Becoming part of God’s bigger picture

From sleepy Antakiya Mennonite Church in rural Kodopali, India, to Iglesia Hermanos Menonitas Concordia in bustling Asuncion, Paraguay to the open-walled gathering place of the Mennonite Church in Ntale, Uganda, to congregations in North America and Europe with generations-long followers of Jesus, Anabaptist-Mennonites celebrated becoming part of God’s bigger picture this Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday. 

Creativity and communication skills unleashed 

“I had the opportunity to serve and celebrate Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday with a church full of farmers – just like the poster image. I saw their excitement about a good harvest. We sang joyfully and danced gracefully as expressions of worship to the Lord. Their patience extended from their cooking before the rooster’s crow in the cold pre-dawn, to listening attentively to Scripture reflections and testimony sharing,” says Richard A. Rancap.  

“Celebrating Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday (AWFS) far away from home made me more appreciative of becoming a part of God’s bigger picture because the hospitality made me feel at home. AWFS is not hard to observe when the people in the mosaic are compelled by the love of the Lord.” 

Mission Service Department director Richard A. Rancap travelled for two days to celebrate an AWFS weekend with the multidialectal mountain congregation Dupax Del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya, Luzon, Philippines. (Congregation members speak Bungkalot, Ibaloi, Ilocano, Kanakanaey and Kalanguya.) 

“Looking at the AWFS poster I wondered, if those tiny parts of the mosaic could only talk, what would they tell? How do they feel being surrounded by other shapes and colours?” 

Focusing on the theme “Mosaic: Becoming a Part of God’s Bigger Picture,” the members realized that their roles are to talk to God, care for the creation, share the good news and strengthen the church. 

“This experience unleashed the congregation members’ creativity and intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills. Their listening skills were activated and they practiced traditional dance and songs in the service,” says Richard A. Rancap.  

Although the congregation had not been aware of the event before, with only a day’s notice, they put together 17 activities for their 66 attendees (18% youth, 27% children, 55% adult). 

On Saturday evening, the elders wrote the verses from the four Scripture passages onto coloured hearts.  

In Sunday school, youth and adults divided into groups. Each meditated on the verse and then had opportunity to share. “Some were nervous while reading the verse but many confessed that the verse was exactly speaking on their personal experience. They were thankful for the lessons they learned about being a part of God’s bigger picture,” says Richard A. Rancap. 

Inspired by the testimonies from the resource package, the sermon proclaimed that the Lord who draws his people into a global mosaic is the Lord who acts (Job 42), the Lord who is thoughtful (Psalm 8), the Lord who cares (John 10) and the Lord who calls (Ephesians 4).  

To remember brothers and sisters from different parts of the world, members wore traditional costumes from the Middle East, Hawaii, Texas, China, Indonesia, Tagalog, Ifugao and Ibaloi.  

In the afternoon, they held a Bible study in a house; many from the community attended. 

During the evening service, 12 members spontaneously gave a testimony and posted it on the heart-shaped mosaic: 

  • A pastor was healed of his sickness and God helped him during struggles.  
  • A woman was able to attend AWFS 2024 because her employer gave a day off on weekends.  
  • A man who was questioning God and was blessed by the story of the life of Job. 
  • A man is thankful on his 55th birthday for God’s faithful provisions. 
  • Ephesians 4:2 taught a woman to correct her behaviour. 
  • A man is thankful God has chosen him to be a part of God’s family. 
  • God remains faithful, healing a family of their sickness.  
  • A woman who reflected on Ephesians 4:12 wonders what spiritual gift she has.  
  • A man confessed his need for prayer to totally abandon alcoholism.  
  • A woman sang a song of thankfulness to the Lord for her spiritual journey. 
  • John 10:14-16 challenges a woman to share the gospel with others. 
Richard A. Rancap.

One member testified that morning transformed a memory from sadness to joyfulness. She contributed a traditional gown from the Middle East. She obtained the beautifully designed dress decades ago in traumatic circumstances. When she arrived in the Middle East as a domestic helper, she discovered she had been cheated by the immigration agent and had no working visa. Her employer overworked her, underfed her and was violent while keeping her passport so she couldn’t leave. After 20 months, God answered her prayers to escape and she returned to the Philippines. This morning, the gown was a testimony to the goodness of God. 

After the testimonials, the congregation divided into groups to pray for the requests in the worship resource.  

“Without the Lord, we are simply a club focussing on personal interest; perhaps ‘God’s bigger picture’ would be a filtered selfie. But for becoming a part of God’s bigger picture, our prayer is “May Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” says Richard A. Rancap.  

Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday 2024 photos:

2024 AWFS Submitted Photos