WALNUT CREEK, Ohio (Mennonite Mission Network) – With each cup of corn kernels poured into a glass bowl, audience members witnessed a visual illustration of what their commitment to mission in Mongolia had produced over the years – from just five known Christians in 1993 to more than 50,000 today!
The symbolic gesture was one of many key moments during the Mongolia Mission Partnership banquet on Oct. 19. More than 200 people gathered for the event at the Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek, Ohio. Among them were most of the past and recent mission workers who served in Mongolia over the past 20 years.
Laura Schlabach, who in 1993 became the first to be supported by the Ohio churches, traveled from Mongolia to attend the event. Schlabach joined the staff of JCS (Joint Christian Services) International, which provides service projects to people throughout Mongolia. The nongovernmental umbrella organization coordinates the ministries of mission agencies.
Mission Network’s Executive Director Stanley W. Green, and John F. Lapp, director for Asia and Middle East, presented Schlabach, the JCS representative for Bayanhongor, with a certificate of appreciation for her career-long service as an administrator.
“'We acknowledge that you have made a contribution that inspires all of us to give our lives to the cause of Jesus Christ,” Green said.
In keeping with the evening’s symbolism and celebratory mood, banquet co-hosts, Myron Weaver, pastor of Berlin Mennonite Church, and Dean Heisey, Church Relations associate with Mission Network, performed skits that included their contrasting attires. Weaver sported a plaid blue shirt and farmer’s overalls, while Heisey donned a tuxedo. The co-hosts honored the congregations, leadership team members, and all of the mission workers for their commitment.
“Together, these folks represent 61 years of service in Mongolia,” Weaver said of the mission workers as they stood before the audience and received applause. “Tonight we say thank you.”
Mission Network’s Work in Progress Ensemble led the gathering in a rendition of “Blessed Assurance” to honor the mission workers. Schlabach helped the audience say “Jesus loves me” in Mongolian – “Yeh-soos nahdud herte.”
Weaver concluded the banquet by leading participants in the pouring of kernels of corn into a glass bowl to represent the growth of the church in Mongolia.
More than 20 years ago, Mennonite Board of Missions (a predecessor agency of Mission Network) and Eastern Mennonite Missions began exploring ministry in Mongolia. Meanwhile, the Ohio churches were seeking ways to work together more closely.
The Mongolia Mission Partnership provides church members with hands-on experience to overseas mission. In addition to offering financial support and prayer, 51 members of the six remaining supporting Ohio congregations have visited Mongolia to foster relationships and to work on short-term projects.
For more stories and information about the Mongolia Mission Partnership, check out the October issue of Beyond Ourselves.
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Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, leads, mobilizes and equips the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in a broken world. Media may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.