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God at work in the World

‘Colombia fever’

David Fehr, left, and Klaas Wall in the middle of a rice field not too far from Puerto Gaitán, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Today

Despite warnings from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Low German Mennonites from drought-prone regions of northern Mexico have bought over 20,000 hectares of land in Colombia.

Kennert Giesbrecht, long-time editor of Die Mennonitische Post—a newspaper for Low German Mennonites throughout the Americas—notes the Liviney Colony and another 12,000-hectare parcel as two examples of land acquisitions. Another group is currently considering a 10,000-hectare plot. The lands are all in the Eastern Plains of Colombia, about 200 kilometres east of Bogotá.

Creating a we-centred world

Cassie Bobbitt, Richella Li, Olivia Atherton-Reimer and Kate Boyer bag dehydrated vegetables at Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Jul 18, 2017

As far as David Epp is concerned, the 2016-17 school year was “a real success.” His first year of teaching at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) was also the first year of the school’s Imagine program for Grade 10 students.

A social-justice initiative offering integrated learning in English, history, Spanish and Christian ethics, Imagine also provides experiential-learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom.

‘Your joy becomes my joy’

Muslim students from the University of Waterloo sit with Conrad Grebel University College students as they participate in an interfaith fast-a-thon, ending in an iftar dinner. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

God at work in the World | By Jennifer Konkle | Jul 18, 2017

For Muslim students at the University of Waterloo, long spans of fasting during the longest days of the year are over and may already feel like a distant memory. However, it was just a few weeks ago that students were stretching the limits of their bodies as they refrained from eating or drinking each day while the sun was up. This religious practice during Ramadan becomes even more difficult for university students living away from the support of their families for the first time.

World Refugee Day celebrated in B.C.

Children of the Kabala and Djumaine families of Mission, B.C., perform a dance at the celebration of World Refugee Day in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Jul 18, 2017

“We are here to celebrate with you,” said Melissa Giles, director of programs for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., as she praised the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world at a World Refugee Day event held in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park on June 24, 2017, that included speakers, song and dance.

“At MCC, refugee sponsorship is so important to our work,” she added, lauding newcomers to Canada and those who have welcomed them.

A field of a million prayers

A million praying South Africans gathered on 800 hectares of farmland on April 22, 2017, to pray for healing of the nation. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada.)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Jun 28, 2017

They were called and they came, a million people from every corner of South Africa. They gathered on April 22, 2017, in an expanse of field near Bloemfontein for the largest prayer meeting the country had ever seen.

“[Bloemfontein] is the centre, or the heart, of the nation,” said organizer Angus Buchan as the event began. “And we are asking God to change the heart of our beloved nation, beginning with our own hearts. . . . We will ask the Lord to bring justice, peace and hope in our beloved South Africa.”

Edmonton church experiences blanket exercise

At the beginning of the blanket exercise, the floor is covered and people walk freely over the “land.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Jun 28, 2017

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017, a spirit of truth and reconciliation filled the fellowship hall and sanctuary of Edmonton's First Mennonite Church. Instead of the regular Sunday School time, adults and youth gathered for a “blanket exercise.” Developed by KAIROS (an ecumenical movement for ecological justice and human rights) in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the exercise is a participatory journey through 500 years of history, paying attention to the stories of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

‘It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore

The final rally at the Human Rights Monument, with walkers standing under the inscription, ‘All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ (Photo by Ally Siebert)

God at work in the World | By Ally Siebert | May 31, 2017

The crowd that gathered at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa on May 13 didn’t allow the rain to dampen their celebration of the arrival of the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights.

More than 30 walkers rallied together with indigenous leaders, government officials and a few hundred supporters to mark the completion of their 600-kilometre journey and to demand that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) be fully adopted and implemented by the federal government.

‘Happy to find a safe place’

Heather Menzies, back right, and Jennifer deGroot and sons deliver hygiene kits to the Gretna refugee reception centre. (Photo by Will Braun)

 

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | May 31, 2017

“The world has come to Gretna,” says Robin Neustaeter, a resident of the normally quiet town of 550 on the border between Manitoba and the U.S. On May 4, 2017, Manitoba’s Conservative government opened a “reception centre” in Gretna to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers who walk across the border in the area.

On the first Sunday the centre was open, six asylum seekers from Cameroon and Nigeria attended the local Mennonite church. Co-pastor Jana Wiebe says many in the congregation found it “energizing.”

‘Without CoSA I’d be lost’

A former core member of a Mennonite Central Committee-supported Circle of Support and Accountability program run by the Moncton Community Chaplaincy. He wishes to remain anonymous so that he can reintegrate into society without the stigma related to sexual offenders. (MCC photo by Shane Yuhas)

 

God at work in the World | By Racahel Bergen | May 31, 2017

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) welcomes the Canadian government’s announcement that it will provide nearly $7.5 million over five years to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), which helps convicted sex offenders reintegrate into their communities.

CoSA is a national restorative justice organization for women and men who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger.

‘One night changed everything’

Alina Kehl, left, and Taylor Clemmer fill their plates at a refugee fundraiser lunch at Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church on March 26, 2017. The food was prepared by a Turkish refugee who is being hosted in the village. (Photo by Barb Draper)

God at work in the World | By Barb Draper | May 17, 2017

Last November, two Turkish men arrived in the small village of Floradale, in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country, seeking refuge. Leon Kehl, a local resident, had developed a relationship with Turkish Muslims in the past, so it was natural that they turned to him for help. He arranged to have the men, who are not named because their families remain in peril in Turkey, live with his parents next door while they applied for refugee status.

Lifesaving latrines and the importance of local partners

This is the frame of the first latrine to be built as part of MCC’s project in the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl in Haiti. (MCC photo by Ted Oswald)

God at work in the World | By Rebecca Shetler Fast and Ted Oswald | May 17, 2017

Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl, Haiti, hard last October, leading Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to respond to sanitation needs identified by community leaders.

“There was a lot of damage to this community in the storm,” says Previl Pierre, a local leader and community monitor in MCC’s environmental education program in the Artibonite region in central Haiti. “Many goats and cows died, and whole gardens were lost.”

Stations of the Cross on Broadway

Maelle, left, and Esme Kulik enjoy bannock provided by Kairos Manitoba. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 03, 2017

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, pilgrims from Winnipeg and beyond gather at Broadway Disciples United Church to walk the Stations of the Cross on Broadway, one of Winnipeg’s oldest and most historic thoroughfares.

Before observing the first station at the church, and setting out against the day’s damp cold, guests are invited to warm themselves with music, snacks and hot coffee.

‘A downstream solution to an upstream problem’

Volunteers show off food baskets in front of the newly rebuilt House of Friendship Emergency Food Distribution Centre on Guelph Street in Kitchener, Ont. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

When the first food bank was created in Canada in 1981 in Edmonton, it was seen as a short-term project that would be unnecessary when the economy improved. Fast-forward to 2017 and Kitchener’s House of Friendship’s emergency food program that distributes food to 1 in 20 people living in Waterloo Region.

Learning cycles of peace

Jorgina Sunn tells her life story at the Parkland Restorative Justice Spring Banquet in the Woods. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 03, 2017

“I needed to go through what I did because that’s what helps me understand the people I work with,” said Jorgina Sunn. The indigenous singer/songwriter was the featured speaker at Parkland Restorative Justice’s Banquet in the Woods, held April 22, 2017, in Prince Albert.

An idea worth sharing

Karl, left, and Marla Langelotz, Mennonite Church Canada short-term workers serving at Friedenshaus in Ludwigshafen, Germany, address the audience at a TEDx event at the Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | Apr 19, 2017

Peace is rooted in building relationships, and that means creating space to get to know one another. With that thought in mind, Karl and Marla Langelotz of Winnipeg addressed an audience at Zurich International School in Switzerland on March 18, 2017, for a TEDx talk they entitled “A modest proposal for world peace.”

TEDx is a localized version of the popular TED Talk conferences whose mission is sharing “ideas worth spreading.”

‘A beautiful way to make peace’

Mariam Al Mahmoud, right, writes an Arabic greeting on the blackboard for Grade 10 students at Rosthern Junior College. Afterwards, Dana Krushel, left, Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, invited students to try their hand at writing the greeting. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Apr 19, 2017

The best way to learn about a new culture is to experience it first-hand. Rosthern Junior College (RJC) Grade 10 students recently had the opportunity to learn a little about Middle Eastern culture when two Syrian couples, who came to Rosthern as refugees in 2016, shared with the students about their culture and their Islamic faith.

Bite-sized donors help combat hunger

MCC photo by Bethany Daman

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 19, 2017

This spring marks the third year that Grant Dyck and his family of Artel Farms in Niverville, Man., have dedicated a section of their land to raise sponsored crops for overseas relief. Planting has not yet begun, but, with plenty of summer yet ahead, 175 shares and counting have been purchased in the Grow Hope project that is overseen in the province by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba. That is already more than last year’s final count.

Creation care in action

Bob Lebold, 50 Kent Avenue’s physical resources coordinator, checks the output on one of the 10 banks of solar electric panels on the roof. In spite of the cloudy day, the system was producing electricity. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 05, 2017

Building to green standards using cutting-edge technology is a significant expense.

After nearly four years in its 50 Kent Avenue building, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario is pleased with the choices it made and feels that its constituents can be satisfied that the extra expenses have paid creation-care dividends. Most initiatives have met or exceeded expectations, especially with the rising price of electricity in the Ontario market.

‘Not just an activist political group’

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, second from right, and Carolyne Epp-Fransen, right, co-lead a workshop at the MC Manitoba annual general meeting in early March in Winkler focussing on the Israel-Palestine resolution passed at last summer’s national church assembly. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 05, 2017

Mennonite Church Canada’s resolution on Israel and Palestine took centre stage during an informative workshop in early March 2017 at the Mennonite Church Manitoba annual general meeting.

Church opens doors to exercise club

Retired physician Arnie Nickel, wearing the headset, is one of five volunteer trainers who lead the Forever in Motion Club that meets at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Apr 05, 2017

Everyone’s welcome, it’s free of charge and refreshments are served. Those selling features should attract Mennonites by the dozen. Surprisingly, though, most participants in Nutana Park Mennonite Church’s seniors exercise club aren’t Mennonites at all.

Five-and-a-half years ago, Walter Wall approached his congregation about starting an exercise program for seniors. The Saskatoon Health Region offered training for volunteer leaders for a program called Forever in Motion. Wall and Arnie Nickel took the training and became the first leaders of the church’s Forever in Motion Club.

Serving up social justice

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Apr 05, 2017 | 1 comment

More than just food will be on the menu when the Abby Eats Café opens here next year. The non-profit eatery, according to founder and proprietor Kyle Dyck, will focus on social justice and food insecurities and offer a culture of welcome for customers of all socioeconomic groups. The unique twist is that this restaurant will be “pay what you can.”

Signs of welcome in Ontario

Laila and Zafar Ismaili stand in their print shop in UpTown Waterloo, Ont., printing a large sign to give as a gift to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

“No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour.”

Kitchener (Ont.) First Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada are promoting “welcome signs” with this message in English, French and Arabic in the community and beyond.

Rebecca Yoder Neufeld of First Mennonite first saw the sign in Elkhart, Ind., last November. A trip to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in January by a group from the church galvanized their desire to bring the signs to the area church.

Trump reality spills over into Mennoland

A fallen blanket on the U.S. side of a path taken by asylum seekers headed to Canada near Emerson, Man. The border lies just beyond the buildings barely visible in the background. (Photo by Jennifer DeGroot)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Mar 08, 2017 | 2 comments

The potent Trump phenomenon is rippling around the globe and Mennonites in southern Manitoba are not immune.

Waves of mostly Somali asylum seekers, driven in part by fear of deportation under the Trump administration, cross covertly from the U.S. into a region of Manitoba heavily populated by Mennonites.

Biblical response to colonial legacy

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Feb 22, 2017

Last November, Vic Bartel and John Ilg pulled into the northern Manitoba Cree community of Cross Lake with a thousand Bibles. The Bibles had been requested by the local Pentecostal church and supplied by Canadian LifeLight Ministries. Neither Bartel nor Ilg had made such a delivery before.

Talking with our cousins

Karl Koop

God at work in the World | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 22, 2017

A public panel discussion on the relationships between the three Abrahamic religions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, occurring as it did on the heels of the opening of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery’s showing of “Synagogues in Germany: A virtual reconstruction” and the recent Quebec City mosque shooting. (See more on the exhibit at “‘Never again’?”)

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