​Jules Massamba and Sandy Miller talk together at Mission Network’s booth at Mennonite World Conference. Photo by Laurie Oswald Robinson​
By Laurie Oswald Robinson
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In July, Jules Massamba, pastor of Wholicare Community Missionary Church in Pasadena, California, was reminded that even if you take a man out of his homeland, you can’t take the homeland out of the man.​

 

 

​That insight blessed Massamba, a Congolese pastor, when he met fellow believers from Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time at the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) gathering July 21–26 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  

In the Congo, Massamba had heard of Anabaptists, but he was a Baptist pastor when he came to America and began a church. He and the church affiliated about six years ago with the Mennonites from Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference. 

“When I first got here, I asked whether there were others from the Congo, and soon, I had met 15 to 20 fellow believers from my homeland,” he said “It didn’t take us long to organize into a choir, and we sang together several times.” 

A witness to their bonding was Sandy Miller, director for Church Relations for Mennonite Mission Network. She is connecting with Massamba as part of Mission Network’s growing vision to strengthen its relationships with immigrant and Racial/Ethnic churches in the United States.  

“Sandy is a gift to me and my family, who were once strangers in a strange land,” he said. “The minute I first met her, I knew God had put her in my way. She has been a friend to my congregation.” 

“Mission Network strives to connect with the whole of God’s creation, at home and around the world,” Miller said. Recently, it’s been the “home” part of the equation that is inspiring Miller and her team to develop new initiatives.  

“We want to provide safe places for immigrant and Racial/Ethnic groups to discuss challenges and vision from the perspective of their contexts,” she said. “We want to hear what works and doesn’t work for them, and how we can better collaborate in fulfilling their dreams.” 

For example, Ann Jacobs, a member of Miller’s Church Relations team, took leadership in organizing a gathering in Elkhart, Indiana, for African American Mennonite congregations. Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary co-sponsored the event with Mennonite Mission Network, and John Powell, regional pastor for Indiana-Michigan Conference, served as facilitator.  

“Our ministry in these settings is to listen and to absorb the truth of people’s experiences,” Jacobs said. “When people know they are listened to, and genuinely heard, they gain a greater sense of identity and belonging, and they can better heal from the trauma of the past.”  

Because Pacific Southwest serves many immigrant congregations, it is especially grateful for Mission Network’s efforts, said Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, Pacific Southwest conference minister.  

“Many of our immigrant pastors don’t have strong connections to their own country, and are in various stages of understanding Anabaptism and Anabaptist values,” she said in a late July telephone interview.  

“I hope that the relationships Mission Network is facilitating with Pastor Massamba and others will help their congregations integrate more fully into Mennonite Church USA, become more active participants, and to be more at home here.”

Al Motley and his son, Alvin Motley II, receive communion from John Powell at the African American Mennonite pastors gathering. The father and son are bishop and youth pastor respectively at The Way Thru Christ Community Fellowship in Townsend, Delaware.​ Photo by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen

Click here to help make face-to-face conversations possible between immigrant leaders, Mission Network staff and area conference leaders.

 Related articles

 

 

Here with purpose: Karen HorsmanQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen HorsmanGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodBenin Bible Institutehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cotonou
Unwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peaceFaith in Sidihttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5029/Unwavering-faith-in-the-face-of-persecution-yields-harvest-of-peaceUnwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peaceGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Sidi
United in ChristTwo-Way Missionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5026/United-in-ChristUnited in ChristGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Zábalo Village
Here with purpose: Michael OyerBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5027/Here-with-purpose-Michael-OyerHere with purpose: Michael OyerGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Casa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La GuajiraBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5023/crisis-and-compassion-in-La-GuajiraCasa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La GuajiraGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476La Guajira
Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part two)12 days of servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5019/Counting-down-the-twelve-days-of-service-with-MVS-and-Service-Adventure-part-twoCounting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part two)GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Learning to praise GodAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5020/Learning-to-praise-GodLearning to praise GodGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
God’s logicAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5017/Gods-logicGod’s logicGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part one)12 Days of Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5018/Counting-down-the-twelve-days-of-service-with-MVS-and-Service-Adventure-part-1Counting down the twelve days of service with MVS and Service Adventure (part one)GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Gisselle GuityQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5016/Here-with-purpose-Gisselle-GuityHere with purpose: Gisselle GuityGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
We followers of Jesus not only gather to pray, but also to enjoy lifeAdvent Devotionalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5014/We-followers-of-JesusWe followers of Jesus not only gather to pray, but also to enjoy lifeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
A Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGod's gracehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5012/A-Congolese-pastor-overcomes-fear-of-preaching-in-remote-communitiesA Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Sara GuruléQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4990/Here-with-purpose-SaraHere with purpose: Sara GuruléGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Andi SantosoQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4995/Here-with-purpose-Andi-SantosoHere with purpose: Andi SantosoGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

​Laurie Oswald Robinson is a freelance writer living in Newton, Kansas.

 Related

 

 

Here with purpose: Karen Horsmanhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen Horsman
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of Godhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of God
Unwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peacehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5029/Unwavering-faith-in-the-face-of-persecution-yields-harvest-of-peaceUnwavering faith in the face of persecution yields harvest of peace
United in Christhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5026/United-in-ChristUnited in Christ
Here with purpose: Michael Oyerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5027/Here-with-purpose-Michael-OyerHere with purpose: Michael Oyer
Casa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La Guajirahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5023/crisis-and-compassion-in-La-GuajiraCasa del Abuelo: Navigating crisis and compassion in La Guajira



 

 

Mennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the samehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5040/Mennonite-medical-ministry-changing-in-TaiwanMennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the same
Here with purpose: Karen Horsmanhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen HorsmanQ&A
Service Adventure: Spread your wings!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5005/Service-Adventure-spread-your-wingsService Adventure: Spread your wings!Service Adventure
Benin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5038/Benin-Bible-Institute-renews-a-20-year-partnership-with-Indiana-congregationBenin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationBenin Bible Institute
Mission partnerships help each participant to experience more of Godhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5037/Mission-partnerships-help-each-participant-to-experience-more-of-GodMission partnerships help each participant to experience more of GodBenin Bible Institute
A family’s two-way mission unites them in Christ with brothers and sisters in Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5036/A-family-two-way-mission-unites-them-in-Christ-with-brothers-and-sisters-in-EcuadorA family’s two-way mission unites them in Christ with brothers and sisters in EcuadorCalling