By Mennonite Mission Network staff
Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Every organization has a purpose; an answer to the deceptively simple question, "Why?" At Mennonite Mission Network, that "why?" is to lead, mobilize and equip the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ — across the street, all through the marketplaces and around the world.

In this Q&A series, Mission Network asks staff members to think about the role they play in the agency, and how they see their daily work joining into what God is doing around the world.

In this installment, Joe Sawatzky reflects on his role as Training and Resources Facilitator.

 

What brought you to your role with Mennonite Mission Network?

There are many layers to this answer, beginning with the influences throughout my life that have formed me into someone committed to Jesus Christ and his mission through the church. In short, after I graduated with an MDiv, concentration in mission, from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), my wife Anna and I with our young family embarked on what turned out to be an eight-year sojourn in South Africa through Mission Network. In that context, I enjoyed learning firsthand about Christianity on the African continent while working as a Bible and theology teacher. Eventually, that experience turned into the subject of my PhD dissertation, which was published in 2023 as Toward an Anabaptist-Pentecostal Vision. But, backing up, after relocating to the United States from South Africa, I began working in Church Relations for Mission Network, in 2015. I've been with Mission Network ever since, though my role has shifted to focus more on mission education and working with AMBS in its global Anabaptist education programs and as an adjunct professor.

 

What is your favorite part of your role with Mission Network?

My favorite part of my role is getting to study, proclaim, and teach the Bible, in churches where I've been invited to speak, in the classroom, in both U.S. and international contexts. I also enjoy connecting people for a common purpose. I enjoy making friends throughout the church, and I enjoy my colleagues at Mission Network and AMBS.

 

How has your perspective on your role with Mission Network changed over your time with the agency?

Perhaps the answer is that my perspective on my role has not changed that dramatically over my years at Mission Network. Whether in one official role or another, I still want to live out the call to be a channel of God's blessing to all people and nations (Gen 12:1-3).


How do you view your role with Mission Network fitting into God's mission for the church?

Reflecting on my influences in the church and in mission, I can say that I have "a goodly heritage" that I want to extend to the next generation (Psalm 16:6 NRSV). That heritage has something to do with expressing the unity of the faith across the myriad cultures where it lives, and Mission Network is that space within my particular denominational tradition where those relationships, born in mission, are tended and extended. My convictions, training, and experiences have made me a purveyor of that global connectedness, and I'm glad to play my part in the work of "equipping the saints for ministry" (Eph 4:12).  


What is something that has surprised you about your role with Mission Network?

In my travels, contacts, and relationships internationally, I have encountered a consistent appreciation for "the missionaries" sent by Mission Network and its predecessor agencies. On the one hand, given my own respect for the integrity of many such people whom I have known, this is not surprising. On the other hand, given the overall societal suspicion, for reasons also valid, of mission "from the west to the rest," the consistency and tenderness of these testimonies from the majority world does surprise — and inspire. This is not to say that another narrative does not exist, but it is to caution against the dominance of a single story about mission.

 

 

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https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5074/Here-with-purpose-Joe-Sawatzky

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