On a blustery afternoon, EMM worker Bethany Tobin, who is also jointly appointed with Virginia Mennonite Missions, grabbed an umbrella as protection from the sun and slid on her flip flops. Leaving her boisterous home-schoolers with her husband, Steve, she walked around the corner to her neighbor’s house.
Despite the interruptions, the changes in our plans, and the disappointments of unfulfilled expectations, the mission of God goes on. EMM workers continue to cross cultures, engage the world, and make disciples of Jesus.
Lucy has been amazed at the range of human resilience she has seen from her perch on the balcony. It is amazing how God has made humans to be able deal with life's circumstances. People have been creative with entertainment, their spaces, and their resources. They can find community when they are not allowed to leave their homes.
Multiplication is the heartbeat of EMM. EMM has a more than 100-year history of establishing churches in many parts of the world, that are now planting communities and fellowships of believers in their own contexts and cultures.
We are connected to each other. And we believe this because Paul told us so. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. There are many members, all different, but they all come together to form the body and without any one of those members, the body is missing an important function.
COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for Alan and Carol Wert. On March 23rd, the U.K. went into lockdown with each part of the U.K. enforcing their own rules. So what does this mean for the way the Werts minister to people?
Forty years ago, May 31 was a Saturday. It was the last day of the week, of the month, and of a lengthy personal quest for clarity for EMM worker Andres Prins. He was 22 and had returned from a youth meeting of a Mennonite Brethren church in Montevideo, Uruguay, to the nearby Bible school dormitory where he was living.
Just a few weeks ago, on April 22, a ministry in Sierra Leone called Nyandengoh! saw its first anniversary. Starting with just a few children in Mattru Jong, the ministry now serves more than 70 children in neighboring villages.
Did you know that EMM has a church revitalization coach whose main role is to help churches develop healthy personal and corporate spiritual lives? It’s true! His name is Antonio Ulloa and he frequently speaks in churches to equip and support them in their spiritual health and development.
A few months ago, a couple showed up at Michael Clancy’s church, easy to identify because they were obviously under the influence of heroin. Michael is an urban missionary serving with EMM in Lebanon city, Pennsylvania. During the service, the man kept drifting off, unaware of his surroundings, only to wake up, look around, and nod off again. The woman, on the other hand, was engulfed in the message. As tears rolled down her face, it was obvious that Jesus was speaking to her.
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once wrote a wise statement about how our well-being is reliant on one another. She wrote: “We don’t accomplish anything in the world alone and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that create something.”
A second chance at love brought Jim and Kathy Wohlers together after both of their spouses passed away from cancer. At their wedding more than 8 years ago, Jim and Kathy served their guests communion and told them that as they started their life together, they would be hand-in-hand as husband and wife in service toward others.
Sometimes as an urban missionary, Michael Clancy feels like his task is an uphill battle. He envisions his work of discipleship like being a pitcher on the mound, and his students are the batters who keep striking out as they fall back into their addictions. Michael is presented with a new “batter” every three or four pitches. Over the past 14 years, he can count a small handful of men who are continuing to live transformed lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many people in nearly every country around the world. And EMM workers, serving in 30 different countries, have each experienced this outbreak in different ways. But in the midst of the unknown realities that lie ahead, EMM workers live courageously in the hope of Christ.
Part of the Mennonite Church West Africa’s annual conference included a commissioning service for two men who are going out as missionaries. Less than one year after credentialing its first pastors, the church has discerned a call to start several new congregations.
After a full day of engaging in her role as a teacher, Shirah Burns often likes to take a walk on the track of a nearby school. On this one particular night, there were a lot of people on the track. It was a beautiful night to exercise and as Shirah looked around she began to observe the people near her.
After almost four decades of walking with Christ, EMM Mission Team Director Lorri Bentch has learned that the cost of disobedience is always greater than the cost of obedience. Twenty-five years ago, she said “yes” to following her husband to Hungary to serve with EMM just one month after they were married.
As a new follower of Jesus Christ in her early 20s, Nancy Hostetter was drawn to missionaries when they visited her church. A short-term mission trip led to a discipleship training program which led to meeting her husband of 30 years, Michael. As their family grew, they chose to plant themselves in Puerto Montt, Chile.
Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God? This is a perennial question that has led to much division in Christian theological circles. It’s also a question that EMM global David Shenk was invited to write about in a book called “Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God?: Four views.”
Gibby Mane, pastor of the Catel Mennonite Church in Guinea-Bissau was visiting his in-laws in a village 5 miles from the church. During this trip, Gibby quickly became aware of a young man, named Milo, who was suffering from an overdose of alcohol.
In 2017, Betsy Stewart said “yes” to Jesus and went to Kenya for 6 months. Betsy’s term with EMM was spent at the Amani Gardens Inn in Nairobi, where she served as a hostess to guests who were traveling through the country. Betsy’s “yes” to Jesus was a “yes” to learning more about Kenya and its people — a place Betsy had visited several times before. But this kind of call wasn’t difficult for Betsy to obey.
Names are significant in the Dinka culture in South Sudan. Nicky Hess, who served as an EMM worker from 2016 to 2019 learned that early on when she was trying to learn the names
of students and people from the community.
On December 14, 2019, the Lord welcomed home his faithful servant, Richard A. Showalter. Richard served as the sixth president of EMM from 1994 to 2011. He left a lasting legacy on both the organization he served and the Global Anabaptist church.
A few months ago, Bethany Tobin, who serves with both EMM and Virginia Mennonite Missions in Thailand, had a particularly tough week of poor sleep. After several tiring nights, a man in the village called for Bethany to come and help calm his wife who had become very emotional to a point of almost becoming violent. It was already 8:30 p.m. and Bethany was in her pajamas. Fearing her tendency toward insomnia, Bethany answered the phone with hesitation.
Paper maché. Country western line dancing. Skits and games involving superhero costumes. What do these seemingly unrelated things have in common with each other? In the Czech Republic, these activities are just a few of the ways that workers “break the ice” with students participating in an English summer camp.
When Ted Smoker first arrived in Guatemala, he had ideas and hopes for how he might impact the lives of the K'ekchi'. He also had many questions on how to benefit them most effectively without causing harm to their beautiful culture and their self-reliance.
Carol Wert is never quite sure if her own redefining occurs primarily because of the place where she lives or her continuing desire to follow Jesus authentically. But she can think of a few ways that living in Wales may have helped shape who she is today.
Did you know that when you give to EMM and support our workers around the world through your dollars and prayers, you too are bringing transformation to a world in desperate need of good news? We are incredibly thankful for your partnership in this important work. Check out these three short stories that highlight some of the work God has done through us together in 2019.
While living in Belize, the Davises became aware of a celebration called “la fiesta de quinceañera.” This event — which is sometimes referred to as a quince — is the tradition of celebrating a girl turning into a woman in Latino culture on her 15th birthday.
During a two-day conference hosted by the Garifuna churches in Belize Tim Groff was excited and encouraged to watch Orelle Castillo from Dangriga, lead the youth part of the conference, lead worship and preach!
Stacy Nofziger Prknová has served with EMM in the Czech Republic since 2011. Just like the colors yellow and blue turn into green when blended, Stacy is finding that she is being transformed as she lives and serves in Prague - the land of 100 spires.
While Quechua culture has garnered the attention of American audiences with the recent film “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” one Mennonite school in Peru has worked quietly to educate Peruvian children and protect their culture for nearly 15 years. In the shadow of the live-action adventure film that features the Quechua language, The PROMESA school made a little more “noise” as they broke ground for the construction of a new academic facility.
A small, new initiative has begun for children with disabilities in Sierra Leone. The initiative seeks to create value for children with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, those who are blind and/or deaf, and others.
David W. Shenk, who serves on EMM’s Christian-Muslim relations team, had a note sitting on his desk. It read, “You are invited to participate in dialogues with Muslim university students in the United Kingdom. Your books are okay.”
Phil and Linda Gottschalk serve in the Netherlands training pastors and missionaries at Tyndale Seminary. From time to time they have the opportunity to share the exciting stores of some of the people they have been privileged to help train.
For the first two months that Eric and Janelle* were in Germany, they were living in a makeshift apartment. The apartment consisted of a small kitchen, a bathroom, and two open rooms where their family of five slept, ate, sat, and played. They were thankful for the space even if it was temporary.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines the term “déjà vu” as “an uncanny feeling that one has been in this same place or had this same, specific experience before, although it is actually new to one.” Some of EMM’s newest workers are experiencing this feeling — like they’ve done this before — getting ready to relocate to a new place to serve in cross-cultural mission.
What happens when an EMM worker serving in Spain meets a Romanian-speaking man in a Spanish prison? For Rolando,* he looked back to the formative mission experience he had twenty-three years ago. Rolando was an EMM YES team leader for a team that was sent to Romania in 1996.
Perhaps you've heard stories of people who don’t yet know Jesus having strange dreams. In many of these stories, people encounter a message to follow Jesus. Sometimes we might pause and ask, “Is it really happening like this?”
Debriefing after the conclusion of a military operation is commonplace. In fact, the term “debrief” originates from military usage. So, how do peacebuilders debrief after serving in one of the most war-torn regions of the 21st-century world? For one Iraq-based team, they start with Paula*, an EMM worker based in Spain.
Shouting, singing, and celebration resounded throughout the village. Water came flowing into tanks from Lake Victoria, which is just to the north of the Mennonite Theological College of East Africa. John Wambura, the acting principal of the college, recalled people in the village declaring that “God is back in Nyabange Mission.”
Jayden and Anika, along with their two children, served in Central Asia in business for transformation and education. They are now preparing to embark to a new region in Asia but reflected on a ministry they were involved with for the past year.
One night, as Pedro and Rolando were visiting with Ben, they boldly shared their faith in Christ and encouraged him to make a decision to follow Christ. That night he accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior by saying a simple prayer!
Ethan and Emma* serve as EMM’s regional representatives for East Asia. At the beginning of 2019, it seemed like the right time for their family to leave the country in which they were serving. Due to some family health concerns and increasing challenges in their region of East Asia, Ethan and Emma moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Somwang struggled for years with mental illness. She fluctuated between periods of silence to fits of violent anger. Her husband, her sons, and her neighbors all learned to ignore her and had given up caring.
Tim told himself to relax, as he was sitting in the driver’s seat of his van with a rowdy crowd of youth inside and another rowdy crowd surrounding the van on the outside. Then it happened. Unexpectedly, the peal of shattered glass brought the noise to its sudden ruckus crescendo.
EMM worker Melanie Nofziger often meets with house cleaners to help them find work. One day, she had hopes to start a Bible study with these women, but felt a call to only begin with two women in particular: Juanita and Mariela.
Kandace Glenn has served on two assignments as an EMM mission intern in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, over the last two and a half years. She never would have guessed that God would have kept her in Cambodia for as long as He has. And now, she is preparing to go back to Cambodia as a long-term missionary with EMM.
Leon and Naomi Zimmerman, who are non-resident EMM workers, were teaching about marriage and parenting. However, they left Vietnam feeling a great sense of admiration for the way the Vietnamese culture is so family-oriented.
There is an African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child.”
It may not take a village to prepare and send EMM’s mission interns and workers, but it does take a committed and experienced team who seek God’s voice and the best for all involved.
One EMM mission intern in Wales keeps busy by not only serving the community through children’s programs and meals for the elderly but also through intentional living communities. And it’s changed the way she views the world!
For many young people, summer is a time to sit back and relax. However, youth and young adults will have the unique opportunity to work on coffee farms high in the mountains of the Intibuca region of Honduras or minister in the urban setting of Chamalecon on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula.
Joanne and Werner De Jong may not fit the typical profile of an EMM mission intern. They are the parents of three young adults and have established careers. Werner has served as a pastor in Alberta, Canada, for over 12 years and Joanne served as an associate pastor for 7 years.
In the fall of 2016, Becca Lapp Wierwille traveled to Cusco, Peru, to be a mission intern with EMM teaching English at PROMESA, a school connected with the Peruvian Mennonite Church. Becca was looking for adventure, for a chance to serve others, and to grow closer to God’s heart. She was able to use the internship for credit to complete her college degree. Becca’s semester in Peru did meet all of these expectations.
Leaders of the Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia were eager to launch the new Amharic translation of “A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue.” However, publishing was put on hold so the church could secure the participation of the leadership of the Amharic-speaking Muslim community.
When Julie and Tim Groff arrived in Dangriga they were aware of the fact that their local church had shuttered its doors and was no longer functioning. Local leaders had burned out for various reasons, and new life was needed.
Twelve people were gathered closely in a circle as Yvonne Garber uttered a simple Swahili phrase: “Mungu Anajua.” Yvonne then shared the translation of this short expression — “God knows” — as she and her husband, Joe, elaborated about how they first discerned a calling to serve Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania.
Gathered in a simple one-story building, surrounded by a grassy courtyard, and shaded by an enormous fig tree, pastors and leaders of the Shirati Diocese of the Tanzania Mennonite Church explored Anabaptist essentials.
Pastor. Board member. Executive director. Missionary. Head of school. Theology teacher. Executive vice president and chief operating officer. Gerry Keener has been all these things ... and all while serving with EMM. It is exactly this wealth of 40 years of experience that makes him so uniquely qualified to serve as the eighth president of Eastern Mennonite Missions.
Justice. Did you know it was voted the 2018 word of the year? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, justice was looked up online 74% more often than it was in 2017. Like the year before, 2018 certainly had its time of hardships and sorrows. Justice seemed elusive. Wars and rumors of wars. Floods, earthquakes, famines. Political, racial, and economic divides.
A coffee house outreach is providing English-language practice for youth and young adults, with opportunities for leadership training, and of course, free coffee. EMM workers Jayden and Anika*, serving in Central Asia, hope that this outreach will provide opportunities to share God’s word with nonbelievers, and as a way to disciple those who already are believers.
Have you ever thought about how overwhelming moving to a new place can be? Perhaps, you’ve experienced it a few times in your life. Experience the first couple of days of a mission intern serving in Wales, U.K. Victoria Derosier.
During the last week of December, more than 200 joyous attendees filled the Catel Mennonite Church in Guinea-Bissau. The meetinghouse resonated with jubilant singing, inspiring messages, and a special celebration. What was this special celebration? Mennonite Church West Africa, or MCWA, credentialed its first pastors and was gathering for an annual conference.
On November 30, 2018, Tyndale Theological Seminary in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands hosted the event: “A dialogue comparing the divine and the human in Islam and Christianity.” Exploring a unique aspect of Christian theology, EMM worker Jonathan Bornman highlighted the concept of “Imago Dei” — the belief that humanity is created in the image of God.
Learning a new language is never easy. Especially when it’s Garifuna, a dying language derived from five other languages! But somehow, learning to sing a praise song is the first step in EMM worker Tim Groff’s journey toward fluency!
Music can evoke emotions of joy, sadness, and reverence. It is also an effective way to share the gospel and get Scripture into the hearts and minds of people in any culture around the world. EMM worker Glenna Sollenberger is passionate about helping every culture understand the Scriptures in ways that are meaningful to them.
In 2008, John and Debbie Coats started a pilot program for children which focused on character training in a rural village in southeastern Cambodia. The program included music which helped the children realize that not only can worship be very beautiful, but that they can be a part of those beautiful sounds.
Brook Hostetter served with EMM from 2014–16 as an English and music teacher at the PROMESA school in Cusco, Peru. She connected a North American children's choir with a Peruvian children's choir. The result was an original song and music video, recorded and filmed in Cusco!
The first K’ekchi’ believers in Guatemala grew from a small little group in 1971 to a self-governing network of 130 Mennonite congregations today. Larry Lehman, one of the first pioneer workers among the K’ekchi’, says they learned much from one another.
Before moving to Lancaster County 18 years ago, Donna Becker had little exposure to Mennonites. This summer, Donna’s understanding of Mennonite identity was expanded when she met the people of Habecker Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa
Foz do Iguaçu, a Brazilian city known as the “land of the waterfalls” has a growing Muslim population. This summer, Brazilian evangelicals in this city explored new ways of relating to their Muslim neighbors with some members of EMM’s Christian-Muslim Relations Team.
The differences between living in a village and a city can be stark and a bit disconcerting. But the Wert family is intentionally choosing a lifestyle in Wales that is rooted in community and service to others.
A former Eastern Mennonite Missions worker found his call to Burma during an EMM assignment among refugees in Lancaster, Pa. Now Sean FitzGerald is preparing to follow that call halfway around the world.