“My heart hasn’t stopped beating fast since hearing the testimonies last night,” said mission committee member Joanne Lang at Arnold Community Church, B.C., Canada. Her local congregation was one of 29 that hosted Mennonite World Conference guest(s) for Sunday worship. The previous night was the 2023 local iteration of Renewal 2028, a series of events begun in 2017 to commemorate the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement.
At South Abbotsford Church, 25 March 2023, five international guests and one local speaker shared testimonies of Jesus Christ, our hope.
“Dear Mennonite World Conference, you are the angels sent by God to Myanmar,” said Amos Chin. “When we are down, you comfort us; you fed us when we are hungry; you help when we are refugees, you bring us a ray of hope when we are hopeless; the world forgets our condition, but you remember us,” he said. Event organizer John Roth delivered Amos Chin’s speech about the difficult conditions in Myanmar because he did not receive permission to enter Canada. “Ultimately, Jesus Christ is still our hope.”
“Living in a county where problems are like the air you breathe, it is not easy… but we are living,” said Tigist Tesfaye of Ethiopia. She delivered her speech via video because her visa to Canada had been denied. She is tired of asking for prayer over again, she said, “but we have a Saviour who is our hope.
“Hope was never lost,” said José Arrais of Portugal. The Mennonite churches in Europe drew together to respond to needs created by the war in Ukraine.
“To talk about hope, I have to start with despair,” said Kkot-Ip Bae of South Korea where military conscription is mandatory. The MWC statement on conscientious objection signifies hope to Mennonites, she said.
“I can’t say what the secret is to finding hope, but I think the Apostle Paul was on to something when he encouraged us to not give up,” says Cynthia Dück of Paraguay.
“I’m very thankful to have quite aa long list to choose from of where I see it [hope],” said Ashley Rempel from Chilliwack, B.C., Canada; a member of Eden Mennonite Church. She talked about how the youth she mentors show her hope in following Jesus.
Due to slow visa processing or denials, the event was missing not only two of the speakers, but an additional four representatives from Africa and one from Latin America. They had been invited for the church visits and the next week’s Executive Committee meetings at Camp Squeah.
“We are one in our hope that it is Christ who reaches out to us and says ‘follow me,’” said MWC president Henk Stenvers of the Netherlands. “MWC is the living witness of that hope, bringing people together in one communion over borders of nationality, colour, language, economic circumstances and culture.”
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