Mission-wary to Missionary: Witness as with-nessPODCASThttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4639/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Witness-as-with-nessMission-wary to Missionary: Witness as with-nessBy Travis Duerksen

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Unless a Grain of Wheat chronicles relationship-building in AfricaBOOK REVIEWhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4635/Unless-a-Grain-of-Wheat-chronicles-relationship-building-in-AfricaUnless a Grain of Wheat chronicles relationship-building in AfricaBy Ben Tapper
Breaking borders to build God’s kingdomSOOPhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4633/Breaking-borders-to-build-Gods-kingdomBreaking borders to build God’s kingdomBy Laurie Oswald Robinson
Mission-wary to Missionary: Mistakes were madePODCASThttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4629/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Mistakes-were-madeMission-wary to Missionary: Mistakes were madeBy Travis Duerksen
Mission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?PODCASThttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4627/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Where-do-we-startMission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?By Travis Duerksen
Life-long mission journeys through mountaintop experiences and valleysEnd of term reflectionshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4625/Life-long-mission-journeys-through-mountaintop-experiences-and-valleysLife-long mission journeys through mountaintop experiences and valleysBy Wally Fahrer
Eight-year-old builds church in CongoChild-like faithhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4623/Eight-year-old-builds-church-in-CongoEight-year-old builds church in CongoBy Charles Buller

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Serving Jesus as Mary and Marthahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4609/Serving-Jesus-as-Mary-and-MarthaServing Jesus as Mary and MarthaBy Deb Byler <p>​<strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Note:</strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Below is a devotional written by Deb Byler, who serves with Mennonite Mission Network in </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Carchá, Gua</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">temala</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, among the Kekchi women. Mission Network is </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">posting her</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> piece to reflect on the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated Oct. 15</span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">. </em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Her</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">devotional comes from</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> </span><a href="https://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Movimiento_de_Mujeres_Anabautistas_Haciendo_Teolog%C3%ADa_desde_Am%C3%A9rica_Latina_%28MTAL%29._%22Devocionales_2021.%22_2021" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Devocionales</em> 2021</a><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">, </em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">a book of devotionals produced by the </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Movimiento de Mujeres Anabautistas Haciendo Teología desde América Latina</em><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> </em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">(</span><a href="/partners/MTAL-%20Movimiento%20de%20Mujeres%20Anabautistas%20haciendo%20Teología%20desde%20América%20Latina" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;">MTAL, Movement of Anabaptist Women doing Theology from Latin America</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">). </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">The daily devotionals can also be found on the</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/Libro-Devocional-MTAL-348422896197636" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Libro Devocional</em> MTAL Facebook page.</a><br></p><p><br></p><p><strong><sup>"</sup></strong>Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.<strong><sup> </sup></strong>She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.'<strong><sup> </sup></strong>But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;<strong><sup> </sup></strong>there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." — Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)</p><p> <br>Kekchi women live in the rural area of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. They have a lot of responsibilities: taking care of their children, doing laundry, cooking and many other household tasks. Yet many of the women in the Mennonite church in Alta Verapaz also give a lot of their time to serving God outside their homes. Like Martha and Mary, they must choose how they can best serve God when there is so much work.</p><p>Julia Xol is one example of a Kekchi woman who had to balance her responsibilities and service. Many years ago, she and another woman were appointed to visit other congregations and encourage the women there. Julia had six children when she started traveling. The oldest daughter was 15 years old and the youngest child was a four-year-old boy. She left her youngest son with her older daughters when she traveled to these churches. </p><p>The sisters of the Kekchi Mennonite churches worship together every week. They visit people who are sick, check in on pregnant women and those who have just given birth, encourage brothers and sisters in the church and their neighbors in the community. Through these visits some have decided to follow Christ and become part of the church.</p><p>We all have many responsibilities, and we can choose how we are going to serve God. Let us serve God like Mary, who sat beside Jesus, soaking up his every word. Let us also care for others, like Martha, yet without forgetting our holistic self-care. May we all serve God with all our hearts!</p><p>Let us pray that in the midst of the many responsibilities that women have daily, we find space to sit at the feet of Jesus.<br></p>
Blood brings both suffering and healinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4607/Blood-brings-both-suffering-and-healingBlood brings both suffering and healingBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<p><em>Lynda and Rod Hollinger-Janzen are visiting churches in Benin, Burkina Faso and Congo, through a partnership with </em><a href="https://www.aimmint.org/"><em>Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://www.mennonitechurch.ca/"><em>Mennonite Church Canada</em></a><em> and Mennonite Mission Network. This is the third in a series of reflections that Lynda is writing as they travel. Click here</em> <em>to read her </em><a href="/blog/4600/Contemplative-spirituality-helps-to-bridge-cultures"><em>first</em></a><em> and </em><a href="/blog/4603/Trans-Atlantic-slave-trade-seen-through-the-eyes-of-a-Beninese-artist"><em>second</em></a><em> reflections in this series.</em> </p><p>On Saturday, Oct. 9, Siaka Traoré waited at the Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, bus station to pick up my husband, Rod; me; and Bruce Yoder, co-coordinator of <a href="https://www.aimmint.org/">Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission</a>, We had just taken a six-hour bus trip from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital city. We enjoyed an evening of fellowship and a meal, which featured local specialties that Bruce, Rod and I had been missing since having left our Mission Network ministry assignments in West Africa. That was two years ago for Bruce and his family, and 21 years ago for our family. We visited with Siaka and his wife, Claire, late into the evening. </p><p>Siaka has influenced the<em> </em><em>Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso </em>(Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso) since its early days, bridging religious and cross-cultural divides with wisdom and compassion.<em> </em>He is now redirecting his focus away from formal leadership positions in the Mennonite church, though he is still serving on the Deacons Commission of<em> </em><a href="https://mwc-cmm.org/deacons-commission">Mennonite World Conference</a><em>. </em></p><p>He also continues to play a <a href="/blog/4086/Muslims-help-build-church-in-Burkina-Faso">reconciling role</a> between the majority-Muslim culture in which he lives and the Christian church, from the local to the national level. He owns franchises of Christian bookstores and hardware stores in Burkina Faso, in addition to other business ventures. Claire and Siaka have three adult children, two of whom are married and living in Burkina Faso. Their youngest son is studying veterinary science in Senegal.  </p><p>After leaving us at Shalom<em>,</em> the Traorés' guesthouse, Siaka got his hair cut in preparation for a joint worship service for three recently planted Mennonite churches in Bobo. He told us the next morning that he was so exhausted from the day's activities that he had fallen asleep in the barber's chair. However, as soon as he had walked in through the door of his home, Claire informed him that her brother, Benjamin, was in the hospital, undergoing hand surgery. </p><p>Benjamin, a firefighter, was among the public servants called upon by the military to search out people engaged in guerilla warfare in Banfora, Burkina Faso. This city is in the southwestern part of the country, a region where many Mennonites live. When Benjamin's unit finished its work, and their vehicle headed homewards, it struck a landmine that had been planted on the road and it exploded. Benjamin's injuries are not life-threatening, but at the time of this writing, one of his fellow unit members remains in critical condition. </p><p>The increasing violence in Burkina Faso has mostly been incited by foreign actors, spreading extremist religious ideology. However, centuries-old animosity between herding and farming communities, and the modern-day frustration with the inequity in economic development in the country, also feed into the terrorist raids. In the past five years, these attacks, attributed to groups with ties to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, have killed more than 1,500 people and displaced more than 1.3 million. They have created a serious humanitarian crisis in the country.</p><p>Banfora is about an hour drive from Bobo Dioulasso. Siaka spent several hours on Saturday night and Sunday morning at the hospital. He got home in time to catch a few winks of sleep before getting up to go to church. When he arrived to pick up Bruce, Rod and me, he was full of energy and goodwill. It was hard to imagine that he had spent the night ministering to a blood-spattered brother-in-law.</p><p>The three Mennonite congregations in Bobo — Belle Ville, Colma and Kôdeni — gathered at the Belle Ville location for an exuberant celebration. The neighborhood pulsed with music and color. Choirs from each congregation sang, accompanied by a <em>balafon</em><em><strong> </strong></em>(a traditional gourd-resonated xylophone), <em>djembes,</em><em> </em>calabash shakers,<em> </em>a battery of drums and a keyboard. The pastors from the three new congregations — Josué Coulibaly, of Belle Ville: Joseph Sinou, of Colma; and Samuel Traoré, of Kôdeni — led the service. (Samuel is not a close relative of Siaka. Traoré is a very common name in this region.)   </p><p>Siaka presided over the communion service. </p><p>"When we approach the Lord's table, we remember and are grateful for the price Jesus paid for our deliverance. Our pardon cost Jesus dearly," Siaka said. </p><p>God's people came forward to hold the communion elements in their hands, eating and drinking them as a reminder of Jesus' body, broken for our healing, and Jesus' blood, which flowed as an ultimate sacrifice. As my brothers and sisters participated in communion, the mystery of blood, symbolizing both life and death, swirled together for me. How does one understand such a mystery?</p><p>Siaka closed the joint worship service with prayer, imploring God to help each person carry the spirit of unity that we had just experienced into our daily lives. </p><p>"Let us work to maintain the unity we experienced this morning," Siaka said. "Unity requires forgiveness. Unity requires that we forget ourselves in desiring the happiness of the person next to us. May we never forget how Jesus gave himself for us without reserve. May our family of brothers and sisters in the Lord continue to grow and become strong in our communities."<br></p>
Trans-Atlantic slave trade seen through the eyes of a Beninese artisthttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4603/Trans-Atlantic-slave-trade-seen-through-the-eyes-of-a-Beninese-artistTrans-Atlantic slave trade seen through the eyes of a Beninese artistBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<p><em>Lynda and Rod Hollinger-Janzen are visiting churches in Benin, Burkina Faso and Congo, through a partnership with </em><a href="https://www.aimmint.org/"><em>Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://www.mennonitechurch.ca/"><em>Mennonite Church Canada</em></a><em> and Mennonite Mission Network. This is the second in a series of reflections that Lynda is writing as they travel.</em><em> </em><a href="/blog/4600/Contemplative-spirituality-helps-to-bridge-cultures"><em>Click here</em></a><em> to read her first reflection in this series.</em></p><p>The red earthen walls of the Royal Palace of Abomey, located in the heart of Benin, exuded their usual mystery, even though the excited bustle of pre-COVID-19 days was absent. The palace, where the king of Abomey still holds court, was closed to the public, due to government regulations. But the artisans' courtyard was open. </p><p>Rod, my husband, and I admired the bronze figurines of roaring lions; acrobats; and graceful women, carrying water on their heads and babies on their backs. We watched a growing length of cloth appear, as a weaver's shuttle danced back and forth between the red and yellow cotton threads that were stretched for yards in front of the loom. We strolled through booths of appliqued maps of Africa and animal wall-hangings. </p><p>And then, in Cécile Yemadjé's booth, we saw a work of art that caused the breath to catch in our throats — an appliqué depicting a history lesson on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, from a Beninese perspective. Yemandjé told us that the art of recording history through appliqué was passed down to her from her parents and ancestors.</p><p>Yemadjé's visual story depicts a huge man, who towers over palm trees; a building, and a ship. This giant's head grazes the top of the wall-hanging. Yemandjé identified him as a Portuguese slave trader. He is surrounded by so many objects that he can't hold them all — a bottle of alcohol, a paper, a book and a cannon. </p><p>I noticed that the cannon didn't take up much more space than the book and paper, the alcohol, or the machete tucked into the waistband of an African agent on the far right of the scene. I interpreted this to mean that betrayal, through written contracts that are not honored and the destructive power of alcohol, is just as devastating as the killing that happens in warfare.<br></p><p>The kings of Abomey captured people to be sold — most often from rival ethnic groups. Colonial powers, unfamiliar with the geography and lacking immunity to local diseases, would not have been able to engage in human trafficking to the same degree without the cooperation of African authorities. <br></p><p>Yemandjé and oral historians we encountered in Abomey proudly told of the way their warriors resisted the military might of the colonial powers. (This pride is depicted in the similar size of the machete and the cannon.) The historians of Abomey said that their people were often victorious in declared battles. It was their ancestors' trust in the integrity of signed contracts that eroded the political dominance of the kingdom, so that, today, the king of Abomey has only cultural and religious influence. <br></p><p>French military officials called a truce after a particularly bloody battle. The king of Abomey accepted the ceasefire in good faith but realized too late that the French would use the ensuing two years to rearm. This led to the downfall of the powerful kingdom in 1894. When the French attacked again, the Abomey army was quickly defeated. Benin's largest city, Cotonou (meaning, "by the river of death"), was named for this slaughter. <br></p><p>"The river flowed red with blood," Yemandjé said.<br></p><p>In her wall-hanging, Yemandjé features two female prisoners and two male prisoners in bamboo neck shackles, holding out their hand-cuffed palms in supplication. She identified the building as the fort in Ouidah. The fort is surrounded by the Tree of Forgetting and palm trees. One of the palm trees contains coconuts. The other harbors a snake. <br></p><p>After a forced march of about 70 miles from Abomey to Ouidah, women were made to walk around the Tree of Forgetting seven times and men nine times. The objective of this requirement was to make the captured people forget their identity, their culture and their history, in the hope that they would be more docile when purchased as slaves. At the Ouidah fort, the bound men and women were branded with the identifying symbols of the Europeans who bought them, Yemandjé said. Then, they were rowed out to the waiting ship to begin their horrific sea voyage to the Americas.<br></p><p>When Rod interrupted our casual stroll through the artisan booths by pointing out Yemadjé's appliqued work-of-art. I immediately reacted, "I don't want to have to see <em>that </em>hanging on my wall every day!" <br></p><p>However, the more I have studied it, the more my appreciation has deepened. There were endless appliqued variations of lions, giraffes and village scenes in the artisan's courtyard. But Yemadjé's commentary on the slave trade was the only one of its kind. I believe she created it to share a truth that is burning as a fire in her belly — a hard truth-telling that is a first step to God's liberation for all who have ears to hear.  <br></p>
Contemplative spirituality helps to bridge cultureshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4600/Contemplative-spirituality-helps-to-bridge-culturesContemplative spirituality helps to bridge culturesBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<p><em>Lynda and Rod Hollinger-Janzen are visiting churches in Benin, Burkina Faso and Congo, through a partnership with </em><a href="https://www.aimmint.org/"><em>Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://www.mennonitechurch.ca/"><em>Mennonite Church Canada</em></a><em> and Mennonite Mission Network. This is the first in a series of reflections that Lynda is writing as they travel.</em> </p><p>Having woken up at 4:30 a.m. on my first day back in Cotonou, Benin, I climbed the stairs to the roof-top terrace of Benin Bible Institute to walk and pray by the light of the moon. I heard the drumming and syncopated rhythms of a traditional religious ceremony in the distance. Across the street, a Christian praised God and cried out loud intercessions. A half-hour later, the <em>muezzin </em>(the Muslim call to prayer) rang out into the darkness.</p><p>My heart leapt to embrace the world that had been my home for 13 years, when my husband, Rod, and I served with Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. We came to Benin straight from seminary, in response to an invitation from 30 Beninese denominations for us to be a bridge between them and North American Mennonites. Rod and I grew as we were mentored by our Beninese brothers and sisters, and as we encountered real world challenges and paradoxes. We learned how to parent three children. We matured in our faith, as we encountered a world thoroughly steeped in the spiritual realm.</p><p>Most of our friends in Benin eagerly share their faith. They describe what God is doing in their lives as easily as most of our North Americans colleagues talk about their weekend activities. In Benin, Rod and I learned that the physical world is a doorway to the spiritual world. And little by little, we expanded our dualistic categories of either/or thinking for a more wholistic worldview that enables us to understand the biblical worldview better.</p><p>Several days after we arrived in Benin for our visit, Rod and I walked through sandy <em>vons </em>(streets), as people woke to a new day. Rod, who has spent the past decade immersing himself in contemplative prayer, said that the Beninese traditional worldview sees a spiritual reality everywhere. Similarly, a contemplative worldview seeks to find God in everything. </p><p>"Contemplative prayer helps to integrate the African part of myself and the North American part of myself in a way that nothing else has been able to do," Rod said.</p><p>Rod's reflections help me understand why I have such a sense of wellbeing — or <em>shalom </em>— since I have returned to Benin.</p><p>I think of 1 Corinthians 12, which tells how the Christian community needs one another, extolling the importance of sweaty armpits and dusty feet. The Message version talks about how we say good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives when we become part of Jesus' global body, the church. To paraphrase verse 13, we are all part of Jesus after resurrection. The black-and-white labels we once used to describe ourselves — labels like citizen or immigrant, insider or outsider, capitalist or socialist — no longer work, because we need something larger to describe who we are in Christ. </p><p>Chapter 12, verses 19-26, tells us that understanding our need for one another keeps us from "getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a <em>part</em> of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. ... The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part ... If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance" (The Message, italics original).</p><p>Jesus, open our eyes so that we may truly see one another, recognizing you in the eyes of our neighbors across the street and around the world. Humble us and elevate us, as we engage in mutual conversion as members of your broken, beloved and glorious global body.<br></p>
Supporting service with a pew dollarshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4587/Supporting-service-with-a-pew-dollarsSupporting service with a pew dollarsBy Travis Duerksen<p>NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) — When I stood before my home congregation and told them I was preparing to do a year of service, I was greeted with silence.</p><p>Granted, my home church congregation greets most things with silence, be it child dedications, music performances or tearful testimonies. For German/Russian Mennonites, it's practically our heritage. </p><p>The silence after my announcement, however, struck me differently.</p><p>One requirement that I had to meet for my year of service with Journey International, a Mennonite Mission Network program that has since transitioned into <a href="/Serve/International%20Ministries">individual-focused service opportunities</a>, was raising my own funds for my travel and lodging. As part of my announcement, I was asking my church community for financial assistance. As I sank down into my pew afterward, I couldn't help but worry that the stony faces that received my news weren't interested in supporting me at all. Did they think I was too old? Did they think I was piggybacking off another young adult who was also doing a year of service? Were they angry that by leaving the country, I would be cutting short my term on the board of worship?</p><p>In the days after my announcement and throughout my year of service, my fears were proven wrong. The congregation readily supported me through prayer. Our midweek Bible school classes sent me care packages filled with snacks and cards. The church showed my video check-ins during Sunday services. (One week, I remember, I walked them though the mango peeling method that my host dad taught me.) The congregation supported me through generous financial donations, as well.</p><p>When I returned home a year later, I spent an evening making my way through all the donation receipts that the church treasurer had processed, pairing each receipt with a 'Thank You' card, writing a quick note and making a pile of stuffed envelopes bound for church mailboxes. At the bottom of the stack of receipts was a list of each person or group that had supported me, along with the dollar amount they had contributed to the program.</p><p>Like many congregations, talking about money in our church is hard. Topics like giving, tithing percentages and asking for money sometimes feel like conversational land mines that may or may not explode, depending on which day you're forced to tread over them. On the Sunday when I made my announcement, I feared I had set off such a land mine. Looking through the donor list a year later, I realized I had an itemized list detailing exactly how those fears had been totally overblown. My home congregation was more than willing to support me financially. It had just been the spoken acknowledgement that was hard for them.</p><p>In the years since, I've slowly come to realize just how much my service term impacted different aspects of my life. It has influenced where I work, how I relate to others and my involvement in my home congregation. While I loathe putting dollar figures on relationships and experiences, my year of service was absolutely worth the money I put toward it. It would not be a stretch to view the donations my home church contributed to my experience as an investment in their church body. In a broader sense, the service program itself was an investment in the global church, the dividends being paid in broadened perspectives, enriched relationships and a more tangible connection to faith.</p><p>These days, on the Sunday mornings when a young adult shuffles to the front of the sanctuary and quietly announces they're planning on doing a term of service, I stare back at them, as happily stone-faced and silent as the rest of the congregation. I give them two things: a small journal, as a reminder to take time to process their experiences, and a spoken acknowledgement that I was more than happy to donate to their fundraiser.</p><p>Their time of service might be a period of growth and exploration. It might be lonely and difficult. Odds are, it'll be a bit of both. As a member of their supporting congregation, I'm excited to invest in their experience of spiritual growth and their awareness of being part of the global church.<br></p>
Opening My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4583/Opening-My-Eyes-Youth-Venture-Civil-Rights-Trip-2021Opening My Eyes: Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip 2021By Michelle Ramirez<p><em>This blog was edited by Mennonite Mission Network staff in accordance with </em><a href="/resources/publications/books/343/Shared%20Voices"><em>Shared Voices</em></a><em>. It was originally published on the </em><a href="https://mosaicmennonites.org/2021/08/18/opening-my-eyes-youth-venture-civil-rights-trip-2021/"><em>Mosaic Conference website</em></a><em> on August 18, 2021.</em></p><p>The Youth Venture Civil Rights Trip (July 16-24) was an eye-opening experience. I co-led this group, sponsored by Mennonite Mission Network, and we visited landmarks of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950-60s to learn why our faith calls us to stand against injustice and oppression. </p><p>Four youth from Mosaic Conference and I had the opportunity to go on this remarkable trip. . We visited different civil rights locations, from museums to national landmarks. On some of our stops, we spoke to people who experienced civil injustice firsthand during the 1950-60s, providing us a firsthand view on how African American people were treated.</p><p>This opportunity allowed me to see and learn about things and people in a whole new way. Most impactful for me was visiting the Lynching Memorial at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. At the memorial were pillars filled with the names of lynching victims from almost every U.S. county. Reading the names was so moved me deeply as I thought about what they suffered.  It was truly eye-opening to learn about all the struggles people went through in the past simply because of the color of their skin. I realized I didn't know as much about civil rights as I thought after reading some of the stories.</p><p>We also visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the famous motel where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony in 1968. While journeying through the museum, we were able to see things King and other civil rights activists did in the 60s. It was a truly an educational experience.</p><p>The trip challenged my way of thinking and gave me a new perspective on events I previously thought I understood, including learning more about injustice that African American people went through during this time. </p><p>This trip challenged to remember that I have a voice to speak up and defend those who are oppressed, just like the Bible instructs us to do.</p><p>This trip was also impactful for the youth who joined me. The value of knowing and understanding history allows us to work to make a difference in society today. Working alongside Mission Network for this trip was great, and I hope to partner with the agency in similar ways in the future. </p><p>A big thank you to everyone who made this trip happen!</p><p><em>Youth Venture is the service program of Mennonite Mission Network that gives young people, ages 15-22, the opportunity to serve, learn and worship in local communities around the world, through 1- to 3-week terms each summer. For more information on future trips, </em><a href="/Serve/Youth%20Venture"><em>click here</em></a><em>. For more photos from the Civil Rights Learning Tour, </em><a href="/news/The-Youth-Venture-Civil-Rights-tour-in-photos"><em>click here.</em></a><br></p>

 

 

Mission-wary to Missionary: Witness as with-nesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4639/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Witness-as-with-nessMission-wary to Missionary: Witness as with-nessBy Travis Duerksen
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