KANSAS CITY (Mennonite Mission Network) – Marlene Kroeker, one of the moderators for the ‘Get Ready, Get Set for Service!’ seminar, eyed the attendees with a gentle smile. “Raise your hand if you’re absolutely, 100 percent sure you’re going to serve someday, somewhere.”
A few tentative hands filtered above the audience.
“Raise your hand if you’re just thinking about it.”
“Raise your hand if you have served somewhere.”
Most of the remaining hands in the audience rose up.
“We want this to be a time for you to ask the questions,” she said. “If you’re considering service, what are you struggling with? What do you want to know more about?”
Kroeker, along with Sherrie Ober, Sharon Norton, and Jean Sensenig led the seminar ‘Get ready, get set for service!’ on Friday, July 5, 2019, as part of the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City. The panel of current and past service workers was made up of Ellen Lapp, who served with Eastern Mennonite Missions in Zanzibar, Dona Park, who served with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia, Jerrell Ross Richer, who currently serves with Mennonite Mission Network in Ecuador, and Jes Stoltzfus Buller, who served with Mennonite Central Committee in Colombia.
“If you’re feeling interested in service, just go for it,” said Jerrell Ross Richer. “Most of the preparation will happen when you’re actually there.” Jerrell, along with his wife Jane, and their family work half the year with indigenous church leaders in the Ecuadorian rain forest, and half the year as educators in the United States.
The panel of four service alumni fielded questions about preparation, traveling with children, program orientation, finances and how to interpret a call from God to serve.
“I personally am only here because 40 years ago someone from Mennonite Disaster Service fixed my grandparents’ home,” said audience member Andrew Mashas at the end of the seminar. “I am sitting here because someone had that call.” Mashas is the Church Relations and Development Coordinator for Eastern Mennonite Missions. “You really have no idea what kind of lasting impact you can have.”