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God at work in the World

Flooding worsens Gazans’ plight

‘The occupation has meant a lack of income for people, and that makes this natural disaster a catastrophe,’ says Khalid Abu Sharekh, chair of Al Najd, a Mennonite Central Committee partner, of the flooding in Gaza shortly before Christmas.

God at work in the World | By By Sheldon C. Good | Jan 15, 2014

A week after torrential rain battered the Gaza Strip, people in the al Nafaq Street area of eastern Gaza City were still struggling to clean mud and debris out of their homes and businesses just before Christmas.

Flood waters initially swelled to 3.6 metres  within 12 hours on Dec. 11 and 12, 2013, before receding to about 2 metres of sewage-contaminated water on sections of the street. The flooding caused 400 households to lose everything and about 100 people were hospitalized because of frostbite or upper respiratory infections.

‘A passion that’s exciting’

Karen Ens, Sophia Kutsiuruba and Andy Arthur are co-managers of MCC’s Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon.

God at work in the World | By By Julie Bell | Jan 15, 2014

Twenty-four-year-old Andy Arthur remembers the April day in 2013 that a factory full of garment workers collapsed in Bangladesh. As he did his job as assistant at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Village Green Thrift Shop in Saskatoon while the death toll escalated, he wondered what he could do to help people so far away.

Five lessons from Africa

Sister Sophia was full of thanks for the work that Mennonite Central Committee had done in her commu-nity and for the work it would do in the future.

God at work in the World | By Dan Unrau | Jan 15, 2014

Last year, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Learning Tour group—including the author—visited Ethiopia and Uganda to get a grasp of MCC’s work and its effectiveness in the holy work of being the church as Jesus’ hands and feet in places of need.

• “Oh my God! Oh my God!” gushed Sister Sophia meeting us as we disembarked from our bus.

The nun in her sky-blue habit wasn’t taking God’s name in vain, but was effusively thanking the Lord that the “good people” (her words) from MCC had come to bless her, pray with her and encourage her anew.

MCC in Canada yesterday, today and tomorrow

Phyllis Toews deftly knits winter toques for children as she listens to Lucille Marr, an instructor in the McGill University religious studies program, highlight the significant contribution of women to MCC. Women continue to write themselves into the MCC story in many significant ways; Toews continues to volunteer in a thrift shop and with Ten Thousand Villages. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

God at work in the World | By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jan 15, 2014

On a cold, windy December day in Winnipeg in 1963, 40 men made the decision to form Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada. Exactly 50 years later, a group of people braved another bitterly cold day in Winnipeg to reflect on those 50 years and contemplate MCC’s future.

Dealing with difference

Frederik de Klerk, left, and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, in January 1992.

God at work in the World | By Will Braun | Dec 31, 2013

I was on Chapter 10 of Alan Paton’s defining South African novel, Cry the Beloved Country, when Nelson Mandela died. The story of the man and the story in the book—published in 1948, the year apartheid became official policy—are versions of the same story.

Saying goodbye to Madiba

Three hours before the memorial service for Nelson Mandela began, people gathered to honour their beloved past-president and peacemaker in a celebratory manner. The gathering included singing, dancing, clapping and shouts of ‘Mandela ,you’re my president!’

God at work in the World | By Andrew and Karen Suderman | Dec 31, 2013

After a lifetime spent struggling for the emancipation and equality of all, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela can finally rest, his long walk at an end. “Madiba,” as he is affectionately known, passed away on Dec. 5, 2013.

Five days later, a memorial service was held in Soweto to honour him. Madiba’s is a story of tragedy and triumph. Indeed, his story and the story of South Africa are inextricably intertwined. Now the world could say goodbye. His immense contribution to the birth of the new South Africa and the powerful example he set for the world were remembered and honoured.

Will you sign up to be a ‘FossilFreeMenno’?

God at work in the World | By By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Dec 31, 2013 | 1 comment

Early last month an open letter to the leadership of Mennonite Church Canada was posted on a website called, asking individuals to sign it, identify their home congregation and write a short sentence about why they signed.

Heinz closure shocks community

After being an integral part of the town of Leamington, Ont., for more than a century, the HJ Heinz Corporation will shut its processing plant next June, putting 740 employees out of work and leaving more than 40 local tomato growers wondering what they will be planting come spring.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Barry Bergen | Dec 11, 2013

After being an integral part of the town of Leamington for more than a century, the HJ Heinz Corporation will shut its processing plant next June, putting 740 employees out of work and leaving more than 40 local tomato growers wondering what they will be planting come spring.

Peacebuilding as ‘God’s vocation’

At a pilgrimage of peace at Imjingak, close to the border between South and North Korea, pilgrims attach prayers for peace on the iron fence.

Perspectives of peacebuilders, shedding light on how peace can be achieved in communities, societies and nations, were featured at a plenary session of the 10th assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The Nov. 7 plenary focusing on the theme of “God of life, lead us to justice and peace,” included Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, and Korean theologian Chang Yoon Jae.

Figuring out 'better ways of sharing'

Ovide Mercredi, former grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, was part of an indigenous delegation that travelled to England for the 250th anniversary of Royal Proclamation of 1763, a rather grandiose document whereby King George III of England went about the imperial business of colonizing a big chunk of North America.

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Nov 20, 2013

Oct. 7 marked the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a rather grandiose document whereby King George III of England went about the imperial business of colonizing a big chunk of North America.

A bloody satisfying hassle

God at work in the World | By Column and Photo by Will Braun | Nov 06, 2013

All I knew about pig butchering before I did it myself was the Low German saying that translates as, “good weather for slaughtering pigs,” which somehow surfaces from my subconscious on brisk sunny days in the fall. I also knew that if people learn you plan to turn three pigs into sausage, a good number of them want in on the action. We could have charged admission.

A three-course meal of words

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Tamara Petkau | Nov 06, 2013

The pleasure and fellowship that comes with food and eating seems increasingly flavoured with controversy and confusion.

Standing together with First Nations

On Oct. 7, 2013, Idle No More held a rally at the Manitoba Legislative grounds in Winnipeg to mark the 250th anniversary of the Proclamation of 1763. About 10 percent of those in attendance to show solidarity with indigenous brothers and sisters were Mennonite.

God at work in the World | By By Deborah Froese and Dan Dyck | Oct 23, 2013

When Moses Falco heard the words, “We never gave up our sovereignty,” at an Oct. 7 rally held in Winnipeg to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, they struck a chord. “I realized that I, by the way I continue to live, am not just suppressing a people, I am suppressing nations in my own country. I’m not okay with that.”

‘Settlers’ warned against feeling guilty

Grace Smallboy sits among the decimated residents of North America/Turtle Island after many years of settler activity in the blanket exercise at a Kairos event held at Valleyview Mennonite Church, London, Ont., on Sept. 28.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Oct 09, 2013

Grace Smallboy, an Indian Residential School (IRS) survivor, sat on a small folded blanket in the middle of the Valleyview Mennonite Church sanctuary while around her others—including London area Mennonites—stood on their own blankets representing a variety of Canada’s indigenous people groups.

The “blanket exercise” was part of an event put on by the southwestern Ontario chapter of Kairos, a national ecumenical justice initiative that includes Mennonite Central Committee Canada, on Sept. 28.

Peace triumphs in festival

John Reesor, a resident of Stouffville, seen here with the peace plaque, was a conscientious objector during the Second World War.

God at work in the World | By By Dick Benner | Oct 09, 2013 | 1 comment

When the white doves flew up from the newly installed peace plaque in the centre of Stouffville, Ont., Arnold Neufeldt-Fast’s heart must have stopped.

Waste makes haste

Brad Reimer with MCC Manitoba’s waste vegetable oil-powered vehicle.

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Oct 09, 2013 | 1 comment

When Ken Rempel stopped for a construction delay on Highway 2 near Winnipeg, the flagman asked if he was the guy who ran his car on vegetable oil. The flagman had confused Rempel with another Highway 2 commuter, but just the same, Rempel’s interest was piqued.

Three days later, he spent a few thousand dollars to get his car converted to burn waste vegetable oil (WVO). His wife’s car was next. In the five years since then, the Elm Creek couple has driven over a half-million kilometres, combined, on deep-fryer leftovers.

Mending the sacred hoop

Kitchener’ Nish Singers—from left to right: Bonnie Misquatis, Marylin Sutherland and Heather Mujoury—drummed and sang at ‘Healing the sacred hoop,’ a two-day Mennonite Central Committee Ontario event in mid-September that focused on Indian Residential Schools run by Mennonites.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Dave Rogalsky | Sep 25, 2013 | 2 comments

The “sacred hoop” is the circle of nations. While it originally referred to indigenous nations in North America, the hoop has been broadened to include settler nations with whom the indigenous people groups now share the land.

Lyndsay Mollins Koene, coordinator and northern regional representative of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario Aboriginal Neighbours Program from Timmins, Ont., led a “Mending the sacred hoop” weekend (Sept. 14 to 15) that focused on three Mennonite-run Indian Residential Schools (IRS).

‘The hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world’

Elizabeth Wiens tries out her new hula hoop that she got at the children’s auction at the MCC Festival. The auction allowed kids and their parents to bid on kid-friendly items and brought in $1,876.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Angelika Dawson | Sep 25, 2013

It was a fun-filled, exciting weekend at the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Festival for World Relief held at the Abbotsford Tradex on Sept. 6 and 7. The annual event raised more than a half-million dollars to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work in more than 60 countries around the world.

Born at the border

A dinner of Palestinian food was provided by Mamduh Saedam, left, who opened a restaurant in Hamilton only three years after being sponsored as a refugee to come to Canada. Helping out is Moses Moini, MCC Ontario’s refugee program coordinator.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photo by Dave Rogalsky | Sep 11, 2013

Omar Alawasaje’s story of being invited by his Canadian sponsors to “go camping,” and his immediate and reactive response of “No!” led to general laughter in the group gathered at the “Torn from home: My life as a refugee” exhibit at the Waterloo Regional Museum in Kitchener this summer.

B.C. church takes VBS to Guatemala

The Cedar Valley Mennonite Church mission team members (dressed in orange T-shirts) from Mission, B.C., play in the streets of Santa María de Jesús, Guatemala, to attract neighbourhood children to the VBS program at nearby Bethel Church, a local congregation.

God at work in the World | By By Amy Dueckman | Sep 11, 2013

An ongoing discipleship and partnership program with a Guatemalan congregation led a team of 12 from Cedar Valley Mennonite Church in Mission, B.C., to travel to the Central American country for two weeks in July, putting their faith into practice while learning about missions and making new friends.

Chad Neustaeter, Cedar Valley’s associate pastor of student ministries, led the trip with his wife Sandy and their four children. The other participants included young adults, youths and two other parents.

What is the ‘settler problem’?

God at work in the World | By By Roger Epp | Aug 28, 2013

By the end of a long day of hearings, there are few adjectives—short of “monstrous”—that can do justice to the plain words of old men who face the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commissioner with tears in their eyes and disclose the intimate shame of their residential school experiences to a room filled with strangers, grandchildren and people they have known their whole lives. For some, it is the first time.

‘Who can we trust?’

Steve Plenert, left, peace coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba, prays at Winnipeg’s Honour the Apology rally on July 25.

God at work in the World | By Story and Photos by Deborah Froese | Aug 28, 2013

Of the approximately 150 people who attended an Honour the Apology rally at the Forks in Winnipeg on July 25, more than 20 were members of the Manitoba Mennonite community.

One milk crate of debris at a time

Flood damage in High River, Alta., is the worst Mennonite Disaster Service Canada has ever experienced.

God at work in the World | By By Trish Elgersma | Aug 28, 2013

“It was extremely daunting, knowing it was only one small basement on one street,” says volunteer Nancy Thiessen, one of about 250 people who volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) to help with clean-up in High River, Alta., after a flood devastated the city of about 13,000 in late June. “All we could do was take one milk crate of debris up the stairs at a time. I could not imagine the stress of facing that alone.”

Creation care in an age of indigenous industry

God at work in the World | By By Will Braun | Aug 14, 2013

Edward S. Curtis gained fame a century ago for his iconic photos of indigenous people. That fame was later tainted by revelations that he removed traces of western society from his subjects and paid them to wear culturally and historically inaccurate clothing. Curtis couldn’t resist the urge to impose his own idealized notions on indigenous people.

Peacekeepers receive mixed reception in Haiti

Masonry students such as 25-year-old Ronald Sadou Zami benefited from a 2012 MCC seminar on disaster-resistant construction.

God at work in the World | By By Casey van Wensem | Aug 14, 2013

In a decision that could have a direct impact on the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Haiti, the Canadian government has stepped up its contribution to the United Nations-led military peacekeeping mission in this Caribbean nation.