The wound in the wallBorder Wall wound in the wallBy Laurie Oswald Robinson


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Witnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSAlumni Reflection the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSBy Edith and Neill von Gunten
Journeys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureReflection through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureBy Bethany Masters and Helen Tiefenbach
A missed opportunityAnti-racism missed opportunityBy Wil LaVeist
The Christmas story, our storyBlog Christmas story, our storyBy Joe Sawatzky
Online classes in Lithuania create global communityEducation classes in Lithuania create global communityBy Robin Gingerich
How to decide about graduate schoolCareer Corner to decide about graduate schoolBy Carmen Hoober




Get a taste of Service Adventure a taste of Service AdventureBy Susan Nisly<p><span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;">Each year at this time, many high-school seniors are trying to figure out what they should do next. Recently, when</span><span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;"> I was talking with one of these seniors, she said, "I've never heard of anyone regretting taking a gap year." I must admit that I haven't either. Most often, I hear people talking about what a huge impact the gap year had on helping them figure out what they wanted to study, or figuring out who they are and what they believe. There are many options for a gap year, but my personal favorite is Service Adventure. What makes it so unique is that besides living in community with other young adults, you also have unit leaders who serve as mentors living with your group. </span></p><p>Are you wondering what a year in Service Adventure might be like?  Are you intrigued by the idea of taking a gap year and serving others? I invite you to visit one of our units to get a taste of Service Adventure. Feb. 20-23, 2020, you can spend a weekend seeing what all happens in Service Adventure. </p><p><strong>Thursday, Feb. 20</strong> – Arrive at the Service Adventure unit and meet your hosts.  Enjoy dinner with the unit and participate in their weekly worship night.</p><p><strong>Friday, Feb. 21</strong> – Spend the day serving alongside participants in various social-service agencies.  It might be a homeless shelter, a thrift store, or somewhere working with kids.</p><p><strong>Saturday, Feb. 22</strong> – Experience a learning component with the unit and a bit about the local community.  This might be a hike or visiting a museum.</p><p><strong>Sunday, Feb. 23 </strong>– Attend the local hosting congregation with the unit and then head home.</p><p>If you are interested in checking out Service Adventure, or have questions, please contact me at <a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><font color="#0066cc"></font></span></span></a>.<br></p>
Advent hope and Easter faith: a film review of Emanuel hope and Easter faith: a film review of Emanuel By Joe Sawatzky <p></p><p>Advent hope and Easter faith: a film review of <em>Emanuel </em></p><p>By Joe Sawatzky </p><p>This Advent season many churches will sing, “O Come, O Come Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” In doing so, we plead that “God with us” — Emmanuel — may “appear a second time” to complete in history the freedom from evil, sin and death, accomplished in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:28). Grounded in the past, our hope for the future is fueled in the present, whenever we become acutely aware that God is with us. True to its title, <em>Emanuel</em> — a documentary film about the <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Emanuel</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina — channels just such hope. </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><em>Emanuel</em>, directed by Brian Ivie and co-produced by celebrities Stephen Curry and Viola Davis, was released in theaters last summer and was ready for purchase this fall. The movie tells the story of the nine church members gunned down June 17, 2015, at a Bible study in their historic African-American church by a young White male seeking to start a race war. Through dramatic vignettes, evocative imagery, and compelling interviews, the film places the tragedy in the history of American racism. Charleston was “the premier slave port” through which 40 percent of African Americans trace their lineage. South Carolina was the only original U.S. colony in which Blacks outnumbered Whites, a fact fueling White hysteria about a reversal of society’s racial hierarchy. “Mother Emanuel,” the oldest AME church in the south, was a symbol of Black self-determination in the face of White supremacy. <em>Emanuel</em> also connects the mass shooting to the contemporary context of lethal violence against unarmed Black men, including Charleston’s own Walter Scott. He was shot five times in the back while fleeing a White police officer a few months prior. </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">These scenes form the backdrop to <em>Emanuel’s</em> main theme — the intensely personal, problematic, and theologically profound process called forgiveness. Viewers are likely to weep with Nadine Collier as she recounts how she heard that her mother, Ethel Lance, had perished in the massacre. In the eyewitness testimony of his mother, Felicia Sanders, we are compelled by the love of Tywanza, who spoke grace to his killer, “You don’t have to do this ... we mean you no harm.” Tywanza delayed death just long enough to reach his beloved “Aunt Susie” [Jackson] where she lay bleeding. </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Without resolving knotty theological questions, we may find ourselves strangely comforted in the words of the preacher Anthony Thompson. He detected an extraordinary glow alighting his wife, Myra, on the morning of her murder as she eagerly departed for Bible study. “I understood it afterward,” says Thompson, “she was already in her glory.” We may also ponder the testimony of collegiate athlete Chris Singleton. He realized in the wake of his mother’s death that the biblical proverb that had strengthened him on the baseball field that season “wasn’t for baseball.” </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Each of the above made public and unplanned pronouncements of forgiveness toward Dylann Roof, their loved ones’ killer. This spontaneity of grace seems to be <em>Emanuel’s</em> main point, echoed also in the climactic footage from the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Emanuel AME’s slain pastor. Indeed, eyewitnesses recount the moment during the oration when “something came over” President Barack Obama and he “began to preach.” Extolling the mysterious merits of forgiveness on display in Emanuel’s members, and following a pregnant pause, a song sprang up, <em>“Amazing Grace ...” </em></span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">For all its compelling power, forgiveness is not presented without its problems. Viewers may find themselves persuaded by Muhiyidin D’Baha and Waltrina Middleton, activists who hold forgiveness accountable for the deferment of justice. We hear Melvin Graham Jr., brother of the slain Cynthia Graham Hurd, resolve not to forgive until Roof can say which of the seven shots fired into Hurd’s body was the one that killed her. We also hear him say of those family members who pronounced forgiveness, “God truly worked a work in them. I am a work in progress.” </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Graham’s words may best articulate that hope for a meeting of salvation’s past and future, where “the finished work” — “God truly worked a work in them” — holds the promise for God’s “work <em>in progress</em>.” In beseeching “Immanuel” for the “ransom” to come, we may remember the “amazing grace ... that <em>saved</em> a wretch like me.” In expressing our Advent hope, we may experience our Easter faith, that the “one who endured such hostility against himself from sinners” is even now Emmanuel, “God is with us” (Hebrews 12:3; Matthew 1:23). </span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">At once educational and affective, <em>Emanuel</em> ultimately portrays forgiveness as the real presence of God in Christ with his people, rising up, and renewing us in faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).</span></p>
Muslims help build church in Burkina Faso help build church in Burkina FasoBy Siaka Traoré<p>BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso (Mennonite Mission Network) — Thirteen years ago, we began planting Mennonite churches around Bobo-Dioulasso, the second city of Burkina Faso. Today, we worship in three locations, with the newest being in Kodeni.</p><p>It began with Ousmane Hié, a teenager from Kodeni, who was forced to end his education due to lack of family resources. He worked for two years as an apprentice to an auto mechanic. My wife, Claire, and I saw much potential in Ousmane, and Claire helped him get back into school.</p><p>Each Sunday, Ousmane and three of his siblings walked about three miles from Kodeni to attend our church in Bobo. Claire helped them get their paperwork in order so they, too, could attend school. These four children were the beginning of the Mennonite Church in their village.</p><p>To celebrate World Day of Evangelism in 2016, we held three evening meetings in Kodeni. Because of this outreach, more than 50 children gathered for worship and Sunday school in a classroom of a nearby public school. This church plant is led by Samuel Traoré, a Bible school student from the Bobo congregation. </p><p>Believing that this new congregation would soon outgrow a classroom, we searched for a plot of land on which to build. As soon as we bought the land, we visited the people who lived in the neighborhood. They are all Muslims, but they welcomed us warmly. They began giving us valuable building tips.</p><p>Each time we visited our new plot of land, we first visited our neighbors, especially the family of the <em>imam</em> whose property adjoined our church plot. God seemed to precede each encounter and soften their hearts so that they were friendly toward us, even though there is much distrust and persecution between Christians and Muslims in our country. Because of our good relationship with the imam's family, we asked if they would guard our construction materials — cement, boards, shovels and wheelbarrows — against theft.</p><p>What is even more remarkable is that when our church members have workdays, Muslim youth come and help us build our church!</p><p>Our prayer is that we will be a church of peace that builds relationships with everyone — without laying aside our distinctive identity. One of the verses that guides us comes from 1 Peter 2:9: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of the one who called you from the shadows into marvelous light."<br></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;">Siaka Traoré has retired from formal leadership positions with </em><span style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;">Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso</span><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"> (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso), but continues to serve with Mennonite World Conference. He owns franchises of Christian bookstores and hardware stores in Burkina Faso, and lives in Bobo-Dioulasso with his wife, Claire. </em><br></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"><br></em></p><p><em style="color:#808070;font-size:16pt;"><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></em></p><h4>Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mennonite Mission Network’s co-director for Africa and Europe, and Siaka Traore stand on the foundation of the new Kodeni Mennonite Church building. Photographer: Rod Hollinger-Janzen<br></h4><p><br></p>
Family across the ocean across the oceanBy Diana Cruz<p>If it were possible to cross the Atlantic in a straight line from Colombia, you would reach Africa, the place from which all our ancestors came. </p><p>We are neighbors, just across the ocean, but when we first meet, I see my own surprised face reflected in African faces. The truth is that I do not know which face reflects the other's, because centuries of colonization, suffering, struggles to survive, and of trying to assimilate to European ways have created a chasm that is impossible to bridge with a single glance.</p><p>And yet, African drum rhythms pound perfectly to the beat of my Latin American heart. The streets, full of playing children, are the same streets I have already walked by in my dear Colombia. The people are the same people: survivors trying to add color with their dresses and flavor with their spices to the difficult life that history and geography have imposed on them.</p><p>At first glance, we might think we come from different planets. This is what world powers have made us believe. If we are invisible to each other, we lose the strength of two continents together. And yet, little by little, I see that our faith, our struggles, our dreams, our rhythms of life, and our life stories are undeniably familiar.</p><p>From time to time, it is good to visit the neighbors across the way. When we live with them, we learn to know each other. We build bridges that span the chasms, even if we must do it brick by brick, and even if it takes us a couple more centuries to realize that those strangers are, after all, our family.<br></p><p><em>Diana Cruz and her husband, Felipe Preciado, are jointly supported by Colombia Mennonite Church and Mennonite Mission Network. They began serving at </em>La Casa Grande<em>, a children's home in Benin, in 2018. Diana teaches English and Spanish. Felipe helps develop agricultural and animal-breeding projects. </em><br></p>
I wear my heart on my sleeve wear my heart on my sleeveBy Joshua Garber<p>When Alisha and I and our son, Asher, moved to Barcelona, many things didn't make the cut in our honest attempt to "leave all things behind" and follow Jesus. However, <em>Martyrs Mirror</em> was never on the chopping block, despite its six-pound weight.</p><p><em>Martyrs Mirror</em>, a book of more than 1,500 pages, was written in the 17th century. It is filled with thousands of stories and testimonies of the early Anabaptists (and other similar-minded Christians) who were persecuted and killed in terrible ways during the Radical Reformation. Perhaps its most famous story is about a Dutch Anabaptist named Dirk Willems, who was running from the authorities after he escaped imprisonment. While fleeing across a frozen lake, Willems heard a loud crack and realized his pursuer had fallen through the ice. Willems went back and rescued him. This act of profound compassion and enemy-love cost him his life and he was burned at the stake. </p><p>I love sharing this story. For me, it captures one of the most stunning Christian acts I've ever heard of, proclaiming that one's liberation cannot come at the cost of someone else's suffering. It has affected me so profoundly that I got the well-known copper etching of this story tattooed on my arm.</p><p>It's joined several other tattoos, all of which delight in different aspects of God that I've learned in my walk with Christ. I have a page from Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em>, wrapped around one arm — a beautiful parallel of the Prodigal Son. I have a nautilus deconstructing into a plot of the Golden Mean — God's fingerprint that shows this reoccurring phenomenon of order and intention in a seemingly chaotic universe. I have a bird and flowers — a reminder that, if God takes care of such things, then I shouldn't worry. And there are several more. </p><p>When you consider a modern definition of "sleeve" that refers to an arm covered in tattoos, I'm not joking when I say I wear my heart on my sleeve. In doing so, I've had the opportunity to tell the story of Dirk Willems dozens of times, whereas it's a safe bet most copies of <em>Martyrs Mirror</em> never leave the house. </p><p>My tattoos are conversation starters. They're personal reminders. They're an act of worship and obedience — a nod to Deuteronomy 6:8 ("Bind God's message to your hands.") and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ("Your body is a temple; honor God with your body.").</p><p>From my experience, wearing my heart on my sleeve illustrates a faith perspective that genuinely confounds most people who have been turned off by certain branches of Christianity. It has built countless more bridges than barriers, allowing my body to proclaim the gospel even when my mouth doesn't have the words. The world is changing, and to be honest, I had forgotten there are still pockets of Christians who are shocked by tattoos — that is, until this past summer when Alisha and I were sharing about our ministry in Barcelona with a wonderful partner church in rural Kansas. The first question we received was, "Can you tell us about your tattoos?"</p><p>If making some ethnic Mennonites scratch their heads is the consequence of decorating my arms with visual stories, inspired by the divine, like the cathedrals of old, then I'm OK with that. Any natural opportunity to share about the subversive nature of Christ's love is worth making some folks uncomfortable.</p><p><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>In the Middle Ages when literacy rates were low, stained glass windows told the biblical story. Alisha Garber repurposes the stained glass windows motif for today’s world in her tattoos. Photographer: Josh Garber.</h4><p><br></p><p><img src="" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Asher Garber gets an early start on Anabaptist theology from <em>Martyrs Mirror</em>.</h4><p><br></p><p><em>Alisha and Joshua Garber, along with their son, Asher, serve with Mennonite Mission Network in Barcelona, Catalonia (a region where allegiance to Spain vies with voices calling for independence). They work alongside the leaders of the Mennonite church in Barcelona, focusing on youth outreach and congregational mission. To learn more, visit</em> <a href=""></a>.<br></p>
Ephemeral details and lasting relationships: What I learned from writing obits details and lasting relationships: What I learned from writing obitsBy Travis Duerksen <p>NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – In my two years at Mennonite Mission Network, I’ve written seven obituaries for mission workers who served with the organization, or one of its predecessor agencies. Stating that writing obituaries is not my favorite part of this job is neither controversial nor surprising. Yet, putting together obituaries is a necessity for Mission Network writers. We cover writing “beats,” locations around the world that often have a long and complex history of North American mission workers coming into their communities. Some were invited. Many were not. While our organization’s practice of “mission” has and continues to change, we relate with and celebrate vibrant churches around the world that were started through methods and practices we would not use today. </p><p> </p><p>This history means that writing obituaries can be difficult. Yet, through my practice of interviews, researching, and archive skulking, I’ve come away with a few understandings that I have grown to appreciate through writing mission worker obits.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Lives go by quickly</strong></p><p>I’ve had the fortune of writing obits for people who are older: septuagenarians and up. Yet, summarizing a person’s life to focus on their time of service means that I need to distill 80 years into about 500 words, which takes an adult roughly two minutes to read. It’s this tremendous ratio of time lived versus time read that makes me wonder how my next year of life will be condensed into the o<em>ne and a half seconds</em> that will represent it in my own obituary someday. What will be mentioned? What will be passed over? </p><p> </p><p>Word count aside, as a writer I don’t <em>set out</em> to condense a decade of a person’s life into a single sentence or two. Instead, it often happens due to a lack of details. Many of the people that I ask for quotes and information are older as well, and simply don’t remember what the individual did 40-odd years ago. Eventually, that information was lost through time.  </p><p> </p><p><strong>Details are ephemeral…</strong></p><p>I have no doubt that future historians will have a field day with the abundance of geo-tagged photos and Twitter posts chronicling our locations, ad preferences and minute-by-minute thoughts. However, piecing together obituaries has helped me realize that the details of our lives can disappear quickly. By nature, an obituary has the disadvantage of the best source of information entirely unavailable for earthly comment. Spouses may or may not remember dates or locations. Children or extended family may not either. Sometimes, the obituary subject gives me, the writer, the greatest gift of all: published memoirs. Yet even those are not always factually accurate. Archives may have 20 vibrant Kodachrome photos of a mission worker, or a single, blurry headshot scanned from the back of a yellowed prayer card. While there may have been dozens of better photos taken, it was the prayer card portrait that survived, and it was the prayer card portrait that was catalogued. Given enough time, all specifics erode, like a river stone that becomes smoother and less discernable as the water rolls atop it.    </p><p> </p><p><strong>…but relationships survive.</strong></p><p>One of my favorite parts of writing obituaries is talking with not just family members and friends of the mission worker, but with people whose lives and spiritual journeys were changed through them. That means talking to coworkers, congregation members and people in the communities where these workers lived. Some people I interview never met the individual in question but are connected to a church or organization with which the mission worker was involved. Many of these churches and organizations now have local leadership. The North American mission worker retired, but the relationships formed, and the lives touched continued to create their own legacies.</p><p> </p><p>Singer-songwriter Lucy <a name="_GoBack">Dacus</a> described a relationship as two people choosing to be each other’s historians, and I firmly believe that responsibility extends beyond couples or spouses. In a very real sense, I am a historian for my friends, my coworkers and the people with whom I share life. Being privy to someone’s life journey is an honor and sharing about that journey is a great responsibility. As a writer who is given many stories to share, I think about that a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’ve given a story justice. Other times I fear I came up short. Yet, obituaries have taught me not to shirk the responsibility, nor take the honor for granted. So, when the time comes that some poor, hapless writer comes to me for a quote on someone recently departed, I, their historian, will be ready.</p>



The wound in the wall wound in the wallBy Laurie Oswald Robinson GP0|#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
Witnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVS the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSBy Edith and Neill von GuntenGP0|#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
Journeys through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service Adventure through the unfamiliar: reflections on life in Service AdventureBy Bethany Masters and Helen TiefenbachGP0|#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
A missed opportunity missed opportunityBy Wil LaVeistGP0|#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
The Christmas story, our story Christmas story, our storyBy Joe Sawatzky GP0|#307e36a0-6ec3-4083-9ba6-347296c22526;L0|#0307e36a0-6ec3-4083-9ba6-347296c22526|South Africa;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#4d0e08ea-d1a0-4141-9eba-431183992152;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Online classes in Lithuania create global community classes in Lithuania create global communityBy Robin GingerichGP0|#9a689029-64e4-463b-826a-cd9b55f053f0;L0|#09a689029-64e4-463b-826a-cd9b55f053f0|Lithuania;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e1c6021e-2f25-46dc-91a1-be34789acdf9;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
How to decide about graduate school to decide about graduate schoolBy Carmen HooberGP0|#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
Solidarity and hope are the goals of Nanjing, China and hope are the goals of Nanjing, ChinaBy Mike SherrillGP0|#a595f38c-5e88-47b4-b5b0-852175302927;L0|#0a595f38c-5e88-47b4-b5b0-852175302927|China;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#af610d13-4793-4c57-8b8c-d4ea261d7a85;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Get a taste of Service Adventure a taste of Service AdventureBy Susan NislyGP0|#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
Advent hope and Easter faith: a film review of Emanuel hope and Easter faith: a film review of Emanuel By Joe Sawatzky