God at work in the World

A bridge to community

Josephine and Garcie Cogar of Webster Springs, W.V., test out their new walking bridge that connects their home to the community. It was built by Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers as part of the organization’s efforts after Hurricane Sandy devastated the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in 2012. MDS and community volunteers can be seen in the background. (MDS photo by Paul Hunt)

MDS volunteers construct the footers for a new swinging bridge that provides safe passage between the home of Josephine and Garcie Cogar and their community of Webster Springs, W.V. The original bridge was washed out during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (MDS photo by Paul Hunt)

Thirteen metres isn’t a long walk, but it can be a difficult journey when the creek between your house and the rest of your community is running high and the bridge across it is out.

Stó:lō, sacredness and salmon

Cheryl A. (Francis) Peters, right, holding the MCC blanket given her, in turn gives Forrest Johnstone a sparkling ball she had recently purchased for herself. Peters says she wanted to give one of her possessions to the child.

Josette Jim shows a deer-hide shaker her daughter made for her, personalized with the letter ‘J’. Jim is of the Wilmelmex People and comes from Xwewenaqw of the Whonnock Tribe.

The former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Mission drew 50 Fraser Valley Mennonites on May 10 to hear stories of history and culture by the Stó:lō Nation leadership.

‘The truth was hard’

I was standing beside Neill Von Gunten, former co-director of Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministries, and trying to peer over heads to see into the “Churches Listening Area” at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national event in Edmonton last month. An aboriginal leader had just prayed, and a church leader suggested a song; “We are Marching in the Light of God.”

Anabaptist church leaders offer statement to residential school survivors

Anabaptist leaders present a blanket and a statement for inclusion in the Bentwood Box, a repository for offerings and commemorations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Edmonton last month. Standing with the TRC commissioners and survivor representatives are Tim Dyck of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, centre, and Hilda Hildebrand of Mennonite Church Canada, fifth from left.

The following statement was presented at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton in March.

Truth and reconciliation

Irene Crosland adds some prairie sage to the sacred fire burning outside one of the main entrances to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, the site of the seventh and final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event. She wrote this poem as a result of her experiences at the TRC event.

Gathering crowd surges
Finding space
Residential School survivors
And listeners
This is my time
You listen
Throbbing drum beats
Pulsing loudly
Tonal language singing
Prayers lifting
Bowed shoulders quake
Remembering robbed childhood
Secrets buried deeply
Opening carefully
Angry man turns

War doesn’t work

According to Ernie Regehr, for statistical purposes a war is defined as political fighting—not criminal violence—that engages the security forces of the state; as well, it is a situation in which “at least 1,000 people [combatants and civilians] have been killed directly by the fighting during the course of the conflict, and 25 or more are killed annually.”

Taking the first of 10,000 healing steps

Micah Mission coordinator David Feick, left, chats with Father Joseph Jacek at the ‘10,000 Healing Steps’ conference held recently in Saskatoon in an effort to get people out of gangs.

What do Mennonites and former gang members have in common? “Not much,” one might be tempted to reply. But at a recent Saskatoon conference they sat side-by-side learning about gang intervention and prevention, and the way back to a healthy life.

Typhoon relief effort expected to continue for years

A damage report from Super Typhoon Haiyan compresses a huge disaster into one page of stark statistics. This report is for just one assessment area. (Photo by John Chau / Used by permission)

Dann Pantoja, second from left, and his team pray for the pastor of a local church. ‘His house was totally destroyed,’ says Pantoja. ‘His wife and children were hungry when we arrived. Many of his neighbours died. He cannot locate the families belonging to his congregation.’ (Photo by Daniel Byron ‘Bee’ Pantoja / From the PBCI website)

Makeshift tarp shelters began rising up soon after the Nov. 8 super storm subsided. (Photo by John Chau / Used by permission)

A man is dwarfed by the scale of the disaster created by Super Typhoon Haiyan. (Photo by John Chau / Used by permission)

Like the news, the winds and rain that came with Super Typhoon Haiyan have let up. But the damage from the storm that slammed regions of the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, remains on the mental and emotional front page for survivors.

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.

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.

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.

Dan Unrau

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.

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