Ministry partner update: ICOMB – June 2020

The International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) is made up of 21 national churches in 19 countries with approximately 450,000 members. ICOMB exists to facilitate relationships and ministries to enhance the witness and discipleship of its member national churches – connecting, strengthening and expanding.

Celebrate and pray

Fellowship from 18 365 km apart

Since March 2020, all Mennonite Brethren communities around the world have been affected to some extent by the pandemic. This affected our ICOMB work and especially our annual Summit. With all the frustration of not being able to meet in person, we were looking for alternatives to pursue our vision.

So, for the first time as a global community, we celebrated our Summit even with some being 18 365 km apart. In Japan, it was 10:00 p.m., and in Vancouver it was 6:00 a.m., but a communion was still possible.

We held two global and four regional meetings (Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia). In total around 80 people participated.

We shared something about the situation of the churches, talked about our structure, future and finances. We accepted the Malawi conference as a full member and exchanged ideas on how we can best support each other at the regional level.

Because of the current restrictions, we looked for this alternative and recognized that it is an opportunity that we will continue to use this year and even after the restrictions are lifted.

Welcome, MB Church in Malawi!

One of the highlights of our recent ICOMB global online summit (12–15 May 2020) was the reception of a new full member conference: Mennonite Brethren Church in Malawi (MBCM).

Present on the call from Malawi was bishop Safari, together with MBCM staff. The ICOMB delegates approved their acceptance 12 May 2020, and the following day dozens of MB leaders from around the world offered words of welcome, prayers and blessings.

It was a joyful celebration moment, complete with a certificate of membership. We plan for an in-person celebration in due time.

The story of MBCM is a trophy of God’s amazing grace. It begins with a young man, Bahati (Safari) Mutabesha, fleeing for his life after seeing his family killed in Eastern DR Congo due to ethnic conflict. He ended up in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, near Dowa, Malawi. However, there too he found ethnic conflict and a near hopeless situation.

 courtesy of ICOMB
Members of an MB church in Malawi.
Photo: courtesy of ICOMB

He remembered his discipling in an MB church in DRC, and his gifting to be an evangelist. And so he began sharing the gospel of peace and pointing conflicted refugees to the Prince of Peace. A church was planted in the refugee camp in 2009.

With God’s blessing upon them, bishop Safari and fellow workers began planting churches outside the refugee camp among nearby Malawian towns and villages.

In 2015, in search of partnerships for their growing movement, MBCM contacted Multiply (formerly MB Mission) through their website. This partnership grew rapidly and has resulted in further growth in training, community development, and church planting.

Today MBCM counts 37 churches and 14 000 members. With full endorsement from Multiply and the global MB community, ICOMB welcomes the MB Church in Malawi as an adult partner in the gospel

—Rudi Plett, executive director, ICOMB update

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