Posted: February 2, 2021
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.
Get to know a Commission member: Nelson Okanya
How does this Commission practice being together in Christ?
Living together apart is our new reality in this COVID-19 world.
As a Commission, we talk with one another, share our life experiences, pray for one another and share resources.
In November 2020, we brought the Commission together via Zoom to give updates, our responses to COVID-19 and to report on what churches are doing.
What is one example of the Commission’s togetherness?
I’ve been in North America half of my life now; for the first time, when I called my mother in Africa, they were dealing with the same dynamics as in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA: masks, food off the shelves, social distancing.
In our meeting, we heard common experiences like that from people in Portugal, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya and North America.
It was a surreal moment. We took time to pray for God’s intervention, for peace and for hope.
Why are you pleased to serve on this Commission?
I am deeply committed to the call of mission. God’s mission is to redeem all things and establish shalom, wholeness of creation.
All people who claim allegiance to Christ are called to be on mission with God.
What is the name of your local church?
James Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster City, Pennsylvania, USA. (My wife is a pastor there.)
How do you serve the Mennonite church in your daily life outside of your Commission work?
I work with leaders on training and leadership coaching. We work mainly with businesses and organizations, but I have a deep sense of call to serve the church. I am currently putting together training for Mennonite pastors and mission workers.
How do you experience togetherness in the body of Christ in your daily life?
When we participate in Communion, there’s a sense of being together, sharing in the story of God and Jesus. That builds me up and the body of Christ.
I share resources and study materials, write blog posts and articles, do teaching and spiritual direction (both giving and receiving).
How has being part of MWC affected your local congregation?
Last year, during our mission Sunday, our pastor asked me to share about my role with the Mission Commission and MWC generally. We played a video from Assembly.
The congregation is very much engaged with MWC. They were excited to be reminded of larger Mennonite communion, that we have a worldwide body of Christ.
—Nelson Okanya serves as chair of the Global Mission Fellowship (GMF) on the Mission Commission.