The COVID-19 pandemic threw Mennonite Mission Network into a Charles Dickens-like "tale of two cities" during its previous fiscal year, spanning Aug. 1, 2019 – July 30, 2020. To paraphrase Dickens, it was the best and worst of times … it was the spring of hope and the winter of despair.
During the final four months of the fiscal year, Mission Network, with the rest of the world, experienced a shutdown of all travel and in-person meetings; social distancing and mask wearing; the killing of Black people at the hands of police brutality; the suffering of communities of color due to social inequities evoked by the coronavirus; and the raging of wildfires and storms.
In all this, there have been times when the love and care of God have been as veiled as our masked faces. And yet, still yet, God's abundant hope has been unmistakably evident, Mission Network staff members and partners say. In ways minute and magnanimous, the Holy Spirit has guided the agency to embrace that hope during a time of change and uncertainty.
Part of what has transformed the winter of despair into a spring of hope has been the continued support of donors. Stanley Green, who retired from his longtime executive directorship on July 31, said that donors have helped Mission Network to remain faithful to God's eternal purposes even as the agency flexes in how it presently partners with others. Mike Sherrill succeeded him on Aug. 1.
"Your generosity and sharing have made an important difference for healing and hope as attested to by reports from our partners who so appreciate your support," Green wrote. "These are stories that you will not see on TV or read about from our major news and media outlets. They are not sensational stories. They are, however, life-changing for the individuals who experience our ministries."
In the story links below, you are invited to read five stories about the ministry of Mission Network and its partners that have not made national headlines but that are throbbing with the heartbeat of hope in God.
Story 1: Distributing care packages; reformatting ministries
Story 2: Providing an emotional-spiritual "vaccine" for isolation
Story 3: Praying and caring for supporters
Story 4: Persevering in Christian Service programs
Story 5: Dismantling systemic racism