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YAMEN service builds faith

Xavier Chen with staff and volunteers at Creciendo Juntos in Bogotá, Colombia. Left to right: Jan Barri, Martha Garcia, Luisa Gonzalez, Xavier Chen, Anna Messer, and Camila Algarra in the front. Photo courtesy of Xavier Chen.
Release date: 
Friday, 23 December 2016

Bogotá, Colombia – Taking a risk and trusting in God are sure ways to grow in faith. For Marisela Dyck and Xavier Chen, serving with the Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN) program in 2015-2016 was a year of lessons in relying on God.

“During my service I learned that looking for God every day is the best thing that I can do to make myself feel better emotionally and spiritually,” said Dyck, from the Iglesia Anabautista Menonita Unida de México.

YAMEN, a joint program between Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite World Conference (MWC), is for young adults, ages 18–30, who are not Canadian or U.S. citizens. The participants must attend an Anabaptist church in their own country or serve an Anabaptist organization.

“When I’m looking for God, he tells me that he is with me in every situation, easy or difficult, and that I should wait and trust that he will show me his will and that I should put everything in his hands.” Dyck served in South America, in the daycare of an organization which ministers to at-risk women.

Back at home in Mexico teaching 10-12 year-old children, Dyck lives into the lessons she learned. “With what God showed me this year, he took away my fear of failing when I do service.”

Chen also worked with children - in Peru and Colombia - through which he experienced God’s faithfulness. “During every moment of my YAMEN term I kept relying on God. I prayed and asked him to guide me to his way. Now, my faith and thoughts to God are stronger than before. To trust and rely on him is the unchangeable way to have a fruitful and blessed life.”

Now, when he is serving in his home congregation of the Fellowship of Mennonite Churches in Taiwan, Chen tries “to see from different viewpoints, because there are many possible ways to approach the situation with empathy and understanding for the feelings of other people."

The goals of the YAMEN program are that participants will develop leadership skills, grow spiritually and personally, and gain cross-cultural knowledge and experience.

“Something important that God showed me is that the main point should not be the service itself, but the relationship one has with him and that you should let God work through you to bless other people. God will give you the strength and wisdom that you need,” writes Dyck.

Chen’s experience taught him humility. “I had very high expectations for my term: I would give myself to people in need and I believed I could do it perfectly.” Instead, standing outside his comfort zone, he often felt he had nothing to offer. “It’s not applicable to act the way as before; to face any new thing with humility is the correct choice.”

The YAMEN program continues to grow young leaders for the benefit of churches around the world.

2016-2017 YAMEN participants:

Name (home country): Serving in: 
Tirzah Hea Halder (Bangladesh)Nigeria
Juan “Beto” Alberto Torrico Soliz (South America)Mexico
Ariane Ribeiro de Souza (Brazil) Ukraine
Cecile Sanou (Burkina Faso)Uganda
Kimleng Chung (Cambodia)Nicaragua
Sokea Im (Cambodia) South Africa
ChunLei Xun (China)Colombia
Jhon Alex Martinez Lozano (Colombia)Nicaragua
Juliana Arboleda Rivas (Colombia)South America
Laurey Segura (Costa Rica) Cambodia
Johanna Sommer (France) Laos
Dina Molina (Honduras)South America
Marlly Aceituno (Honduras)South America
Nathanial Hembram (India) Colombia
Marsellina “Selly” Marliona Wamebu (Indonesia)India
Primadinar Sekar Ratri “Dinar” (Indonesia)South Africa
Tamarscha Pradhini Putri “Dhini” (Indonesia)Colombia
Jason Were (Kenya)Cambodia
Sonephan Lakongseng (Laos) Honduras
Felizarda Atanásia Filimone (Mozambique)Colombia
Susma Rasaili (Nepal)Cambodia
José David Dávila Godinez (Nicaragua)El Salvador
Gabriel Goddard (South Africa)Colombia
Rastone Hamapande (Zambia)Cambodia

A Mennonite World Conference and Mennonite Central Committee joint release. Article by Kristina Toews.

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