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Lessons from the Third World

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 23, 2010

In our presumed sophistication as First World residents, we often consider ourselves a gift to the rest of the planet. By comparison, aren’t we far more educated, resourceful, wealthy and technologically advanced?

‘I never thought I’d be a landowner’

Members of the 11 families, gathered under a palm-laden, balloon-decorated pavilion, listen intently during the June 5 ceremonies giving them possession of their new homes.

Feature | By by Dick Benner | Jun 23, 2010

Horacio Cardenes, 36, grins from ear to ear. His is one of 11 peasant families in a rural hillside village in northern Honduras that has just taken title to their first real house—a cement-block, two-bedroom abode that is, in his eyes, a mansion compared to what they now live in.

‘Call to me and I will answer you’

Raised in an Evangelical Christian home in Ethiopia, Frew Zinna returned to the faith after a disastrous experience at a secular university. He is now studying at Meserete Kristos College, where MC Canada Witness volunteer Fanosie Legesse teaches.

God at work in Us | By by Dianne Legesse | Jun 23, 2010

Leaving home to attend university exposed Frew Zinna to new attitudes and lifestyles that pulled him away from his family’s legacy of faith, but the words of Jeremiah 33:3 called him back to Christ and into ministry.

Most Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians or Muslims, but Zinna grew up in a family that had been rooted in Evangelical Christian faith for three generations. His father taught in a Mennonite school started by missionaries.

No longer ‘sinful or strange’ to each other

From left to right, CMU graduates Michael Bueckert, Andrea Dick, Jessica Dyck and Tim Rempel reflect on their Mennonite Brethren and General Conference traditions, and how they related to their school experience at CMU.

God at work in the Church | By by Rachel Bergen | Jun 23, 2010

A century-and-a-half after the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church and General Conference (GC) Mennonite Church divided, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) held a “Celebrating 150 Years” event on June 5, in an effort to listen to the stories of each denomination and learn from them.

‘To be in harmony with all people’

As a way to mark the century milestone, Aberdeen Mennonite Church, Sask., erected a commemorative sign in front of the building. Former pastor Dave Neufeld, left, Ally Fehr and David Klassen unveil the sign during the June 5-6 celebrations.

God at work in the Church | By By Karin Fehderau | Jun 23, 2010

In the town of Aberdeen, Sask., population 600, a small but committed group of Mennonites that call this place home gathered together in early June to celebrate 100 years of witness to the community.

Numbering about 45 on a Sunday morning, Aberdeen Mennonite Church—now led by Vern Ratzlaff—began anniversary celebrations on June 5 with local tours to cemeteries and former church building sites. The day ended with a volunteer choir rehearsal and tea. Celebrations continued with a morning service and noon meal the next day.

An ‘eloquent’ visitor

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean spoke with the media during a visit to the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario warehouse in Kitchener, Ont., where she helped knot a comforter and pack a relief kit.

God at work in the World | By by Barb Draper | Jun 23, 2010

Work at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario office and warehouse in Kitchener came to a halt on June 14, when Michaëlle Jean, the Governor-General of Canada, dropped in for a visit. As well as meeting some Mennonites over lunch, she visited the warehouse, where she tied a few knots in a comforter, helped pack a relief kit for Haiti, and accepted the gift of a comforter from Margaret Nally, chair of the MCC Ontario board.

Facing ‘a new enemy’

Oil in the marsh of Plaquemines Parish.

God at work in the World | By By Anna Groff | Jun 23, 2010

Maurice Phillips, a commercial fisher of Plaquemines Parish, La., took a group of disaster management leaders out on a small boat to “see the oil” on June 7. This is the best way to witness the destruction of the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, members of Grand Bayou told Paul Unruh of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). Unruh led the group as part of a listening tour.

MDS responds quickly to southern Manitoba flooding

Simon Reimer, left, Kyle Sawatsky and Peter Reimer from the Altona Sommerfeld Mennonite youth group assist Mennonite Disaster Service by cleaning out flooded basements in Emerson, Man., earlier this month.

God at work in the World | By by Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 23, 2010

On May 29, 10 centimetres of rain fell in an hour on the small border town of Emerson. By the end of the day, more than 15 cm had come down. With the ground already saturated, the rain had nowhere to go, flooding most of the basements in town.

“It varied from home to home, but some had as much as [1 to 1.2 metres] in their basements,” said Jeanette Sabourin, town administrator.

A power failure affected part of the town as well, disabling any sump pumps. The mayor declared a state of emergency for the town.

The decline and fall of a legend

Artbeat | By Reviewed by Vic Thiessen | Jun 23, 2010

As a boy, I couldn’t get enough of the Robin Hood legends. I read every book I could find on the subject and I loved the 1938 Errol Flynn film. While it’s true that Robin dispatched the Sheriff of Nottingham’s expendable soldiers without a second thought, these light-hearted tales about Robin and his merry men conveyed a sense of harmless innocent adventure mixed with justice for the poor.

A Jewish Jesus in occupied territory

Marty and John Bender, Elkhart, Ind., are pictured in front of the Oberammergau Passion Play Theatre in Germany at the end of May.

Artbeat | By Reviewed by John Bender | Jun 23, 2010

In 1633, the people of Oberammergau in Bavaria (now part of Germany) pleaded with God to save them from extinction. Not only had the Black Death—or plague—taken its toll in the village and surrounding area, but the Thirty Years War across Europe between Protestants and Roman Catholics had ended in deprivation and exhaustion for all. The villagers vowed to portray the “Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every 10 years if no more people died of the plague. From that moment on, no one in the village succumbed to the Black Death.

Mission and identity under construction

Editorial | By Dick Benner | Jun 14, 2010

Not only is the younger generation, labelled “natives” in my last editorial, holding authority and institutions in less regard, the modality of leadership has also changed in the last half-century. This, too, represents a seismic shift in the perception of our mission and identity as a Mennonite culture.

Stories to tell

Tak-Chhing and Khantry Cheng at their 30th anniversary in Canada celebration, May 22, 2010.

Feature | By By Laura Stemp-Morlock | Jun 04, 2010

After welcoming us into her new home, Suad Saidam promptly excuses herself, re-emerging with ice-cold water bottles on a silver tray. In Arab cultures, guests are always served refreshments in this way, one of the many hallmarks of their unending hospitality.

A refugee helping refugees

Ref-Nyota president and CEO Serge Kaptegaine and vendor Freddy Mahoungou, centre, are joined by Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard, left, and Ben Rempel, assistant deputy labour and immigration minister, right, at the grand opening of Winnipeg’s new refugee centre on April 23.

Feature | By By Evelyn Rempel Petkau | Jun 04, 2010 | 1 comment

For Serge Kaptegaine, the opening ceremonies for Ref-Nyota, a new business venture that promotes the skills and talents of refugees, was an answer to prayer. The event was held at Le Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, Winnipeg, on April 23.

Kaptegaine came as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005. Always a man dedicated to peace, Kaptegaine, a young soft-spoken French teacher in a Congolese village, was trying to bring rival rebel groups together to dialogue with one another when he fell into the wrong hands.

Inspired by ‘my second dad’

Taken in North Battleford, Sask., this photograph is Chai Bouphaphanh’s first for National Geographic. It’s on display at the nationalgeographicstock.com.

Feature | By By Gladys Terichow | Jun 04, 2010

Inspired by Western Canada’s prairie landscape and the ever-changing light in the sky there, Chai Bouphaphanh spends his leisure time exploring his surroundings through the lens of a camera. His most recent success is having a photograph that he entered in a contest selected for the National Geographic collection of photographs.

A history of private sponsorship

Feature | By Tim Wichert | Jun 04, 2010

A new Immigration Act for Canada in 1976 included a provision for private sponsorship of refugees. A Mennonite Member of Parliament, Jake Epp from Steinbach, Man., had been advocating this option in order for church and community groups—the private sector—to become involved in settling people in Canada.

How to become a refugee sponsor

Feature | By From ontario.mcc.org | Jun 04, 2010

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario assists refugees who have suffered persecution, violence and human rights abuses to resettle in Canada through partnerships with churches and other constituencies.

In partnership with constituent churches, the refugee sponsorship program facilitates the process of refugee sponsorship to Canada. Churches or constituent groups commit to provide the sponsored family with housing, financial support for food, clothing, transportation and other materials needed for one year.

For Discussion

Feature | By Canadian Mennonite | Jun 04, 2010

1. What experiences have you or your congregation had in sponsoring refugees? What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts? What motivates a congregation to sponsor a refugee family?

2. Some of the refugees, previously assisted by Mennonites, now have their own congregations (such as First Hmong Mennonite, Kitchener, Ont.). Should refugees be encouraged to attend or join their sponsoring church? What happens when the refugees are devout Muslims?

Discerning alone and together

Viewpoints | By Muriel Bechtel | Jun 04, 2010

“Discernment” is the latest buzzword among leaders, not only in the church but also in corporate and business circles. Every day, it seems, a new book appears and promotes a new way of discerning direction and vision. In the church we often speak of discerning God’s Spirit.

A five-year retrospective

Viewpoints | By Will Braun | Jun 04, 2010

This is my 30th New Order Voice column since Aiden Enns and I started writing for Canadian Mennonite five years ago. It’s not a huge milestone, but an occasional look back can be fruitful.

No more cheap church

Viewpoints | By Phil Wagler | Jun 04, 2010

Nearly four score years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship. Every Christian should read it because the German martyr was on to something: He exposed the scourge of cheap grace. “Cheap grace,” he wrote, “means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God.”

Celebrating faithful servanthood: ‘Jesus is here!’

Alvin and Helen Lepp pose in front of a mural in the Siksika community hall, Alta., following an afternoon honouring them for their service to people of the First Nation.

God at work in Us | By By Marvin Baergen | Jun 04, 2010 | 1 comment

Members of Siksika Nation and Mennonite Church Alberta gathered twice on May 2 to give honour to God for a lifetime of faithful ministry by Alvin and Helen Lepp.

With the faithful support of his wife, Lepp has been visiting Siksika Nation for more than 30 years, sharing God’s love through friendship and support during life’s good times and bad. Over the years he has led Bible studies, served as a lay leader in local congregations, and become friend and confidant to many in times of joy and loss.

Remembering God’s future: Youth Assembly 2011

The Mennonite Church Canada Youth Assembly 2011 Planning Committee includes, from left to right: (on floor) Jean Lehn Epp; (seated) Scott Eyre, Aaron Neufeld, Luke Derksen, Trang Tran, Anna Rehan, Emma Bartel and Kathy Giesbrecht; and, (in back) Rod Wiebe

God at work in the Church | By By Deborah Froese | Jun 04, 2010

As delegates begin to register for Mennonite Church Canada Assembly 2010, planners for Youth Assembly 2011 are remembering the future—a reference to the assembly’s theme text which calls on Christians to envision God’s future of a city where all people will live in harmony.

Youth Assembly 2011 will share the theme, “It’s epic: Remembering God’s future,” with the adult delegate assembly that will take place at the same time. It is based on Revelation 21:1-4 and Revelation 21:19 -22:6.

New Cree translation celebrated

Stan Cuthand, 92, a member of Little Pine First Nation, worked for years on the draft of a Cree translation of all of the New Testament and 40 percent of the Old Testament. The newly released Gospel of Mark is based on his work.

God at work in the World | By by Karin Fehderau | Jun 04, 2010

A large group of educators, church workers and Cree speakers turned out last month to help celebrate the release of a new Cree translation of the New Testament Gospel of Mark. A united effort between Wycliffe Translators, the Canadian Bible Society and Saskatchewan Cree-speaking individuals, the translation built on the dedicated efforts of Reverend Stan Cuthand. The book is being sold along with a spoken version on CD, recorded by Delores Sand.

Oral traditions are strong in Cree communities and stories are often passed down using the spoken, rather than the printed, word.

Men need to understand their ‘warrior’ side

Author Gareth Brandt, seated, signs copies of his book Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality at this spring’s book launch at House of James Christian bookstore, Abbotsford, B.C.

Artbeat | By Reviewed by Scott Brubaker-Zehr | Jun 04, 2010

Gareth Brandt has written a personally grounded book on men’s spirituality as a resource for men’s prayer or discussion groups. His goal is to re-frame the basic contours of the field of men’s spirituality, which he considers neither practical nor biblically resonant.

The dollars are here

Editorial | By Dick Benner | May 31, 2010

With Andrew Reesor-McDowell, moderator of Mennonite Church Canada, we are concerned about declining giving to centrally planned ministries of MC Canada.

Giving to such ministries, he documents, has decreased by 13 percent over the past seven years, a downward statistic that is also reflected in congregational giving to area church ministries. If this trend continues, he predicts some of these ministries are “likely unsustainable.” At the same time, giving is increasing to non-Mennonite organizations.

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