Rebekah Paulson
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Among wooden obstacles, basketball rims and weight machines there are echoes of Christian witness.

In Washington state and Northern Ireland, respectively, Kevin Nickel and Melissa Law work through Mennonite Voluntary Service assignments in the field of health and fitness, guiding others through exercises of personal fitness and team building. Using their employment, they build relationships in ways that can witness to their faith.

“You might picture us as a barber or other random person that people find themselves telling the smallest details of their life to,” Nickel said.

As a personal trainer in Hillman City, Wash., Nickel works with members one-on-one as they strive for the common goal of personal fitness.

“One family, who has been coming to (Rainier Health and Fitness) for almost as long as I’ve been here, has really become involved with the gym. I have enjoyed many conversations with them including topics of religious beliefs, politics, and daily struggles; many of them ending with everyone laughing and having a good time,” said Nickel.

After an evening at the gym, the family invited Nickel and his wife, Yvette, to join them and some friends at their home for dinner. They had a wonderful evening with great food and conversation. He believes that many of the relationships built through his work become trusting bonds that provide the word of God to be appropriately communicated.

Rainier Health and Fitness, where Nickel serves through MVS, a program of Mennonite Mission Network, provides an affordable fitness center for those who could otherwise not afford it. Nickel believes the fitness center is helping to rebuild a positive image for this community.

Gym membership is offered on a sliding scale based on income. People who earn higher wages pay more, which allows those with lower earnings to pay less for the same service. The gym was placed in an area of low income among a strongly diversified community.

“Christ did not turn away any person seeking his help and was well-known for serving the poor and disadvantaged,” Nickel said. “I think RHF resembles this characteristic of our Lord.”

Law is a volunteer instructor at the YMCA in Greenhill, Northern Ireland. She works with youth on initiative activities to encourage team building. Some groups include Catholics and Protestants who have to put aside any difference or conflict they have and work together.

“I encourage and challenge, trying to push kids to step outside of their comfort zones and rely on each other to complete a task,” she said, “God, to me, is the ultimate bridge-builder, so this inspires me to help build those bridges between people of differing attitudes, experiences, cultures, faiths and worldviews.”

On the low-ropes course the youth experience the need for each other in a way they hoped never to face. One obstacle they might face is a wooden wall 20 feet high; their objective is to get everyone over it. Lifting and pushing each other up and over the wall until everyone is safe cannot be done without everyone’s cooperation and encouragement. If the Catholic and Protestant children refuse to communicate, they will not scale the wall. Success only comes when they are willing to break society’s boundaries between the two groups.

Law said one of the groups she worked with included a couple of students who stubbornly refused to participate in the activities. On their last night at the YMCA, she was walking beside one of these students. He said Law was a favorite instructor of his: she never gave up on him but kept trying to push him.

“God every once in a while finds a way to tell me that I at least am making an impression to just one [person],” Law said.

Both Nickel and Law have made efforts to build relationships that lead to personal growth and involve a spiritual connection. They continually attempt to provide an example of God’s unconditional love to those they work with.

Melissa Law of Lewisberry, Pa., is a graduate of Messiah College. Her home congregation is St. John's United Church of Christ in Denver, Pa. Kevin Nickel of Norman, Okla., is a Tabor College graduate and member of Tabor Mennonite Church in Goessel, Kan.

 

 

 Related

 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476La Casa Grande Benin
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersIndiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorLatin Americahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Quito
Indonesia Tour open for applicationsYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applicationsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Indonesia
The Ross Richers return to EcuadorReturn to Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4833/The-Ross-Richers-return-to-EcuadorThe Ross Richers return to EcuadorGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
The 2022 most popular resources at Mission NetworkResourceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4824/2022-most-popular-resourcesThe 2022 most popular resources at Mission NetworkGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Odesa Theological Seminary continues courses despite warOdesa Theological Seminaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4818/Odesa-Theological-Seminary-continues-courses-despite-warOdesa Theological Seminary continues courses despite warGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Odesa
Football league fundraiser is no fantasyCreative Givinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4777/Football-league-fundraiser-is-no-fantasyFootball league fundraiser is no fantasyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Kansas
Native Cinema Showcase 2022Native American Cinemahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4815/Native-Cinema-Showcase-2022Native Cinema Showcase 2022GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Washington, D.C.
Creating sacred space for peacebuilders of faithMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4806/Creating-sacred-space-for-peacebuilders-of-faithCreating sacred space for peacebuilders of faithGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
A windmill becomes a windfallCreative Givinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4816/A-windmill-becomes-a-windfallA windmill becomes a windfallGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission Network family joins in sacred space of hospitality for refugees in FranceMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4805/Mission-Network-family-joins-in-sacred-space-of-hospitality-for-refugees-in-FranceMission Network family joins in sacred space of hospitality for refugees in FranceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476CALAIS
Mennonites and Muslims create sacred space by responding to sufferingMISSION MONTHhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4804/Mennonites-and-Muslims-create-sacred-space-Mennonites and Muslims create sacred space by responding to sufferingGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476BOBO DIOULASSO
USA church leaders/mission personnel take deep dive into religious life in FranceParis Mennonite Centerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4802/USA-church-leaders-mission-personnel-take-deep-dive-into-religious-life-in-FranceUSA church leaders/mission personnel take deep dive into religious life in FranceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Paris
Deborah Byler helped open the way for Kekchi Mennonite women to leadLatin Americahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/features/4794/Deborah-Byler-helped-open-the-way-for-Kekchi-Mennonite-women-to-leadDeborah Byler helped open the way for Kekchi Mennonite women to leadGP0|#05a33fc1-6e8d-4626-9a24-6ec955fb3802;L0|#005a33fc1-6e8d-4626-9a24-6ec955fb3802|Features;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476;GPP|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1San Pedro Carchá

 

 

 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applications
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism matters
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuador
Indonesia Tour open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applications
The Ross Richers return to Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4833/The-Ross-Richers-return-to-EcuadorThe Ross Richers return to Ecuador
The 2022 most popular resources at Mission Networkhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4824/2022-most-popular-resourcesThe 2022 most popular resources at Mission Network



 

 

Youth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4838/Youth-Venture-Republic-of-Benin-TourYouth Venture Republic of Benin Tour is open for applicationsYouth Venture
Who Will Be A Witness? reexamines the revolution of Jesushttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4837/Who-Will-Be-A-WitnessWho Will Be A Witness? reexamines the revolution of JesusBook Review
Sent Conference 2023https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/church-vitality/church-planting/sent/conference/4836/Sent-Conference-2023Sent Conference 2023
Webinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4835/Webinar-continues-legacy-of-discerning-why-baptism-mattersWebinar continues legacy of discerning why baptism mattersIndia
Mission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in Ecuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4834/workshops-in-EcuadorMission Network facilitates workshops in faith, politics and reconciliation in EcuadorLatin America
Indonesia Tour open for applicationshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4832/Indonesia-tour-open-for-applicationsIndonesia Tour open for applicationsYouth Venture