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Being White allies in a Black community changed our liveshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4828/Being-White-allies-in-a-Black-community-changed-our-livesBeing White allies in a Black community changed our livesBy John D. Yoder<p><em><em>In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, John D. Yoder, the former director of Mennonite Mission Network's communication department, reflects on the impact of living in a Black community in Atlanta, Georgia, at the end of the 1960s.</em> </em></p><p>My wife, June, and I were members of Mennonite Central Committee's Voluntary Service (VS) unit in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 1968 to June 1970. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and this was my alternative service assignment. Our unit included 6-10 White VSers, who lived in a rented two-story house in a predominantly Black neighborhood on Atlanta's east side. We, VSers, came to Atlanta to learn about race relations and how to be White allies in a society, where racism, though illegal, was still pervasive. Did White people have any role to play? If so, what was it?<br></p><p>Having been started in 1960, "Mennonite House" was the base from which <a href="https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Harding%2c_Vincent_Gordon_%281931-2014%29">Rosemary and Vincent Harding</a>, among others, participated in the civil rights activities of the <a href="https://nationalsclc.org/">Southern Christian Leadership Conference</a> (SCLC) and other organizations with a similar purpose. Mennonite House also provided a meeting place and overnight lodging for Black and White civil-rights workers in an era of <a href="https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/sundown-towns/">sundown towns</a>.<br></p><p>By the time, June and I arrived in Atlanta, the civil-rights landscape had changed significantly. In 1964, Congress outlawed discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, race and religion. Laws prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, workplaces and all public accommodations. And in 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which attempted to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. <br></p><p>Of course, these laws didn't end discrimination or eliminate racism. In the 1968 presidential election, George Wallace, who ran on a racist platform, in support of segregation, won Georgia with 42.83% of the vote; only 30.4 % of voters cast their ballot for Richard Nixon and 26.75% voted for Hubert Humphrey. <br></p><p>So what was the work of White people who were living in a Black community, in a society where discrimination was illegal but racism was pervasive? Did we, as White people, have any role to play? The consensus that emerged is illustrated in the comments of Don Bender, who was part of the Atlanta VS unit for the two years before we arrived:</p><ol><li>"White people who work in the Black community should be under Black supervision.</li><li>"White people do the greatest service to the Black community when they fight racism in the White community.</li><li>"White people must be in communication with Black people."</li></ol><p>Bender concluded that it was time for Black people to control their own communities, while White people's primary responsibility was to combat racism within themselves and other White people.<br></p><p>This created tension for us, as White people. We were to battle racism in the White community and keep in touch with the Black community. It seemed to us that the best way to keep in touch with Black communities was to live in them but without being paternalistic or hindering the development of Black leadership there. In the language of the time, Bender said, "Don't be your brother's keeper; be your brother's brother."<br></p><p>Because Mennonite House was in the Black community, we could keep in touch with people in that community. We were present when a young woman needed refuge from an angry boyfriend. A newly released inmate knocked on our door because he'd heard we found jobs for people. Another couple came to me for help collecting on life insurance policies, because they heard I could write quickly. None of those actions would have happened had we lived in the suburbs. <br></p><p>June was one of three White faculty members at Morris Brown College, one of the four predominantly Black colleges that were part of the Atlanta University complex. The other two White faculty lived in White neighborhoods and commuted to their teaching jobs. Our location helped us understand the transportation, health and employment issues that the Black community faced. <br></p><p>We worked hard at placing volunteers under Black supervision. Marilyn Schertz Horrisberger worked at the Bethlehem Community Center, which had a White director, but half of the staff was Black, including her supervisor. Bill Horrisberger<strong> </strong>taught at Parks Elementary School, where the principal was Black. June taught speech and drama at Morris Brown College, where she was supervised by a Black department chair. Later, we placed additional teachers and teacher's aides in predominantly Black schools. <br></p><p>Our task of educating the White community about racism and poverty was far more difficult than living and working in the Black community. I edited a monthly newsletter where we printed articles about our work, the community and the causes of poverty. We sent the newsletter to friends and family up north with the hope that since they knew us, they would be open to hearing our analysis on race-related issues. We also helped to produce a movie about our neighborhood. I wrote a script and <a href="https://mennonitewriting.org/journal/4/5/burton-buller-filmography/">Burton Buller</a>, an Anabaptist cinematographer, came to Atlanta to shoot it. We hoped this movie would help White audiences understand the dynamics of our neighborhood.<br></p><p>Perhaps the most telling message we communicated about racism to White society came through how we lived our lives after we left VS. Our lives and attitudes were changed. We understood that paternalism, power dynamics and racism pervade our society. Several VSers remained in Atlanta after their terms were over, and they continued to work in Black institutions. When I went to graduate school, I chose African American literature as one of my areas of concentration. That background played into my interest in anti-racism initiatives while I worked at Mennonite Mission Network. <br></p><p>Being a White ally in a Black community gave us tools to understand ourselves, insight into the dynamics and pervasiveness of White racism — ours and society's — and an awareness of the day-to-day burden that racism places on Black society. <br></p>
Jesus' followers are called to stand in support of Indian Child Welfare Acthttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4829/Jesus-followers-are-called-to-stand-in-support-of-Indian-Child-Welfare-Act-Jesus' followers are called to stand in support of Indian Child Welfare ActBy Jane Ross Richer<p> <em>The Indian Child Welfare Act is a first step to repairing the centuries of harm done by the United States government and Christian churches.</em></p><p> <em>Jane Ross Richer and her family have served with Mennonite Mission Network in two-way mission since 2015. For six months each year, they live among some of Ecuador's Indigenous Peoples. For the remaining six months, they minister in the United States, teaching and speaking in congregations about what they have learned from the people of Ecuador. Awareness of injustices inflicted upon the Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador have made the Ross Richers more passionate about repairing injustice in their passport country, the United States. For the past year, the Ross Richers have worked closely with Sarah Augustine,</em> <em>a Pueblo (Tewa) descendant. She is also the</em><em><strong> </strong></em><em>co-founder and executive director of the </em> <a href="https://dofdmenno.org/"> <em>Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery</em></a><em> and a </em> <a href="/about/board/Sarah%20Augustine"> <em>Mission Network board member</em></a><em>. She also </em> <em>teach</em><em>es</em><em>, writ</em><em>es </em> <em>and advocat</em><em>es</em><em> for Indigenous </em> <em>P</em><em>eoples through many international organizations, such as the United Natio</em><em>ns and the World Health Organization.</em></p><p> <em>Ross Richer works with Augustine to preserve the </em> <a href="https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/diverse-populations/americanindian/icwa/"> <em>Indian Child Welfare Act</em></a><em> (ICWA). Ross Richer</em><em> </em> <em>wrote this story in response to the </em> <a href="https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/brackeen-v-haaland/"> <em>Brackeen v. Haaland</em></a><em> case w</em><em>hich </em> <em>is currently awaiting a </em> <em>U.S. </em> <em>Supreme Court decision. </em></p><p>In 2018, a Navajo baby, YRJ, was born to parents who were deemed unfit to care for her. When she was only an infant, her great-aunt, who lived on a Navajo reservation, offered to care for her. The adoptive family of YRJ's half-brother also wished for YRJ to become part of their family. So, a Texas judge was put in charge of deciding where YRJ would live. </p><p>The judge decided that YRJ would be better cared for in the Anglo-American foster home of Chad and Jennifer Brackeen. But the judge acknowledged the importance of YRJ's Navajo identity and said that YRJ was to have extended visits on the Navajo Nation reservation every summer. The Brackeens refused this condition. Neither the Navajo great-aunt, nor the Brackeens were happy with the judge's decision and requested a new decision. Not surprisingly, the White professional family with good paying jobs, as well as friends with large salaries and access to power, were given their wish — full custody of YRJ, with no extended visits to the Navajo reservation.</p><p>Four years later, the Brackeens were outraged to learn that a Navajo family wanted to adopt YRJ. They appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision to allow a Navajo family to adopt YRJ was based on race.</p><p>Chad Brackeen said that if YRJ was taken from them, it "would be an earthquake for our family."</p><p>I know many Indigenous families who have had to brave earthquakes like the one Chad Brackeen describes.</p><blockquote><p>There was once a Pueblo girl whose mother and father were deemed unfit to care for her, because they were Indian. And so, she was taken away — an earthquake for that family.</p><p>There was once a Tuscarora boy whose mother and father were deemed unfit to care for him, because they were Indian. And so, he was taken away — an earthquake for that family.</p><p>There was once an Abenaki girl whose mother and father were deemed unfit to care for her, because they were Indian. And so, she was taken away — an earthquake for that family.</p><p>There was once a Potawatomi boy whose mother and father were deemed unfit to care for him, because they were Indian. And so, he was taken away — an earthquake for that family.</p> </blockquote> <p>At the dawn of the United States, Indigenous families began to experience their first earthquakes, as White settlers of Christian ancestry began establishing American values. From sea to shining sea, land was snatched away from Indigenous families. They were forced to move out of the way. They walked for months — even children and elders — often without food, water and shelter. Many people died along the way. </p><p>Later, Indigenous children were stolen from their families and forced to attend boarding schools. There, White settlers tried to kill Indigenous languages, cultures and traditions by replacing them with "Christian" practices and beliefs.  </p><p>The United States government gave Indigenous people land, where the rains did not come often.  There was no corn or rice, buffalo or deer, so they had little to eat.  Everyone was hungry, but they could not go home again. They had to live where the U. S, government said. They had to give up their children when the U. S. Government said. This went on year after year after year.</p><p>Because there was little food, parents didn't have enough to feed their children. The U. S. government said that this was proof that Indigenous Peoples were unfit to raise their own kids.  </p><p>If YRJ being removed from the Brackeen family is an earthquake, what is it when thousands of children are taken from thousands of families for centuries? It could be described as earthquake upon earthquake upon earthquake.</p><p>Finally, the Indigenous Peoples came to the U.S. government and said, "Let our children go."</p><p>The U. S. government said, "No."</p><p>This plea, "Let our children go," was issued many times, but the U.S. government always said, "No."</p><p>Finally in 1978, the government changed their response and wrote the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This law made it harder to remove Indigenous children from their families and communities. Indigenous Peoples had some relief from the earthquakes. </p><p>Now, ICWA is being challenged in court.<br></p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2022/IMG_5881.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><h4>Sarah Augustine (front left) participates with the Goshen College community in support of ICWA on Nov. 9, 2022. Photographer: Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<br></h4><p>Think of ICWA as an earthquake-resistant building. ICWA helps to create flexible foundations for children within their communities. It builds in shock absorbers, like culture, language and spiritual practices. And ICWA shields families from negative outside forces that threaten to separate them.</p><p>Earthquakes are dangerous. They have caused crushing blows to Native America communities for centuries. It can take a long time to put things back together after an earthquake. ICWA is one way to protect Indigenous families from the impacts of the systemic removal of children from their homes and nations. </p><p>Jennifer Brackeen said that it would be inhumane and cruel to remove YRJ from her home. I would agree; it is inhumane and cruel to take children away from the people with whom they have bonded. It is easy to get distracted from the painful reality of how the oppressive systems involved in this case impact Indigenous Peoples. </p><p>I have never heard anyone suggest that it would be a good idea intentionally create a second earthquake to help the survivors of the first earthquake clean up the damage that was caused! Why, then, is it common practice to intentionally remove Indigenous children from their communities, to repair the damage done by centuries of this very practice?</p><p>As followers of Jesus, I believe we are called to stand in support of ICWA.<br></p>
In 2023, the star still shines brighthttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4826/In-2023-the-star-still-shines-brightIn 2023, the star still shines brightBy Joani Miller<p><em>Three people from Mennonite Mission Network's Training and Resources department, reflect on Epiphany. Here, the director, Joani Miller, contemplates why God's redemption comes from the most unimaginable, messy places. Also read: </em><a href="/blog/4825/Gods-light-changes-us">God's light changes us</a>, <em>written by Ann Jacobs, a specialist in urban and African American ministries, </em><em>and </em><a href="/blog/4827/What-does-Epiphany-teach-us-about-mission">What does Epiphany teach us about mission?</a><em>, written by Joe Sawatzky, a specialist in mission education</em><em>. </em><em> </em></p><p>The Christmas stories that I hear year after year strike me differently each time. This year, I could not hear the poetic phrases without imagining the messy reality that lay underneath. Really, "messy" is too mild of a word.<br></p><p>The world Jesus entered into sounds like a nightmare, led by a man who was so driven by fear that he chose murder as his first response to a threat to his power.<br></p><p><strong><sup> </sup></strong><strong><sup>"</sup></strong>Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men."  — Matthew 2:16 (ESV)<br></p><p>How many times have I heard these words and not considered the reality of the parents who held their babies tight, facing the unimaginable? </p><p>Then, there was the pregnant virgin, her tentative and confused fiance, the difficult travel conditions and the birth in a stable. If this was not enough, the couple faced judgment on their unthinkably complicated lives. <br></p><p>From society's judgment of Joseph and Mary, my mind segues to the many times I've heard people judging God. "Why would the omnipotent, omnipresent, creator God of love allow us to suffer?" <br></p><p>This year, the wonder of the word causes me to ask why God chose to have God's beloved son born into a time of terrible and unthinkable suffering and messiness, and then, God expect this helpless baby to redeem the world. Why choose this for the context to this story? <br></p><p>The why is in the star, I think. <br></p><p>I see those gentile wise men walking in their fine robes, carrying their best gifts — dirty, tired … and believing. <br></p><p>They have belief and hope, amid human mess. <br></p><p>This year, I hear our creator God saying, "Yes, I know the messiness. I see yours. Look up and see the star. Believe. Bring your best to the most unlikely situations. In the terrible and unimaginable, follow the star. Hope. I AM."<br></p><p>The star still shines bright.<br></p>
What does Epiphany teach us about mission?https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4827/What-does-Epiphany-teach-us-about-missionWhat does Epiphany teach us about mission?By Joe Sawatzky <p>​<em style="font-size:22.4px;background-color:#ffffff;">Three people from Mennonite Mission Network's Training and Resources department, reflect on Epiphany. Also read: </em><span style="font-size:22.4px;background-color:#ffffff;"><a href="/blog/4826/In-2023-the-star-still-shines-bright">In 2023, the star still shines bright</a>, </span><em style="font-size:22.4px;background-color:#ffffff;">written by Joani Miller, director of Training and Resources, </em><span style="font-size:22.4px;background-color:#ffffff;">and <a href="/blog/4825/Gods-light-changes-us">God’s light changes us</a>, <em>written by Ann Jacobs, </em><em>a specialist in urban and African American ministries.</em></span></p><p><span style="font-size:22.4px;background-color:#ffffff;"><em><br></em></span></p><p></p><p>Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6, is a day of revelation. On Epiphany, the church remembers the mystery of its origin — the coming together of Jewish and gentile disciples of Jesus in one body (Ephesians 3:5-6). </p><p>As such, <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">the significance of Epiphany is synonymous with mission, for mission is fundamentally about the creation of communion in Christ across cultures</span>. Moreover, Matthew 2:1-12 — the classic Epiphany text — recounts the journey of gentile Magi, or "wise men from the East," to Judea (v. 1). In that sense, too, Epiphany is about mission, which often, though not exclusively, involves the crossing of considerable physical distances. What, then, might Epiphany teach us about mission? The Matthew text will be our guide.</p><p> <br> </p><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">First, Epiphany shows that the life or </span> <strong class="ms-rteForeColor-6">power of mission</strong><span class="ms-rteForeColor-6"> is not of earthly, but of heavenly, origin.</span> </p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>The Magi came to Judea in response to a celestial event — the sudden appearance of a "star at its rising" (vv. 2, 9 NRSV). While the text does not say why gentile astrologers associated this sign with the birth of a Jewish king, its appearance precipitated their arrival — "For we have seen his star … and have come to worship Him" (v. 2, NKJV).<br></p> <br> </blockquote><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Second, Epiphany reveals the </span> <strong class="ms-rteForeColor-6">purpose of mission</strong><span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">. </span></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>The Magi left their homes in order to "pay him homage," a phrase repeated three times in the story (vv. 2, 8, 11 NRSV). Even though one of these occurrences is a counterfeit claim in the mouth of King Herod toward the child king, the Magi's worship is an appropriate and oft-repeated response to Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. When the devil offered Jesus "the kingdoms of the world and their splendor" in exchange for worship, Jesus retorted, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him" (Matthew 4:8-11 NRSV). Yet, without objection, Jesus received his disciples' worship when he stilled the storm (Matthew 14:32-33) and commissioned them, after having risen from the dead (28:9, 16-20). Thus, whether in the more human connotations of "homage" or divine connotations of "worship," Epiphany points to the goal of mission: the glorification of God — "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" — by "disciples of all nations" (28:19).<br></p> <br> </blockquote><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Third, Epiphany illumines the way or </span> <strong class="ms-rteForeColor-6">pattern of mission</strong><span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">. </span></p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:none;padding:0px;"><p>Mission means "sending," and the Magi are sent to Judea, first by the heavenly vision, and then, by Herod, to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:8). Their coming to Bethlehem defied their expectations, for the Magi supposed that they would find the "King of the Jews" in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish people (vv. 1-2). Instead, they finally find Jesus in Bethlehem, in "the house" and "with Mary his mother" (v. 11 NRSV). This reorientation of the Magi — the "sent ones" in the story — anticipates that of Christian missionaries who found that they had not so much brought Jesus to foreign lands as encountered him there, already living in the homes and among the people — the "Marys" and "Josephs" to whom they came. Epiphany thus commends a way of mission that leads to Christ (vv. 10-11): </p></blockquote><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6"></span></p><ul><ul><li> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Seek the life of God among others</span> <br>"when they saw that the star had stopped ... they saw the child with Mary his mother"<br></li><li> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Receive hospitality</span> <br>"on entering the house"<br></li><li> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Share what is yours to share</span> <br>"they offered him gifts"<br></li></ul></ul> <br> <p>On the other hand, just as the Magi arrived in Bethlehem from a sense of divine calling and the summons of imperial forces, from the beauty of the star and the terror of the king, so missionaries have sometimes thought that the aims of God and king are the same — to the death of innocent people! Even so, we, like the Magi, can never return to the darkness of Herod, for we have seen the light of "exceedingly great joy" in the presence of Jesus (v. 10 NKJV). We have entered the house where Jew and gentile, slave and free, male and female, have gathered in adoration of the Christ, and we belong to this fellowship of the child (v. 11; Galatians 3:28). </p><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">In Epiphany, we have glimpsed the power, the purpose and the pattern of God's mission.</span> As Epiphany has revealed that mission, let us join the mission of Epiphany!<br></p>
Celebrating Kwanzaa with “justice, equality and humanity”https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4822/Celebrating-KwanzaaCelebrating Kwanzaa with “justice, equality and humanity”By Ben Tapper<p>Kwanzaa is an African American holiday that is celebrated Dec. 26 – Jan. 1. Its creator, <a href="https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/maulana-karenga-39">Dr. Maulana Karenga</a>, developed the holiday after the <a href="https://crdl.usg.edu/events/watts_riots/">Watts Uprising of 1965</a> in Los Angeles, California. </p><p> I use the term “uprising” intentionally, instead of the colloquial term “riot.” A riot implies rampant chaos and destruction without aim or purpose (i.e., property damage, looting and physical harm). Whereas, what happened in the Black neighborhoods of Los Angeles was a direct response to the oppressive social conditions that Black residents had been experiencing for decades. People weren’t just aimlessly wreaking havoc. There was a coordinated effort to send a message and make change. Was there looting, property damage and loss of life? Yes. However, strategy was also employed, pain was expressed, and self-determination was sought. As a result, the terms “rebellion” or “uprising” feel more appropriate than “riot.” During the Watts Uprising, more than 30 people were killed, 1,032 were injured and more than 3,400 were arrested. </p><p> The spark that ignited the uprising was the arrests of Marquette, Ronald and Rena Frye after a traffic stop. A fight broke out between the Fryes and the officers who were trying to detain them, and as the community gathered to bear witness, tensions boiled over. After decades of unequal housing conditions, lack of access to adequate employment and police brutality, people were fed up. It’s easy to read about the Watts Uprising and wonder how this could have happened. Fortunately, we have some insight to pull from. </p><p> Speaking to an audience two years after the Watts Uprising, Martin Luther King Jr. said this: </p><blockquote><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">“…a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity.”</span> </p> </blockquote> <p> The Watts Uprising was a call for White America to listen. It was in the aftermath of these events that Kwanzaa was created. The week-long celebration is grounded in seven key principles, referred to by their Swahili names: </p><p></p><ul><li>Umoja (unity) </li><li> Kujichagulia (self-determination) </li><li> Ujima (collective work and responsibility) </li><li> Ujamaa (cooperative economics) </li><li> Nia (purpose) </li><li> Kumba (creativity) </li><li> Imani (faith)</li></ul> <p></p><p> On the surface, each of these values seems important, but taken within the context of the African American experience in the United States, they become even more powerful. </p><p> <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Unity </span>becomes an invitation to collaborate for our freedom. <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Self-determination</span> becomes the aspiration that drives us forward. <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Collective work</span><span class="ms-rteForeColor-6"> and responsibility</span> are the practices that keep us connected and remind us that, together, we can solve any problem. <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Cooperative economics</span> allows us to circumvent capitalist systems designed to starve us. <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Purpose </span>reminds us that our communities are far richer than we are led to believe. <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">Creativity </span>becomes the engine that makes way for our liberation, and <span class="ms-rteForeColor-6">faith </span>is the foundation that ties us to our ancestors and life itself. </p><p> As we live into these values and celebrate our past, present, and future during the final week of the year, we remember how remarkable our communities are. Kwanzaa is an African American response to systemic injustice — a week-long invitation to honor ourselves and a reminder of the power we have in community. </p><p> Can people who aren’t part of the African diaspora celebrate Kwanzaa? I don’t know that there is a universal answer to this question. </p><p> Personally, I think everyone can honor the values of the holiday without celebrating it the same way that members of the African American community might by going to a community Kwanzaa event. If someone invites you over for dinner during Kwanzaa, accept the invitation. Identify Black-owned businesses to buy from during this season. These are all acceptable ways to join in the spirit of Kwanzaa and, thus, acknowledge all that this week represents for the Black community. </p><p> <strong>Additional resource</strong> </p><p> <a href="https://www.aaihs.org/remembering-rethinking-and-renaming-the-watts-rebellion/">Remembering, Rethinking, and Renaming the Watts Rebellion</a><br></p><p><br></p>
Don’t let winter get you downhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4823/Don’t-let-winter-get-you-downDon’t let winter get you downBy Zachary Headings<p>As winter begins for those of us in the northern hemisphere, I am reminded that the beginning of winter is often marked by people around me complaining. They miss the sunshine, warm weather, and the vibrant colors of spring, summer, and autumn. The icy winds cut through their coats and their good moods alike, and the shorter days sap productivity.</p><p>Seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder, aptly abbreviated to SAD) certainly should not be overlooked as a likely culprit for this winter-phobia. Humans are made to like sunlight. The sun causes our brains to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our moods, among other things. With overcast skies being more prevalent in the winter, we experience less sunlight, which means less serotonin, which also means more sadness, or even SADness.</p><p>With this biological predisposition discouraging us from enjoying the winter, it becomes tough to find good things to say about the cold season that can provide a counterbalance. But as winter approaches, any encouragement is a good start. Here are a few things to keep in mind:</p><ul><li><strong>It's your turn — </strong>When it's winter in the northern hemisphere, that means that summer has arrived in the southern hemisphere. Almost everyone around the world takes their turn with winter. Rest assured in the knowledge that, while you're wrapped up in coat, hat and mittens, your friends in the southern hemisphere are headed to the beach.</li><li><strong>Winter can be beautiful — </strong>Yes, the cold, icy winds make it hard to enjoy the scenery, but if you've ever taken a walk in the dead of night during a light snowfall, you know what I'm talking about. The snow on the ground dampens ambient noise, so much so that you can hear the flakes touching down with a gentle crispness. Cloudy skies during the day cast a soft, diffuse light over the thriving evergreen trees.</li><li><strong>There's a season for everything —</strong> <a href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%203&version=NRSVUE">Ecclesiastes 3</a> tells us that there's a season for everything. While this verse is normally cited in times of hardship, I think it applies to winter, as well. Just like there's a season to reap and a season to sow, there's also a season for shining sun and warm temperatures, as well as a season for cloudy skies and a biting chill. </li><li><strong>Winter is part of creation —</strong> Winter is a part of God's vision for the world as much as the warmer seasons are. God created Earth and placed it exactly the right distance away from the sun and tilted just right to give us the seasons. It was not an accident or a mistake. The snow, ice and wintery cold are as much a part of creation as the warm sun of summer and the blooming flowers of spring.<br><br></li></ul><p>Even keeping these things in mind, it can be hard to get through the winter blues. If you find yourself feeling down this winter, reach out. Talk to someone — a friend, family member, or a therapist or pastor. Trying to find the beauty and good in the cold seasons is much easier with someone else doing it with you. You don't have to suffer through it, and you don't need to be embarrassed about depression — that goes for depression in general, not just SAD. God gave us our social circles so that we can share — whether sharing a cup of hot cocoa (COVID- and flu-safe, of course), or commiserating on the short days with the sun setting at 4:30 p.m. Find your friends. It may seem overly simplistic, but find them and take in the winter months together. God made sure there's plenty to be found.<br></p>



Ramadan shaped our response to the COVID-19 pandemichttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4871/Ramadan-shaped-our-response-to-the-COVID-19-pandemicRamadan shaped our response to the COVID-19 pandemicBy Peter SensenigGP0|#e56a2330-6584-4aad-b22f-427f555751e1;L0|#0e56a2330-6584-4aad-b22f-427f555751e1|Chad;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#4d0e08ea-d1a0-4141-9eba-431183992152;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf;GP0|#06a361d4-f9d7-496b-a7fc-016da0fa0a44;L0|#006a361d4-f9d7-496b-a7fc-016da0fa0a44|Tanzania
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Mission-wary to Missionary: Parts and Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4870/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Parts-and-ServiceMission-wary to Missionary: Parts and ServiceBy Travis Duerksen
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Black history is shared life that imparts beautyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4862/Black-history-is-shared-life-that-imparts-beautyBlack history is shared life that imparts beautyBy Ann JacobsGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Mission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4627/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Where-do-we-startMission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?By Travis Duerksen
Practices for celebrating Black historyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4855/Practices-for-celebrating-Black-historyPractices for celebrating Black historyBy Ann Jacobs
Storytelling bridges gap between science and spirithttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4853/Storytelling-bridges-gap-between-science-and-spiritStorytelling bridges gap between science and spiritBy Michaela EsauGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Who will be my valentine?https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4839/Who-will-be-my-valentineWho will be my valentine?By Jennifer HayesGP0|#2ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a;L0|#02ab17779-1e85-4ea3-bd7e-1348a1fb087a|United States;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf