Leader leaves missional mark on agencyMissional discipleship legacy https://www.pjsn.org/news/Leader-leaves-missional-mark-on-agencyLeader leaves missional mark on agencyBy Laurie Oswald Robinson

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Witnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSAlumni Reflectionhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Witnessing-the-church-in-real-life-what-we-learned-from-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-and-MVSWitnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSBy Edith and Neill von Gunten
Mennonite Church USA response to the attack on U.S. Capitolhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Mennonite-Church-USA-response-to-the-attack-on-US-CapitolMennonite Church USA response to the attack on U.S. CapitolBy Glen Guyton
Creating a to-be listSenior care ministryhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Creating-a-to-be-listCreating a to-be listBy Hildi Amstutz
Webinar series concludes with politics, renewal and deep breathsDOORhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Webinar-series-concludes-with-politics,-renewal-and-deep-breathsWebinar series concludes with politics, renewal and deep breathsBy Travis Duerksen
Adaptation empowering innovation throughout Mennonite Mission NetworkWebinar Recordinghttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Adaptation-empowering-innovation-throughout-Mennonite-Mission-NetworkAdaptation empowering innovation throughout Mennonite Mission NetworkBy Laurie Oswald Robinson
Giving thanks for God’s work among global partnersThanksgiving reflectionshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Giving-thanks-for-God’s-work-among-global-partnersGiving thanks for God’s work among global partners
Gratitude among those without homes inspires nurseService inspires career https://www.pjsn.org/news/Gratitude-among-those-without-homes-inspires-nurseGratitude among those without homes inspires nurseBy Laurie Oswald Robinson
What am I hearing over here?Barcelona https://www.pjsn.org/blog/What-am-I-hearing-over-hereWhat am I hearing over here?By Alisha Garber for Anabaptist World
Mennonite Mission Network leaders share unfolding vision for the futureFree Webinarhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Mennonite-Mission-Network-leaders-share-unfolding-vision-for-the-future-Mennonite Mission Network leaders share unfolding vision for the futureBy Laurie Oswald Robinson

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Witnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVShttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Witnessing-the-church-in-real-life-what-we-learned-from-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-and-MVSWitnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSBy Edith and Neill von Gunten <p><em></em><em></em><em>Originally published on January 22, 2020, this blog by Edith and Neill von Gunten reflects a reality in 1966 that is still prevalent today and has become more apparent during the ensuing months of 2020. As Martin Luther King, Jr. day approaches, read this blog and reflect on Dr. King's legacy as he said, "<em>Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"</em></em><br></p><p>Even before our wedding in 1965, we had decided to spend the first years of our marriage in Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS). Several units were suggested to us; we chose to go to the inner-city unit at the Woodlawn Mennonite Church in southside Chicago. It was a decision that completely changed the course of our lives. </p><p>The Woodlawn congregation felt strongly that it was their role to speak out on justice issues and to get involved. Opportunities for involvement were often shared before the Sunday morning service ended. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2021/122_122.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4> </h4><h4>Woodlawn Mennonite Church pastor Delton and Marian Franz can be seen in the center of this picture of the Chicago march. Photo by Neill von Gunten.<br></h4><h4><br></h4><p>As we began to really listen to the people we lived and worked with, we started to understand how pervasive racism was. As we heard the stories and experiences of people in the community, we came to know more about their reality and ongoing issues. </p><p>These were the years of the civil rights movement in the United States. Soon after we joined MVS, Martin Luther King, Jr. was invited to come to Chicago to bring the racism and prejudice of the north to light. Both of us, along with other VSers, Woodlawn church members, and thousands of others joined together in marches through downtown Chicago (often from Buckingham Fountain to City Hall) and in rallies. </p><p>Most of the marches were peaceful, but once the marches spread beyond downtown and the Black neighborhoods, it was a different story. Here is one example that Neill experienced while protesting the housing discrimination in some neighborhoods in the city. </p><p>Dr. King's entourage sent two couples into the Chicago Lawn - Gage Park area, a lower middle-class neighborhood in the city's southwest side, on the pretext of renting an apartment. The area's population was largely made up of working-class eastern Europeans who lived in bungalows and for generations were predominately Irish Catholic. One couple sent there was Caucasian with little education, and the other was a well-educated African-American couple. The Caucasian couple was given several choices to rent; the African-American couple was given no options. </p><p>As a result, Dr. King and his delegation organized a march through Gage Park on Aug. 5, 1966, to highlight this disparity. Dr. King had orders for the assembled crowd before the march began. We were to look forward at all times. We were never to look into someone's eyes during the march because we could set them off on a tirade. We could not chew gum. Women were to be put in the middle, with men on the outside. If we could not refrain from violence when confronted by people watching, we were to leave and not participate. He did not want us there if we could not follow these orders. <br></p><p>Dr. King was struck by a rock thrown by a taunting mob as he was leaving his car — a sign of the violence that would happen that afternoon. Thankfully, he was not hurt too badly and, after being cared for, came to the front of the line to finish leading the march, with police right by his side. He was understandably shaken and told newsmen that he had never been met with "such hostility, such hate, anywhere in my life." </p><p>The night-stick wielding police estimated that there were approximately 7,000 of us there to march that day. We were ridiculed, sworn at, called all kinds of names, and spat on. Children spewed the same hate as the parent next to them as we walked past their house. Some carried Confederate flags. Signs were common: "N***** Go Home," "Wallace for President," "KKK Forever," "White Power," "Wallace in '68," "Washington D.C. is a Jungle — Save What is Left of Chicago." </p><p>We were told that when the march ended at Marquette Park, there were about 3,000 police officers to watch us. As the Caucasian crowd of men, women and children grew and tried to confront us physically, the police surrounded us marchers to protect us from what had become a mob throwing cherry bombs (exploding firecrackers), stones and bricks — in addition to their slurs and insults. I was ashamed to be Caucasian! </p><p> As this chaos swirled around us, we waited for the rented buses to pick us up and take us all back home. When the buses finally arrived, the bus drivers needed full police protection to get through to us. For a moment, I felt safe on the bus, but I was wrong! We had to stop at a red light before leaving that neighborhood and a group of about 50 youth and men rocked our bus and tried to get at us inside. Someone threw a brick through the bus window and hit a man in the seat in front of me in the head, giving him a large gash. The rest of us yelled at the bus driver to go through the red light to get us out of there. It was not until we got into the African-American area that we felt safe.</p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">After the march, we regrouped, and Dr. King spoke to the gathered crowd. He had been hit with a brick on the back of his head during the march. I remember him saying then — as well as many other times — that we must forgive our Caucasian brothers and sisters because they do not know what they are doing. They were taught that hatred, and now we needed to show them forgiveness and not fight back, he said. That is the only thing that can make them stop and think.</span><br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2021/123_123.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></p><div><table class="ms-formtable" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%" style="margin-top:8px;"><tbody><tr><td valign="top" class="ms-formbody" width="350px"><h4>Another photo of the civil rights march in Chicago, 1966. Photo by Neill von Gunten.<br><br></h4></td></tr></tbody></table></div><p>Those two years with MVS in Chicago made us question the role of the church in “real life:” We witnessed the unfairness of the political process in the United States in regard to its neediest residents. </p><p> The desire to learn more about how we as Christians could affect change and work with people in marginal situations influenced our education after MVS, as well as our decision to live alongside indigenous communities bordering Lake Winnipeg. We served there in a pastoral and community development role for 36 years before becoming the co-directors of the Native Ministry program for Mennonite Church Canada. </p><p> As you can probably imagine, we have many stories of our MVS time in Chicago that made an impact on our life  —<a name="_GoBack"></a> way too many to include in this reflection!<br></p>
Creating a to-be listhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Creating-a-to-be-listCreating a to-be listBy Hildi Amstutz<p>​<em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Since 1991, Hildi Amstutz has served as a Mennonite Mission Network associate </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> along with her husband, C. Paul Amstutz </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> in Paraguay. Here is a personal reflection regarding her senior care ministry.</em></p><p> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><br></em></p><p>In my senior care ministry, I am discovering this agonizing cry of aging people: "I don't have any say in anything anymore!" </p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">At the same time, however, I am also learning that aging people can move beyond this cry into a peaceful wisdom, by transitioning from the creation of "to-do" lists to "to-be" lists. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">We have the privilege of mentoring young people in the seminary. They are trying to get life </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> and themselves </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> "under control" and learning how to use control for the benefit of themselves and others. On the other end of life's spectrum, aging people are learning how to let go of control. Both of those movements have challenges. From a very young age, we are taught to make to-do lists and feel satisfied with each checkmark made on our list. We have accomplished something! As we move into the senior years, we become painfully aware of how life is more about the to-be list, </span> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Doing </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">comes out of </span> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">being </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">the person we become as we walk with Jesus through the day.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Hildi%20Blog.jpg?RenditionID=7" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">Hil</span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">di</span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"> </span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">Amstutz tends her plants as she ponders what it means to make a transition from a "to-do" list to a "to-be" list. She strives to put into practice what shares with others in spiritual retreats and spiritual caregiving with seniors. Photo by C. Paul Amstutz.</span><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Traveling through the Smoky Mountains several years ago, in a little souvenir shop, we came upon a saying that still accompanies us: "People will not remember you by your great accomplishments but by how you made them feel while they were with you."</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">My mother, Katharina Penner, was a living example of that concept. Her genuine and caring ways attracted people of all ages to enjoy being with her at her life's end. She lived to be 93. People said of her, "If I have to grow old, I want to grow old the way she did." She was an example of a person who preserved her wit and humor, despite having gone through the rigors of World War II, moving from Russia to Paraguay, and losing five of her seven children. Her famous phrase was, "If life with God is so hard many times, what must life be like without God?" After the many tragedies my parents faced, their summary statement was, "God makes no mistakes."</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">As a young married woman, I worked as a nursing home aide. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I cared for two elderly women with multiple sclerosis. For the one woman, it seemed as if I couldn't do anything right, and I often left her room in tears. When leaving the room of the other woman, my spirit would feel refreshed. The smallest deed elicited a sweet: "Thank you! Thank you!" She had learned how to be, despite the fact that her to-do list had ceased to exist years ago. She made good use of the one control she still had —</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">  </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">to choose her attitude.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">It is a fact of life: Either you give up control or it will be taken from you. By giving it up, you still can control whom to give it to, be that material possessions or roles in society. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Neither process happens without pain. Though seemingly contradictory, by choosing to let go, we choose the less painful way.</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">  </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">If our values and identity are attached to possessions and positions that can be taken from us, the pain may end in bitterness.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">In my journey of aging and walking with aging people, I see the importance of "putting one's house in order" and how that contributes to more peaceful days and healthier relationships in the extended family. Once again, freeing oneself of the control over material possessions, in an orderly and fair way, helps to contribute to more peaceful relationships within the family. </span></p>
What am I hearing over here?https://www.pjsn.org/blog/What-am-I-hearing-over-hereWhat am I hearing over here?By Alisha Garber for Anabaptist World <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Anabaptist World has </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">given Mennonite Mission Network permission to reprint this blog,  written by Alisha Garber. She serves with </em><a href="/workers/Europe/Catalonia-Spain/Josh%20and%20Alisha%20Garber" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Mennonite Mission Network</em></a><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region where allegiance to Spain vies with voices calling for independence. With her husband Joshua and son Asher, she works alongside the leaders of Mennonite Evangelical Community of Barcelona, focusing on youth outreach and congregational mission.</em></p><p>People often ask me, "What are you hearing over there about the elections?" What a tricky question. In 2020, news and political commentary are limitless. Whether you're sitting in your recliner in Sunnyslope, Arizona, or typing this article from a kitchen in Barcelona, Spain (as I am), the media you choose to consume determines what you hear — and frames your worldview.</p><p>And yet, here I am wrestling with this question, while also carrying my own baggage of being both a veteran of the U.S. military and a Mennonite mission worker. </p><p>Now, I know good Christian folks on both sides of the aisle politically and, prior to COVID-19, they could have sat next to each other in church. Within my family there are "blue" folks and "red" folks and others who lean Libertarian, vote for the Green Party, or remain independent. And, like a good dinner-party guest, I often decline to comment on politics (declining to discuss religion is not an option, due to my chosen vocation).</p><p>That said, I feel moved to shift political questions like, "Should I vote?" and, "Who should I vote for?" to thinking more creatively about fundamental issues of faith and allegiance. This comes from a place of not wanting to embolden an egomaniacal society that has assumed the role of self-appointed world police, while living an "in God we trust" nightmare where:</p><ul><li>Babies are separated from their parents and put in cages (#MigrationInjustice).</li><li>Tax-paying citizens are still without clean drinking water (#FlintMichigan).</li><li>Folks are living under tarped makeshift shelters as another hurricane season comes and goes (#PuertoRico).<br></li></ul><ul><li>Children of God are suffocated in the street and shot on their sofas for the "crime" of being born black (#BlackLivesMatter).    <br></li></ul><p>"One nation under God"? Well, my God doesn't stand for that nonsense. These certainly aren't examples set by the Jesus I know.</p><p>What am I hearing over here about the elections? I'm hearing about a nation where the power-hungry pursue profit over people. A nation whose peaceful activists are silenced with brute force and whose cries for justice are suffocated by pepper spray. A nation whose elite rise by kneeling on the necks of the Brown and Black folks whom Jesus sought to protect.</p><p>What am I hearing? I try to listen carefully, broadly and wisely. With resources like PolitiFact and Snopes, anyone can discern facts from fake news. Social media can be a cesspool of false information, especially before an election. I implore you to eschew ignorance and pursue truth, with a heart attuned to justice in the name of Jesus.</p><p>Please pray the words of Luke 6:27-28 (NRSV) and carve them into your heart, before it becomes hardened by the donkey vs. elephant debate: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."</p><p>To make our every thought, word, deed and social media post reflect the character of Christ, we need to revisit the God we see in our world today (see Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). After Christ's death on the cross, we assumed his "second body" here on Earth. We are what remains and have a responsibility to the whole world, not just one country.</p><p>What am I hearing over here about the elections? Let me tell you, the world isn't so different over here. <br>A few months ago, the youth group of the church we serve — <em>Comunidad Evangélica Menonita</em> (Mennonite Evangelical Community) — took responsibility for the Sunday online church service . In solidarity with the political demonstrations occurring globally for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, they dedicated a section of the service to listing the names of people of color who died at the hands of police officers in Spain, leaving space for contemplation and prayer.</p><p>What a beautiful way to shed light on the very things for which Christ desired justice!</p><p>In a conversation later that week, we realized not everyone received the service the same way. One person asked, "Did an adult approve the things the youth published online?" This person went on to say that topics <em>like that</em> have no place in the Sunday service because they aren't about spirituality or from Scripture and just <em>aren't church</em>.</p><p>My response was that matters of justice are matters of Christ. They can't be separated. Both deserve attention and action.</p><p>Similar conversations happen in places other than Barcelona. When one treats the church like a perfect crystal cathedral — only worthy of four-part <em>a cappella</em> songs and perfectly preached sermons that affirm your own lifestyle, while turning a blind eye to the beggar on the corner and the hate speech outside your neighborhood mosque — then one's bound to be disappointed when we talk about the muck of the world.</p><p>What am I hearing over here about the elections? Honestly, nothing I should share. What I can tell you is that I hear the wind rustling the trees, blowing warmer as the summer heat encroaches well into autumn (#ClimateJustice).</p><p>I can tell you I feel a rock drop to the pit of my stomach every time I read about another person of color murdered by those meant to serve and protect (#SayTheirNames).</p><p>I can tell you I hear the young people in my church crying for change, imploring us to try something different after the reset of a pandemic.</p><p>I can tell you I'm listening but not sitting idly by.</p><p>If you ask, "What are <em>you</em> hearing over <em>there</em> about the elections?" I'll respond: "What are you doing about the cry of the Lamb?"<br></p>
On elections: Three insights from missionhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/On-Elections-Three-Insights-from-MissionOn elections: Three insights from missionBy Joe Sawatzky<p>​<strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Voting is a matter of urgency.</strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> Apartheid was scarcely a decade past when my family began our eight-year sojourn in South Africa. I remember the sacred satisfaction, with thanksgiving to God, of people I knew who voted in that nation's first democratic elections in 1994. For the first time, millions of South Africa's citizens of color secured a say over basic qualities of life previously denied by White-minority rule. In </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Long Walk to Freedom</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, Nelson Mandela recalled the significance of that day in images of "old women who had waited half a century to cast their first vote saying that they felt like human beings for the first time in their lives" (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1994, p. 618). </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span></p><p><em>Not</em> to vote, therefore, strikes me as either the privilege of those blind to the freedoms they take for granted, or the resignation of those whom society has long failed. Though societal transformation moves slowly and takes more than the ballot, voting is a first, necessary, and peaceful means to promote dignity and justice for all of God's children.</p><p><strong>The capacity for dialogue should be a minimum requirement in voters' consideration of candidates for office.</strong> Dialogue, or the art of conversation, is basic to healthy relationships. In Athens, the apostle Paul engaged in dialogue with fellow Jews and Gentiles alike, reasoning with them on each of their terms. He must have listened well, for he was able to speak the Gospel through the words of their wisdom (Acts 17:16-34). Ever since, the faith of Jesus Christ has spread by translation, as people from every nation hear and accept the Word of God in their own languages. </p><p>Translation is essentially dialogue, a communicative process that requires common ground to make meaning. As in mission, so in politics, the respect to speak <em>with</em> others — not <em>over</em> them — says a lot about one's fitness to lead.</p><p><strong>Disciples of Jesus "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).</strong> The kingdom is bigger than any one party, people, or nation, and God's justice is for all. "A Christian Pledge of Allegiance," written by June Alliman Yoder and J. Nelson Kraybill, says it well:</p><p><em>I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ,</em></p><p><em>And to God's kingdom for which he died,</em></p><p><em>One Spirit-led people the world over,</em></p><p><em>Indivisible, with love and justice for all.</em></p><p>As this "one Spirit-led people the world over" is central to our understanding of salvation in Christ, we might ask ourselves why racism — that which divides the body of Christ — does not rank higher on our list of moral concerns. Similarly, we might ask why a track record of hostility toward people of color does not immediately discredit a candidate in the eyes of Christian voters. </p><p>As we pray with Jesus for God's kingdom to come "on earth as it is in heaven," may we so vote and speak "with love and justice for all."  <br></p>
Healing Mother Earth’s Pandemichttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Healing-Mother-Earths-PandemicHealing Mother Earth’s PandemicBy Cynthia Friesen Coyle and Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<p> <em>In acknowledgement of Indigenous People's Day on Oct. 12, we offer the final blog of a three-part series. Mennonite Mission Network participants outline some action steps based on what they learned during </em> <a href="https://indigenousvalues.org/mother-earths-pandemic/">Mother Earth's Pandemic: The Doctrine of Discovery</a>, <em>an online conference. </em> <a href="/blog/COVID-19-pandemic-grew-from-centuries-old-roots"> <em>Read the first blog</em></a><em> here</em><em> and the </em> <a href="/blog/Despite-Manifest-Destiny-Indigenous-cultures-have-survived"> <em>second blog here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>As women who have committed our lives to following Jesus Christ, we desire to refute the <a href="/blog/Despite-Manifest-Destiny-Indigenous-cultures-have-survived">Doctrine of Christian Discovery</a> as a twisted biblical interpretation that is motivated by greed and lust for power. Some of our ancestors moved onto Indigenous lands after forced removals by the U.S. government. How do we start walking upstream against the current of the long history of our Mennonite denomination's blind cooperation with the U.S. government?</p><p> <strong>Learn. </strong>By listening to narratives from cultures whose voices have been suppressed, we can gain a broader and truer perspective. </p><ul><li>Listen to presentations from <a href="https://indigenousvalues.org/mother-earths-pandemic/">Mother Earth's Pandemic: The Doctrine of Discovery</a> available <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/IndigenousValuesInitiative?utm_source=%27newsletter%27&utm_medium=%27email%27&utm_campaign=%27Follow-up+to+Mother+Earth%27s+Pandemic:+The+Doctrine+of+Discovery+conference%27">here</a>.</li><li>In <em> <a href="https://www.ivpress.com/unsettling-truths"> Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery</a></em>, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah shed light on how a dysfunctional theology led to an unholy blending of church and state. The result is lying, greed, theft of land, and genocide that results in trauma to Indigenous Peoples, the descendants of enslaved Africans, and White people. Charles and Rah also point the way toward healing. </li><li> <a href="https://dofdmenno.org/">Anabaptist Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition's website</a> offers educational resources.</li><li>Read books by Indigenous authors, like <a href="https://bookshop.org/books/braiding-sweetgrass/9781571313560">Braiding Sweetgrass</a> and <a href="https://fulcrum.bookstore.ipgbook.com/pagans-in-the-promised-land-products-9781555916428.php?page_id=21">Pagans in the Promised Land</a>. </li><li>Participate in a pilgrimage such as, the <a href="/blog/Shodah-Walking-the-Trail-of-Death">Trail of Death</a> to gain a perspective of the encounters between Indigenous Peoples and White settler colonialism that aren't covered in most history books.</li></ul><p> <strong>Acknowledge the truth.</strong> Many Mennonite congregations are writing <a href="https://dofdmenno.org/land-acknowledgement/">land acknowledgments</a>, recognizing the people who lived where they now worship, as a starting point for moving toward justice and right relationships with Indigenous brothers and sisters.</p><p> <strong>Lament.</strong><strong> </strong>"Our only path to healing is through lament and learning how to accept some very unsettling truths," write the authors of <a href="https://www.ivpress.com/unsettling-truths"> <em>Unsettling Truths</em></a><em>.</em> </p><ul><li>Charles and Rah introduce the concept of White trauma. "White America could not perpetrate five hundred years of dehumanizing injustice without traumatizing itself…we are called to an equality in our mutual brokenness and trauma…Institutions established by [White people] are so ashamed of their own past that they are unable to even publish accurate history."</li><li> <a href="https://www.mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/lament-violence-of-racism/">Lament resources</a> compiled by Mennonite Church USA.</li></ul><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> <strong>Co</strong></span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><strong>nnect with the earth and the global community.</strong> </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">In her presentation at the Mother Earth Pandemic conference, Tina Nagata from Te Ika a Maui (New Zealand) said that her ancestors were ocean people, living in harmony with water. "Before there was land, there was water," Nagata said. "Our bodies are made of 60 percent water." She explained that water is intended to be a connector that gives life. People travel from one community to another via water. However, the Doctrine of Christian Discovery has made rivers and oceans into boundary lines that divide people. "Water loves us," Nagata said. "She is waiting for enough of us to recognize her, so we can connect around the world."</span></p><p> <strong>Do justice. </strong>In James 1:22-24, the Bible tells us to not just hear the truth, but to act on what we hear. "…whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God… and sticks with it, … that person will find delight and affirmation in the action."</p><ul><li>Join a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/dismantlediscovery/">coalition of Anabaptist people of faith working to dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery</a>.</li><li>Consider <a href="https://dofdmenno.org/2019/09/10/reparations-an-atonement-connection/">the theology of land reparation</a> and its <a href="https://dofdmenno.org/2018/11/27/one-small-step-toward-reparations/">implementation</a>.</li><li>Speak out against <a href="/news/Coalition-calls-for-faith-communities-to-hold-prayer-vigils-in-support-of-the-Indian-Child-Welfare-Act">unjust laws and practices</a>.</li><li>Practice <a href="https://mennocreationcare.org/">creation care</a>. <em>Haudenosaunee</em> tradition factors the cost to our planet for the next seven generations into decision-making. </li><li>Play <a href="https://doctrineofdiscoverymenno.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ddofd-catan-handout-frontback.pdf">new games</a>.</li><li>Watch a movie about <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Game-Nation-Oren-Lyons/dp/B071758P96/ref=sr_1_1?crid=MFWNM7AUTDS6&dchild=1&keywords=spirit+game+pride+of+a+nation&qid=1600873925&s=instant-video&sprefix=spirit+game+pr%2cprime-instant-video%2c171&sr=1-1-catcorr">Iroquois Nations Lacrosse Team</a> and listen to a podcast about the <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/10/01/917033527/ireland-lacrosse-bows-out-of-2022-world-games-so-iroquois-nationals-can-play">2022 World Games</a>. </li></ul>
Reflections on a life of ministry in Venezuelahttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Reflections-on-a-life-of-ministry-in-VenezuelaReflections on a life of ministry in VenezuelaBy Linda Shelly <p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I looked at my phone early on the morning of Aug. 5 and saw that Pastor Erwin Mirabal, president of the church conference </span><a href="/partners/Asociación%20Civil%20Red%20de%20Misiones%20Menonita%20de%20Venezuela" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;"><em>Red de Misiones Menonita de Venezuela</em></a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, had died of COVID-19. We had been praying for him for two weeks. His condition was stable the day before. His death was a shock for many.</span></p><p>The global pandemic is peaking later in Latin America than most other regions. Reports coming to Mennonite Mission Network told of economic hardship; pandemic restrictions stopped people from working as day laborers or selling in the streets. Mission Network supported partner churches have been reaching out to help the most vulnerable people with food. </p><p>Now, as the virus spreads more rapidly in Latin America, prayer chains are active for people who are sick, and we mourn deaths together with partners. Mission Network relates with Venezuela through a partnership including <em>Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL)</em> and Central Plains Mennonite Conference (CPMC).<br></p><p>We have made partnership visits together in Venezuela since 2013. Colombian leaders have known Erwin much longer. On Aug. 13, we were among those who gathered on Zoom to record tributes for Erwin for the Spanish podcast <em><a href="https://themennonite.org/the-latest/merienda-menonita-podcast/">Merienda Menonita</a>.</em></p><p><span style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;"><strong>Sharing our reflections helped our healing process. I have translated some excerpts of the testimonies, beginning with an introduction given by Peter Stucky of Colombia.</strong></span></p><p>As a young man in the 1980s, Erwin traveled to a workshop taught by John Driver in Colombia. (Driver served with Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network.) Erwin didn't understand much at first. But he kept reading Driver's writings, which led him to passionately embrace and practice the Sermon on the Mount. He sought more opportunities to study, and the <em>Seminario Bíblico Menonita de Colombia</em> under Alix Lozano's leadership developed seminary education in Venezuela. Erwin guided students in developing churches, and soon the <a href="/Impact/locations/Latin%20America/Venezuela">Venezuela Partnership </a>was formed.</p><p><strong>Erwin inspired many people in Venezuela and beyond, as these testimonies demonstrate:</strong> </p><ul><li>Lozano and Ricardo Esquivia had long-term relationships with Erwin. Ricardo Esquivia said, "I met Erwin about 25 years ago. …  It really impacted me to visit Venezuela again last year and experience above all the commitment that he had for his people, his place, his country. He expressed the hope that something would change, that it was going to change." <br>Lozano said, "My memory of Erwin is the fascination he felt for Anabaptism. He found in following Jesus his reason for being and his practice of life. Another aspect that was very challenging was his practical living with the most marginalized people in society through forming humble faith communities, such as Isla Margarita and then in Caracas .... I would like to bring to memory the words of Hans Denck, 'No one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life.' I think this is a description of Erwin Mirabal."<br></li><li><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Holly Blosser Yoder, who coordinates CPMC's involvement, </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">shared, "I saw Erwin as a type of Paul the apostle … </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">traveling </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">among groups of believers, teaching them and encouraging them, building up their fellowships, empowering them for compassionate ministry and service in their communities."</span><br></li><li>Now with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, David Boshart traveled three times to Venezuela in his former CPMC role. He said, "I was impressed with Erwin's humility combined with his entrepreneurial vision. This unusual combination of gifts has been a key factor in the amazing growth of the food grinding enterprise, the cooperative games for peace ministry, and, most importantly, the seminary program. I was always impressed by the way Erwin modeled humble, servant leadership and the obvious respect everyone in the church held for him and the way they listened intently when he did speak."</li><li>Carlos Moreno coordinates the IMCOL missions committee. He said, "Something that I always liked about my brother Erwin was his respectful way of saying things. I also liked his loving and tender way with his community, his family, and all the people who were close to him. … At some point we were talking about whether he had the intention, or if he wanted to leave Venezuela due to the difficult situation and have the possibility of coming to Colombia. He told me, 'Well, my place, the place where God has called me, is here, and this is my community. These are my brothers and sisters whom I want to accompany and serve.'"</li><li>Oscar Herrera, who also visited Venezuela representing the IMCOL missions committee, said, "Erwin was convinced that Anabaptist Mennonite theology is relevant in this historical moment in Venezuela amid the violence that began in this time of crisis in this country … He considered that sitting at the table as Jesus did with his disciples was a blessing, like a privilege and a miracle before the Lord, a joy, a celebration."<br><br>Since Erwin's death, Mission Network has continued to accompany the people of the churches in Venezuela. His wife, Haydee Vegas, talks about their deep desire to continue despite the pain of loss. Their daughter, Helena Mirabal, shared, "Seeking Jesus is the best way. Outside of him there is nothing, not even in moments of pain and affliction. During the most terrible thing we can be going through, Jesus is there; he is always there. With human hands and feet."<br><br></li></ul>