Readers write: February 27, 2017 issue

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February 22, 2017 | Viewpoints | Volume 21 Issue 5

Visit to the West Bank might enlighten letter writer

Re: MC Canada should retract BDS resolution and apologize to Israel letter, Jan. 2, page 10.

This letter is unfair and misleading. As a mover and author of the resolution, I am baffled by the false assertion that it grew out of complaints from West Bank farmers about their water supply. As the resolution itself states, it was a response to the Kairos “Moment of truth” document, a call from  Palestinian church leaders to the global Christian community to oppose the injustices associated with Israel’s 50-year-old occupation of  Palestinian lands. The uneven sharing of water resources is only one of the issues. The resolution is also clear in its condemnation of the violence of both Israelis and Palestinians, a point that Andrew Sawatzky ignores.

The letter is also unfair in its parting rhetorical question of why Bethlehem Bible College remains in the West Bank “when most of the Christians have been driven out.” Sawatzky implies that the college should just leave, too. But that assumption completely misses the missional purpose of the school. The college, the only evangelical Arab-language institution of its kind in the Middle East, is valiantly equipping leaders for Christian presence and witness in the Holy Land and beyond. It’s true that the Christian population has diminished—largely because of the suffering imposed by the occupation—but why should that be a reason for the college to pack up and leave?

I encourage Sawatzky to travel to the West Bank and spend a week with the “living stones” of the Palestinian church, which has maintained a Christian witness in the land since the time of Christ and which is a leader in a nonviolent quest for a Holy Land in which Jews, Muslims and Christians—Israeli and Palestinian—live securely in peace.

Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Winnipeg

 

Program organizers deserve to be credited

Re: From behind the Iron Curtain,” Jan. 2, page 16.

Thanks to Amy Dueckman for her excellent report on the Mennonite Historical Society of BC’s fall fundraiser.

What wasn’t mentioned, however, was that Louise Bergen Price and Ruth Derksen Siemens put together the program. Louise was the heart and soul of the afternoon and wrote much of it, including the sections that I narrated. I was little more than a voice.

Robert Martens, Abbotsford, B.C.

 

Former columnist Phil Wagler praised for Outside the Box

Re: Strengthen what remains,” Jan. 16, page 11.

Amen, brother. I believe you speak what is in the hearts and minds of many in Mennonite Church Canada and for me personally. We can see ourselves as alive, believing we reflect accurately the Anabaptist vision with proud declarations for peace and justice, and yet be blind to what’s true. We certainly need a renewing of the vision for “calling peoples and nations to repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ and his foolish cross.”

You are what kept me reading Canadian Mennonite. Thank you, and God bless you and your ministry.

Herman J. Wiebe (online comment)

 

Christianity is a multi-lithic religion, and Anabaptism a multi-lithic movement within it, which we, as Mennonites, have tended to deny with a passive but stubborn, uninformed and unhelpful determination.

In Phil Wagler’s “Outside the Box” columns I have heard a passion for a certain understanding of Jesus’ message, the phrases and cadence of which I recognize, having grown up Mennonite Brethren. That is a church I left many years ago for a Mennonite church, having come to a partially different understanding of the call to follow Jesus.

I perceive God calling the church through “secular culture” many times since the Enlightenment to a faithfulness to Jesus in a way that Wagler would be unlikely to endorse. Over the coming decades, many thousands more Mennonites are going to move in and out of Mennonite and other churches, as changing North American spirituality bends the status quo of “Christian” institutions beyond recognition. Let us affirm, rather than bemoan, these comings and goings, blessing what we can.

Thank you for your columns. You kept this committed liberal Mennonite reading your column almost every issue.

Michael Dyck (online comment)

 

Help from Jesus available for those with same-sex attraction

I watched and listened to the online recording of the discussion preceding the vote on the “committed same-sex relationship” resolution presented at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon last July.

Something that surprised and concerned me was that not a single individual got up to offer a solution to those who are LGBTQ-oriented and want to get out but are unable to do so. I know it is possible to exit because I have a friend who was a committed gay but is now married to a woman, thereby also acquiring children and grandchildren. This friend had previously really desired to be a woman as well. That need is now gone. I heard him say so at a meeting.

A delegate to the assembly from my community told of a person there who is a committed partner in a heterosexual marriage but now has to deal with same-sex attractions. This must be very difficult, but there is help available. Jesus can help people be set free, but they must desire that.

In Luke 4:18, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Andrew Sawatzky, Calgary

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