Investing locallyAugust 2018GP0|#c82282c9-ac80-45f6-8913-587c567bdd34;L0|#0c82282c9-ac80-45f6-8913-587c567bdd34|Extending Beyond;GTSet|#bb9274b4-45fe-43f1-8b69-3df0b933cdb0;GPP|#a82c2124-212e-4f7a-b626-9a0c5a3534c2;GPP|#96e4d92c-656e-45f6-9cd5-ab8aed108e3c Beyond/455/Investing locallyInvesting locallyExtending BeyondBy Stanley W. Green



<p>Around the world, Mennonite Mission Network is committed to identify, invest in, and encourage leaders so that they become agents to discern and implement their church's vision for ministry in their context. The approach we use has integrity and respects and empowers our partners. Our workers do not manage or lead ministry programs long-term. Instead, from the very outset, we seek to discover Spirit-led leaders and support them to develop their gifts and capacities. </p><p>When Anna and Joe Sawatzky responded to God's call to go to South Africa as mission workers, they wanted to make a lasting difference. They worked alongside African church leaders in the Eastern Cape Province at Bethany Bible School. Anna and Joe gave leadership to this Bible school, a Xhosa-speaking ministry for African-Initiated Churches. Bethany opened its doors in 1982, when Mennonites accepted an invitation from the Transkei Council of Churches. </p><p>Reuben Mgodeli, a student at the time, said the Sawatzky family's "lifestyle affected so many people." He mentioned their humility and their love for God's people. "They even ate with us, and danced with us …(so) we gave them Xhosa names, <em>Luxolo</em> [Father of Peace] and <em>Noxolo</em> [Mother of Peace]. Those names show that they were people of peace." </p><p>Anna and Joe did much more than eat, dance, and identify deeply with the people they came to serve. Thompson Adonis, the late archbishop of the Reformed Church of Christ, commended Anna and Joe for continuing in the footsteps of their predecessors. "Mennonites emphasize all the time that they are here in South Africa not to plant churches, but to equip believers to do their church ministries better, to be good stewards. That's what the Sawatzkys did," Thompson Adonis said. "They encouraged us to serve God in an African way." </p><p>One of the persons whom Joe and Anna equipped and encouraged in leadership was Reuben Mgodeli. Reuben committed his life to Jesus at the age of 11. Sensing God's call, he obtained a theology diploma. In 1988, he was ordained as a pastor. In 1997, he established Healing Fountain Church where he was ordained as a bishop. </p><p>In 2008, Reuben met Anna and Joe and became a serious student at Bethany Bible School. From them Reuben learned a lot about "how to be a follower of Christ and to be a good steward. My life was completely changed by their teaching." </p><p>Five years later, Joe told Bethany Bible School that they would be leaving South Africa in 2014. Everyone at the school started praying that God would choose another leader for the school. That leader was Reuben. </p><p>Joe started to train him and prepare him for leadership. Each week they spent four hours together. Sometimes Anna and Joe traveled an hour to visit Reuben and his spouse, Phumeza, to pray for them and encourage them. Many times the Sawatzkys visited Reuben's church. When face-to-face meetings weren't possible, Joe taught Reuben over the telephone. </p><p>On Feb. 15, 2014, Reuben was commissioned before the student body to take on the task of Bethany leadership. Reuben motivated the Bethany student body to have confidence in themselves. "Together, we are capable of taking the school to a higher level," Reuben said "I encourage them by saying that Bethany belongs to every one of us. I tell them that Bethany's rise or fall is in their hands. And I encourage everyone 'to work (and study) with all their heart' (Nehemiah 4:6). I believe that good leadership gives people confidence in a leader, but a great leader also gives people confidence in themselves. That's what I want to do." </p><p>At the heart of this story is the realization of the commitment we make to develop and encourage others in their leadership. This enables them to motivate and resource their communities to fulfil their hopes and to follow God's call. </p><p>Thanks for helping people like Anna and Joe, and through them, leaders like Reuben. While the Sawatzkys have returned to the United States, Bethany Bible School has thrived the last four years under Reuben's leadership. So many people are being impacted by the Bible school that they recently opened a branch in Lusikisiki, South Africa. </p><p>Together, we can build the church of Jesus Christ around the world. Through your generous sharing you are helping to equip and encourage leaders for God's mission.  <br></p><p><br></p><p>Stanley W. Green</p><p>Executive Director<br></p><p><br></p>




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