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“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). We have received an invitation to pray: Come…anytime, as you are. The door is open. I am waiting for you. Make time to be with me. Open your hearts. The Bible offers hundreds of invitations for us to approach the God of the universe, to praise and worship him, to repent before him, to hear his voice, to receive his guidance and comfort, and to call out to him for people’s salvation. In many voices and in countless ways – with whispers, shouts, and commands – God invites us to pray. Today, the invitation is to pray in communion with thousands of Mennonite Brethren across Canada during January.

Waiting The theme for our call to prayer is waiting. Who likes to wait? I can imagine your reply: “Not me.” But we all wait in shopping lines, on a clogged freeway, or for a restaurant table. In my world of travel, there are wait times for border crossings, BC Ferries sailings, and Air Canada flights. You may be waiting today for medical test results; an email reply; or a homecoming of children who have walked far from Jesus. We may find ways to ease our impatience with the wait, but most certainly we must wait.

A privilege “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). And we wait for God. The devoted follower of Jesus prepares herself to wait for Christ’s return. The biblically equipped person practises the discipline of waiting. Waiting is a great privilege for us to grow strong in faith and live with hope and trust. “What a chapter can be written of God’s delays!” said Baptist pastor and evangelist F.B. Meyer. “It is the mystery of educating human spirits to the finest temper of which they are capable.”

A discipline Through the discipline of waiting, we develop in a deeper discipleship of submission, humility, patience, joyful endurance, and persistence in well-doing. These are the character traits of Christ that God desires to shape in us. So how are you doing with waiting for God? What happens to your spirit while you wait for his redemption of all creation? Do you grow stronger in faith, deeper in trust, hopeful in your outlook, and bold in your praying? I anticipate that you will accept this invitation to pray with our MB family and that together we will become a community of people who must lean into Jesus while we wait.

Steve Berg is executive director of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. He lives in Abbotsford, B.C.

photo courtesy MB Mission

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Building faith muscles

Today, 16 years later, the partnership is strong and youth that were once children in the program are leading ministry teams. The challenges have been many and the prayers never stopped.

REFLECT “Be devoted to one another in love… Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:10–12). When we ask something of God, do we lean into it with our will? Do we exercise faith? After all, we are asking God to move heaven and earth; the request must align our hearts with God’s heart.

Year by year, God continues to align our hearts and plans with his.

ACTIVATE {{ What prayers of yours seem overwhelming? {{ Ask Jesus, “How do I align my desires with your desires?” {{ What step of faith is required of you?

While developing a short-term ministry program in Winnipeg, we met with a ministry leader in our city who challenged our faith. “Our community is relationally fragile. If you commit to serving with us, it must be a 10-year commitment. We will know this partnership is successful when today’s children are serving in this program and serving their community as teenagers.” By faith we partnered and committed to 10 years of ministry in the North End of Winnipeg, interceding continually for the children to become men and women of faith.

Lloyd and Carol Letkeman serve with MB Mission in the Prairie Provinces and live in intentional community in Winnipeg. The Letkemans live out a passion for being attentive to the life of Jesus, Scripture, the faithful community, and the voice of the Spirit.

photo courtesy MB Mission

join us in prayer #cdnmbpray


join us in prayer #cdnmbpray

photo courtesy MB Mission

Waiting for the One REFLECT I remember when waiting felt like it was something I was supposed to do. “I doubt God would have you serve overseas as a single. Maybe wait until he gives you a husband. How have you not met anyone yet? Just keep waiting.”

wait to rejoice. Yes, he waited on God, but not for his circumstances to change. I will never regret the years of singleness that I have lived in motion with God. I know that while the world puts pressure on waiting, God is calling those who are willing.

ACTIVATE {{ What are some of the pressures you have felt to wait for in your life?

Being 31 and unmarried, I have heard these words many times.

{{ Have any of these things become barriers to your willingness to obey God?

Sometimes, as a single person, I have felt pressure to be in a season of waiting for marriage. But not from God. He has never asked me to stop what I am doing and wait for a husband.

{{ How might the race God is calling you to run (Hebrew 12:1) look different without these hindrances?

Oh, he stops me often enough. But when he does, he is calling me to wait on him. Marriage is not the only thing we may be told to wait for. And although it’s not wrong to desire the blessings of God, these things (if we allow them) can become a barrier to our willingness: “I will serve God in that capacity when I am __. I will give financially when I have __ amount.” We strain forward to what lies ahead, Paul writes in Philippians 3. There is movement toward “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul wrote these words in prison. He didn’t wait for freedom to encourage the church through his letters. He didn’t even

God alone gives us everything we need to live a life of holiness. He empowers us to live in wholeness as those marked by love, community, and witness.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).

April Klassen is a lover of Jesus, people, and adventuring. April is currently serving with MB Mission in B.C., having spent the past three years working among migrant communities in Europe and the Middle East through peace camps.


Peacebuilding evangelism

ACTIVATE “In that day the people will proclaim, ‘This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the Lord, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!’” (Isaiah 25:9, NLT).

REFLECT The electricity was out for six weeks. What would you do? My friend Ali taught himself to play guitar and flute during the monotony of having no power and no internet while the death toll soared in his city, Aleppo. With the pluck of each string and breath of each tune, his heart waited for peace with ever-increasing resolve. Ali now plays the tune of peacebuilding as he waits for a more complete peace in his country, and in his heart.

O day of peace that dimly shines through all our hopes and prayers and dreams, guide us to justice, truth, and love, delivered from our selfish schemes.* I have experienced new definitions of waiting as I have walked and cried with young adults who are Syrian, Turkish, and Yazidi this last year. Bruised by the violence of humanity, these precious people’s dream for peace has become their life anthem, a song they sing more loudly than those of us secure in the West.

{{ Who do you know who is waiting for the Prince of Peace (whether or not they know it)? {{ Who needs to be rescued from violence, be it political, relational, or spiritual? {{ Are you driven to deliver belonging, active in resolving injustice, and eager to witness to Jesus? {{ What would it look like for you to have both the calluses of the Kingdom on your hands, and the words of Jesus on your lips? Missiologist and theologian David Bosch anticipated that peacebuilding would become an important mode of evangelism, as our teams are discovering. May the Prince of Peace bring these streams together in today’s disciples and in the activities of their churches. * “O Day of Peace that Dimly Shines” Carl Daw Jr., The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 729

May swords of hate fall from our hands, our hearts from envy find release, till by God’s grace our warring world shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.* The Prince of Peace is coming daily. He is the response to our waiting. His reign is extending to some of the most vulnerable. They are experiencing the peace that comes from belonging, the hope that is carried by God’s people, the new life from the Saviour that releases our hearts to grow justice, truth, and love.

Philip Serez has been developing discipleship training programs with MB Mission for the last 22 years. As regional mobilizer for Eastern Canada, he trains mission teams to live the gospel out from the Saint Lawrence to bless the nations (Psalm 72:8).

photo courtesy Ahmed Rizkhaan

join us in prayer #cdnmbpray


join us in prayer #cdnmbpray

photo courtesy MB Mission

Making gravel REFLECT

It is God who wants people to know and love him. It is God’s desire to see light shining through the church into the darkness.

Along the serpentine roads of east Africa, there is a familiar scene: a man with a big pile of rocks, a hammer, and a chisel.

We have been praying and waiting for the east of Congo for 14 years. Sometimes the waiting is agonizing. Sometimes the prayers themselves are painful. Yet we believe and we wait.

What is he doing? Making gravel. All day long, one hammer-blow at a time.

Change does not come overnight. But we wait actively for the God who has spoken, the God who will act for his glory.

Recently, the image brought to mind our work in eastern Congo. The ministry often feels like making gravel. It’s a long work with seemingly little progress.

Let’s keep making gravel, one prayer at a time.

Infrastructure is the first thing to impede progress.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

The main road to five of our churches requires fording numerous streams due to unmaintained bridges. (On my first trip, I broke two shock absorbers!)

{{ What is the pile of rocks for which you’re being called to faithfully “make gravel,” one prayer at a time?

But deeper, there is a dearth in leadership and vision for what the church could be. The expectations on us are wearying. Nevertheless, we train people in biblical leadership and community development. We build relationships through visits. We preach and teach the Word. And we pray.

Only God can change hearts and raise up leaders “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). One day, feeling discouraged by this gravel-making, I turned to Psalm 2:8: “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” This is incredible. Surely, we must be asking for too little, indicating a faith that is too small and an ability to endure that is so feeble. It is God who wants to see his Kingdom come here on earth.

ACTIVATE

“No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs” (2 Timothy 2:4). It’s possible to talk about the problems of the world, yet do nothing about it. But fatalism is a civilian affair. We’re invited to do battle and see “His kingdom come, his will be done” (Matthew 6:10) as soldiers of the King; as his children. {{ Make the decision today to say no to fatalism and yes to God and participation in his reign on earth.

“Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8).

Doug Hiebert serves with MB Mission in Burundi. Doug works with church and ministry leaders to build capacity for multiplying mission in their region and beyond.


Looking back at promises fulfilled

Now, 17 years later, we train short-term workers every summer to serve around the world, starting on the campus of Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna.

REFLECT “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). Hindsight is 20/20. While tending flocks, Moses was told that someday he would lead the children of Israel to worship on that mountain. Forty years later, the promise was fulfilled. Moses’ faith blossomed! God continues to give his people promises to build their faith. On our 1999 sabbatical, Carol and I would take a prayer walk through our quaint village of Gretna, Man., every day and journal our prayers. One day while reflecting on Matthew 28, Carol shared, “Gretna will become a place that sends disciples to the nations.” On another occasion, meditating on Isaiah 61–63, I wrote, “Gretna will become a place that receives the nations, a gateway for the good news.”

This summer, a welcome centre for border-crossing asylum seekers was established in Gretna. God invited us to partner in prayer for this community that would receive the nations and train people to go out on mission. My faith is strengthened! How about yours?

ACTIVATE {{ How has God confirmed his faithfulness to you lately? {{ What “unlikely” promises have you been prompted to pray into? {{ Take time right now to ask, “Jesus, what promises do you want me to pray into today, and continue to pray into for years to come?”

Lloyd and Carol Letkeman serve with MB Mission in the Prairie Provinces and live in intentional community in Winnipeg. The Letkemans live out a passion for being attentive to the life of Jesus, Scripture, the faithful community, and the voice of the Spirit.

photo courtesy MB Mission

join us in prayer #cdnmbpray


join us in prayer #cdnmbpray

photo courtesy MB Mission

Living on the frontier of expectation REFLECT “If you could go back in history to spend a day with someone,” the group leader asked, “who would that person be?” I immediately knew my answer. My family has been waiting to see the liberating power of the Kingdom of God transform lives among a Himalayan people group and form a growing community of Jesus followers. This is the promise God gave us when we came here 15 years ago. To date, there have been numerous fits and starts, but nothing that could be described as the fulfillment of our promise. Living on the frontier of expectation can be painful. As soon as this retreat leader posed his question, my heart was drawn to a hero of faith with deep experience in carrying a promise from God. Someone who held on to a dream through thick and thin, in the face of circumstances that defied reason. I thought of Abraham. I imagined spending the day with him on his 99th birthday, 20 years after saying yes to the promise of God. How was he feeling on the painful frontier of expectation after holding on to a dream for so long? Did he know what was right around the corner?

Last winter, the unheard of happened. The impossible was made possible. An abbot of a monastery in the mountains requested that we teach a group of young monks about Jesus. Our team planned six weeks of camp for the children. The abbot himself accompanied his students to understand the lessons about Jesus. They want to come back again this winter. As children of Abraham, living on the frontier of expectation for an impossible dream is normal. It is fuelled by a hope that even death can’t kill.

“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

ACTIVATE {{ If you could go back in history to spend a day with someone, who would that person be? Why? {{ What is a dream you have held on to, even though the response has been slow in coming? Consider the promise in 1 Peter 1:3: Invite the God of hope to renew and sustain you as you place your trust in him while you wait. The resurrection power of God fuels our living hope.

JH serves with MB Mission in Asia, bringing good news to communities not yet reached with the gospel.


Impatient-passionate waiting REFLECT I have learned that my God-given passion to drive the Kingdom forward, to see people saved and plant more churches, must come from an “impatient-passionate” waiting that fuels my prayer life. (See Amos 3:7 and 1 Kings 18:43.)

I suddenly had an impulse to talk to the owner of the house. I marched into the lobby and spotted the owner. “Excuse me. Can I ask you for some advice?” I explained our crisis to her. She listened and quietly said, “I can do that.” Shocked, I leaned in: “Can you please say that again?” “I will help you get a business visa,” she said.

As I was in prayer, the Holy Spirit gave me a very specific promise that I wrote in my journal in 2014: In January 2017, after your daughter has graduated, you will move to a country in SE Asia with a new team to study their language and plant more churches.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me” (John 10:27).

No one in our family or our Thai team would think that was a good idea! We were deeply invested in growing Thai leaders.

I encourage you to write down what the Holy Spirit says to you and pray it through to the end! Take risks of faith. Keep actively praying and impatiently waiting. God will answer you.

But this Word from God made me come alive, so I kept this a secret and impatiently started praying.

ACTIVATE

Declare these truths out loud: {{ I am blessed by God in the waiting. The longer I wait….

Exactly three years later, we arrived in our new country. This prophetic promise had miraculously come true – almost. There was one little hiccup. After years of praying, researching, and asking other foreigners how we could obtain a business visa for this country, I still had no answer. So, with a tourist visa, we landed. In this country, renters must pay rent one year in advance. “We only have a tourist visa – is that okay?” The real estate agent said, “No problem! Go ahead!” So, we put our life savings on the table and signed the rental agreement on the house our national friend had found near the language school. An hour later, our friend phoned us back: “Sorry. The agent was wrong. You need a business visa to rent a house.” My husband put his head on the table and moaned. “What have we done? We have lost all our money and now we have to go home.”

the more joy and patient-endurance my testimony expresses,

the more opportunities I have to be loving and gracious under pressure,

the more dependent on and in love with Jesus I become.

Louise Sinclair-Peters serves with MB Mission in SE Asia. Along with her international team, she is pioneering a church planting vision to creatively reach many who have never heard the gospel of Jesus.

photo courtesy MB Mission

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Week of Prayer 2018  
Week of Prayer 2018  

Week of Prayer resource for Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches congregations