Posted: August 20, 2018
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. In the following, one of the commissions shares a message from their ministry focus.
People who are involved in service are typically practical, caring people, people of action. Of course, the motivation for doing service is to follow Jesus and his teaching, to reach out to the weak, to the orphans and widows, and so on (Jeremiah 22:3, James 1:27).
People who have a heart for evangelism may be called people of proclamation. They are concerned with pointing the way to Jesus. They follow the command to go into the world, teach and make disciples.
When accused of not caring about peoples’ souls, the first group might say, but you have to feed an empty stomach first before giving spiritual nutrition.
The others might reply, what good is it to feed people and yet do nothing for their lost souls?
I know this description is oversimplified and polarizing, yet it holds some truth, based on my experience.
In the past, I sensed a tension between these two groups: the people of proclamation and the people of action. Both would claim their mission to be holistic. Sometimes conflicts developed. Often there was a lot of judgement passed.
When we established the Global Anabaptist Service Network (GASN) within Mennonite World Conference (MWC), there was much discussion regarding the commission in which it should be hosted: Mission or Deacons. The arguments for the one or the other reflected this tension.
It was decided to host it in the Mission Commission. The decision was supported by the desire to overcome the gap between proclamation and service, word and deed.
I was not very happy. As part of the coordinating committee of GASN, I was named as a specialist in the Mission Commission. I do not feel that I am a missionary. I am a servant. Now I had to identify with missions.
I was a little lost at first. But over time, I realized that a change was taking place in me. I began to see that my gifts as a servant are as valuable as the gifts of others who are church planters and evangelists and teachers.
God wants all of us in his mission. Only together are we complete.
Since then, GASN has met twice. We had joint meetings with the Global Mission Fellowship (GMF) where we shared stories and teachings with the two groups together, and also had separate sessions.
Particularly as the two groups met separately, I could sense that we still need the Spirit to teach us: together we are called to work in God’s mission according to our gifts, convictions and views.
Empowered by God’s breath (both “spirit” and “breath” are translations for the Hebrew word ruach), we will see change and see God at work.
During the meetings in Kenya in April 2018, one sign of that unity for me was the prayer map (see picture). All GMF and GASN members were invited to take time to identify a country, place a candle on that spot and pray for that country, for the people or for someone we knew there.
During this time of silent prayer around that large map it was obvious: we are one in the Spirit.
—A Mennonite World Conference release by Barbara Hege-Galle, a member of the Mission Commission. She served with Christliche Dienste for 32 years and lives in Bammental, Germany. She also serves the local church there.
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