Lessons I’ve learned from my catsInternational Cat Dayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4738/Lessons-Ive-learned-from-my-catsLessons I’ve learned from my catsBy Cynthia Friesen Coyle


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Tension is essential for lifeSermonhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4730/Tension-is-essential-for-lifeTension is essential for lifeBy Naomi Tice
'Women and Peace' project creates sacred space for peacebuilders of faithColombiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4720/Women-and-Peace-project-creates-sacred-space-for-peacebuilders-of-faith'Women and Peace' project creates sacred space for peacebuilders of faithBy Rebekah York
God is in the City!Outreachhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4719/God-is-in-the-CityGod is in the City!By Ann Jacobs
Juneteenth acknowledges freedom delayedJuneteenthhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4716/Juneteenth-acknowledges-freedom-delayedJuneteenth acknowledges freedom delayedBy Ben Tapper
I bike for world peace, personal shalom — and because I love bikingBikinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4712/I-bike-for-world-peace-personal-shalom-and-because-I-love-bikingI bike for world peace, personal shalom — and because I love bikingBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Reflections on the Sent ConferenceSent Conferencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4709/Reflections-on-the-Sent-ConferenceReflections on the Sent ConferenceBy Naun Cerrato




Prayer amid a new reality of warhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4677/Prayer-amid-a-new-reality-of-warPrayer amid a new reality of warBy Mary Raber<p>​On February 24, the Russian troops who had been massing for weeks on the Ukrainian border finally made their move. "We are living in a new reality," a friend in Ukraine texted. His family had awakened to the sound of distant explosions.</p><p>Although I left Ukraine a few months ago after <a href="/workers/Europe/Ukraine/Mary%20Raber">serving with Mennonite Mission Network for 12 years</a>, it's a "new reality" for me, too, even though nothing has changed in my immediate surroundings in St. Louis.  I feel dazed and unable to settle down, endlessly scrolling through Facebook posts seeking bits of news about my friends. "We're okay, but not fine," wrote a couple who have been spending their nights in Kyiv bomb shelters. Maybe I know what they mean.</p><p>What does this new reality require of me? I long for information about my friends' whereabouts, but I can't get it without pestering them, so I send corny emojis instead, hoping for a response. I want to reassure them, yet I need reassurance myself. Surely, my real calling during these troubling days is to pray. Yet I struggle to focus, to find words and conviction. Does my prayer really do any good? It seems hard to believe, given the circumstances.</p><p>As I flail about to regain my balance, I'm helped by the words of a Baptist pastor. He is from Balakliia, a city in the "gray zone" close to Ukraine's contested border with the separatist Donetsk People's Republic. Five years ago, there was an explosion in a munitions depot there. Whether it was an accident or an act of sabotage, the blast made thousands of people temporarily homeless. The pastor organized church members to ferry people to safety in their cars. Later the church provided hot meals for their neighbors for more than a week. Reflecting back on the experience, the pastor said, "During that time, I was grateful for everything I had ever learned about listening to God's voice."</p><p>In other words, he had no well-developed disaster plan. When his reality changed, he just went with what he knew, and God was with him. Can I do the same? What do I already know about intercessory prayer — the act of praying on behalf of others?</p><p>"Pray as you can, not as you can't." I'm trying to take this good advice to heart. The internet is full of prayer lists, but sometimes all I can manage is a litany of names: Oleg. Natasha. Zhenya. Sveta. Is that a prayer? I trust that it is. I'm also finding great comfort in the Psalms — especially reading them aloud.</p><p>"Praise first." The despair is deep, but that isn't the whole story. God is good. God always has a plan. God has already triumphed. This isn't wishful thinking, but a statement of truth. Praising God has the effect of lifting my heart and clearing my vision: "He brought me out into a spacious place…" (Psalm 18:19 NIV). Sometimes singing helps. I dug out an old Russian Baptist hymnal for that purpose.</p><p>"God doesn't need my advice."<em> </em>Of course, I tell God what I would prefer to have happen, but I don't know what's truly best. My job is to invite God into the situation. "Thy will be done" signifies hope rather than resignation.</p><p>"Pray for the helpers."<em> </em>This is advice from Mr. Rogers. If I can do nothing else, I can pray for the people who are helping. I imagine a bus driver, a teacher, a person making sandwiches on the Moldovan border, a doctor, a chaplain, someone who runs a gas station. God grant them strength and wisdom.</p><p>"Be prepared for things to get worse before they get better."<em> </em>As soon as Moses came to the rescue, the children of Israel had to make bricks without straw (Exodus 5). Nevertheless, eventually God freed them from slavery in Egypt. I don't know the timetable. My business is to persevere.</p><p>"We are living in a new reality." How can I deal with it except by praying? All I ever learned about intercessory prayer amounts to no more than five small barley loaves and a couple of fish. But that's enough, and I'm grateful.<br></p>
Vacation Bible school in Brazil a blessing to both students and teachershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4670/Vacation-Bible-school-in-Brazil-a-blessing-to-both-students-and-teachersVacation Bible school in Brazil a blessing to both students and teachersBy Travis Duerksen<p>Through the ebb and flow of a worldwide pandemic, churches continue to explore what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities. </p><p>Serlir Silva is a church planter in Caruaru, Brazil, and is supported by a grant through Mennonite Mission Network. Throughout the pandemic, she and other church leaders have continued their ministry of supporting both the material and spiritual needs of their community.</p><p>"We can't help but serve people," Silva wrote. "Helping the needy is our obligation."<br></p><h4><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2022/VBS%2002%20%282%29.jpeg" alt="" style="margin:5px;" />Vitoria prays along with the rest of the class during vacation Bible school in Caruaru, Brazil. Photo by Gloria Maria Dos Santos Silva.<br></h4><p>The start of the year heralded vacation Bible school classes for children in the community. The theme of the event, 'Obeying God,' was based off of the story of Gideon in the book of Judges. While attendance varied from day-to-day, Silva and the other organizers were surprised how much the children, ranging from age 3 to 14, recalled of the previous day's lessons. </p><p>"We ended [the classes] with great joy and gratitude to God for the children who participated in this blessed event," Silva wrote.<br></p>
Valentine cookies are a sweet reminder to pray for peacehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4669/Valentine-cookies-are-reminder-to-pray-for-peaceValentine cookies are a sweet reminder to pray for peaceBy Travis Duerksen<p>Valentines Day, with its themes of love and compassion, is an event celebrated around the world.</p><p>Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher are mission associates with Mission Network in Namyangju, South Korea.</p><p>Spicher wrote that for Valentine's Day, their family made sugar cookies. "Hearts, dinosaurs (Lena insisted), and the Korean peninsula, because it's so easy to forget about North Korea in our daily lives, and we need to remember to pray for unification." </p><h4 style="text-align:center;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2022/Unfrosted%20and%20frosted%20cookies.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin:5px;" />Unfrosted cookies, and a frosted, Korean peninsula cookie. Photos by Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher.<br></h4><p>Spicher serves as the communications coordinator for the Northeast Asia Regional Peace Building Institute (NARPI). Jae Young directs the Korea Peacebuilding Institute (KOPI) and provides leadership to NARPI. Lee, Spicher and their four children work and live in community with other families at Peace Building in Namyangju. For more information on their ministry, <a href="/workers/Asia/South%20Korea/Jae%20Young%20Lee%20and%20Karen%20Spicher">click here</a>.<br></p>
Internationally known peacemaker launched vocation with Mennonite Mission Networkhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4665/Internationally-known-peacemaker-launched-vocation-with-Mennonite-Mission-NetworkInternationally known peacemaker launched vocation with Mennonite Mission NetworkBy Tim Huber<p><em>As the five-year anniversary of Michael "MJ" Sharp's murder approaches, a new book by Marshall V. King, </em><a href="https://heraldpress.com/9781513808338/disarmed/">Disarmed: The Radical Life and Legacy of Michael "MJ" Sharp</a><em>,</em><em> traces Sharp's journey from his childhood to his death on assignment with the United Nations Group of Experts. </em><em>This </em><a href="https://anabaptistworld.org/es_issue/january-21-2022-the-potent-life-of-a-bold-peacemaker/"><em>piece originally appeared in the January 21 issue of Anabaptist World</em></a><em>, alongside an </em><a href="https://anabaptistworld.org/into-the-heart-of-africa/"><em>excerpt from </em>Disarmed</a> <em>and </em><a href="https://anabaptistworld.org/for-parents-book-fills-gaps-in-an-unfinished-life/"><em>an interview with Sharp's parents, John and Michele Miller Sharp</em></a><em>.</em> </p><p><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">To watch an interview with King at Waterford Mennonite Church, Sharp's home congregation, </em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb_2tgQ6lRI" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>click here</em></a><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">.</em></p><p>Dramatic stories of sacrificial Anabaptist peacemaking tend to be historic, even centuries old. One of the most recent of these stories is shared in <a href="https://heraldpress.com/9781513808338/disarmed/"><em>Disarmed: The Radical Life and Legacy of Michael "MJ" Sharp</em></a><em>,</em><em> </em>by Marshall V. King. </p><p>King <a href="https://anabaptistworld.org/into-the-heart-of-africa/">tells the story</a> of the former Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite Mission Network worker who was murdered in 2017, while he was investigating atrocities in Congo for the United Nations. The five-year anniversary of his death is in March.</p><p>"We hear the stories of 1-W service and Pax and conscientious objectors during the World Wars, and here is a story of a man who was doing peacemaking work, first as part of Mission Network, then MCC and then the United Nations," King said in a Dec. 2 interview from his home in Goshen, Indiana. "And while he was practicing this Anabaptist peacemaking theology, he was also trying to figure out what it means to be Mennonite in the modern world.</p><p>"I saw it as a really good story of someone who had answered the call to be a peacemaker and inevitably put himself at risk — someone who was willing to take risks on behalf of other people and inevitably lost his life because of it."</p><p>King was drawn to the story of the young Mennonite who picked up his things and went off to practice pacifism in ways many others only talk about.</p><p>Sharp, through his <a href="/news/1903/Speaking%20for%20peace">Mission Network assignment with Military Counseling Network</a>, helped members of the U.S. military pursue conscientious objection discharges in Germany.</p><p>He worked with Rwandan refugees as the Eastern Congo coordinator with MCC.</p><p>He sat with militia commanders to discuss conflict over cups of tea as part of a program that persuaded roughly 1,600 fighters to lay down their weapons.</p><p>Then, he and his U.N. colleague, Zaida Catalán of Sweden, were kidnapped and fatally shot while investigating human rights abuses and sanctions violations in Kasaï-Central Province.</p><p>"He ended up losing his life," King said. "At the time — and it's still true — this was as close as a   Mennonite might get to the knock on the door that a lot of military families experience."</p><p>King hit the road in 2017 to interview people who had been close to Sharp. His travels took him from Indiana to Kansas, New Mexico, Canada and, ultimately, to Europe, where he spent time with Catalán's family in Sweden.</p><p>"I stayed in a room that was his in Bammental," said King, speaking of Sharp's Germany placement with the Military Counseling Network, a project of the German Mennonite Peace Committee. "I wanted to go to Congo, but then, there was election unrest, then Ebola, then COVID-19, so I never went there. And there were different opinions on if I could safely go to report on this story."</p><p>King was impressed by the number of people around the world who had stories to share about Sharp's impact on their lives.</p><p>"I've read the press clips, and there's a lot in this book that has not been reported on MJ Sharp," King said. "One of the things I worked to do in the book was to put MJ into context. Where would MJ sit with addressing the question of whether he was a martyr? Whether MJ was a hero?"</p><p>"Using what people told me about him, [I worked] to put him into the contexts of historic Anabaptism and Mennonites in the 21st century, as well as the larger human tale of how we live our lives in a divided world."<br></p>
Mennonite women in Congo spread the gospel through literacyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4656/Mennonite-women-in-Congo-spread-the-gospel-through-literacyMennonite women in Congo spread the gospel through literacyBy Adolphine Tshiama<p><em>Mennonite women in Congo have received training to be literacy trainers to help people read the Bible. They have worked tirelessly with the resources they have and invite the assistance of their North American brothers and sisters.</em></p><p>About eight years ago, Congolese Mennonite women church leaders came to the bitter realization that many people in the three Mennonite denominations in Congo were not able to read. </p><p>Guided by the Holy Spirit, we formulated a response to this unfortunate situation: <em>Programme Mennonite d'Alphabétisation comme Moyen d'Évangélisation</em> (Mennonite Evangelization through Literacy Program). We chose three women to take leadership — one from each denomination: Marie Fumana, from <em>Communauté des Eglises de Frères Mennonites au Congo</em> (Community of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Congo); Hélène José Mbombo, from <em>Communauté Evangélique Mennonite</em> (Evangelical Mennonite Church); and me, Adolphine Tshiama, from <em>Communauté Mennonite au Congo </em>(Congo Mennonite Church). </p><p>It took three years for this project to get funding. Finally, at the <a href="https://www.aimmint.org/">Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission</a> (AIMM) board of directors' meeting held in Tshikapa, Congo, in 2016, our project was approved. [Mennonite Mission Network partners with AIMM to support this project.] In April 2017, we had our first training as andragogues — adult educators using learner-centered methods —<em> </em>with Timothée Sila in Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo. </p><p>During the next two years, we held four more "training-of-trainer" sessions in different regions of Congo — Kikwit, Mbuji-Mayi, Tshikapa and Ituri. We were given blackboards, chalk, megaphones, cameras (to illustrate our reports) and primers, and we went to work. We rode motorcycles across long distances and endured many hardships. There wasn't a lazy person among us. We were encouraged by the praise we received from people who learned to read through our ministry. Watch Hélène, role-playing a learner, and me demonstrating the work of an andragogue. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-ySgi0lEMsA" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><h4>Adolphine Tshiama and Hélène José Mbombo demonstrate a learner-centered approach to literacy training. Video by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen.<br></h4><p>By October 2019, we had trained <a href="/news/4072/Literacy-and-healing-in-Congo" target="_blank">200 trainers, and more than 3,000 people had learned to read</a>. I personally trained 23 trainers in the six months between October 2019 and the government shut-down, in March 2020, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. </p><p>We are so aware of God's grace in our country. There are no social, economic or scientific explanations that can account for why Congo has been spared in this pandemic. <a href="/blog/4330/Congolese-literacy-leaders-stand-in-solidarity-with-USA-during-COVID-19" target="_blank">We continue to pray for you, our brothers and sisters in North America.</a></p><p>Recently, I picked up my literacy work again, adding masks and hand-sanitizers to the materials I carry. From September 26 – October 6, 2021, I traveled thousands of miles by motorbike and visited 24 different teaching sites. This is difficult and tiring work, but I do it for the Lord and to encourage and help my people.</p><p>Marie Fumana, Hélène José Mbombo and I have put ourselves into the Lord's hands, so that this evangelization through literacy can move forward in peace, even though the areas we are trying to cover are so vast and travel is so strenuous.</p><p>Our work would be much easier if we had: </p><ul><li>Our own motorbikes. When we rent them, their owners always try to make a profit of off us, which takes money away from our program.</li><li>Some remuneration for our work, as we must leave our families and our income-generating projects for weeks when we go on these trips. </li><li>More trainers, because the need for literacy-training is so great. But it hard to find people who are willing to do this work without compensation.</li><li>Bibles. We like to give Bibles to those who have learned to read.<br></li></ul><div><span style="font-size:22.4px;"><br></span></div><p>To contribute toward these requests, <a href="https://secure.myvanco.com/L-Z279/campaign/C-11SEW">donate</a> and write Congo Evangelization through Literacy in the space for special designation.</p><p>We express our gratitude to our brothers and sisters in North America and to our church authorities for all they have done to promote the Evangelization through Literary program. We give special thanks to <a href="/news/3903/Women’s-literacy-grows-churches,-communities">Nancy Myers</a>, who has made five trips to Congo to encourage the Mennonite women here and our efforts to help our people read God's word.</p><p>We cannot grow tired of working for God during our time on this earth, because we will have to give an account to our Lord. Matthew 24:13-14 tells us, "[T]he one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (NIV).<br></p>
Service illuminates good in the worldhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4655/Service-illuminates-good-in-the-worldService illuminates good in the worldBy Zaden Issah <p><em>Zaden Issah is a participant with the 2021-2022 Anchorage Service Adventure unit. To learn more about Service Adventure, a program of Mennonite Mission Network, </em><a href="/Serve/Service%20Adventure"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p> When I first decided to participate in Service Adventure, I wanted to serve somewhere as different from where I grew up as was possible. That decision led me to Anchorage, Alaska. As time went on, I was glad to see that there were many differences in Anchorage from what I had experienced at home, in Iowa. Anchorage is a much larger city than I was accustomed to. I could see mountains in the distance, which differed greatly from the near constant flatness of my home. And the ocean is not far from where I am, unlike my land-locked home community. I received everything I had hoped for in regards to my change of setting. However, more than any of the changes I have experienced since arriving here, I was most surprised by how similar the people here are to those in my home community. </p><p>My job placement at <a href="https://www.lssalaska.org/">Lutheran Social Services</a> allows me to meet a lot of people each day, both while working in the office for our direct assistance program and while working downstairs in the food pantry, handing out boxes of food to those in need. During my time here, I've found myself taken aback by the fact that people were almost universally kind and understanding. They would thank me, talk to me about their day, and ask how they could not only support themselves but others, as well. This spirit of positivity and hopefulness was reminiscent of what I've experienced while volunteering at organizations in Iowa City. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but it hit me that of all the differences I had noticed, the thing that stayed the same was the people.</p><p>While I've gotten to meet a lot of people in need through my work here, I've also met people who are in stable positions and who donate to organizations like Lutheran Social Services. Part of my job is writing thank-you letters to those who donate food, time or money. It was one thing to write peoples' names on letters, but it was another thing to meet those people at an event, where they were volunteering and giving up their time, because they believed in the work we are doing. Seeing people doing good in the world has really lifted my spirits. Looking at the news, it can feel like things are falling apart and there isn't anything we can do to make things better. Yet, in only a few months of working here it's become clear to me that, even if that is how things appear, we shouldn't do nothing. There are things that we can do to help on some level. Maybe we won't solve huge systemic problems, but we can make someone's life a bit better.</p><p>So, as I go forward with the rest of my time with Service Adventure, I want to experience more. Looking at my life as a whole, I feel I lack experience in the real world, which is to be expected, since I only graduated high school in June 2021. But, by traveling, seeing new things and meeting new people, I hope to get a better idea of the world, where I fit in it, and what I can do to continue to serve not only in my local community but the community of the world. <br></p>



Lessons I’ve learned from my catshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4738/Lessons-Ive-learned-from-my-catsLessons I’ve learned from my catsBy Cynthia Friesen Coyle
Tension is essential for lifehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4730/Tension-is-essential-for-lifeTension is essential for lifeBy Naomi TiceGP0|#5b6e705f-0058-4334-9acc-0b6703eb027a;L0|#05b6e705f-0058-4334-9acc-0b6703eb027a|Germany;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e1c6021e-2f25-46dc-91a1-be34789acdf9;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
'Women and Peace' project creates sacred space for peacebuilders of faithhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4720/Women-and-Peace-project-creates-sacred-space-for-peacebuilders-of-faith'Women and Peace' project creates sacred space for peacebuilders of faithBy Rebekah YorkGP0|#215104c0-7bd6-48c3-aa5f-6d0db80b4f5c;L0|#0215104c0-7bd6-48c3-aa5f-6d0db80b4f5c|Colombia;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e2a61412-b024-41d7-adeb-1c4e0b790c03;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
God is in the City!https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4719/God-is-in-the-CityGod is in the City!By 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
Juneteenth acknowledges freedom delayedhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4716/Juneteenth-acknowledges-freedom-delayedJuneteenth acknowledges freedom delayedBy Ben TapperGP0|#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
I bike for world peace, personal shalom — and because I love bikinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4712/I-bike-for-world-peace-personal-shalom-and-because-I-love-bikingI bike for world peace, personal shalom — and because I love bikingBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Reflections on the Sent Conferencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4709/Reflections-on-the-Sent-ConferenceReflections on the Sent ConferenceBy Naun Cerrato
God laughshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4696/God-laughsGod laughsBy Josh Garber
Like Jesus, 'Juan' Driver encouraged women in ministryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4685/Like-Jesus-Juan-Driver-encouraged-women-in-ministry-Like Jesus, 'Juan' Driver encouraged women in ministryBy Olga PiedrasantaGP0|#2a27b1dc-8def-4ad2-909d-1fe815e70829;L0|#02a27b1dc-8def-4ad2-909d-1fe815e70829|Guatemala;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e2a61412-b024-41d7-adeb-1c4e0b790c03;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
While celebrating Lord’s supper, Ukrainian church leader identifies with people’s painhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4679/While-celebrating-Lord’s-supper-Ukrainian-church-leader-identifies-with-people’s-painWhile celebrating Lord’s supper, Ukrainian church leader identifies with people’s painBy Oleksandr GeychenkoGP0|#31ea5fc9-e960-4669-943f-a7a484a3ac1e;L0|#031ea5fc9-e960-4669-943f-a7a484a3ac1e|Ukraine;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e1c6021e-2f25-46dc-91a1-be34789acdf9;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf