Teachers in Spain learn advanced lessons in trusting GodBack to schoolhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Teachers-in-Spain-learn-advanced-lessons-in-trusting-GodTeachers in Spain learn advanced lessons in trusting GodBy Brian Fox

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John Lewis made me feel like an honored guestJohn Lewis memoryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Honored-guestJohn Lewis made me feel like an honored guestBy Wil LaVeist
Learning that another world is possibleBack to School in Benin https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Learning-that-another-world-is-possibleLearning that another world is possibleBy Diana Cruz
Losing control to a camping critterGiving https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Losing-control-to-a-camping-critterLosing control to a camping critterBy Laurie Oswald Robinson
Me, Myselfie, and I: Thoughts on International Selfie DayInternational Selfie Dayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Me-Myselfie-and-I-Thoughts-on-International-Selfie-DayMe, Myselfie, and I: Thoughts on International Selfie DayBy Josh Garber
Warm Masculinity: Faith and Father’s DayFather's Day reflection https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Warm-Masculinity-Faith-and-Father’s-DayWarm Masculinity: Faith and Father’s DayBy Joe Sawatzky
Out of our pews and into the painDismantling systemic racism https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Out-of-our-pews-and-into-the-pain-Out of our pews and into the painBy Ann Jacobs

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Defying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peacehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Defying-gusts-of-pain-by-lighting-candles-of-peaceDefying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peaceBy Eric Frey Martin <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">n early 2019, a car bomber drove into a police academy in </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Bogotá</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, Colombia, killing 22 and injuring 68. Neither the culprit, nor the purpose, were identified. The country had just begun to emerge from 60-plus years of civil war, so this act was a reminder that full peace had not been achieved. Would these acts of violence become common again in a country that had begun to hope for a more peaceful future?</span></p><p>The day after the bombing, my wife, Kelly, and I (serving with Mennonite Mission Network at that time in Colombia) were in the city of Riohacha, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is the location of a Mennonite church that sponsors a ministry that houses elderly adults and where 45 Venezuelan refugees sleep each night. The church owns another site where 1,200 people are fed each day in a ministry coordinated by the Red Cross and World Hunger Project. </p><p>Over the past several years in Venezuela, corrupt power, inflation, and a struggling economy mark life for millions of Venezuelans. As a result, more than 2 million Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia to better provide for themselves and their families. The new immigrants find a mix of empathy and fear. Colombians know well what it is to be displaced by war and economic factors, but they do not want jobs and opportunities to be taken away from them. </p><p>This unrest and struggle formed the back story to the bombing in Bogotá. Across the country that evening, citizens held vigils in their city's central plaza to remember the bomb victims, and we joined a vigil in Riohacha. After a short prayer service in the Catholic church, we moved to the outdoor plaza. It's where a dove with an olive branch in its mouth (strikingly similar to Mennonite Mission Network's logo) was painted on the ground. We lit each other's candles and placed them on the outline of the dove. </p><p>It soon became clear that our attempts at showing solidarity for peace would be a struggle. A constant breeze wafting from the nearby ocean kept blowing out our candles. A little Venezuelan boy quickly tried to relight the flames with the few candles that were still lit. Soon, his dad, several other Venezuelan refugees, and people in the crowd joined him. Just as soon as we relit some flames, wind gusts blew several other flames out again. The comedy transformed the somber mood into joy as people smiled and laughed. The job of keeping candles lit became a labor of love. We did not want another thing to die too quickly. </p><p>The Venezuelans were the first to attempt relighting the peace candles. They probably did not feel the tension about the bombs as acutely as did the Colombians. On the other hand, perhaps they more deeply felt the interconnection between their suffering and that of their neighbors. They modeled how flames that signify love, compassion and solidarity can be transferred to others without extinguishing our own. </p><p>This time of pandemic-induced uncertainty and anxiety is deepening our sense that we are not islands unto ourselves. Rather, we are intertwined in a web of human connection and interaction. Yes, we are forced to be physically distant from one another, but we do not need to remain distant with our thoughts, prayers and compassion.</p><p> As more choices about interactions are opened to us, may we continue to embrace how our neighbor's health and well-being also affects our own. May we better envision how God's work in the world extends beyond ourselves to include all of creation. May we tirelessly light candles of peace that winds of injustice, suffering and pain cannot extinguish.   <br></p>
Finding joyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Finding-joyFinding joyBy Josh Garber<p>I was 14 years old when I went with my father to visit Haiti where he had served as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. While there, my understanding of the world shifted. I began to wrestle with the excesses I saw in my life and church community. The seeds were planted for the <a href="http://worthwhileadventures.org/">Worthwhile Adventure</a> that Alisha and I have been on for nearly 10 years.</p><p>In February, Mennonite Mission Network offered me the opportunity to film a project at <a href="http://www.casagrandebenin.org/"><em>La Casa Grande</em>,</a> a children's home in Benin. This small West African country has historical ties to Haiti and the slave trade. Of course, I accepted.</p><p>Despite the professional nature of the visit, my experience quickly became very personal and meaningful. The many similarities to my time in Haiti touched me on a deep level where earlier memories live, while my adult eyes saw things more profoundly. For one, it was a great reminder that joy and physical poverty are not directly connected. I noticed that despite the relatively poor surroundings, the Christians I spent time with were straight up joyful!<br></p><p>Beninese church communities with little earthly wealth overflowed with jubilation. This stood out to me because <em>Comunidad Evangélica Menonita</em>, our community in Barcelona, has much more wealth by comparison. And yet, the effusive joy I experienced in Benin does not as readily bubble up in our Barcelona context. </p><p>I started reading <a href="http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=449818144">Galatians 5</a>, which describes the Fruit of the Spirit, in hopes of finding a connection to what I experienced in Benin. To my surprise, I discovered the passage's context is a direct response to a community and their relationship with the law. Legalism.</p><p><em> </em></p><p><em>"So, Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you." Galatians 5:1-2 (NLT)</em></p><p>The law was created to help Jewish folks understand how to honor God and to unite them as a people. However, at some point, serving the law became synonymous with serving God. Jesus repeatedly rejected this tendency with his teachings about "<em>You have heard it said ____, but I tell you ____.</em>" </p><p>In <a href="http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=449814492">Galatians 5:13-15</a>, Paul observes that when legalism becomes a community's focus, it can tend to lead to the "biting and devouring of one another." This is ironic considering how the law exists to support one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."</p><p>The author continues <a href="http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=449815032">in verses 22-26</a> to give the solution. Instead of looking to the law to guide our lives, we consult the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we are marked by the production of what Paul describes as fruit: <em>love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control</em>.</p><p>"There is no law against these things!"</p><p>The Beninese Christians I met wrapped Anabaptist theology in a Pentecostal understanding of how we encounter and interact with God. They seemed attuned to how the Holy Spirit is moving and prepared to respond boldly when necessary.</p><p>In many European and North American churches, we tend to become most passionate and opinionated when discussing issues regarding governing statutes and finances. Those things are not unimportant. But when we spend more time talking about the systems that give structure to our community than talking about where the Holy Spirit is guiding us (and how to respond), the focus has shifted.</p><p>How can churches in Europe and North America embrace the joy I witnessed in Benin, the joy of serving God and walking with Christ?</p><p>A good place to start is to answer these questions individually and communally: Where do I/we find our joy? What keeps me/us from feeling joy? Can I/we name specific things and address them?<br></p>
Gospel accompaniment, empowerment increase social capitalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Gospel-accompaniment,-empowerment-increase-social-capitalGospel accompaniment, empowerment increase social capitalBy Peter Wigginton <p><em>Peter Wigginton serves with his wife, Delicia Bravo, as Ecuador partnership coordinators while also sharing his gifts in music, education, and church development with Ecuadorian partners. </em></p><p><a href="https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/january-february/world-missionaries-made.html">In a 2014 article in <em>Christianity Today,</em></a> Andrea Palpant Dilley revisits a doctoral dissertation and research by Robert Woodberry. Woodberry does statistical analysis on the history of Protestant missions. He concludes that some countries became democratic especially because of the work of conversionary Protestant missionaries. On the contrary, other countries became dictatorships, or theocracies. Woodberry asserts that the work of these Protestant missionaries is key to how nations developed. The main premise for this, according to Woodberry, is that Protestant missionaries were usually not connected with any government. Instead, in many cases, the missionaries pushed against government authoritarianisms. Also, Protestant missions highly prioritized literacy and education in their missional work. </p><p>In the past couple decades, criticism has arisen toward former Protestant and Catholic missionaries. Many times, missionaries infused the gospel message with a colonial flavor. Yet Anabaptist ideas of mission have often differed from this practice, a subject discussed by myself and Julián Guamán, indigenous Mennonite church leader and scholar, during a podcast of <a href="https://themennonite.org/the-latest/merienda-menonita-podcast/"><em>Merienda Menonita</em></a>. We dialogued about how Anabaptist ideas of mission have often differed from other types of church missions. Guamán pointed out that many missions have come from the perspective of Jesus Christ bringing "civilization." Whereas the Mennonite Church mission focused on accompaniment — "that we are brothers and sisters in the same way or path to God."</p><p>Also discussed was the ministry of Henry Klassen, an Anabaptist missionary who worked with Gospel Missionary Union in central Ecuador 1953-1993. Guamán said he didn't believe a connection exists between Klassen's work and the indigenous national uprising in the 1990s in Ecuador. However, he does believe that Klassen's work in the central part of the country that has an indigenous majority established more social historical awareness; this led to greater social capital. For example, Klassen established schools, an evangelical indigenous church association and other projects. His initiatives sparked indigenous communities to support one another in new ways that shone lights on oppressive systems. Years later, these indigenous people joined other sectors in the large indigenous protests that overturned several national governments. These protests sparked repercussions in the indigenous uprising of 2019.</p><p>We continue to focus our work in Ecuador with this Anabaptist sense of accompaniment and empowerment. We walk alongside our brothers and sisters in the indigenous and Spanish-speaking churches. We are building bridges by strengthening social connections and relationships. We strive to make sure the revolutionary message of Christ shines through in cases where free nations have flourished, and in places where justice might still be lacking.<br></p>
Reflections on Holy Weekhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Reflections-on-Holy-WeekReflections on Holy WeekBy Joshua Garber <p>​<strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Reflection 1 — Palm Sunday:</strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> Today, Christ rides into a city as royalty, only to be murdered less than a week later, and finally resurrected the following Sunday. The significance of Christ riding a donkey should not be overlooked. Whereas most royalty would choose to sit atop a powerful warhorse, Jesus challenges the notions of what a Savior looks like — a life-long theme that intensifies dramatically in the days before his crucifixion.</span></p><p>I rejoice in the coming of a Savior who could never sit on an earthly throne.</p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="http://andrewmulenga.blogspot.com/2012/09/njase-girls-hidden-artistic-treasures.html"><em>Triumphal Entry (1969), Emmanuel Nsama</em></a><em>, mural in the chapel at Njase Girls Secondary School, Choma, Zambia; </em><a href="https://www.greenlanegallery.com/artworks/donkey-ii/"><em>Donkey II - Michael Flaherty</em></a><em>]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 2 </strong><strong>— Purifying the temple:</strong> Today, we stand with Jesus in the temple and are filled with righteous rage at the systems we allow to marginalize many for the benefit of a few. Jesus challenges the notion of docile peacemaking by ejecting those who profited off worshipers who wanted to be near God. With a whip, Jesus scatters the tools of injustice.</p><p>By attacking the pocketbooks of those with power, Christ solidified his death sentence. May we, too, have the courage to not only call out the barriers in this world that keep people from God, but to act.</p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="https://www.wikiart.org/en/luca-giordano/expulsion-of-the-moneychangers-from-the-temple-1675"><em>Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple (1675)</em></a><em>, Luca Giordano, public domain]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 3 </strong><strong>— God, not Caesar: </strong>Often, it's suggested that Jesus saying, "Render what is Caesar's unto Caesar," is a legitimization of earthly authority, but there is another way to see it. </p><p>Yes, Caesar owns money, but beyond that, what remains that <em>really</em> belongs to Caesar? Nothing. The rest belongs to God — our thoughts, actions and bodies. All of who we are belongs to God. In his last week, Jesus drew a small circle around the true authority of Empire. He tells us things like military action and oppressive party politics contrast with our commitments as God's people. </p><p>May we never lose track of the greater narrative and allow our ties to the powers and principalities of this world to encroach on that which belongs to God.</p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="https://dribbble.com/shots/5389613-Matthew-22-21"><em>Aaron Brink, Squamish, BC, Canada</em></a><em>]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 4 </strong><strong>— True worship: </strong>Today, we watch Christ strip away the complexities of religion. Those who were most threatened by Jesus tried to use the Jewish law to trap him with his own words. The law was created to help folks understand how to honor God, and it united them as a people. However, at some point, serving the law was viewed as equal to serving God.</p><p>Jesus reminds us that we are commanded to do just two things: love God and love our neighbors — everything else is commentary on what that might look like.</p><p>Let us never allow our church politics and legalism to steal our focus from what God most desires.</p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="https://sojo.net/interactive/painting-against-caste-violence-my-resistance"><em>Sri Lankan Artist and Priest Rev. Jebasingh Samuvel</em></a><em>]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 5 </strong><strong>— Maundy Thursday: </strong>Today, Maundy Thursday, Jesus carefully chooses the final words and actions he wants to stick with people before his murder. </p><p>His last words in the temple to the public place him in the center of God's story, declaring that we know God through him and that rejecting his words is rejecting God's words.</p><p>After leading the first Holy Communion and washing his students' feet (Judas included), Jesus tells them there's one more thing they must do: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13, NRSV)</p><p>May profoundly loving actions and words be what signals our presence to the world, reflecting Christ to all who see.</p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="https://www.anastasiscenter.org/churchempire-africa"><em>Ethiopian Christian icon of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples</em></a><em>, Betsy Porter, public domain; </em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg"><em>Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles</em></a><em>, Duccio di Buoninsegn, public domain]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 6 </strong><strong>— Good Friday</strong>: Today, we ponder disruption as Jesus does some of his most important preaching during this final week. He challenges military might as a legitimate measure of authority by arriving on a donkey. He exorcised the marketplace and capitalism from the House of God. He exposed the limits to the power of Empire by relegating it just to money. He declared those who bear his name must be able to be recognized by their love. </p><p>Why was this the week Jesus was finally executed? He directly challenged capitalism, earthly power structures, and institutional religion — some of the most powerful things created by humankind.</p><p>He loves, heals, and gives people hope. This is why Jesus — God made flesh — was murdered on Good Friday. The only thing "good" about Good Friday is that's not how the story ends.</p><p>May we not separate the cross from the values and teachings of the man hanging there. </p><p><em>[image: </em><a href="https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/54.1974/"><em>Crucifixion</em></a><em>, 1957, Roy de Maistre; </em><a href="http://auctions.emovieposter.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=5340994"><em>Crucificion</em></a><em>, South African artist Lindiwe Mvemve, 1977; </em><a href="http://sandymaudlin.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-cost.html"><em>The Cost</em></a><em>, Sandy Maudlin, 2019]</em></p><p><strong>Reflection 7 </strong><strong>— Darkness</strong>: Today, we stand in darkness as Jesus lies in the grave. <em>Kyrie Eleison</em> (Lord, have mercy).</p><p><strong>Reflection 8 </strong><strong>— Easter</strong>: Jesus is risen! Love gets the last word during Holy Week. Death is not the end of the story. If the cross represents all the hatred we are capable of, then the resurrection represents Jesus trumping that hatred with love.</p><p>"In the end, this is a resurrection story. Holy week is about a God who suffers with us — bleeds with us, cries with us, hopes with us," writes <a href="https://www.redletterchristians.org/holy-week-in-an-unholy-world/">Shane Claiborne.</a> "There is a movement happening — and this movement is about life. We've had enough death. The tomb is empty. Love has triumphed. He is risen! Hallelujah!"<br></p>
Alumni Voices - Jenna Baldwinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices-Jenna-BaldwinAlumni Voices - Jenna BaldwinAlumni Voices story by Jenna Baldwin<p>​Jenna Baldwin served as a Service Adventure participant with the 2018-2019 Colorado Springs, Colorado unit. For her alumni story, Jenna described what her greatest challenge was during her time of service, how music influenced her over her service term, what advice she would tell her past self, and more! Recorded at the Mennonite Mission Network Alumni Stories Recording Booth at the 2019 MCUSA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. <br></p>
Alumni Voices - Maria Martinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Maria-MartinAlumni Voices - Maria MartinAlumni Voices story by Maria Martin<p>​Maria Martin served as a Service Adventure participant with the 2009-2010 Albany, Oregon unit. For her alumni story, Maria described a story that stayed with her from her service experience. Recorded at the Mennonite Mission Network Alumni Stories Recording Booth at the 2019 MCUSA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. <br></p>

 

 

Teachers in Spain learn advanced lessons in trusting Godhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Teachers-in-Spain-learn-advanced-lessons-in-trusting-GodTeachers in Spain learn advanced lessons in trusting GodBy Brian FoxGP0|#89822f84-696e-4f7a-bc14-837545952bea;L0|#089822f84-696e-4f7a-bc14-837545952bea|Spain;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e1c6021e-2f25-46dc-91a1-be34789acdf9;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
John Lewis made me feel like an honored guesthttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Honored-guestJohn Lewis made me feel like an honored guestBy Wil LaVeist 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
Learning that another world is possiblehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Learning-that-another-world-is-possibleLearning that another world is possibleBy Diana Cruz GP0|#53f671dc-6b11-4308-ab01-f8c0f7df8786;L0|#053f671dc-6b11-4308-ab01-f8c0f7df8786|Benin;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#4d0e08ea-d1a0-4141-9eba-431183992152;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Losing control to a camping critterhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Losing-control-to-a-camping-critterLosing control to a camping critterBy 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
Me, Myselfie, and I: Thoughts on International Selfie Dayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Me-Myselfie-and-I-Thoughts-on-International-Selfie-DayMe, Myselfie, and I: Thoughts on International Selfie DayBy Josh GarberGP0|#e284ba0e-faee-49c7-b590-84141094dd09;L0|#0e284ba0e-faee-49c7-b590-84141094dd09|Catalonia-Spain;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#e1c6021e-2f25-46dc-91a1-be34789acdf9;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebf
Warm Masculinity: Faith and Father’s Dayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Warm-Masculinity-Faith-and-Father’s-DayWarm Masculinity: Faith and Father’s DayBy Joe Sawatzky
Out of our pews and into the painhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Out-of-our-pews-and-into-the-pain-Out of our pews and into the painBy 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
Breathe on us, breath of God: a lament for George Floydhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Breathe-on-us,-breath-of-God-a-lament-for-George-FloydBreathe on us, breath of God: a lament for George FloydBy Joe Sawatzky
Yet I will rejoice! concert explores identity through musichttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Yet-I-will-rejoice-concert-explores-identity-through-musicYet I will rejoice! concert explores identity through musicBy Lynda Hollinger-JanzenGP0|#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
Defying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peacehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Defying-gusts-of-pain-by-lighting-candles-of-peaceDefying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peaceBy Eric Frey Martin GP0|#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