Posted: December 19, 2016
Like the chambers of a heart, the four MWC commissions serve the global community of Anabaptist-related churches, in the areas of deacons, faith and life, peace, mission. Commissions prepare materials for consideration by the General Council, give guidance and propose resources to member churches, and facilitate MWC-related networks or fellowships working together on matters of common interest and focus. In the following, one of the commissions shares a message from their ministry focus.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
“This visit made me realize we are part of a large global family. Now we know that we are not alone!”
This is what we heard when a delegation of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Deacons and Peace Commissions visited the Mennonite Brethren churches in Panama. When you live with challenges that threaten your traditional way of living, what is more important than knowing that you are not alone? Knowing that brothers and sisters are praying – even if they don’t know you personally – can be the difference between giving up or going on in hope, trusting the Lord.
“We do not ask you to solve our problems. All we ask from you is to tell our story and to pray for us.”
Church members pray for a sick child
in Panama. Photo: Henk Stenvers.
Being a deacon within MWC is not about giving financial aid or creating relief programs. The deacons walk with churches, listen, share and pray with churches in distress or in joy. We feel so powerless to help sometimes, but we must not underestimate the power of walking together, listening and praying.
“The Deacons Commission must be the warm hand of the global church.” In 2009, Danisa Ndlovu, then president of MWC, spoke these words at the first meeting of the Commission in Paraguay. A hand on your shoulder, to show that others care, to feel the warmth of unity with others who share the same convictions. Even though we live in such different situations, express our faith in such different ways and have different histories, we know that we belong together in our faith. In our wish to follow Christ, we are part of one body of Christ.
The Global Church Sharing Fund can support churches in the Global South to do projects to advance the life and mission of the church. It can be so very important for a local church to have its own place for worship or to build a school. The significance of rebuilding after destruction from a disaster or violence is beyond imagination. It is all about being a community – local and global.
And like Paul writes to the Corinthians, the parts of the body belong together, even if they are different. They are interdependent; if one is missing, you are not complete (1 Corinthians 12:14–25).
The global community is like the church in Pimpimsu in Ghana. We visited the small church in the evening, after it was already dark. One by one, people came to the church to welcome us. And everybody brought a light along. Every time someone came in, the church became better lit. When the church was full, it was bright in the church because of all the little lamps.
That is what community is about. If you are not there, the church is a bit darker. Whether we are together in person at Assemblies or in spirit in prayer, we can be witnesses of the wonderful message of peace that Christ gave us. If you are not there, you are missed, because the light is less clear!
The Deacons Commission wants to be a tool to support and strengthen that community. Join us in walking with our global Anabaptist family through the MWC Prayer Network. *
—Henk Stenvers is secretary of the Mennonite World Conference Deacons Commission.
*In 2016, the Deacons Commission relaunched an email-based prayer network, following the success of the prayer initiatives at Assembly 16. The Prayer Network sends out an email every two months containing four to five prayers. There may also be extra emails when an urgent call to prayer arises. The emails are available in English, Spanish or French. If you would like to share a prayer with us, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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