Joy in the midst of suffering

Gratitude to God and the global Anabaptist church fill my heart as I complete my term as MWC president. This planet-wide church has become my home, and the assembly in Indonesia will be a reunion, a gathering of siblings. In a world fractured by war and pandemic, I long to bond with peacemaking and generous people from fifty-eight countries.

Christians are “aliens and exiles,” says the letter of 1 Peter. That brings to mind refugees and displaced persons from parts of the world where Anabaptists live today – including Ukraine, Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela. Elsewhere, Anabaptists and other Christians face abuse and church buildings burn. Early Anabaptists suffered martyrdom in Europe, and today martyrdom continues.

Responding to these crises, Anabaptists in multiple countries open their homes and wallets to assist persons seeking refuge. “Living hope,” as Peter calls it, inspires such love. Compassion modelled by Anabaptist sisters and brothers around the world inspires me to help receive refugees who are arriving in my homeland.

Joy abounds in 1 Peter, because building community among suffering people brings hope. “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people,” the author rejoices. Peter wrote his letter because Christians need the strength we find in fellowship, especially in hardship. Anabaptists today need to learn from and support each other.

Come to assembly in Indonesia in person or online! Join MWC online prayer gatherings! Contribute financially!

MWC involvement has been life-giving for me, reminding me that my deepest loyalty is not with nation or tribe, but with a global communion of people who know Jesus. Our citizenship is in the New Jerusalem, with people who follow the Lamb.

Thank you, sisters and brothers, for being family to each other. As Peter writes to “exiles of the Dispersion,” may God “restore, support, strengthen and establish” you.

—J. Nelson Kraybill is president of MWC (2015–2022). He lives in Indiana, USA.

This article first appeared in Courier / Correo / Courrier, April 2022

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