach. They How could early Anabaptists known today forto godliness, love of AND simple, heart-felt faith be seen in theat the Sean, Jessica (Chad Watts),enemies, Bradygenerosity, andmoved to Woodhaven sixteenth century as a public threat worthy of the most vicious Unger, Bradley Anderson, Avonend ofbaffling Mayfanaticism 2019inand enjoyed suppression? We tend to see either the Anabaptists or puzzling sadism in the religious and political leaders lea, Jayden, Colby and Peyton Dueck, it there until he entered the who attacked them. How could believer’s baptism, community Michael, Rebekah, Bethanyofand Bethesda Hospital on Oct., goods,Evan apocalyptic preaching, oath refusal, and nonresistance threaten to break the chains that held society together? Layton Dueck. 2019. He passed away on Oct. Friesen has been confronted by these questions as a pastor and here29, looks to the history of8thewith Radicalcongestive Reformation for insight. This failure, Wilbert was born on May 1935, heart raises a question for today: will our attempts to live the Kingdom at his parents’ home at McTavish, with some of his family at his of God threaten public order? Man. Wilbert accepted the Lord and bedside. Layton Boyd Friesen, PhD, serves as conference pastor for the Evanas his personal savior in thegelical spring He to mourn his wife Mennonite Conference. He livesleaves in Winnipeg. of 1951 when Ben D. Reimer was the Lena and family; two brothspeaker, resulting in a great revival. ers, Leonard (Mary) and Alfred Why Reformation Europe Thought Anabaptism He served the Lord as a Sunday (Mary); three sisters, Helen Would Destroy Society School teacher and was a song leader (Jake Friesen), Mary (Abe Marat Rosenort EMC for 17 years. He tens), Norma (John Derksen); $10 plus also sang in a group that went as far and sister-in-law Elsie (wife shipping west as Ninette to do programs. He to Edwin). He also leaves to also enjoyed singing bass in the home mourn many nieces, nephews, LAYTON BOYD FRIESEN church choir. and friends. Foreword by John D. Roth ‘SEDITIONS, CONFUSION AND TUMULT’
32 The Messenger • July 2020
‘SEDITIONS, CONFUSION TUMULT’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (email@example.com) and Director of Youth and Discipleship Gerald D. Reimer (firstname.lastname@example.org). The national office phone number is 204-326-6401. Talk with Erica Fehr, Church leadership assistant to the BLO, to request a cell number for a particular person.
EMC Positions* Niverville Community Fellowship is an EMMC affiliated church body seeking a Pastor of Care and Discipleship to join our ministry team as we seek to act on our mission of “Making Disciples of Jesus as we Worship, Grow, and Serve in Love.” We are seeking a leader with a commitment to Anabaptist
faith to work with our staff, board of elders, and ministry teams to provide congregational care support and leadership in spiritual formation. Position responsibilities include heading up the community group ministry and working to equip volunteers to help us serve in love along with equipping the congregation to act on our mission of making disciples. Formal academic training in pastoral studies would be preferred and training in small group ministries and discipleship are assets. Contact email@example.com by Aug. 8, 2020, for more details or to apply (see www. nivcf.ca). Oak Bluff Bible Church is seeking a full-time pastor. We are a welcoming, family-friendly church that averages 50 people on Sunday morning. We enjoy contemporary and traditional worship music. We understand the importance and value of ministering together to be a light in reaching our growing community and surrounding area of Oak Bluff, Man. (located at McGillvray and the Perimeter Highway of Winnipeg). Applicants must be in acceptance of the OBBC (EMC) Statement of Faith and aligning with the theology, values, and church culture of OBBC. A valid criminal records check and child abuse check are required for this position. Applicants must be legally entitled to work in Canada. Preference will be given to those who are willing to relocate to Oak Bluff or the surrounding community. To apply or for future inquiries, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Picture Butte Mennonite Church, a Low German- and English-speaking church with 200-plus people attending dual Sunday morning services, is seeking an associate pastor. The ideal candidate should be characterized by an attitude of servant leadership and personal integrity in a close walk with Jesus. The candidate needs to have an openness and sensitivity to the diverse cultural
differences within our Mennonite church. This position would primarily focus on the English ministry. This candidate needs to be a team player as he will be working alongside the existing leadership team as well as the senior pastor. For information, contact Isaac Thiessen, 403-308-5093 or isaact@genicadev. com
Other Positions At Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA) our mission is to bring hope through Christ, and we’re seeking to fill ministry positions serving kids, youth and families in Winnipeg’s inner city neighbourhood. Available positions include ministry and administrative roles. Our diverse team members are both local leaders and from outside our neighbourhood. As a faith-based ministry we hold all staff to our lifestyle and morality commitments, and core values. ICYA and our staff are supported by generous individuals and churches from across Canada. To view full job descriptions, visit: www.icya.ca/careers or message Karen Jolly, director of programs, at email@example.com. Lindale Mennonite Church, Linville, Virginia, is seeking a full-time lead pastor to serve an active, multigenerational congregation of 300 attendants. Applicants should demonstrate gifts in preaching, teaching, leadership and teamwork. Seminary degree preferred. Must agree with the Mennonite Confession of Faith (http://mennoniteusa.org/ confession-of-faith/ Competitive salary and benefits package. View church website at www.lindale.org. Interested persons may send resume and cover letter to Dana Sommers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Where are position ads to be sent? Please send all position ads, including pastoral search ads, to email@example.com. All ads are to be 150 words or less. All ads can be edited. Please advise us when it is no longer needed.
University CANADIAN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 33
Column • His Light to My Path
Consider the Creator
I It makes me wonder about King Solomon. What was he doing when he wrote about the ants?
34 The Messenger • July 2020
by Karla Hein
’ve been thinking about earthworms lately. Particularly, I’ve wondered about the shock experienced by the earthworm that was stretched end to end by the inquisitive fingers of my five-year-old in our garden a few weeks ago. Or the one that was scooped from the familiarity of the strawberry patch by a red plastic shovel and abruptly expelled from the garden. Would it ever find its way back? Or did it even care, simply grateful that the sharp beak of a hungry robin hadn’t carried it away? Summer must slow me down. As I bend down in the dirt to pull out the tenacious weeds. I now have time to speculate on a lowly earthworm’s emotional state. It makes me wonder about King Solomon. What was he doing when he wrote about the ants? “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise!” (Pro. 6:6). Was he watching them scurry along his palace floor? Was it perhaps a flashback to his younger days of poking open an ant hill? Prior to the astounding response from the Creator Himself, Job admonished his friends, “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you…Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all humankind?” (Job 12:7-12). The created world is designed to teach us about the Creator. It reveals “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature,” compelling us to acknowledge His majesty (Rom.1:20-21). Obviously, not everyone wants to submit to God’s rightful authority. “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the
rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed” (Ps. 2:1-2). Psalm 2 vividly describes God laughing at their defiant, scrawny fists raised against His Sovereign power. A solemn warning follows: “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling... For His wrath may soon be kindled” (v.11). In Romans 1, Paul states that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (v. 18). By “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness,” people attempt to minimize the terrifying reality of God’s holiness. Here’s the astonishing conclusion of Psalm 2: “For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (v. 11, emphasis added). Take refuge in the God Who laughs at rulers and promises vengeance on evildoers! Here is the astonishing beauty of Christ’s sacrifice: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:9). As we spend time outside this summer, let’s meditate on the mysteries of our majestic Creator—His awesome wrath and incredible grace—as we observe the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the earthworms of the garden.
Column • Stewardship Today
A Generosity Hat Trick
By Kevin Davidson Abundance Canada Gift Planning Consultant
was out shoveling my driveway this past March when my neighbour Harvey pulled over and rolled down his window to chat. Newly retired and on his way home from goaltending a shinny hockey match (it was just days before city arenas in Calgary closed due to COVID-19) he was keen to tell me how much he’d enjoyed playing alongside a bunch of 20-year-olds. With most of my driveway still buried under more than a foot of snow, the voice in in my head chided get back to shoveling you don’t have a lot of time to talk, but Harvey’s enthusiasm inspired a longer visit filled with stories from his years of experience in net. Eventually, our conversation turned to my son’s budding aptitude as a minor hockey goalie, and the exorbitant cost of equipment. Harvey nodded knowingly and proceeded to get out of his car, open the back hatch, and give me a tour of his goalie equipment. He was proud to show it off to someone who understood that aspect of the sport, especially his NHL replica goalie mask. It was very nice! I mentioned my son had outgrown his gear again and we were heading to the mall that afternoon to look for a new goalie mask. Reminded of our respective ‘To-do’ lists, we said goodbye and Harvey headed home. Later that afternoon, my son and I worked our way through the shelves of the sporting goods store trying to find a good quality mask in our price range. Suddenly, my phone rang. I listened incredulous as my wife explained that Harvey had just dropped off a $200 cheque to help pay for our son’s new goalie mask. He wanted to make sure the aspiring goalie was
protected by good quality equipment. We were totally blown away. What an unexpected and generous gift! In the four years since we moved onto the block, we have become part of a community knit together by generosity—from impromptu dinner invitations to helping neighbours mow their lawns or even the giving of gifts like football tickets or money for a hockey mask. Best of all, I see generosity sprouting up in the next generation; my son can’t wait to pay forward Harvey’s kindness by passing on his outgrown goalie equipment to a younger kid who needs it. My neighbour gave us more than a cheque that day. His simple act of generosity reminded us all about the profound joy of giving. I see this same joy when I am helping Abundance Canada clients create their Generosity Plans, and I feel so privileged to help them achieve their goals. I have always been inspired by their stories of generosity, and since we moved to our new neighbourhood, the connection between living and giving generously has become even clearer. It only takes one act of kindness to get a game of “generosity shinny” started in your neighbourhood. How will you connect with your “team” today?
It only takes one act of kindness to get a game of “generosity shinny” started in your neighbourhood. How will you connect with your “team” today?
www.emcmessenger.ca • The Messenger 35
Column • Kids’ Corner
Now is a different time. It’s different because you and your family are together at home more than you have been. You are not at school. You do your lessons at home, maybe through a video link or lessons sent to your house. Your teacher isn’t at school either. Your parents may work from home. You play at home. You watch church at home instead of going to your regular church building on Sunday morning. by Loreena You haven’t gone shopping lately. You haven’t Thiessen been to a playground in a while, or visited your cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents. Why is this happening? About five months ago, just as the year 2020 began, a bad virus appeared in several different places. Quickly it spread across the entire world. Many people got sick. Now we have new rules to follow in order to stop it from doing more damage, stop it from making even more people sick. These rules keep people apart; fewer people together means fewer people get sick. So now there are no large crowds, no birthday parties, no baseball games, no swimming in pools. At the same time, many people are working hard to try to stop the virus. Read the story in John 6:4:14. Doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinics help sick Activity: people get well. Truck drivers Share something you can make or and workers in grocery stores give. make sure there’s enough food. Cleaners use special Need: equipment to keep the surPaints, large craft paper, pencil, faces we touch clean and safe. note paper, scissors, tape. Scientists all over the world are working to find Do: a vaccine to stop the virus. 1. On a large sheet of craft paper Firefighters, police officers, paint a rainbow in the seven colors and bus drivers continue to in order: violet, indigo, blue, green, do their jobs to keep everyyellow, orange, red. Cut it out and one safe too. Your teacher hang it in a window so passersby still prepares lessons for you can easily see it. and makes sure you get them. But what can you do? 2. Share a smile, a story, or a poem First, you must know what with someone in your family. the new rules are. Ask your
By doing his part he helped so many more people.
36 The Messenger • July 2020
What Can You Do?
parents if you’re not sure why you can’t play at your friend’s house. Make sure you follow their advice and suggestions. You may think that your part in all this isn’t so important. But it is. By doing the right thing you help yourself and others, too. Look at what one boy learned. A young boy was in a large crowd of more than five thousand people, who had come to hear Jesus talk. After a while the people got tired. They were hungry. They needed food. Jesus instructed his disciples to get together enough food for everyone. After searching they found the boy. He had five small loaves of bread and two small fish. This was his lunch for the day. When the disciples asked for it, he was surprised but handed it over. What happened next shocked everyone. After giving thanks, Jesus divided the food and the disciples handed it out. Everyone had enough to eat. Then Jesus said, “Collect all the leftovers, too, so nothing is wasted.” The disciples filled twelve baskets with the leftover food. This was truly a miracle. Because one young boy readily shared his lunch, he had enough, and so did five thousand others. By doing his part he helped so many more people.
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