CINCINATTI, Ohio (Mennonite Mission Network) – Even though it was in the first time slot on Wednesday morning, Eric Frey Martin had a quiz ready for youth attending the seminar, 'What You Do Next Matters.'
Frey Martin, recruiter and church relations representative for Mennonite Mission Network, listed off a number of "notable" people who had all graduated from either Bethel College (Kansas), Bluffton University (Ohio), Eastern Mennonite University (Virginia), Goshen College (Indiana), or Hesston College (Kansas). Jeff Timmons of the music group 98 Degrees. NFL coach Katie Sowers. Peace activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.
The question, Frey Martin asked, was which institution did each graduate from?
As college and university representatives handed out prizes for each correct answer, Frey Martin noted things that all the institutions, as well as Mennonite Mission Network, have in common.
"We have a particular perspective on faith," Frey Martin said. "We are seeking to follow in the footsteps of Christ."
Part of following in Christ's footsteps, he explained, is developing an attitude for service towards others. No matter who we grow up to be, we will serve what we desire, be it money, popularity, or even fear.
"The problem with all of these [goals] is we become servants to whatever it is that is our greatest ambition," Frey Martin said.
Instead, Frey Martin encouraged the attendees to seek a sense of shalom wherever they live. Shalom, the subject of Tuesday night's worship service, is both a greeting in Hebrew, as well as a sense of living in harmony and balance with the people and place that you find yourself surrounded by.
"This idea of shalom and us living into it is why we do service," Frey Martin said. "Through service we are seeking the kingdom of God and we are seeking this shalom."
Frey Martin shared his own experience with shalom while he and his wife were working in Colombia as mission workers with Mennonite Mission Network. During a candlelight vigil for victims of a bombing, the seaside breeze repeatedly blew the small candles out. Instead of becoming discouraged, the crowd worked together throughout the evening to keep every single candle lit by passing around and sharing the candle flames.
Frey Martin concluded the seminar by reminding the attendees that they can do good in the world no matter where they go or what they do, but Mennonite education and service opportunities are worth the second look.
"What I've experienced in my own life through these institutions is that they are distinctly equipped to help shape people to go out and seek the shalom of the places where they are at," he said. "And that the world is a better place because of the people who have come out from these institutions."