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.
The Church on Mission in Colombia
HEME AQUÍ (Here I Am) is the Mennonite Brethren Mission Agency of Colombia. On February 13, 2020, it was recognized as a Special Legal Entity by the Ministry of the Interior of the Colombian Government.
As a Missionary Agency, we have been struggling for several years to balance practice and theory in missions. In Colombia we have not sent missionaries for several years and there is no real support for those who decide to go; although leaders and pastors know about this need and know first hand the importance of the task, apathy has prevented us from acting in unity to reach the goal.
This year, we were faced with the challenge of hosting an online Mission Conference. We designed a multi-phase course.
Our focus was on pastors and mission leaders. On the four Saturdays in October, the following topics were studied from the perspective of the book of Acts:
- October 3rd: The church community
- October 10: The priorities of the New Testament church
- October 17: The call and the mission
- October 24: How to do mission
We noticed that leaders need to be heard, to talk about their experiences in the face of mission. The pre-conference provided space for this: to listen to their challenges, fears, challenges and concerns regarding missions.
We need to begin generating mission consciousness. This space was seen as a diagnosis, allowing us to understand the needs that we need to address in the future.
Our objective was to reflect in community and be enriched by listening to truth expressed simply. We prioritized personal interaction and the ideas and experiences of the listeners.
A large number of leaders, pastors, and missionaries from our country enrolled. This motivated us to invite sister conferences from Mexico, Panama and Peru, and their presence unexpectedly enriched the reflections on the teachings every Saturday.
In the end we were able to feel connected. There were no nationalities when we talked about the obstacles, difficulties and opportunities we faced. The objective of the pre-conference was fulfilled in ways we could not have imagined. We were not only facing a local problem, we were all facing the same reality: we need to rediscover the mission.
The Mission Conference
Our focus was the local church and missions committees. Our communities need to understand what mission is and how it is done, giving simple guidelines to carry it out, and know how to carry it out in their own personal lives.
It was within this framework that the first Mennonite Brethren mission congress in Colombia began: "Rediscovering the Mission."
Over the 3 days of the conference, we did a YouTube webcast and Zoom calls with small groups to discuss the topics. The topics were:
- The Mission from Latin America, given by Emerson Cardoso from Brazil
- The Local Church, Responsible for the Mission, given by Victor Wiens from Canada
- Together on Mission, by Rudi Plett of Paraguay
Participants joined from Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Peru and of course, a large number of brothers and sisters from our churches in Colombia.
The congress, far from being a media initiative, is a first step in a strategy to mobilize the church towards fulfilling our mission. With gratitude we can see ourselves in Latin America united in one desire: to understand and carry out the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Providing support to each other is a task that lies ahead of us. The challenge remains for the mission agency Heme Aquí to propose clear strategies, real accompaniment, and practical steps to implement in our country and to support our participating sister conferences however we can.
We thank God for a team of young people willing to serve in this mission, for the fellowship achieved in this month and for his grace among our brothers and sisters.
—José Manuel Prada Bernal, Agencia Misionera de los Hermanos Menonitas, HEME AQUÍ