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God at work in the World

Keeping alive stories of hope

A children’s choir sings as part of the Abbotsford celebration of 40 years since refugees fled Vietnam for a new life in Canada. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Oct 07, 2015

Forty years after refugees fled Vietnam and communist oppression for Canada’s shores, the Vietnamese community in B.C. expressed gratitude to God at a celebratory evening on Aug. 30, 2015.

The event was co-sponsored by Vancouver Mennonite Church and Abbotsford’s Emmanuel Mennonite and Vietnamese Christian churches, and was hosted by Emmanuel.

In welcoming the guests, April Yamasaki, Emmanuel’s pastor, posed the question, “Is ‘celebration’ really the right word? This is a story of loss, a story of exile, painful in many, many ways.”

Leon Kehl campaigns for Syrian refugees

God at work in the World | By Barb Draper | Oct 07, 2015

For years, Leon Kehl of Floradale (Ont.) Mennonite Church, has been working to build understanding and friendship between Christians and Muslims in Waterloo Region.

Building peace in northeast Asia

Participants and instructors at NARPI’s summer peacebuilding training session in Mongolia gather for a group photo. Scott Kim is on the far left, wearing a light blue shirt, and Cheryl Woelk is standing behind the banner, holding her infant son. For more photos, visit facebook.com/narpipeace or narpi.net.

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | Sep 23, 2015

“Conflict isn’t something we should avoid,” says Cheryl Woelk, “because there are good things on the other side.”

Recently, Woelk and her husband, Scott Kim—members of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon—served as instructors at the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) annual Summer Peacebuilding Training.

Mennonites in Panama oppose clear-cutting, request prayer

A Mennonite World Conference delegation attended a worship service at the Mennonite Brethren church in Majé, Panama, in February 2015. (Mennonite World Conference photo by Henk Stenvers)

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Sep 09, 2015

With the future of the Wounaan indigenous people of Panama being chopped down before their eyes, the largely Mennonite leadership of the group is asking the global Mennonite community to stand with them, and kneel with them in prayer for fair treatment.

The Wounaan are known for carvings they make from hard, rich cocobolo wood, but this wood is in high demand and the logging of cocobolo by outside interests is creating an ever deepening crisis for the Wounaan.

More on the Wounaan people

Will Braun
God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Sep 09, 2015

The Wounaan indigenous people of Panama, renowned carvers of cocobolo wood, are fighting the incursion of outsider loggers into their territory. About 600 of the roughly 15,000 Wounaan in Panama are Mennonite. See the main story, “Mennonites in Panama oppose clear-cutting, request prayer.”

The links below provide background to that story.

Mennonites have yet to reckon with their role in ‘sixties scoop’

Steve Heinrichs (left), Delvina Kejick and Marcel French (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Sep 09, 2015

Marcel French’s tanned complexion and dark hair easily identify him as Anishinabe. Which is why he likes to drop a Low German word or expression into his speech and watch the surprise on his listeners’ faces. “When I go to Jake’s Restaurant in Steinbach, I always ask for Gnurpel,” he says with a chuckle.

Sunday dinners with the homeless

Volunteer Ingrid Schultz, right, enjoys dinner and fellowship with a guest at one of this summer’s fellowship dinners in Abbotsford. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Sep 09, 2015

Mennonite Central Committee B.C.’s offices and thrift shop may be closed on Sunday, but two Sunday afternoons a month there is plenty of activity in the back parking lot of the MCC Centre. Here homeless and low-income people meet with volunteers for a hot meal, friendship, and free clothing and groceries.

MCC Global Family program goes local

Beatrice Kuzinza holds up a small lettuce plant she found in the compost during a Bread for Success field trip. Bread for Success is a new approach by MCC. (Photo by Meghan Mast)

God at work in the World | By Meghan Mast | Aug 12, 2015

A group of children visited a greenhouse on the last day of Bread for Success, an after-school project in Saskatoon supported by Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Global Family education program. The kids are learning about how vegetables are grown, and Chris Buhler, co-owner of Floating Gardens Ltd., showed them around where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way toward the ceiling.

Faith, fasting and feasting

April Yamasaki speaks about fasting from the Christian perspective at the Abbotsford interfaith symposium on July 6, 2015. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Jul 22, 2015 | 1 comment

An interfaith symposium on July 6 at Abbotsford’s Garden Park Tower found Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs reflecting on fasting and peace and then eating together with a meal around formally set tables.

New peace award at Grebel to empower women

Ziauddin Yousafzai (left) chats with Susan Schultz Huxman about a new peace scholarship that will allow a female student from a region of the world experiencing conflict to study at Conrad Grebel University College in the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program. Also part of the conversation are Mohan Kendall and Ahmad Shah.

Conrad Grebel University College is offering a $10,000 scholarship to a female Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) student, thanks to a partnership with Ziauddin Yousafzai, the Global Peace Centre Canada (GPCC) and the Women’s Executive Network. Yousafzai is the father of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Ride for Refuge to support ministry in Thailand

Tom and Christine Poovong recruited local volunteers to assist with a newly launched nursery, a community outreach program in Khon Kaen, Thailand. From left to right: Benz Khemma, Tom and Christine Poovong with their young children, and Amp and Naaming Anantasak with their young son.

God at work in the World | By Dan Dyck | Jun 30, 2015 | 1 comment

Northeast Thailand is the poorest region in the country. Democracy is uneven, and peaceful protests can land protesters in barred cells overnight. Since a military coup in 2014, poor and landless subsistence farmers are reportedly being evicted from national reserve lands they have farmed for decades.

The region is home to the indigenous Isaan people, as well as many migrants from Laos, which borders Thailand to the north. Despite economic challenges, the cities in this region are growing, including the city of Khon Kaen where a new Mennonite church is emerging.

Children taught to hate themselves says TRC report

One of the many hearts in the Heart Garden at Rideau Hall. (Photo by Dennis Gruending)

God at work in the World | By Janice Schroeder | Jun 17, 2015

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools released its final report on June 2, 2015, after five years of conducting hearings and gathering thousands of witness statements from former students and their families across Canada.

Strengthening our connections

Women sign a blanket at the Ottawa Mennonite Church storytelling circle. (Photo by Dennis Gruending)

God at work in the World | By Dennis Gruending | Jun 17, 2015

Eighty people gathered in Ottawa Mennonite Church (OMC) on the evening of May 31 for a time of worship and storytelling. Ten were indigenous people, survivors of Indian residential schools, who had travelled from various locations in Ontario to attend events surrounding the release by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of its summary report into the history and legacy of the schools. The visitors were accompanied by Lyndsay Mollins Koene of Timmins,  Indigenous Neighbours Coordinator with MCC Ontario.

Kairos hosts Time for Reconciliation

Drummers open the Kairos reconciliation event in Ottawa, May 29, 2015. (Photo by Dennis Greunding)

God at work in the World | By Dennis Gruending | Jun 17, 2015

While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hosted events in Ottawa leading up to the release of its summary report, the ecumenical justice coalition Kairos organized a complementary gathering called Time for Reconciliation.

We’ve heard the truth. Do we have the courage for reconciliation?

Lorraine Clements holds burning sage for Gerry Shingoose, a residential school survivor, as she smudges at the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Winnipeg. (Photo by J. Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | Jun 17, 2015

“Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem. It is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.” Justice Murray Sinclair spoke those words on June 2 at the closing ceremonies of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa. I watched a live feed of Sinclair’s speech at the University of Winnipeg, among tens of thousands of Canadians who tuned in to witness the historic event. Sinclair reminded us that we were not simply spectators.

A partner for healing, help and freedom

Toronto United Mennonite Church members on the Aurora House board include, from left to right: Pastor Marilyn Zehr (ex-officio), Christy Langschmidt, Lisa Horrocks and Mary Klein.

God at work in the World | By Doreen Martens | Jun 03, 2015

“And when you send a slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you” (Deuteronomy 15:13-15a).

Concert held for Nepali earthquake survivors

Violinist Calvin Dyck, wearing a traditional Nepali men’s hat called a topi, performs at the Abbotsford benefit concert to raise funds for survivors of Nepal’s two earthquakes this spring. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

God at work in the World | By Amy Dueckman | Jun 03, 2015

Members of the Mennonite community and other citizens of Abbotsford, B.C., raised more than $25,000 in a benefit concert at Emmanuel Mennonite Church on May 17 to aid survivors of the earthquakes that ravaged Nepal in April and May.

Vanj Thiessen, who, with her husband Ernie, had served with Mennonite Central Committee in Nepal in the early 1980s, felt moved to help in some way. She contacted Calvin Dyck, local professional musician, and together with many volunteers they organized a fundraising concert in less than two weeks.

Students learn about indigenous land issues

Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program Coordinator, Leonard Doell (left), tells students at Rosthern Junior College what MCC has been doing to help the Young Chippewayan people in their land entitlement claims against the Canadian government. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 20, 2015

“I feel like a refugee in my own country,” said George Kingfisher. The hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation was at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) to tell students how his people lost their land. RJC, partnering with Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Walking the Path Committee and Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, invited Kingfisher and others to share their stories during the school’s Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities week.

Credit helps Mennonite farmer in Burkina Faso

Mennonite Church Canada is working to develop entrepreneurship in Burkina Faso so that young Mennonite Christians can support their families and churches. (Photo by Siaka Traoré)

God at work in the World | By Deborah Froese | May 20, 2015

“I love everything about farming,” Abram says. That passion—and his generosity—led him to empower the self-sufficiency of a farmer on the other side of the world.

Abram (a pseudonym) recently sold his house. Before he put it up for sale, he promised God 20 percent of the proceeds and prayed that God would show him where to direct his donation. He thought long and hard before making a decision. He says he has always made an effort to donate 10 percent or more of his income to God’s work, even when times were tight.

A warming world should make us uncomfortable

Susan Johnson, left, Willard Metzger and Joe Gunn discuss poverty and climate change in Winnipeg during a cross-country tour organized by the Canadian Council of Churches and Citizens for Public Justice. (MC Canada photo by Dan Dyck)

God at work in the World | By J. Neufeld | May 06, 2015 | 2 comments

It’s time for some uncomfortable conversations about climate change and poverty, says Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada.

“We’re trying to work for a better environment, but we’re benefitting from the industries that are ruining the environment. Somehow we need to at least acknowledge that,” said Metzger, speaking with Canadian Mennonite on a cross-country tour about poverty and climate justice organized by the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) and Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

Churches ‘on the healing side’

At a recent Saskatoon ecumenical event in response to missing and murdered indigenous women, Pauline Muskego of Onion Lake Cree Nation shared the heart-breaking story of her daughter’s disappearance and the discovery, four years later, of her remains. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

God at work in the World | By Donna Schulz | May 06, 2015

“We are all equal. Not one person is above others.” Elder Marie Linklater’s words set the tone for a day of learning and discerning on April 18, when about 200 women and men from Saskatoon and area gathered at Mayfair United Church for an ecumenical response to murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. Representatives from eight denominations or groups, including Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, organized the event called Voices of our Sisters.

Saskatchewan youth take small steps toward big changes

Honouring the Earth participants Kennedy Martens, Amy Wiens, Sydney Martens, Johanna Wiebe and Naomi Klassen learn about vermiculture as a way of better managing food waste. (Photo by Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

God at work in the World | By Kirsten Hamm-Epp | May 06, 2015

Worms, balloons, dolly carts and minimal sleep were all part of a Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization event held in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan on April 8 and 9. This year’s Honouring the Earth event focussed on how making small changes to food consumption habits can have a big impact on the global food market. The event began in Saskatoon with an interactive workshop exploring the hardships and obstacles producers face around the globe.

Welcome to Canada . . . because of Jesus

A sign greets Syrian refugees at Edmonton International Airport, where approximately 60 Mennonites and Muslims were gathered to welcome them to their new home on March 31. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 22, 2015

Ahmad Al-Jamal, his wife Ghada, and their three young children were visibly excited as they waited at Edmonton International Airport on the evening of March 31, 2015.

Ahmad hadn’t seen his brother Mohamed for seven years, and now they would finally be reunited and able to meet each other’s children. As they waited, they were surrounded by approximately 60 other people, including 30 Mennonites. A few family members circled around to offer baklava, take pictures, and Skype family in Lebanon who were waiting for news of the arrival.

‘We sit and eat at the same tables’

Young volunteers Cate, Ruth and Annalee of First and Rockway Mennonite churches prepare the menu board so that guests can see what is being served at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church’s community dinner on March 14. Volunteers like these young women help set up the tables and chairs, and are gone by the time guests arrive. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

God at work in the World | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 08, 2015

“Grab a coffee and go and sit down. You get served at the table. They’re really nice here,” said one guest to another on March 14 of the community dinners served every Saturday night from November through April at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Lou Murray Gorvett, who coordinates the dinners, is clear that those being served are guests, explaining that the church is practising hospitality, not charity.

‘Showing up with each other’

Gary Garrison reads from his book Human on the Inside: Unlocking the Truth about Canada’s Prisons. On March 28, Mennonite Central Committee Alberta gave a copy of the book to each volunteer to thank them for their work in visiting prisoners this past year. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

God at work in the World | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Apr 08, 2015

Years ago, when Abe Janzen had just started his work as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) director, he was taken to prison for a visit. There, he said, he “realized how biblical and terribly important and endlessly necessary” this ministry is. “It’s not about fixing things, but about showing up with each other.”

On March 28, 2015, at Edmonton First Mennonite Church, MCC Alberta said thank you to the volunteers who regularly enter Edmonton area institutions to spend time with inmates.

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