Orodara, Burkina Faso – During the second week of February, more than 100 Mennonite women had the time of their lives in Orodara, Burkina Faso. The Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso annual women’s seminar combines adult continuing education, business training, spiritual renewal, and just plain time-away-from-work fun.
Burkina Mennonite Church, a member church of Mennonite World Conference, has 374 baptized members. When over a quarter of the national church shares a powerful experience, it is truly leaven in the loaf, raising spiritual vitality and increasing the capacity to share the Bread of Life with surrounding communities.
At a couples seminar last August, where nearly 80 men and women deepened their knowledge about marital relationships, the importance of communication between spouses, mutual forgiveness, child psychology and pedagogy, and resource management, to name a few of the subjects presented and discussed.
“This seminar was transformative for the church,” said Rod Hollinger-Janzen, executive coordinator for Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, who was in Burkina for administrative visits in October 2011. “Two months later, people were still so excited about what had happened when they put into practice what they learned at the seminar, they couldn’t stop talking about it.”
Siaka Traoré, national president of the Burkina Mennonite Church, gave concrete examples of Hollinger-Janzen’s observations. In one situation, church leaders were called to intervene in a disagreement between a father and his children.
“After attending the seminar, the father was able to talk to his children himself,” Traoré said. They resolved the issues threatening to divide the family without outside mediation.”
Claire Traoré, president of the Burkina Faso Mennonite women’s association and wife of Siaka, added that husbands and wives were talking together more – and making time to pray together, too.
“Communication with each other and God really reduces problems in the home,” Claire Traoré said. Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mennonite Mission Network’s director for Africa, said the Mennonite Church in Burkina Faso is numerically small and dispersed through the country. Members often live side-by-side with Muslim neighbors.
“Mennonites in Burkina don’t have many occasions to be together and to support each other,” Wiebe-Johnson said. “The simple act of coming together for face-to-face time is a tremendous encouragement to the growth of the church spiritually and relationally, which will also impact its testimony in a rather harsh spiritual and economic environment.”
International distribution of Mennonite Mission Network release by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen. MMN is the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA.