Before visiting Indonesia to meet the Anabaptist-Mennonite family in person, meet them through history. A Cloud of Witnesses by historian and MWC leader John D. Roth offers a brief, readable account of the three Anabaptist-Mennonite synods in Indonesia.
1. Come to the MWC Assembly to learn more about the global church.
We sometimes forget that the body of Christ is bigger than our congregation or national conference. The gathering in Semarang, Indonesia, in July 2022 offers a rare opportunity to learn more about the life and faith of sister churches in other countries.
In addition to the wonderful international music and inspirational worship gatherings, you will have a chance to participate in a host of workshops, browse the booths at the Global Village pavilion, check in on the Global Youth Summit, and encounter church leaders from the 107 groups who are members of MWC. Doing so will give you a fuller picture of who we are as a global Anabaptist-Mennonite church. You will return home wanting to learn more.
2. Come to the MWC Assembly to renew friendships.
According to a recent survey of MC USA congregations, nearly 40 percent of our churches have a relationship with a sister church outside of the United States, and 76 percent include members who have served in international settings with MCC or a Mennonite-related mission agency. The same is true of most congregations in MC USA, MC Canada, the Church of the Brethren in the United States and Canada, and the Mennonite churches in Europe.
Assembly 17 is a wonderful opportunity for you and your congregation to strengthen these long-time international friendships with face-to-face encounters.
3. Come to the MWC Assembly to make new friends.
Anyone who has traveled internationally knows the joy of unexpected, sometimes life-changing, relationships, seemingly formed by accident, that open up the world in a new way. Participants in Assembly 17 will have a chance to meet regularly for conversation in internationally diverse discussion groups. Meals, workshops, recreational activities, and Assembly Scattered tour options will provide dozens of additional opportunities to meet other participants.
Go to Assembly 17 assuming that you will exchange phone numbers, email addresses and social media links. The connections you make could blossom into lifelong cross-cultural friendships.
4. Come to the MWC Assembly to be renewed and transformed.
Our congregations and conferences in Europe and North America have been facing difficult times in recent years. Sometimes it’s difficult to be hopeful about the future. At Assembly 17 you will encounter Mennonite brothers and sisters from churches around the world who are also facing enormous challenges – poverty, limited access to education, COVID-19 and other health crises, profound political instability and even persecution.
The looming crisis of climate change affects all of us, albeit in very uneven ways.
Come to Assembly 17 with the goal of listening and sharing, ready to bear one another’s burdens, and to be renewed by Christ’s promise that he will never leave or forsake his people.
5. Come to the MWC Assembly to receive hospitality.
The story of the early church is filled with accounts of Christians extending hospitality to each other as they traveled across cultures and languages. Hospitality is a fundamental Christian virtue.
If you have spent time abroad – as a tourist, as a short-term volunteer, or on a study tour – you almost certainly remember times when you experienced a gracious and generous reception from others.
Members of the GITJ, GKMI, and JKI synods in Indonesia have expressed their eagerness to extend Christian hospitality to brothers and sisters from around the world. And regardless of whether you are able to attend in person, you could extend your own hospitality with a financial gift that will make it possible for others to attend the gathering.
6. Finally, come to the MWC Assembly to discover the cultural richness of Indonesia.
The Republic of Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, famous for its wood carving, batik, shadow puppets and traditional dance, and home to some of the most stunning natural beauty to be found anywhere in the world.
The world’s largest population of Muslims resides in Indonesia; but the country’s strong national commitment to religious freedom has also enabled smaller Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian and Christian communities to flourish.
For many people, Indonesia is an affordable destination, with an excellent infrastructure for tourists, who will enjoy the flavorful cuisine, remarkable cultural diversity and friendly reception.
This excerpt from A Cloud of Witnesses: Celebrating Indonesian Mennonites, by John D. Roth; Herald Press (2021) is used with permission.
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