SEPTEMBER 2021 MBHERALD.COM
VOLUME 60, NO. 9 T H E H I G H WAY S O F Z I O N A HOLISTIC GOSPEL
Sixty years of sharing the life & story of the Mennonite Brethren in Canada
Q: How do you speak well about marriage with your neighbours, knowing that marriage can be difficult? A: Check out the Faith and Life online pamphlets about marriage and family. www.mennonitebrethren.ca/ nflt-resources
Mennonite Brethren Herald Digest is digitally published monthly by the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, primarily for the use of its members, to build a Canadian MB community of faith. We seek to 1) share the life and story of the church by nurturing relationships among members and engaging in dialogue and reflection; 2) teach and equip for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values, and heritage, and by sharing the good news; 3) enable communication by serving conference ministries and informing our members about the church and the world. However, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the church as a whole.
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PEOPLE OF THE SPIRIT
Chris Walker Craig Keener speaks at EQUIP 2019 in Waterloo, Ontario. EQUIP
of sharing the life and story of Mennonite Brethren in Canada
‘SAFETY’ LABELS, INDIANA JONES AND WISDOM
Rev. Philip A. Gunther
Mini, a webinar version of the study conference featuring author Dr. David Fitch takes place November 19-20, 2021. Visit equip. mennonitebrethren.ca to register.
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From the editor ur son starts university in a few days. I struggle to describe the potpourri of feelings that blossom within me when I consider this fact. For one thing, I am very proud of what he has accomplished to reach this landmark; then, I am concerned about how he will navigate this change of course. Will he flourish in this new stage of (online) learning or be frustrated and overcome by the workload and lowered level of accountability? How can I, his father, guide him through this? So much has changed in the twenty-plus years since I graduated from university. The rapid changes occurring since the onset of the pandemic alone make my head spin. I fear that my counsel lacks context. Here, as in other areas, I am out of touch, behind the times. Ephesians 6:4 reads, “Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” When I read that, I ask myself just how much wise instruction I have provided when more often these days, I seem to provoke or frustrate him with my constant worry and criticism. New parents, if I can offer one piece of advice, never stop praying for your kids. The world your teenager lives in is vastly different than the one you occupied. Knowing this, I have done my best to be more observant and less critical of how my boy carries himself. Do I approve of everything he does and says? No, but where possible, I try to understand his actions through his eyes. Yesterday, my son and I went golfing with a close family friend. The second time in two years, this group of three played together. My son started playing golf last summer; he is still new to the game, and last year’s experience was far
from stellar. Truthfully, it was frustrating on different levels for all three of us. This time, however, we saw not only an improvement in how my son played but how he handled disappointment and the many unpleasantries the game of golf provides. This is an example of how he is maturing and adapting to adulthood. Add hope to my blossoming potpourri of feelings. L E T ’ S P R AY: As we move into fall B R O T H E R S AND SISTERS AROUND and the MBH Herald Digest T H E W O R L D N E E D O U R P R AY E R S . crests its first year in this A T T H I S T I M E , L E T ’ S P R AY new format, I am hopeful S P E C I F I C A L L Y FOR THE PEOPLE that it too will adapt to meet O F A F G H A N I S TA N D I S P L A C E D the needs of the MB family. A N D I N N E E D O F S H E LT E R A N D On pages 4 and 5, you’ll see P R O T E C T I O N . A L S O , W E P R AY that we have teamed up F O R T H E P E O P L E OF HAITI AND with a group of Anabaptist N E I G H B O U R I N G COUNTRIES denominations and schools R E C E N T L Y D E V A S TAT E D B Y to learn more about our E A R T H Q U AKES. respective families. I hope to dig a little deeper in the H O W C A N W E B E O F A S S I S TA N C E future, surveying readers TO TH OS E I N N EED? on how this publication can be more effective and enjoyable for you. You don’t have to wait for the survey; feel free to email me with suggestions anytime. We’ve added a couple of new voices to our roster of contributors. Look for pieces by Chris Walker (cover story, page 10) and Andrew Dyck (The highways of Zion, page 13) in this issue. On page 14, Phil Gunther offers an article on the pursuit of Godly wisdom—something of which this anxious father often lacks. Thank you for your ongoing support of MB Herald Digest; I welcome your thoughts and feedback. With respect,
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#EVERYBODY LOVES SURVEYS
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) commissioned market research agency Insights West to survey donors and nondonors to support their 5-year strategic plan priorities and assist in effective planning for audience engagement, brand positioning and messaging. CCMBC was part of four Anabaptist denominations and schools that supported and joined in the research with MCC, looking to gain insight into their constituencies’ values, identities, and behaviours. A total of 430 Mennonite Brethren participated in the survey. Over the following few issues, we will unpack some of the findings.
Survey participants MCC, three denominations: Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Be in Christ Church of Canada, Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference; and one faith-based post-secondary institution: Conrad Grebel University College.
Follow Jesus. Serve the church. Engage the world. Dig deep into God’s Word and build a strong Biblical foundation in Christ-centred community. Biblical Studies Pre-University Ministry Leadership Marketplace Christian Leadership (Online) Pursuit
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Sharing the message of Jesus
ENGAGEMENT WITH I M P O R TA N T N E E D S A N D I S S U E S (MB RESPONDENTS) 71%
Access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
Through charitable giving
Peace and reconciliation
M O S T I M P O R TA N T N E E D S A N D ISSUES (MB RESPONDENTS)
Food and housing security
Through my church/school community
Access to education Advocacy for the oppressed or those on the margins
Access to healthcare
Through learning more about the issue or topic
66% Through talking with friends and family
Poverty reduction Supporting emergency response to a disaster
Through volunteer work
Through political engagement Starting new churches
Sponsoring a child in need
Addressing climate change
12% Through social activism
3% Not currently engaging
Among all survey participants, older respondents aged 55+ are more likely to engage through charitable giving (90% vs. 82% 35-54 and 74% 18-34).
Among all survey participants: • Older respondents are more likely to believe that sharing the message of Jesus is most important (47% 35-54 and 41% 55+ vs. 31% aged 18-34); and • Younger aged 18-34 are more likely to believe that addressing climate change is most important (43% vs. 27% aged 35+).
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Anna’s Son Joyfully Following Hært to Hært At minus 40 degrees, your spittle will freeze before it hits the ground. On this bitterly cold night in December 1930, Christmas was not top of mind for the 217 people in the Mennonite village of Schumanovka in Eastern Siberia. Harassed by Stalin’s brutal regime, the village leaders devised a daring plan that they prayed would take them safely across the frozen Amur River to freedom. At ten years old, my mother, Anna, was blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding and the scary adventure that awaited her. She was sound asleep, secure in the love of her doting parents and siblings. In another home nearby, 12-year-old Abram Wiens was much more aware and involved. He would be driving one of the 56 horse-drawn sleds that night. Finally, the word was given – 15 minutes to departure. Everyone bundled up in their warmest clothes; sleighs were packed with the few belongings they could take and some bags of melba toasted “zwieback.” Against all odds, they made it safely across the river just as dawn was breaking. When the sun rose and the fog cleared, they saw the Soviet guards on patrol, but now they were safely in China. What was the miracle that kept them safe? Was it the bitter cold or the intense fog? Or did God intervene?
As you read Anna’s Son, you will be overwhelmed by God’s gracious hand of protection on the villagers of Schumanovka as they fled persecution. Their faith, courage and determination will inspire you as they went on, with help from MCC, to carve out a new life in Paraguay’s “Green Hell.” The outbreak of the great depression blocked their original goal of refuge in Canada. Finally, in 1948, with the support of relatives, my family reached their goal. The book chronicles the joys and pains of my immigrant family as we sought to carve out a new life in Canada at a time of animosity against Germain “DPs” and with no government-funded safety net. As an immigrant boy, I lived the financial deprivation, the social ostracism and the endless hard work of those early years. A friend who reviewed this book comments that “One might think that a man who has lived with such privation would do all he could to create and sustain a stable life.” The second half of my memoir chronicles our adventurous missionary career, first as Bible translators among headhunters and then as the director of the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the Philippines. I end the book with my 20 years of service as the Director of Scripture Translations for the Canadian Bible Society. The goal of our parents and grandparent was never a life of ease and financial prosperity. The values instilled in us were always about faith, love and service to others. The person who most profoundly modelled these values for me was my mother. That is why the book is titled Anna’s Son. R E V I E W P R O V I D E D B Y T H E A U T H O R , H A R T WIENS
Engaging Healthy Conversations Around Difficult Topics in the Church
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PRAY FOR CANADA A familiar Scripture passage comes to mind when I ponder how to pray for the upcoming federal elections. According to Matthew 6:9-10, Jesus identifies us as people or citizens of God’s kingdom, and as the children or family of God. In our identity as citizens of God’s kingdom family, we are invited to pray for our nation — for his kingdom to come and his will to be done here in Canada as it is in heaven. As September 20 approaches let’s pray earnestly for the fulfillment of God’s will (“good, pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2, “that none should perish” 2 Peter 3:9), and for the values of the kingdom (reconciliation, peace, justice), which are desperately needed in this land today. Matthew 6:9-10 “This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” — Robyn Serez, a member of the National Faith and Life Team
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Let’s talk A HOLISTIC GOSPEL This is part four in a six-part dialogue on the subject of discipleship. We invite and encourage you to submit your thoughts and opinions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ello again, let’s continue our conversation on what discipleship looks like from an MB perspective. So far, we have proposed that our disciple-making approach carries the following characteristics: discipleship happens in community for the sake of the community. (see article here); we disciple unto mission (see article here). Let us explore another essential characteristic of our Mennonite Brethren DNA; our discipleship is holistic. Just like before, the purpose of this article is to invite conversation. Please feel free to express your opinions and experiences by emailing us here or commenting on the online version of this article. Some of your comments may be published in the following issue of MB Herald Digest when we run the next article on this series.
Our discipleship is holistic. Many Christians only associate the word holistic with social justice. Which, to many, represents a watered-down version of the gospel less interested in people’s spiritual condition and solely concerned with their physical well-being. Misunderstanding and misusing the word holistic causes the Church to embrace a divided gospel: one gospel for the soul of humankind and another for its well-being. MBs also struggle with this concept, finding it easier to separate our mission approach along these same lines. The Church proclaims a gospel of redemption and then establishes “para-church” organizations to
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present a gospel of relief. What if this separation did not exist? Would the Church be more effective in its disciple-making efforts? Is a holistic gospel biblical? What can we do to integrate word and deed? Let’s answer these relevant questions. God’s definition of true fasting (Isaiah 68) and Jesus’ distinction between the sheep and goats (Matthew 25: 31-46) are clear calls to holistic disciple-making. It’s time for us to repair our fractured approach to holistic discipleship.
The whole gospel leads to a restored relationship with Christ and provides ways for reconciliation with one another. Body, soul, and spirit are refreshed and renewed.
>> T o read more about her life, see mbhistory.org/profiles/thiessen/
For that to happen, we begin with a proper definition of holistic. “Holistic” finds its root in the Greek word (holos), meaning whole or entire. In its simplest form, a holistic gospel is a complete gospel. In Churches That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News and Good Works, Ronald Sider, Philip N. Olson, and Heidi Rolland Unruh define the holistic gospel as “The whole gospel for the whole person through whole churches. This definition is robust, requiring that we explore several elements. The whole gospel The whole gospel brings salvation in its most total sense, beginning with the forgiveness of sins and a generative conversion and sanctification. It also leads to physical and emotional healing, relief of social and economic hardships, peace and reconciliation of sinful human conflicts, and the ultimate triumph of Christ over the forces of evil on a cosmic scale. God’s salvation is comprehensive.
Anna Thiessen of the Winnipeg City Mission is pictured here in 1916 with a group of 27 young women from her sewing class. The Mennonite Brethren mission work in Winnipeg is a good example of wholistic discipleship. In addition to teaching Bible lessons, Anna worked with the many immigrants that were streaming into this frontier city, looking for new homes and jobs. She organized relief work that assisted them with food and clothing.
For the whole person The gospel for the whole person is God’s transforming power spoken and demonstrated. It regenerates the soul, heals the body and mind and provides relief and development to individuals and communities. As we lead people to know the Bread of Life, we offer them their daily bread. It requires that we love our neighbours actively and demonstratively. More so, the least loved and in the most need of our love. The whole gospel invites people into the community, and at the same time, it brings about change to those communities. It leads to a restored relationship with Christ and provides ways for reconciliation with one another. Body, soul, and spirit are refreshed and renewed. Through whole churches Holistic disciple-making churches move people from spectators to participants in the transformation of their communities. Holistic churches understand that we are all called to demonstrate a gospel brought to life with good works. This is a job for the whole church. Whole churches proclaiming and demonstrating a whole gospel transforms whole communities. MBs value a complete gospel. We generously support Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Disaster Services, and other organizations that provide real-time relief, meeting real needs. These organizations represent us in both local and global contexts. Our mission agency, Multiply, is also active in relieving poverty and engaging in peace and reconciliation programs around the globe. We are a people not ashamed to present Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer, while never doing so with an empty hand. The Mennonite Brethren continually showcase the love of God in practical ways. What is your view on holistic discipleship? How has your church engaged in a holistic gospel? In what ways can we as a denomination better live out a holistic gospel presence? I would love to hear from you. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
E LT O N D A S I LVA
is the national director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Elton and Ana live in Winnipeg and have three children.
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we begin, full disclosure: although a Mennonite Brethren pastor, by spiritual birthright I am very much a Pentecostal. By this, I mean that I was raised in the Pentecostal church, was born-again and baptized in the Pentecostal church, had powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal church, went to Pentecostal bible college, and pastored in Pentecostal churches for thirteen years. This was my world until seven years ago when the Lord led me to leave behind the Pentecostals and join the Mennonite Brethren. I dearly love my new adoptive family, and am thoroughly Anabaptist and very proud to be an honorary MB, even if I am as one “abnormally born” to this beautiful movement (1Co 15.8). I enjoy my new identity as a “Menno-bapti-costal” (do I have that right?), and adore my new Conference because of the emphasis on worshiping and following Jesus, first and foremost – a Christ-centered orthodoxy and orthopraxy, a commitment to justice, a passion for service, a devotion to Scripture. For these reasons and more, I am happy to be MB. But as a person merging into the MB stream of the Church after a lifetime of swimming in a different one, I carry with me something else – a thoroughly Pentecostal commitment to the person and power of the Holy Spirit. Just as Anabaptists bless the broader body of Christ by reminding her about things like practical Christ-following, peacemaking, and service, our Pentecostal friends remind the broader body about who the Holy Spirit is and why he is so important. The title of Francis Chan’s book on the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit is telling. For many Christ-followers, the Spirit is certainly real – as a theological concept, the third person of the Trinity,
W I T H O U T T H E S P I R I T, WE CANNOT KNOW THE TRUTH, AS HE IS THE ONE WHO LEADS US INTO TRUTH ( J O H N 1 6 .13 -1 5)
a truth that we affirm without really knowing much about him. Although no one would ever admit this, in preaching and in practice, many of us treat the Spirit as a lesser part of the Trinity, with Father and Son getting most of the attention. The Spirit gets relegated to a “behind-the-scenes” character, mysterious and difficult to understand. And yet, the book of Acts paints the Holy Spirit as so much more than just a background actor. Acts portrays the Spirit as the living, breathing, encompassing, leading, encouraging, convicting, wonderful, terrifying, completing fullness of the power and personhood of Almighty God, sent into our midst. He speaks (Acts 8.29; 10.19), shakes (4.31), directs (13.1-4), uplifts (15.8; v.28), strikes down (5.1-11), and is ever-present with his people, filling them like water and graciously choosing to make his home with them (1.4-8; 2.-12). How many of us have this sort of communion and connection with the Holy Spirit? How many books have we read, how many conferences and seminars have we attended, how many podcasts have we listened to, all trying to help us grow our churches, see people saved and set free, and make our ministries more effective? With all the emphasis on techniques and models, how many of them truly stress this impossibly simple solution: Be filled with the Spirit, follow his leading, and everything else will fall into place from there. Without the Spirit, we cannot know the truth, as he is the one who leads us into truth (John 16.13-15). Without the Spirit, we only have the flesh to operate in, and while we can coast on that for a time, the fruit of the flesh is ultimately never good or lasting (Romans 8.5-11). Without the Spirit, we have no ministry gifts to bless others with (1Co 12.1-11). Without the Spirit, we cannot comprehend the Word and will of God. (1Cor 2.14). Without the Spirit, the conviction
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD
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of sin that leads to repentance cannot happen (John 16.7-11). Without the Spirit, we cannot be transformed from those who are sinners into those who increasingly reflect the image of Jesus (2 Cor 3.18). Without the Spirit, we will not experience the tangible presence of the Living God (Acts 2). Without the Spirit, we cannot find true freedom (2 Cor 3.17). Without the Spirit, we operate by ourselves, perhaps having the appearance of godliness, but denying the true power of God that brings salvation and transformation to our lives (2 Tim 3.5). The Mennonite Brethren call themselves “People of the Book,” and rightly so. The commitment to Scripture is crucial. When we emphasize the Spirit without the Word, it leads to faulty theology and experience-based Christianity that easily slides into error. But, as the Pharisees taught us, devotion to Scripture without the Spirit can easily lead to legalism, a commitment to the law that misses out on life-giving and life-changing communion with God. When Jesus was leaving this earth, he did not tell his disciples, “I will leave you with a Book,” although of course he did that as well. Although he was physically about to leave them, He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14.18). Once he left, the Spirit would arrive, and it would be as if Jesus had never left at all – the Spirit would continue the work that Christ had begun. This time, the Spirit would fill every believer, and not just be confined primarily to one Galilean in one time and one space. We must never lay aside our title of “People of the Book,” but we must not stop there. We are to not only be
W E M U S T N E V E R L AY ASIDE OUR TITLE OF “ PEOPLE OF THE BOOK,” BUT WE MUST NOT STOP THERE.
C H R I S WA L K ER
People of the Book, but People of the Spirit: grounded and rooted in the Word of Truth, filled to abundance with the Spirit of Truth, where we live our lives in deep and rich communion with the Living God, where our best and most powerful ministry is simply the overflow of the Spirit’s presence within us. Paul the Apostle commands, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5.18), so we must start there. We must daily be praying for and seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So let us start with that prayer, for ourselves, for our churches, for our leadership, for our Conference: “Lord Jesus, fill us with your Holy Spirit, that we will not be as orphans, but that we would know you by your Spirit as intimately as a child knows their parents.” We must not only pray for it but actively seek this filling. At the command of Jesus, the disciples tarried in Jerusalem for ten days, praying and seeking God, before the great outpouring at Pentecost (Act 1.4-5). Are we taking even ten minutes each day to wait upon the Lord, asking to be filled? Where have we felt filled with the Spirit in the past? Where have we felt close to him? What spiritual practices have served as a meeting place with him? How can we dig back in, reopen those wells, seek the filling that we so desperately need? The spiritual journey with Christ is at its easiest, most effective, and most powerful when it simply flows from our communion with the Holy Spirit. May the Mennonite Brethren be People of the Book and the Spirit. Not emphasizing one over the other, but holding fast to both together, as we draw close to God.
is the Lead Pastor of Meadow Brook Church in Leamington, Ontario. He is passionate about teaching, spiritual formation, and encouraging God’s people in their walk with Jesus.
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T H E H I G H WAY S O F Z I O N ecause I’ve always had teachers in my family, at the end of each school year I inevitably daydream of places to go during the summer vacation—fly to Europe, drive to Lake Winnipeg, or walk to Sargent Sundae. I was a rookie pastor and young father at the start of summer 1997, when Siegbert caught up to me in the church stairway. Siegbert is a seasoned German Baptist minister. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “While you’re on vacation, see how you can be a person of reconciliation.” His comment caught me off guard. I’d been looking forward to R & R after a year of working hard in a new culture and facing financial pressures. Siegbert opened my mind to an unexpected possibility. How might I bring goodness on Jesus’ behalf while I rested and travelled? (As it turned out, our family hosted a family of foreigners who’d been ripped off while in Jasper earlier that summer.) Of course, many of us have limited travel options—whether because of the pandemic or for other reasons. However, whether you travel or stay home, God invites you to have life-giving highways in your heart. A Hebrew poet once wrote, Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways [to Zion]. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5-7)* The following definitions may help. ‘Blessed’ also means happy. ‘You’ is the LORD. ‘Heart’ is your inner person. ‘Valley of Baca’ means the valley of weeping or affliction. ‘Zion’ is the city of God—formerly, Jerusalem; but now available everywhere (Hebrews 12:22-24). I invite you to meditate on these word-pictures with one of the following questions. do your inner highways lead? ˚ Where With God’s help, how can you turn weeping and affliction into wellsprings of life? ˚ What does it mean for you to travel towards God?
A N D R E W DYC K ,
Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry at Canadian Mennonite University, teaches primarily in CMU’s seminary programs. He and Martha belong to Westwood Community Church and the Winnipeg Imago Dei group.
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‘Safety’ labels, Indiana Jones and wisdom Insight for engaging a broken new world “ T W O T H I N G S A R E I N F I N I T E . T H E U N I V E R S E A N D H U M A N S T U P I D I T Y. A N D, I ’ M N OT S O S U R E A B O U T TH E U N I V E R S E .” AT T R I B U T E D T O A L B E R T E I N S T E I N “ C H O O S E W I S E LY . ” H O LY G R A I L K N I G H T ’ S A D V I C E T O I N D I A N A J O N E S INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE “ T H E F E A R O F T H E L O R D I S T H E F O U N D AT I O N O F W I S D O M .” P S A L M 1 1 1 : 1 0 A ( N LT )
ome time ago I read an article where the author was studying safety labels on merchandise. He described this venture as being quite humourous. Some of the examples he used to make his point included: a hair dryer: Do not use ˚ On while sleeping. a bar of soap: Use like regu˚ On lar soap. a sleeping aid: Warning: ˚ On May cause drowsiness. a chain saw: Do not attempt ˚ On to stop chain with your hands. a child’s superhero cos˚ On tume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.
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I must admit, I chuckled. If safety labels like these are required, I wonder how long the human race can survive. There seems to be a definite dearth of common sense among homo sapiens. Humour aside, we face a very serious and expanding problem among us, a lack of wisdom. My seminary professor Tremper Longman III said that wisdom is a knowing how – that is, knowing how to navigate life. According to Longman, wisdom (hokma in Hebrew) is “…the skill of living. It is practical knowledge that helps one know how to act and how to speak in different situations. Wisdom entails the ability
to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves.” 1 Wisdom is the ability to avoid life’s pitfalls and reap life’s blessings. Wisdom is not intelligence, per say, but includes it. Theologically, Anglican Priest Tripp Prince claims that “Wisdom is the knowledge of God and a life lived for God.”2
1 Longman III, Tremper. How To Read Proverbs. IVP Academic: Downers Grove; 2002, 16. 2 wisdomhunters.com/what-is-wisdom
Raiders of the Lost Ark came out. Who didn’t want to be like Indiana Jones – handsome, intelligent, and courageous? And, talk about adventure in foreign lands with awesome jungles, caves, snakes and people. Makes me want to watch it again! For me, the most memorable thing about the movie was Indiana’s passion and drive. Nothing would keep him from finding the Ark of the Covenant because he understood its precious and powerful nature. I believe I need to pursue wisdom like Indiana pursued this ancient artifact. Consider the Bible’s counsel: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). “...wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
I H AV E M U C H H O P E T H AT INDIVIDUAL DISCIPLES AND THE CO LLEC TIV E BO DY O F C H RIS T W I L L R E C O M M I T T H E M S E LV E S TO A PURSUIT OF BIBLICAL AND G O D LY W I S D O M .
In his search for the historic ark, Indiana Jones followed a series of clues which he had recorded in his personal leather-bound journal. Similarly, the Bible gives us clues. As followers of Christ, a primary source in our search for wisdom is his written word: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do very good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).
It also serves to anchor us in an unchanging hope and joy. Charles Spurgeon once said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” So, what clues does Scripture offer concerning the obtaining of wisdom? God and obey His com˚ Honour mands – “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey [God’s] commandments will grow in wisdom” (Psalm 111:10 NLT). God to help you know ˚ Allow yourself (Psalm 139:23-24; Lamentations 3:40; 2 Corinthians 13:5). from life experiences, ˚ Learn especially mistakes (Psalm 90:12; Proverbs 24:30-34). insight from godly ˚ Acquire wise people – “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). God for it – “If you need ˚ Ask wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (James 1:5 NLT, Proverbs 2:6). If we stopped here, the Preacher (usually identified as King Solomon) in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes would caution us about pursuing wisdom simply to gain wisdom. He is right; pursuing wisdom for itself is vanity. There must be a greater good one is seeking – a higher value, a purpose beyond ourselves. God is that greater good and we pursue wisdom to please him and align ourselves with his will. Furthermore, the Preacher did not know of Jesus. If he had known Jesus, I am convinced he would declare that all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom are found in Jesus. Such a claim would be in harmony with the Apostle Paul’s assertion that Jesus is the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24,30; Colossians 2:3). Christ Jesus is the higher and greater ‘good’ we seek in our pursuit of wisdom. As disciples, ultimately our quest for wisdom will lead us back
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD
More and more I see a lack of knowing how in the church. Although wisdom is often preached about and prayed for, I’m not sure the church is doing what is necessary to possess hokma. Why is this pertinent for the church in 2021? Today the church is in a situation of unique realities: are emerging from months ˚ We of pandemic restrictions pertaining to church gatherings. These restrictions caused the rapid evolution of hybrid worship experiences – in-person and digital. Now, what is the way forward? Will congregants decide to return to ‘normal’ worship services? discovery of unmarked ˚ The graves on former residential school sites is fueling antichurch sentiments toward Catholic, Protestant and Anabaptist (MB) faith communities. Consider for example the July attempted arson of Central Heights (MB) Church (Abbotsford). What is our role in reconciliation? growing number of research ˚ Astudies report a significant loss of trust in pastors, priests and churchgoers among the unchurched. How do we restore this lost faith? emergence of hyper-in˚ The dividualism, racial conflict, religious intolerance, and gender identity confusion. How do we speak into these issues? phenomenal rise in burn˚ The out, PTSD and depression among disciples of Jesus. How can we help the affected heal? My point is that the Church of 2021 will need much wisdom to navigate these and other profound challenges. The good news is that unlimited wisdom is available to disciples (and by extension the Church) who are serious about obtaining it. It has been forty years since the first Indiana Jones movie
to Jesus; he is the fullest revelation of God’s wisdom. I have much hope that individual disciples and the collective Body of Christ will recommit themselves to a pursuit of biblical and godly wisdom. Furthermore, I continue to be convinced that disciples need to pursue wisdom like Indiana Jones pursued the biblical Ark. Such a quest will likewise be filled with adventures. Whatever our life circumstance, if we want to avoid life’s pitfalls and reap life’s blessings, my initial counsel is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and follow the instruction he provides in His Word. As the Preacher surveyed his life he declared “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty” (Ecclesiastes 12:13b NLT). On this side of the cross, my counsel is to look to Jesus, the wisdom of God incarnate. Jesus not only helps us navigate life’s pitfalls, but he is also the One who gives us right standing with God when we stumble into one of those pitfalls (1 Corinthians 1:30). Jesus helps us reap life’s blessings, but even more than that, he is the source of them (Philippians 4:19).
R E V. P H I L I P A . G U N T H E R
is director of ministry for the Saskatchewan Conference of MB Churches
WHAT’S NEXT? In the October issue of MB Herald Digest, Rev. Gunther tackles the present migration of believers to churches they deem to match their ideological leanings in Surviving the Grand ‘Sort.’
DISCERNMENT FOR OUR TIMES As disciples of Jesus we need wisdom. An integral part of any conversation about wisdom is the matter of discernment. Discernment is both a gift of God and a skill acquired over time and with experience. Some believers are uniquely blessed with discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10). Discernment is inextricably intertwined with wisdom. Like two sides of one coin, a wise person is a discerning person. Wisdom is needed for good discernment; they go hand-in-hand. For example, God blessed King Solomon with a wise and discerning heart (1 Kings 3:12). When faced with two prostitutes both claiming a particular infant as theirs, His administration of justice was the outcome of both wisdom and discernment (1 Kings 3:16ff). Scripture is replete with counsel instructing followers of God to discern well. Like wisdom, the people of God can ask him for discernment as did the ancient psalmist: “I am your servant; give me discernment” (Psalm 119:125a). Jesus expects disciples to be discerning, to discriminate judiciously (Matthew 7:1ff). The Apostle John gave instruction about discernment when he told the church to test the “spirits” – were they from God or not (1 John 4:1ff)? In his article What is Discernment?, Sinclair Ferguson gives this robust definition: “True discernment means not only distinguishing right from wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the eternal. And yes, it means distinguishing between good and better, and between the better and the best.” Discernment is about reaching the heart of a matter; it is about looking past the presenting issue or challenge and seeing the real problem. It is about hearing the selfless whisper among the cacophony of self-interest. A discerning disciple allows the Holy Spirit’s counsel to shape their judgments (Acts 15:28). In her book Pursuing God’s Will Together, Ruth H. Barton writes, “Discernment, in a most general sense, is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God—both in the ordinary moments and in the larger decisions of our lives.” Finally, a discerning disciple thinks about matters like Jesus thinks about them (Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:5). Such discernment will always inch toward tangible expressions of love and grace. How can one enhance their discernment? • Ask God. • Study and apply God’s Word. • Practice the spiritual disciplines. • Be mentored by a believer who possesses good discernment. • Participate in opportunities that call for heightened discern and learn from them. — Rev. Philip A. Gunther
M B H E R A L D.C O M
Finish lines PETER JOHN SUDERMAN Peter was born in a sod house in Pilot Butte, Sask., but grew up in Regina. Growing up during the depression was tough, but he loved to tell stories of his adventures as a boy. He was a hard worker, selling newspapers on the street corner, delivering groceries on his bicycle, and doing accounting at City Dairy. When his father was ready to sell his electrical business in 1954, Peter was ready to take on the challenge of business ownership. He grew Globe Electric from residential to commercial and industrial contracting and was a respected member of the business community. Peter developed an electrical estimating course, travelling across Canada teaching hundreds of contractors until he was 75. Athletics played a big part in Peter’s life, whether taking on 10 of his Sunday school class boys on a hockey rink or playing competitive volleyball and racquetball. Most Saturday mornings, you could find him on the course honing his golf game, winning many trophies. With a strong faith in God, Peter was always ready to share his faith. He was a committed member of Parliament Community Church, serving in multiple roles and volunteering many hours. He was instrumental in creating the Saskatchewan Prayer Breakfast, working closely with the Lieutenant Governor from
1971 until retiring from the committee in 2017. He spent many hours with Christian Business Men’s Connection, Athletes in Action, and the Regina male voice choir. He was a member of the Regina Electrical Contractors Association. Later, he delivered Meals on Wheels. His volunteerism was recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2017. Peter married Martha Wieler in 1948 and enjoyed 64 years of marriage. They had 4 children and family was a great source of joy. Peter and Martha built a loving home. They often hosted guests for a meal and offered a helping hand to those in need. Peter left an indelible mark on many lives, always encouraging them to love and serve God, love family, work hard, and be honest. Birth: March 18, 1928 Birthplace: Pilot Butte, Sask. Death: December 14, 2020 Parents: Peter & Sara (Klassen) Suderman Married: Martha Wieler, Sept. 20, 1948 [d. Oct. 23, 2012] Family: Martha; children Peter (Donna), Robert [d.] (Wendy), Linda (Jim [d.]), Valerie (Stephen); 11 grandchildren; 13 greatgrandchildren; siblings Helene, Jake (Betty), Henry (Bette), Mitzi (Helmut) Church: Parliament, Regina
O B I T UA R I E S H AV E LO N G B E E N A VA LU E D PA R T O F T H E M B H E R A L D. F R O M T H E F U N E R A L B U L L E T I N S , EU LO G I E S , A N D N E WS PA P E R O B I T UA R I E S YO U S E N D, O U R E D I TO R S C R A F T L I FE S TO R I E S O F O U R M E M B E R S T O I N S P I R E A N D E N C O U R A G E O U R R E A D E R S , C R E AT I N G A M E M O R I A L O F M B S A I N T S . CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT AN OBITUARY
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ERNA SUSE (SUDERMAN) FRIESEN Erna died at 89, in Vancouver, in the loving embrace of her husband of 61 years, Dr. John D. Friesen, with their children by her side. Her grandchildren will treasure memories of their Oma. Erna was a force of nature, a trailblazer, and a woman of many talents. She began her career as a teacher in music and English. Erna met John when they were students at University of B.C. They married in April 1960 and quickly started a family, with four children arriving in rapid succession. Life was busy with sports, chores, music lessons, and church. After the children began school, Erna entered UBC Law School. Soon after graduation, she formed Friesen and Epp with Harold Epp. She ran a general law practice with an emphasis on family law. In addition to their busy professional careers, Erna and John built and developed several construction projects, including their cherished Whistler family ski cabin, which all family members used whenever possible as a centre of family togetherness. Together with others, Erna and John established the Menno Simons Centre near UBC in 1986. The centre served as both a university student residence and home to Point Great Inter-Mennonite Fellowship. Erna served as board member and chair of Regent College, as board member of Mennonite Central Committee (BC), and as a board member of Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. She was on the board of the Faith and Learning Society, and along with her husband, was instrumental in establishing the Peace Studies program at the University of the Fraser Valley and the Conrad Grebel Seminary in Cuba. Possessing a lifelong interest in the arts, Erna became an accomplished landscape oil painter. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017, Erna experienced much suffering but remained fundamentally optimistic to the end. She often said, “It is a beautiful life.” She had the will and the ability to make it so for her family, friends, and the broader community. They will deeply miss her. Birth: January 8, 1932 Birthplace: Wawanesa, Man. Death: June 7, 2021 Parents: John & Helen Suderman Married: John Friesen, April 1960 Family: John; children Ingrid (Ben Mink), Carolyn Bishop (Norman), John (Juliana Sauer), Kenneth (Cynthia Zantingh); 12 grandchildren Madeleine, Isabel, Alexandra, Lucie, Charlotte, Ariane, Samuel, Josephine, Isaac, Hayden, Joshua, Tessa Church: Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship, Vancouver Baptism: Clearbrook (B.C.) MB, Aug. 22, 1948
M B H E R A L D.C O M
MARY EMMA BRAUN As a toddler, Mary spent 2 years in the Belgian Congo (now DR Congo), where her parents were missionaries. When Mary’s father pastored the MB church in Yarrow, B.C., she was tasked with picking his berry crop and overseeing younger siblings. Mary had fond memories and lifelong friends from her years at Mennonite Educational Institute, Abbotsford, B.C. During her 3 years at MB Bible College, Winnipeg, she met John. He asked to walk her home from a private Valentine’s party in 1958; Mary consented, and a romance was born. During their courtship, Mary completed Teachers College, and after their marriage, began teaching in East Kildonan (Winnipeg). After 3 years, Mary took time away to raise 3 boys. She was an accomplished pianist, self-taught organist, and joyful singer. In her home, she taught piano to a steady stream of children, teens, and young adults, including her sons. When she returned to formal teaching, Mary worked with young children, helping them learn to read and write. As a resource teacher, Mary found her true passion, taking a keen interest in the lives of the students, working closely with teachers and families to ensure her students’ success. The greater the challenge, the more time Mary put into it. After her retirement at 56, Mary spent three semesters teaching literature and writing at Lithuanian Christian College (now LCC International University) in Klaipėda, Lithuania. Some of her fondest memories were of volunteering annually at the International Wycliffe Center, Dallas, and the Wycliffe Mexican Center, Catalina, Ariz. When age made travel difficult, she volunteered at a Wycliffe boutique in Calgary and enjoyed community at Bethany Chapel. Mary was a loving, devoted mother. Perhaps out of self-preservation, but mainly owing to her values, she expected everyone would pitch in with cooking and cleaning – at a time when most boys and men were getting a free pass. In retirement, Mary and John travelled to Lithuania, Nicaragua, the Middle East, Mexico, Russia, and Ukraine. She was fond of the Canadian Rockies. Mary always enjoyed meeting new people and spending time with children and grandchildren. After a pandemic year of relative isolation, Mary suffered a series of strokes in mid-April from which she would not recover. Birth: October 16, 1936 Birthplace: Rosetown, Sask. Death: July 29, 2021 Parents: Herman & Katharina Lenzmann Married: John Braun, Aug. 14, 1959 Family: John; sons Brad (Lana), Bruce (Morgan Adamson), Geoff; 6 grandchildren; 4 siblings Church: Highland MB, Bethany Chapel, Calgary
A moment in time
MENNONITE BRETHREN BIBLE COLLEGE ( WINNIPEG , MANITOBA), 1989?
Music professor Linda Schwartz-Trivett give a lecture to students at MBBC. The Canadian Mennonite Brethren Church’s education agenda from 1944 to 1992 is documented in Abe J. Dueck’s latest book, Mennonite Brethren Bible College: A History of Competing Visions. Purchase your copy at KindredProductions.com Courtesy of the Mennonite Archival Information Database
MENNONITE BRETHREN HERALD
S U B S C R I B E T O M B H E R A L D D I G E S T W W W. M B H E R A L D . C O M / S U B S C R I B E -V I A - E M A I L