If the Spirit and the Church call,
50 years of challenging the EMC!
Volume 50 No. 9 September 2012
If the Spirit
are you prepared to go?
Celebrating the past
We celebrate a faith
Abraham Thiessen, Mennonite
Revolutionary page 14
Christ and the EMC today
hy do people join a local church?
The central reason is that they
are attracted to Christ. Other
factors include being invited by people, seeing
members as friendly, receiving effective pastoral
care, activities for family, and
the meeting place’s location.
Do most people carefully
compare church origins and
histories? It’s unlikely.
And while we pose the
question, “Do you accept the
Statement of Faith of our church?” it’s also
unlikely that the full statement is understood, let
alone accepted. However, central matters can
be refined: are you committed to Christ and to
being a part of his Church with us?
What is most important is to know Christ,
“the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). In light of
this, Peter counsels us to “grow in the grace and
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2
Are togetherness and sound teaching critical?
Absolutely. When Peter speaks of “our Lord,”
both our and Lord matter.
What does this have to do
with our bicentennial celebration? Without Christ, there
would be no EMC today.
The decisions to follow
Christ in Russia, to move to
Canada, to widen our boundaries and to expand
our horizons—these have led to what and where
we are as the EMC today.
Because of Christ, history bears gifts for
which we are indebted. Because of Christ, we
must share these gifts widely.
– Terry M. Smith
Without Christ, there
would be no EMC today.
Caring for the mind
he scandal of the evangelical mind is
that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Dr. Mark A. Noll, an evangelical, made that daring statement in 1996.
U. S. Evangelicals, he said then, displayed “an
extraordinary range of virtues,” but often failed
to display a Christian mind “across the whole
spectrum of modern learning.” They have good
theologians, but are ineffective in working with
science, history, economics, politics, the arts,
and philosophy (The Scandal of the Evangelical
Mind, 3, 6–7).
Does this apply to Canadian evangelicals?
Noll said both no and yes.
To assist all EMC churches, our boards and
committees work hard to produce educational
materials. Most recently, Becoming Neighbours:
Three Conversations on Bridges between
Aborginals and EMC Churches, was produced
by the Social Concerns Committee. Earlier the
Bicentennial Committee produced a study of
our identity and theology: What’s in a Name?
2 The Messenger • September 2012
Has your church benefitted from the materials below (the first three sent to pastors)?
• Going Deeper: Guidance on Six Key
Themes in Anabaptism
• Peace and Discipleship Sermons by
• Peace Sermons by EMCers 2008, 2007
• Follow Me: Exploring More of Our Calling as Christians, a study guide on social
• Theodidaktos: Journal for EMC theology
and education, which looks at questions
• Are you aware of our Christian
Education Update? It’s a pamphlet on
resources produced by the EMC and
In my administrative role, I serve part-time
in Christian Education through publishing
(including The Messenger), planning, and pulpit
ministry. Together we are to care for “the evangelical mind.”
– Terry M. Smith
Table of Contents
With Our Missionaries
With Our Churches
Celebrating the past
Our forebears were committed to the Bible,
advocacy, concern for the poor, and more
– Harvey Plett
If the Spirit and the Church call,
are you prepared to go?
To decide who should go, we rely on the Spirit’s
direction confirmed by the local church
– Ernie Koop
12 We celebrate a faith
We’re celebrating a spiritual journey,
not a story of migration
– Darryl G. Klassen
14 Abraham Thiessen, Mennonite
Though not well received in Manitoba,
Thiessen helped the landless in Russia
– Henry Fast
16 Archives Alcove
Helping the needy and
– Terry M. Smith
26 Writings Shared
Through Fire and Water: An
Overview of Mennonite History and
God and Me: 365 daily devotions
34 Here and Far Away
Waiting and gardening
– Jocelyn R. Plett
35 Stewardship Today
Needed: life specialists
– Sherri Grosz
36 Kids’ Corner
A good beginning
– Loreena Thiessen
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 3
Volume 50 No. 9 September 2012
Applauds writer for article
TERRY M. SMITH
Submissions to The Messenger should be sent to
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Mennonite Conference. It is available to the general public.
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THE Messenger schedule:
No. 10– October 2012 issue
(copy due September 21)
4 The Messenger • September 2012
I want to applaud Rick Bettig for his
article In the Beginning: Why I believe
in a literal six-day creation [July].
I enjoyed his testimony, but even
more appreciated the questions at the
end of the article and his gentle and
timely conclusion where he encouraged us to listen to worthy voices—
those who are advancing the creation
sciences. A valuable contribution to
– Dave Field
Are you kidding me?
A recent article, In the Beginning:
Why I believe in a literal six-day
creation [July] was, I suppose, a follow
up to Ray Hill’s earlier articles that
sparked several responses.
Are you kidding me? Is this such
an important and burning issue that
this time, effort, pros and cons need
to be given to elevate its prominence?
It makes me mindful of Nero fiddling
as Rome burns.
As these types of discussions
continue, we can ignore and isolate
ourselves from the weightier aspects
of “doing justice, loving mercy and
walking humbly with our God.”
As a suggestion, issues raised
by S. Claiborne in The Irresistible
Revolution; the most recent issue of
Sojourners; Nice Girls Don’t Change
the World, L. Hybels; Falling Upward,
R. Rohr; and The Gospel According to
Peanuts, R. Short, would provide, I
believe, greater benefits.
As St. Leonard said,
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in
– Brad Nance
50 years of connec
Volume 50 No. 7 July
ting the EMC!
in the beginning
Why I believe in a
literal six-day creati
Reconciling our faith
and heritage page 9
Braeside: the powe
r of Pentecost is on
display page 12/Braeside—
poder de Pentecostés
en exhibición! page 14
nearly triples, chan
ging in composition
Messenger 50 07.indd
12-07-04 4:33 PM
‘Literal’ is according to genre
In interpretation, the word “literal” is
used in reference to what a text means
and intends to communicate using the
conventions of its genre.
A literal reading must also take
into account the meanings and nuances of the language in which the text
was originally written, the cultural
background in which the text was
written, and the frames of reference
the writer was most likely to have.
To take this one step further, an
ancient text is not required to answer
the questions we bring to it from the
perspective of a different language,
culture, and worldview. “Literal” does
not refer simply to what a text says.
If such was the case we would have
to conclude that creation actually took
place within the space of one single
day (not six) since this is what the
words of Genesis 2:4 actually say (see
the Hebrew text, NASB, and KJV).
When people read Psalm 91:3–4
they aren’t required to think that
some of us are trapped in bird snares
and that God is a big bird who is going
to wrap us up in his wings.
When Jesus is referred to as “the
rock,” we don’t set in to establish if he
is igneous, basalt, or sedimentary. To
say that these examples are “poetry”
and “metaphor” only establishes the
We do not understand Genesis
correctly if we do not understand
that this text is an ancient Israelite
cosmology. The word “literal” cannot
be co-opted as the exclusive domain
of six-day creationists.
– Corey Herlevsen
It boils down to attitude
Ward Parkinson wonders why Nate
never felt comfortable in the church
[What about Nate? July] and speculates whether something might be
lacking in the church that causes this
discomfort. Partly he answers his own
question by saying that the church
used to exist outside the margins of
society and did not care about its
reputation, because it had none.
Yancey, in his latest book has a
chapter titled “Why I would like to
be an alcoholic.” It is because of the
AA meetings where people recognize
their weakness, knowing this will be
with them always.
When troubled they call a buddy,
even though it might be at two in the
morning. Not a common practice in
Everybody introduces himself by
his first name along with the admission that he is an alcoholic. Good
thing to practice in the church too:
“Hi, my name is Wally and I am a sinner and a hypocrite.”
At AA they cheer when a person
drags himself into the meeting late
and disrupts everything. In church,
not so much.
So it seems to me it boils down
to attitude; how we see the church
and ourselves. Perhaps church people
need to feel more comfortable in
Nate’s environment than he in ours.
If enough of us did that we might
be able to shift the church ever so
slightly in a very positive growth
direction. By heeding the admonition
of James and becoming greater doers
we can help ourselves move in that
– Wally Doerksen
Guidelines for letters
Within a Conference comprised
of various voices, the magazine
is to encourage the “community
hermeneutic” toward responsible
Christian belief, teaching, and
Letters published are generally
to comment on issues raised in
The Messenger. The magazine reserves the right to edit letters for
length, style, legality, and taste.
Letters by regular mail and by
fax must contain a handwritten
signature with at least the writer’s
first and last names and an address. For letters by e-mail, the
writer’s name and e-mail address
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signature. The writer’s regular
postal address is to be included in
The writer’s name and general
address are to be published In
sensitive matters, names may be
Letters to the editor should be
250 words or less.
South Texas, here we come!
Enjoy some winter sun
and see the ministries of
Rio Grande Bible Institute
Experience the history of San Antonio and
spend time on the campus of RGBI.
You’ll meet the students, you’ll get together
with the winter workers, and you’ll see
some sights of the area.
Tour dates are February 21 to March 4, 2013.
Contact Freida Johnson at 204-254-3639 or
for more details.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 5
Message two of four
by Harvey Plett
He restarted footwashing, an ordinance still
affirmed in the EMC Statement of Faith and
practiced by some churches (John 13).
Another example of the biblicism of our forebears is the commitment to the teaching of the
way of peace, the way of love, returning good for
evil, overcoming evil with good. This included
non-participation in war (Romans 12:17–21).
Russian authorities were looking for pledges
for the Napoleonic War. The bishop
First, we celebrate the commitment of our
told the administrator to simply
forebears to biblicism (2 Tim. 2:15). This
around and let people pledge supwas demonstrated in Klaas Reimer’s taking a
port. He did, but opposition from
public stand against mistreating
the Kleine Gemeinde (KG) and
servants. To Reimer’s suggestion
NG 2 0
others stopped this.
that beating servants was against
Another peace issue to
the Bible’s teaching, the response
the KG responded was
was, “Come to my house and I’ll
responsibility to apshow you the stick I used to beat
my servant. After the beating the
1812 ~ 2012
Another case to which Reimer
given to the
spoke was where two brothers
held a third brother while a
fourth one beat him severely.
Reimer persisted, saying the Bible teaches, “Do
violence to no one” (Luke 3:14 KJV; Eph. 6:5-9).
Here we find a clear expression of the biblical
Reimer studied the Scripture diligently and
of the two kingdoms: the kingdom of
came across John 13 and footwashing. He noted
under the lordship of Satan and the
in his study that the wording of the biblical text
God under the lordship of Jesus.
talking about footwashing was similar to the
Balzer also taught that the follower of Jesus
wording about communion.
is to live by Jesus’ ethics. By this, he rejected the
In his studies he discovered the Mennonite
dual ethic concept, held by many evangelicals
church had once observed this ordinance but,
then and today, that killing as a soldier is not sin,
in his view, had stopped it because of pride.
Corinthians 3:10 says, “ For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is
laid, which is Jesus Christ.” As we celebrate
our past we remind ourselves of key events that
were significant in our beginnings, were built on
the foundation of Christ, and still are significant
6 The Messenger • September 2012
but killing for personal reasons is. According to
this concept, the one is not wrong because the
government, which we are to obey, has authorized it.
The single ethic says, according to the Bible,
taking the life of another is sin regardless. This
single ethic spoke and speaks to many issues,
including the police force and their carrying of
The dual ethic is based on a flat Bible—involvement in state issues is based largely on the
Old Testament. The KG followed the teaching
that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the
Old. It followed a christocentric interpretation
of the Bible, including the Old Testament. That
is, the Old Testament was and is to be interpreted in light of the New Testament. Jesus is
the clearer revelation (Luke 16:10–13, Acts 5:29;
Advocates for the Mistreated
We celebrate the KG serving as an advocate and
mediator for those wrongly treated (Romans
14:17–19; Matthew 18:15–20). Several examples
bring this out.
When the Mennonite Brethren church was
born in 1860, the colony was going to remove
them. KG leaders stood up for them and
forestalled such action. This did not mean they
accepted the MB’s encouragement to teach the
millennium or pietistic emphasis on emotionalized conversions.
The KG pleaded for the
release of Franz Thiessen and his daughter
Anna who were
arrested for incest by
at the request of
“The single ethic says, according to the Bible, taking the
life of another is sin regardless. This single ethic spoke
and speaks to many issues, including the police force and
their carrying of guns.”
PHOTO: REBECCA ROMAN
– Harvey Plett
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 7
the Grosse Gemeinde. The intercession failed.
Thiessen died in prison and Anna was exiled to
Michael Makowski had converted to the
faith and joined the KG. He and his family were
put under house arrest, for this violated the
Mennonites’ promise not to proselytize. If the
Grosse Gemeinde had requested the Makowskis’
release, they would have been released, but they
Finally, the KG requested the family be
released into their care. This was done, but
not before one of the children had died in the
We celebrate the KG
serving as mediators
for resolving conflicts
The Grosse Gemeinde
brought a complaint
against the KG, and
Russian authorities investigated the KG and
the Grosse Gemeinde;
the KG was exonerated.
The Russian authorities
recruited the KG to be
mediators in various conflicts.
The KG also had the writings of Menno
Simons and the Martyrs Mirror published in
Prussia and then imported to Russia. After they
had made contact with John Funk in Elkhart,
Indiana, they ordered books from him.
Finally, we also take note of some difficult events
that affected the KG. First, there was the humility movement of 1829. Some of the members
insisted in showing one’s humility and spirituality by crying, lying sparsely dressed in the ditch
in the cold.
This came to a head when at a meeting the
brotherhood was asked whether they wanted
Reimer to continue as
leader. The brethren
said yes. Reimer then
took back his leadership
role and brought things
The second event
was the Holdeman
split of 1881. Bishop
Peter Toews invited John
Holdeman to come and
preach a deeper spiritual
life. In the process Holdeman decided the Kleine
Gemeinde members had an invalid baptism
because the elder officiating had been baptized
in the Grosse Gemeinde. The result was that
six KG ministers and some 165 members were
rebaptized and joined Holdeman, and the Holdeman church was born in Manitoba.
Lessons we can learn from these difficulties
are: First, don’t go looking for experiences as the
members of the humility movement did. Rather,
obey God and He will manifest himself to you.
Second, test the speakers you invite to speak in
your churches (1 John 4:1).
As we celebrate our past, let us rejoice and
affirm the biblicism of our forebears and follow
their example of seeking the biblical truth and
then following it. Let us allow the authority of
the Bible to continue to guide us.
We celebrate the Kleine Gemeinde’s
concern for Christian literature
(1 Timothy 2:15). As one reads
the early KG leaders one finds
sprinkled throughout references
to early Anabaptist leaders
Support of the Poor
We celebrate the KG concern and support
for the poor (Romans 12:20; Hebrews 13:16).
Because of the many landless in their midst, the
KG decided to start a new colony to help them.
As a result, the Borosenko colony was founded.
When they migrated to Canada, they helped
those who didn’t have adequate funds so all
who wanted to emigrate were able to. This also
happened when the KG moved from Jansen,
Nebraska, to Kansas.
We celebrate their concern for Christian literature (1 Timothy 2:15). As one reads the early KG
leaders one finds sprinkled throughout references to early Anabaptist leaders such as Menno
Simons, Peter Peters, Dirk Philips, Georg Hansen, Peter Janz-Twisk, Claas Gangloff, Thieleman
J. von Bracht and Jan Philipsz Schabaelje.
8 The Messenger • September 2012
Harvey Plett, BA, MDiv, MA, PhD, has served,
and continues to serve, the EMC in many capacities. He is a member of the EMC Bicentennial
Committee. He spoke on Saturday evening at the
EMC national convention.
If the Spirit and
the Church call,
are you prepared to go?
by Ernie Koop
o carry out Christ’s mission in the world, we need people prepared
to go. To decide who should go, we rely on the Spirit’s direction
confirmed by the Church. If the Spirit and the Church call, are you
prepared to go?
Don’t be too quick to disqualify yourself. Often in Scripture we see that
God’s purposes are not dependent on the person’s gifts and abilities. God
frequently chooses the weak and insignificant.
Abraham was old and childless, Israel was “the least of all the nations,” and
the disciples were uneducated fishermen. Why does God choose the insignificant? It’s that his glory and power might be demonstrated through us.
The New Testament Church is God’s chosen instrument for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. We are to actively participate in God’s missional purposes. However, because God frequently works through weakness, the Church
dare not focus only on giftedness and ability.
God’s call is not limited only to the most able or gifted. The Church has an
important task: to determine whom God sends and how he chooses those he
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 9
The Book of Acts
The Book of Acts gives us a great glimpse of the
working out of God’s missional purposes in the
Early Church. However, much of Acts describes
what happened rather than tells us what we are
to do. Caution must be exercised in the search
for principles and directives relating to church
life and mission.
The Spirit and the community work together to
set apart some Christians for special service.
Remember, too, God is not bound by the
Church. God has chosen the Church as an
instrument of his salvific purposes, but he is not
limited to the Church’s obedience. God is infinitely resourceful and, although he invites us to
join in kingdom work, he is capable of furthering his kingdom through many other means.
In Acts 1:8 the “witnesses” are to be guided by
the Holy Spirit and they are to be missional.
Just as God’s call to Abraham, and Israel, had
been particular in method and universal in
scope, here God’s “commissioning” has the
larger purpose in view. Acts 1:8 could be a
model for the church’s involvement in the world,
both local and foreign.
Acts clearly reveals the Holy Spirit’s central
role in calling, initiating and sending. However,
this does not preclude human responsibility and
initiative in hearing the Holy Spirit and acting
upon his call.
In Acts 6:1–7 it was the church that chose,
prayed, and then “laid hands on” (commissioned) the seven. In Acts 9:15–19 God chose
Saul and Ananias; “laid hands on” him (compare
Jeremiah 1:5). In Acts 11:25 Barnabas “chose”
Saul and brought him to Antioch, and in 12:25
Saul and Barnabas “chose” John Mark to serve
Then, in Acts 13:1–3, the Holy Spirit “chose”
Saul and Barnabas for a special assignment. The
believers at Antioch fasted and prayed and, in
obedience to the call of the Spirit of the Lord,
laid their hands upon the two men, a sign both
10 The Messenger • September 2012
The Holy Spirit and Recruitment
of their recognition of God’s anointing and of
their responsibility as a church.
Whereas the advance of the gospel from
Jerusalem seems to have resulted from visitors
to Pentecost (Acts 2:1–12) and persecution
(Acts 8:1–8; 11:19–26), the extension of the
gospel outward from Antioch seems to have
resulted from the Holy Spirit’s direction as the
church worships in obedience, and potentially
the “encouragement” and teaching of Paul and
As we expect in Acts, nothing begins
without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. Barnabas and Saul are “set apart” for a new stage of
mission, but they are not “free agents” moving at
their own initiative. This new step in outreach
has been declared by the Spirit and is now
confirmed by the church through prayer, fasting,
and the laying on of hands.
The Spirit and Community
The Spirit and the community work together
to set apart some Christians for special service
(pastoral, missions, leadership, etc.). Luke does
not tell us how the Spirit’s will was made
known (Acts 13:2), although we can assume that
it might have been through a revelation given to
a believer. Neither does he tell us the nature of
the special ministry for which the two were set
apart, though from what follows it is clearly a
mission to Gentiles.
The Holy Spirit not only initiated, called, and
sent the missionaries into the Gentile mission,
he also continued to direct the mission on the
field (Acts 13–14). The Holy Spirit is still the
agent of initiating, calling, sending, and directing
the unfolding of the mission of God just as in the
life of the Early Church.
The Local Church
It is in the context of the local church, while they
are worshipping, fasting, and praying, that the
Holy Spirit gives direction regarding the ones he
has called. The laying on of hands, or commissioning, binds the entire church as participants
and supporters of the work to which Paul and
Barnabas are being called.
In Antioch, missions grew out of the local
church, rather than being grafted onto it; and
the first missionaries received their call in their
church, not at a “missions conference.” The call
came through prayer, not persuasion; and the
church claimed responsibility for mission by laying hands upon the missionaries before releasing
The church at Antioch worked in partnership with Paul (he had received a missionary
call already on the Damascus road) in a new
missionary venture and Paul, in turn, recruited
coworkers from other churches (Acts 16:1–2).
What is key here? The local church has a
role in confirming, if not explicitly articulating,
the will of God that a person enter missionary
service. Paul received his call in person, but
Ananias and the church at Antioch confirmed
it. Timothy was recommended by the church at
Lystra (Acts 16:1–2).
Finally, the missionaries were commissioned
by the laying on of hands and prayer (Acts
13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6), showing a
special anointing of the Spirit, a setting aside for
ministry, and a public recognition of the person’s
gifting and spiritual role.
In this case, God calls those among the
most gifted out from the larger community.
These two are an integral part of the community,
having ministered there for at least a year. Who
are you (or your local church) prepared to send
forth for this ministry?
Those sent are qualified to plant new works
on the basis of their previous contribution to
the church. The logic of Romans 10:14–15 is
irresistible: just as Paul and Barnabas were sent
out by the church of Antioch (Acts 13:1–3), the
need remains today for sent ones (missionaries)
to bring the message of Christ to those who
have not heard.
The Spirit sometimes calls the weak and
insignificant. He sometimes calls the most gifted
who are actively serving in the church. Are you
prepared to listen to the
Spirit and to the Church?
Ernie Koop (EFC Steinbach),
BTh, MDiv, DMin, is professor of mission and Bible
at Steinbach Bible College,
and has experienced crosscultural ministry in Mexico
Dr. David Weave
Forgiveness and Mental Health
A Stepping Stone to Recovery
Mental Health Workshop
Dr. David Weaver-Zercher
Dr. Randy Goossen
Date: Oct 11, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (8:15-8:45 registration)
Location: Bergthaler Mennonite Church,
252 6th Street, Winkler, MB
Eden Health Care Services
Box 129 Winkler, MB
(204) 325-5355 / 1-866-895-2919
in Grantham, Penn
Zercher has co-au
How Forgiveness T
Grace explores th
multiple murders in
beliefs that led the
It examines forgive
and secular notion
Zercher will discus
mental health issu
Dr. Randy Gooss
of Community Me
Professor at the Un
his passion for ‘co
a special interest a
& mental health a
forgiveness as it re
Dr. Goossen has tr
various third world
Haiti, Belize and N
who enjoys spend
with his family.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 11
WE CELEBRATE A
by Darryl G. Klassen
NG 2 0
12 The Messenger • September 2012
My great-great-grandfather, David Klassen, along with another KG
delegate and other delegates (about a dozen in all), came in 1873 to
check out this new province.
1812 ~ 2012
One family story was that the group was chased by Indians. I had
romantic images of men on horseback racing across the prairies with
arrows flying over their heads.
What actually happened was that the teamster who was driving their wagon
saw an aboriginal youth ride too close and he reached out and smacked him.
The youth went back to his family and told them what happened. A tribe of
angry warriors came and surrounded the place where David and the delegates
The teamster snuck off and alerted the North West Mounted Police and
rode to the rescue with some constables. When the NWMP discovered the
true nature of the disturbance, the teamster was arrested and the Indians went
Drama and locusts
anada was a new nation in 1867 and looking to stake its claim on the
expanding West. As a result of Louis Riel’s failed rebellion in 1870, the
Canadian government decided to take a largely undeveloped expanse
of land and create a province.
Three years later, a small group of Mennonite believers in Russia felt
strongly that it was time to leave the Steppes (plains) of Ukraine and find a new
home. Their primary motivation was to find a country that allowed them to
practice their faith according to their understanding of Scripture.
This small group was an offshoot of the larger Mennonite Church, which
they had broken away from in 1812 in pursuit of a deeper spiritual life. This tiny
church, the Kleine Gemeinde, chose Manitoba as their potential home.
A seed of faith
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a
mustard seed, which a man took and planted
in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your
seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of
garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the
birds of the air come and perch in its branches”
One of those mustard seeds was planted in
Manitoba soil 138 years ago. Jesus has planted
many of his seeds throughout the world, but this
seed was planted in the prairie grass of a new
province that needed settlers. Canada has been
settled by a variety of peoples and cultures, but
this was a seed of faith.
What we celebrate this year as a bicentennial
is not a story of migration. We celebrate rather
a spiritual journey that God instigated and
sustained through many joys and trials. A tiny
group of people sought to be faithful to what
God had set before them. Like the tiny mustard
seed, the faith of this unassuming people blossomed into something only God could grow.
The original intent of the Kleine Gemeinde
church in leaving Russia was to find a place
where they could practice their faith in peace,
teach their children in the German language,
and freely declare their belief in non-aggression
or say “no” to joining the military. Canada gave
them this privilege in the beginning, though in
time some of these freedoms eroded.
No longer quiet
What the KG pilgrims did not count on or even
dream about was that their descendants would
go on to be more than “the quiet in the land.”
They might be shocked to know how loud we
Today, the 150 families now comprise nearly
8,000 members in 62 churches from British
Columbia to Southern Ontario. There are
thousands more who are no longer called EMC,
but have a heritage link to us and fill many more
churches, both in pew and pulpit. Even those
who no longer call themselves Mennonite cannot deny that the faith passed down to them has
shaped their present and future.
The widening circle of the Conference now
includes not just Dutch/
German/Russian descendants, but others of French,
Ukrainian, Swiss, English,
Aboriginal, Spanish, and
African backgrounds, to
name a few. The beauty
of a faith like ours is that
cultural walls are meant
to be broken down so that
all may come and know
Jesus. We in the EMC have
a particular perspective of
Jesus and we want to share
him with others.
This is probably the
biggest difference between
our forebears and us: they
wanted to live quietly in
faith and peace, while we
have heard the call of God
to evangelize the world.
Despite the drama and the potential hostility of this land, the believers decided that they
could maintain their peaceful ways in Manitoba.
So in 1874 the Kleine Gemeinde left Russia.
About 150 families of what we now call the
Evangelical Mennonite Conference landed in
two parties: at Scratching River (near Morris)
and Winnipeg. They found marshy, stony fields
and clouds of mosquitoes.
The group set about to plant crops that first
summer of 1875. But large clouds came on the
horizon, not of rain, but of locusts and destroyed
the crops. It took another three years before
these pioneers could get a decent crop. They
dreamt of the fertile lands back in Russia.
Somehow, despite regrets and major setbacks, the pioneers remained steadfast. It is said
that this determination was grounded in large
part on faith. These pilgrims believed they were
led to Manitoba by God and, therefore, God had
a purpose for them staying. And stay they did.
Eventually life got better for the little Mennonite group. They developed townships like
If you look at a map of Steinbach you see
a square with a diagonal main street running
across it. This was designed in part because of
where the creek, or Stony Brook, was, and in accordance with the Russian style of narrow farm
tracts extending from the main road. Steinbach
is what it is today thanks to these Kleine Gemeinde farmers.
Like the tiny mustard
seed, the faith of
into something only
God could grow.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 13
The riches of his glory
Since the 1950s the EMC has had a vibrant
missions program that today carries 200 missionaries abroad. We have sent missionaries with
the gospel of Jesus Christ to parts of Africa, to
Germany, to Nicaragua, to Paraguay, to Bolivia,
to Mexico and to several other locations through
associate missionary agencies.
A tiny conference is having a huge kingdombuilding impact. We do not boast in this, but
give thanks to God that he has done great things
with so humble a people and beginnings.
As I represent the EMC here, I echo the
apostle Paul on our behalf, “Now I rejoice in
A tiny conference is having a huge
kingdom-building impact. We do not
boast in this, but give thanks to God.
what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my
flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s
afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the
church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word
of God in its fullness— the mystery that has
been kept hidden for ages and generations, but
is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has
chosen to make known among the Gentiles the
glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in
you, the hope of glory.
“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may
present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end
I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so
powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:24–29).
We invite you to visit our churches and share
our journey with us. We welcome you. To the
glory and praise of God through Jesus Christ our
Pastor Darryl G. Klassen
(Kleefeld), BRS, MA, spoke at
the EMC Community Celebration on August 21, 2012,
held on the shared parking
lot of the EMC national office
and Steinbach EMC. This is
shortened slightly from his
14 The Messenger • September 2012
r. C. Krahn coined the description
Mennonite Revolutionary for
Abraham Thiessen, a member of
the Kleine Gemeinde church in Russia, in
an article he wrote for Mennonite Life in
1969. Others might have called Thiessen a
It seems from letters and newspaper
reports of the day that the KG people in
Manitoba would have leaned to the latter
description of Abraham Thiessen at the time
of his visit here in 1877.
Abraham Thiessen (1838–1889) was born
to a former KG minister Peter and his wife
Margaretha of Schoenau, in the Molotschna
colony of Russia. Abraham, too, joined this
congregation in his youth.
In the 1860s Abraham with some other
men became involved with advocating land
reform in the colony. The colony had many
acres of reserve land that, as the colony
population increased, had been reserved for
Meanwhile, well-to-do farmers were
renting the land for their own profit and
were reluctant to release the land for its
intended purpose. Abraham led the fight
against the colony administrators in support
of dividing this land among the landless.
Evidently because of Abraham’s aggressive involvement in administrative affairs
(contrary to church practices) and some
personal shortcomings, the church excommunicated Abraham in 1864. Disagreement
on the procedure of Abraham’s discipline
caused the church to split, and Abraham was
reinstated into membership in the smaller
group in 1866.
However, Abraham continued to be involved in the land reform movement, which
eventually led to his imprisonment and exile
to Siberia in 1874. He managed to escape
his exile and made his way to Switzerland in
1876. Likely he arrived in the U.S. that same
NG 2 0
Henry Fast is a retired schoolteacher, a historian, and a member of the EMC Bicentennial Committee. He served for many years
on the EMC Archives Committee.
1812 ~ 2012
MENNONITE LIFE, APRIL 1969
Abraham continued to be involved in the
land reform movement, which eventually
led to his imprisonment and exile to Siberia
in 1874. He managed to escape in 1876.
Abraham immediately continued his altruistic, yet sometimes
doubtful, concern for the poor
by visiting the Manitoba KG in
the fall of 1877. His reception
here was less than enthusiastic as
indicated from excerpts of letters
written by Jacob L. Dueck of
(December 1877) The escaped
Abraham Thiessen visited here
in fall. He had been given a free
ticket out there in order to act as a
lumber agent here. When he realized that we were not interested in
him and that there was no hope of
gain he turned his back on us.
In another letter Dueck adds
the following information: (November 1877): Now dear brother
I need to mention that Abraham
Thiessen from Nebraska was here
last fall. He wanted to take people
along with him without cost as if
he believed that people would accept him as a redeemer. I only saw
Abraham Thiessen once during his
visit here. On Sunday as we left
the worship service in Rosenfeld
we met Abraham walking toward
Rosenfeld. In the afternoon he had
tried to visit Johann Duecks but
they were not home. After this he
walked to Tannenau and arranged
for a ride to Winnipeg.
For a more detailed account of
Abraham Thiessen’s life, see the
GAMEO article on him and consult Delbert Plett’s book, Storm
and Triumph, 259–265.
by Henry Fast
Abraham Thiessen, Petersburg, Russia (date unknown)
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 15
Columns • archives alcove
Helping the needy
by Terry M. Smith
id Klaas Reimer and other KG leaders
in Russia show concern for people
beyond their church and cultural
circles? Did they intercede with government on
Historians provide some information. Dr.
Royden Loewen says the KG disciplined members who mistreated workers.
Delbert Plett, the late historian, lists instances of how KG members were disciplined
for striking a worker, for treating a servant girl
“too harshly,” or for “revenge” against a worker
(Plett, Sinners and Saints, 272). Klaas Reimer
strongly opposed the beating of workers.
In 1848 the KG contributed 483 rubles “to
the Russian government for the support of lawful authority and order”—though an elder said
later it had not “known the money would be
used to purchase military horses” (Sinners, 273).
During the Crimean War (1853–56),
the KG held a collection for “the nursing
care of wounded soldiers.” Some KGers
cared for wounded soldiers, including
Anna Wiebe whose teen son Jacob transported supplies to the front and brought
back injured soldiers (Sinners, 273).
This Crimean involvement was not
beyond later criticism. Peter Toews (d.
1922) thought the KG had compromised
its faith (Harvey Plett, Seeking to Be
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PUBLIC DOMAIN
During the Crimean
War (1853–56), the
held a collection for
“the nursing care of
16 The Messenger • September 2012
In 1849 the KG were commended “for grain
which was provided to the Jews” (Sinners, 273).
The circumstances are unclear.
Once when Klaas Reimer sought to buy
land, a Russian official asked if he would take
the serfs that came with it; he said yes. Then the
official said it was wrong for Mennonites to own
people, and Reimer backed off from the deal,
knowing he had erred (Delbert Plett, Leaders,
125). There’s no indication Reimer suggested to
the official that it was wrong for anyone to own
Pieter Pieters, a Dutch Mennonite preacher
(d. 1651) whose writings were popular among
the KG, spoke against individuals who “tightfistedly seek to beat the labourer out of his remuneration even though he very well knows that
it is impossible to subsist from such a miserly
wage.” He held that those “who increase their
empire” by eating “the flesh of the poor” fall
under the judgment of God mentioned in James
5 (GAMEO and Sinners, 273).
Delbert Plett says some KGers “were
motivated by a faith which called people to
a radically new vision of social justice within
society” and that their efforts for the needy and
oppressed came a century earlier than MCC,
MEDA, and MDS (Sinners, 275).
Historians give evidence that the KG in
Russia did at times seek the well being of those
beyond their church and cultural circles. This
fits the first part of Gal. 6:10: “let us do good to
If, though, some KG members in Russia did
have “a radically new vision of social justice
within society” as Delbert Plett held, how far
did it extend or last? Did KG leaders intercede
before government on behalf of Russian or
More evidence would help us decide whether
Delbert Plett’s interpretation is fair or a wellintentioned over-statement.
Detail of Franz Roubaud’s panoramic painting
The Siege of Sevastopol (Crimean War).
With Our Missionaries
A big challenge of a cross-cultural
worker is being far away from family.
Our family is currently spread around
the world and regular get-togethers
We also miss the church family,
especially starting a church plant.
Typically, in the first months the
attendance is low and much of the
ministry must be done by the workers.
Further challenges are the differences of language and cultural norms
and practices. The success and the
survival for each of us is our ability
to adapt to and embrace these differences. On the positive side, there is a
rich opportunity for learning.
In Guadalajara, the process of
greeting each other is special. When
people meet they always greet each
other. Men will shake hands with
other men and sometimes hug closer
Men with women, and women
to women, will greet cheek to cheek,
kissing the air. When both entering
and leaving, it is important to greet
each person. Younger men have a
ritual of hand slapping, hugging, and
a handshake or derivatives.
It has been enriching to start the
church plant here in Guadalajara
along with two couples and their
families. We have had several dedicated ministry teams join us to pray
and serve. These experiences have
been encouraging and rewarding.
Our neighbours watch us. They
know when teams and family members come. This gives a whole new
meaning to neighborhood watch.
They want to know who we are and
what we are doing. This gives us
opportunity for meaningful conversations. Our presence makes a difference, and our testimony goes way
beyond our words and conversations.
The key for us is to use our weaknesses and our strengths as bridges
into our neighbours’ lives. Being Canadian is a privilege in Mexico. Many
ask why we would live here when
many would prefer to live in Canada.
Being humble and willing to learn
their culture is a great door opener.
We’ve had many occasions to
invite people to a meal and they, in
turn, introduce us to their favourite
dishes. Many of our neighbors don’t
have family close by; our friendship
and that of our little community of
believers is a great gift we can offer to
wealthier yet lonely people.
We sometimes explore the sites
of Mexico, in the city or surrounding
area. Recently we drove to Teuchitlan
to see ruins that date to Christ’s time.
Mexico has much to offer, but so do
we, as we allow the Spirit of Christ to
engage the gospel with their lives.
With family and friends far away,
Jesus’ words become significant: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one
who has left house or brothers or
sisters or father or mother or wife or
children or lands, for My sake and the
gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses
and brothers and sisters and mothers
and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal
life” (Mark 10:29–30).
– John Reimer
John and Connie Reimer (Community
Bible Church, Swan River) serve in a
church planting team in the city of
Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico.
PHOTO COURTESY JOHN REIMER
EMC cross-cultural workers in Mexico recently travelled to see ruins at Teuchitlan (pictured
are Connie Reimer, Tara Wiebe, and Faith Siemens with Emma.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 17
With Our Missionaries
Seven years and a
In October 2005, my wife Lorna and
I began work with EMC Germanspeaking churches in Chihuahua State,
Mexico. We were sent to help them
become autonomous in both personnel and finances.
We soon found that they would
need to take two major steps simultaneously: local leaders and local
finances. The EMC Board of Missions
had to a large extent supplied both
of these since the founding of the
Since the BOM’s policy stated that
they could not pay foreign workers,
other avenues had to be explored to
help pay local pastors, should they
become available. That local pastors
would be found seemed a daunting
The EMMC also had three churches here in Mexico, and they shared the
desire to help their churches become
autonomous; the two conferences
soon joined forces.
Negotiations, in which Peter and
Martha Doerksen played a vital role,
were started with mission boards
to implement a subsidy program;
this would allow churches to make a
gradual change instead of a sudden
one. This, in turn, would make it
much more possible to make these
The mission boards accepted a
five-year subsidy that has helped the
churches tremendously on the road to
autonomy. This year, 2012, is the last
year of this subsidy plan, and many of
Service Opportunities with EMC
Bolivia: November 1–12, 2012
School construction project in Pailon
Bolivia: January 2013
San Jose Ministry Centre
Mexico ministry with the Mexican CEMM
(Spanish-language Conference) including
DVBS and camp ministry.
the desired changes have successfully
Early on, the decision was made to
join the EMC and EMMC churches
in Mexico to form a conference today
known as the Conferencia Misionera
Evangelica (CME, Evangelical Missionary Conference). Today the CME
consists of seven churches: five in
Chihuahua State and two in Durango
These churches decided from the
start to donate 10 per cent of their
income to the CME, which uses this
money to help churches with projects
and to start a mission program. The
mission program is still on a fairly
minor scale, but the CME is heading
in the right direction; we see this as
positive and are thankful for it.
One negative experience in the
forming of the CME was the closing
of the Camp 67 church.
On behalf of the CME churches I
want to extend a heartfelt thank you
to both the EM and EMM conferences in Canada for their moral and
financial support during this transitional time. Without your support
these changes would have been much
May God reward you for, first
of all, bringing the gospel to these
people and for standing by these
– John Wall
A one-year internship beginning January
2013 in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Paraguay: February 2013
Guadalajara: February 2013
For more details on these opportunities, contact Diana Peters
at [email protected] or 204-326-6401.
18 The Messenger • September 2012
Lorna and John Wall are part of Straffordville EMC in southern Ontario.
With Our Missionaries
follow and go
excited to have copies of Scripture in
their own language.
Thank you for being a part of this
new church plant team to the Pei.
Thank you for praying for all of these
new NTBI students as they dig into
God’s Word and study it so he can
change their lives and prepare them
to pass on the learning.
– Kim and Dave Field
“To Wisconsin in August”—
this is what I saw on a student’s box as they unloaded
their vehicle today.
One hundred and nine
new students are on their
way here to New Tribes
Bible Institute from all
around the country. The
beginning of a new school
year is exciting for students
as they meet roommates,
sign up for classes, find
their way around the building, and begin settling into
their new life here.
The dorm rooms are
bursting at the seams, as
enrollment is high. God
has amazing things in store
for all these students in these next
two years as they study the Word and
grow in their faith walk with the Lord.
Let me tell you about some of our
friends who have already studied at
NTBI, taken the training, and are now
Tony and Tara Sutton and their
family work in Papua New Guinea
(PNG) where they are involved with
finding new people groups who are
so remote they have never had the
PHOTOS COURTESY DAVE FIELD
God has amazing things in store for all
these students in these next two years
as they study the Word and grow in
their faith walk with the Lord.
The Dinangat believers in Papua New Guinea are excited to have copies of Scripture in
their own language.
opportunity to hear about Christ.
Just recently, the survey team
found a people group called the Pei
who have no written language, no
Scriptures, no “In the beginning
God....” There are two families
and one single lady who are
new missionaries to PNG;
they are ready to be allocated
to this people group.
They are right now in
the process of moving there,
building a house, starting relationships, and studying the
culture and language. All of
this so that one day they can
see a new church being born
who finally will know about
what Christ has done for them.
Ralf and Elli Schlegel,
missionaries in the Dinangat
people group in PNG, just
finished translating Mark and
1 Corinthians and just began 2
Timothy. The believers are so
Dave and Kim Field (Steinbach EMC)
serve at New Tribes Bible Institute in
SAVE THE DATE
to the core
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2012
CALLING TO CONNECT GALA
With Special GueStS
Janet Stewart, Wilma Derksen & JJ Lavallee
Reserve your tickets and tables today to this
annual, sold-out event by contacting Laurie at
582-8779 or [email protected]
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 19
With Our Missionaries
Both the EMC and the Lovangai
church, located in north-eastern
Papua New Guinea, desire to use
biblical texts to shape and influence
the way they live. Both talk out loud
in their gatherings and events in order
to influence people towards right
The books of the Bible were
composed as individual texts and
EMC church members are commonly
taught to engage with them as individual readers and students. In the
early Christian movement, however,
the practice of oratory—speaking
out loud to audience groups in order
to influence or persuade—was an
integral part of how the texts were
designed to be used.
When the New Testament writings
were composed, an author would
expect the text to be learned and
studied by a trained reader-speaker
for the purpose of performing it out
loud to a group of hearers.
“Let the reader understand” (Mark
13:14), for example, is not given to
any and every individual reader, but
is a signal to the one who reads out
loud—the performer—to be careful
to perform the text in the right way.
It was hearers, rather than individual
silent readers, that were supposed to
be affected by the text.
We can assume that for the earliest
audience groups the text was a speaking and hearing event and not an
individual experience of reading as we
often know it.
In the years that I participated in
the Lovangai church I saw and heard
church members continually speaking in groups of all kinds. Important
20 The Messenger • September 2012
“Let the reader understand”
(Mark 13:14) is a signal
to the one who reads out
be careful to perform the
text in the right way.
matters were talked about and people
were speaking to try to shape and
influence the group to live in certain
I also saw soon how certain texts
were highly esteemed in the church
and in many homes. The Bible in
Tok Pisin, Kuanua and English, and
a church hymnal were used heavily. I
also saw other texts being written and
used for various purposes.
Studies of “traditional peoples”
have often made a sharp distinction
between orality and reading and have
tended to assume that “we in the
Western world” are a literate society
or a print culture while “traditional
societies” are oral. I found, though,
that Lovangais are both text people
and oral people.
In some important senses this
was similar to what I knew from my
EMC experience. Though there is
a high education and literacy level
among the EMC and texts are used
for a variety of purposes, this does not
It is absurd to imagine EMC
events consisting only of texts being
read silently—or even aloud. For we
know the importance in our meetings
and gatherings of prepared as well as
Imagine our funerals, worship
services, prayer meetings, Sunday
School discussion groups, youth
events and pastoral counselling
sessions; and then consider how flat
and lifeless—even impossible—these
would be without the spoken and
These gatherings, essential to our
life of faith as a group of people, are
constituted in a significant way by the
continual speaking we do with and to
one another about important things.
Orality is alive and well among us, the
so-called “print culture people.”
– Lesley and Marianne Fast
Lesley and Marianne Fast (Blumenort)
worked with the Lovangai church
on a Bible translation and literacy
project from 1986 to 2000. Currently
Marianne works with Wycliffe Netherlands and Lesley works in Europe as
a translation tutor and as translation
consultant for Romani translation
Subscribe to The Messenger
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With Our Missionaries
Working for justice
Being the church that works for justice
and peace—that was the topic of a
weekend in Matamoros, Tamaulipas
State, when we joined workers from
other conferences and parts of Mexico
in a common goal and purpose.
Justice and peace are relevant, as
Mexico’s violence and unrest continues to be of great concern.
Our speaker, Ricardo Esquivia, a
renowned human rights lawyer and
Colombian Mennonite, engaged us in
discussion on who we are as Anabaptists and what our role is in society.
What is the health of the Church? Are
we in any condition to help society?
We need to not only be willing to
help, but also have training. Just as
someone suffering a heart attack seeks
help from medics and doctors, the
Church needs to be trained to know
how to offer solutions of justice and
peace to society.
When the Church enters society in
a positive, transforming way, society
becomes aware and appreciative of it.
Instead of critiquing or turning a blind
eye to the darkness, the Church needs
to light a candle in the darkness. The
question is how.
With great skill Ricardo guided us
from the theoretical to the practical,
saying the Anabaptist church needs to
have an ethical and political presence
We were asked to list the critical issues the church is facing now.
Among those were: victims of violence (Chihuahua State alone has over
16,000 orphans), the war over water
(in Chihuahua), migration, Anabaptist
identity, kidnappings, and others.
We were asked to prioritize and
chose one issue. A task force was
formed to investigate, combat and
PHOTO COURTESY RODRIGO DE AVILA
Ricardo helped us begin to see how the Anabaptist church in
Mexico can influence society, promoting and initiating peace.
Ricardo Esquivia Ballest,
give a voice for the Mennonite church
There is a desire for the church in
Mexico to be proactive in seeking the
peace of a nation. The vision is being
caught, and people are having faith
that God will do great things through
Using practical examples from his
experiences, Ricardo helped us begin
to see how the Anabaptist church in
Mexico can influence society, promoting and initiating peace. Ricardo
stated that the essence of peace is
With its more than 40 years of
constructing peace in Colombia,
Ricardo concludes that the Mennonite
church there has become recognized
by society and government as an
important voice in bringing peace to
It was amazing to see how the
Anabaptist Churches of Mexico
(IAMUM) desire to work together.
other Mennonites were represented.
There were leaders from six Mennonite conferences covering seven
It was amazing to have times of
worship led by each group, united by
a common identity, both in Christ and
as Anabaptists. To reconnect with
many friends from Chihuahua region,
and to engage and network with other
pastors and congregations was a
May we have wisdom and unity
as we seek peace and pursue it in the
context where God has placed his
– LeRoy Siemens
LeRoy Siemens (EFC Steinbach) is part
of a church planting team in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 21
With Our Missionaries
Calls to prayer
in France and
PHOTOS COURTESY APUL THIESSEN
Lois and I finally have arrived in
Having my passport and vaccination booklet stolen at the Gare de l’Est
upon our arrival in Paris on August
9 was traumatic. Friday and Monday
(Aug. 10 and 13) were challenging
days of getting a new passport in
Paris, as well as a new visa for Burkina
Faso and a new document to prove
that I have had my yellow fever vaccination. God helped us accomplish
all of those things.
The people at the Canadian
Embassy, the Burkina Faso Embassy,
and the Winnipeg Regional Health
Authority were all extremely kind,
helpful, and efficient as they helped
replace my stolen documents. I
must add Janet Oakley at Holiday
The call to prayer reminds
me to give thanks to
God for his guidance,
protection, love, and care.
Travel—she rescheduled our flight.
In between those
busy days, we had
Saturday and Sunday
in Paris, where the
turned out to be
enjoyable and uplifting. These were
relaxing days where Lois and I strolled
through the city, enjoyed meals, and
attended a Catholic church service on
Sunday morning; an enormous pipe
organ helped us to worship God.
On Monday, near the Burkina
Faso embassy we were amazed by the
flower display at the Jardin de Luxembourg: dalias, brown eyed susans,
petunias, bachelors buttons, daisies
and more (Lois knew their names) in a
luscious bed of greenery.
This garden was the background
setting for a prayer time, where Lois
and I talked to God about the challenges, needs, and goals of our new
beginning in Burkina Faso.
So here we are in Ouagadougou.
We had supper with Anne and Daniel
Kompaoré at their house last night,
and then they left for Paris (on their
way to Canada) probably on the same
Air France jet that we arrived in.
Today, Wednesday, is a national
holiday (Catholic) in France and in
Burkina Faso: The Assumption of
Mary. So we can’t do official business
22 The Messenger • September 2012
Mosque near Tin, Burkina Faso
We plan to have
lunch with Carol
Bergen, a Mennonite Brethren
want to visit Sonde
this afternoon. After
a few days in Ouaga, we hope to take
the bus to Bobo on the weekend.
In France in every village, and
on many street corners in Paris, we
heard church bells ringing. We heard
them every hour on the hour in
Grendelbruch (the village where our
son Jonathan and Cécile got married
In Burkina Faso you hear the Muslim call to prayer in every village and
on most street corners in Ouagadougou. We heard that call this morning.
The church bells and the call from
the minaret are calls to prayer. At least
I take them as such. All of these call us
to pause and reflect on the Creator of
Heaven and Earth.
I would like to once again allow
the Muslim call to prayer to remind
me to pause and talk to my Father
in Heaven. Today the call to prayer
reminds me to give thanks to God for
his guidance, protection, love, and
care during the past hectic week.
– Paul Thiessen
Paul and Lois Thiessen (Blumenort)
recently returned to full-time service in
With Our Churches
Our CAMPOUT was CAPITAL!
Roseisle, Man.—The weekend of
July 20–22, 2012, those from our
congregation who chose to gathered
at Stephenfield Provincial Park for a
summer retreat. Let me tell you about
Campers, Coolers, Crowds
of Children (and adults) Converged around the Campfire
on Friday night. We were a Congregation ready to spend time in God’s
Air conditioning? Some
thought they needed it, but
most of us were happy to be
out in the fresh Air enjoying the Awesome weather. Apparently the odd
Air mattress went flat—but even with
their Aching backs, Adults were Able
to Amble out of their tents in the A.M.
The Music was Melodious,
some of it led with lively
Motion and Movement
by Multiple Members of our Mighty
army of camp workers! The Morning
Muffins were oh so….MMM! and the
Memories Made oh so…Memorable!
Hot dog roast
Our Pastor Preached without
a Pulpit, we Played together,
acted out Parables, sat at Picnic
tables and ate Pie iron Pizzas. Pancakes? No, Roseisle EMC eats waffles.
The Outhouse was Often Occupied, but it was also a good
spot to hang the schedule so
Our weekend was kept Organized
and in good Order. The Outcry of
“Ouch” was Overheard when an
Old hand at living in the bush
and cooking Over fires, touched
the Oven-hot end of the roasting
Them in Trailers and pulled Them
behind bikes. On Saturday night, our
Thoughts were of joy and Thanksgiving, but we also shared Tears as Three
members from our Roseisle EMC
Tribe shared personal Testimonies of
God’s faithfulness, Teaching, Tenderness and perfect Timing Through life.
On Sunday, we Trekked back home,
Tired but Thrilled we had been part
of a Tremendous weekend.
– Eleanor Friesen
Some of Us may have
been exposed to UV rays
while participating in an
Unruly game of water polo that
many were Up for and Unafraid
of! Unsuspecting individuals also
ended Up Under water.
Tiny babies Tented for
the first Time, little
Tikes Traveled about
on Their Trikes or, if They
were lucky, Their parents put
Lots of visiting was done during mealtimes
around picnic tables.
Some of our Winkler Bible Camp workers teach us camp songs with
motion and movement: Lucas Klassen, Kelby Friesen, Katelyn Friesen.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 23
With Our Churches
Abbeydale Christian Fellowship
Graduation, new members, and service
Calgary, Alta.—June was
In June, Family Camp
an exciting month. On June
was held on the shores of
9 we celebrated the high
Sylvan Lake. Besides lots of
school graduation of Jamie
fun, games, visiting and eatAnderson, Felix Boateng,
ing we were inspired by the
Crystal Esau and Thomas
stories of how God called
Mann with a “red carpet”
two of our members into
evening to honour their
accomplishment and wish
Jackie Kornelson, who
them well as they move on.
is in her fourth year of
The next day we
pre-med studies at the
celebrated as five people
University of Calgary, had
became members of our
just returned from a fivechurch. Aaron Mann, Nic
week volunteer internship
Esau, and Elizabeth Block
in Ecuador during which
shared their testimonies
Abbeydale celebrated with high school graduates on June 9.
she helped build houses
and were baptized. Bruce
and shadow doctors in two
While people wait their turn to
and Gail Falconer joined us by memmedical facilities.
pick up food, they are offered the
The next month she travelled to
opportunity to enjoy coffee and conAnother June highlight saw the
South Africa on an MCC sponsored
versation with other volunteers. This
launch of Community Cupboard, an
trip to South Africa. She told us how,
outreach ministry that provides free
is a key part of this ministry allows us
at age 13, she clearly became aware of
food to the residents of Abbeydale
to make real connections with those
God calling her to become a doctor in
and neighbouring Applewood, which
who come through the doors.
developing countries and how he has
are two of the lowest-income areas
At the beginning we were serving
guided her choices.
of the city. Every Tuesday evening a
about 20 families (50 people), but we
Gerald Mann told us about God’s
have been pleased to see growth as
group of about 15 volunteers help
leading and guidance as he moved
the numbers have almost doubled in
host and distribute food.
from being a school principal to a
the three months it’s been running.
hospital chaplain. I think many of us
Mustard Seed is another foodwere challenged to slow down and lisrelated ministry our church is involved
ten for the voice of a caring God who
in. On July 31 a group of volunteers
longs to give our lives direction.
served over 400 plates of food to some
– Brenda Dick
of Calgary’s homeless and working poor.
Jackie Kornelson spent time in South Africa.
24 The Messenger • September 2012
Abbeydale’s Community Cupboard program serves nearly 100 people weekly.
With Our Churches
St. Vital EMC
PHOTOS COURTESY JERRY PLETT
St. Vital is all about family
Winnipeg, Man.—St. Vital EMC is all about family. There
are a number of events throughout the year that encourage
time spent together as a church family. Our annual picnic
was held on Sunday, June 10, 2012, on our church yard, with
a potluck lunch and lots of activities for old and young.
– Lorena Penner
FRIESEN – ELLIOTT: Joshua, son of Brian and Elaine Friesen of Roseisle,
Man., and Natalie, daughter of David and Lisa Elliott of London, Ont.,
were married on Aug. 4, 2012, at Fort Garry MB Church with Terry Janke
officiating. The couple lives in Winnipeg, Man.
taught by Hali Reimer
Living through a period of physical, sexual, or emotional
abuse can leave emotional wounds that are harder to heal
than many physical injuries. Biblical counselling assists
persons in gaining capacities for understanding, expressing, integrating, and letting go of the pain and confusion
stemming from the abuse. This weekend course is open to
all and will equip both the professional and lay person. Visit
SBCollege.ca for information or to register.
October 11–13, 2012
Thursday and Friday 7:00–9:45 pm,
Saturday 9:00 am–4:00 pm
EIDSE – to Keith and Stacey Eidse of Winnipeg, Man., a daughter, Emily
Jane, on Aug. 23, 2012.
KROEKER – to Tyson and Diane Kroeker of Winnipeg, Man., a son, Todd
Gerell, on July 24, 2012.
HIEBERT – to Matthew and Rachelle Hiebert of Winnipeg, Man., a son,
Hudson Micah, on Aug. 8, 2012.
save the date
Leadership Conference 2013
March 1-2, 2013
with speaker Stuart Murray
author of The Naked Anabaptist
Please note the date change for this year in order to
accomodate Stuart Murray’s schedule.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 25
Columns • writings shared
Through Fire and Water: An Overview of Mennonite History by Harry Loewen and
Steven M. Nolt (Herald Press, rev. 2010). 335 pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780836195064. Reviewed
by Wally Doerksen (Good News), teacher by training, farmer by work, and former member
of the Board of Church Ministries.
his is an easy to read and relatively complete history of the Mennonite church
that goes all the way
back to the Reformation.
It covers all the great names
like Ulrich Zwingli, George
Blaurock, Conrad Grebel and,
of course, Menno Simons
himself. Whether we agree
with how they did things or
not, the fact remains they were
dedicated people who acted
out of conviction and they are,
to that extent, very good role
models to follow.
It covers the familiar topics of how Anabaptism and non-resistance came into the belief
It covers the search for peace and prosperity
in the 1600s and 1700s. It looks at the North
American Mennonites and the Brethren in
Christ stories. The last third of the
book covers the Mennonite experience in Russia in
particular, which is
a fascinating read.
There are stories about women,
about evangelicalism in general, and
peace issues. Included also are chapters
on the church expanding to Africa and
Latin America, with additional material
on racism and being a faithful witness in
a diversified world in general.
This book is well written, well researched, and highly
readable. Perhaps it is not intended as a comprehensive
work for scholars to pore over, but most of us do not find
ourselves in that position anyway. So find the book in your
library or pick it up at the bookstore and enjoy the read.
There are stories about
women, conversions of
Native Americans, about
evangelicalism in general,
and peace issues.
God and Me: 365 daily devotions by Penny Boshoff (Make Believe Ideas, 2005). 380 pp.
$16.99. ISBN 9781905051786. Reviewed by Lisa Schau (St. Vital), mother of young children.
o you have a consistent devotional
time with your preschoolers? Me
But when I did remember, my kids, aged
three and five years old, really enjoyed this book.
I had been using it (off-and-on) for three
years. And I still liked it too.
The hardcover book is divided into a page
per day from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Each page has
bright colours and pictures of real kids in real
Each day’s devotion is in three parts. First,
a brief paragraph describes or asks questions
about a typical Western kids’ life.
Some are about difficult situations, like
arguing with siblings or visiting people in the
26 The Messenger • September 2012
hospital. Others are about appreciating what God has made, like water or
A quick prayer follows this, often
with a blank for the child to fill in.
The best part is last: the reference for
a verse or passage from the Bible that
relates directly to the topic for the day.
How wonderful it is to open up
a real Bible—not a Bible storybook,
but the real Bible that I love to read
myself—and to read it to my kids. The downside to this devotional
book? The whining when I told them,
“Sorry, kids, that’s it till tomorrow.”
Each page has bright
colours and pictures
of real kids in real kid
190 gather for launch of Light the World
Rev. Ben Eidse (right) and his daughter Faith Eidse pose behind their
book Light the World.
STEINBACH, Man.—Question: who were the first foreign
missionaries sent out by the newly-formed EMC Board of
Missions in 1953? Answer: Ben and Helen Eidse. Nearly 60
years later their story is now in print.
An estimated 190 people gathered for the book launch
of Light the World: The Ben and Helen Eidse Story as told
to Faith Eidse in the fellowship hall of Steinbach EMC on
Aug. 12, 2012.
“…Many of you are in the book” and all who supported
the ministry of the Eidses are a part of it, said Dr. Faith
Eidse, writer and eldest daughter, who outlined their history.
Ben, from Rosenort EMC, wanted to be a teacher, but
his father encouraged him to farm. During his farming
period, many of his family came to know the Lord.
He later attended (now) Steinbach Bible College where
Helen Reimer, a high school sweetheart from Steinbach
EMC, was also studying. Among Ben’s graduating class of
1948 were several people who became missionaries. He
then served under the Western Gospel Mission in western
Ben and Helen were married in 1952 and on the “next
day” they met with a mission board. They began their
service in Congo in 1953 under what is now Africa InterMennonite Mission (formerly Congo Inland Mission).
They faced tribal conflict, political revolution, illness,
and a serious accident. Their ministries were in evangelism, church planting, health care, and Bible translation.
They had four daughters. Later, Ben became president
of Steinbach Bible College and was involved in PhD studies
Ben and Helen Eidse
faced tribal conflict,
illness, and a serious
in Scotland; completion of
the doctorate was interrupted
by a decline in Helen’s health.
(She passed away in 2010.)
On Aug. 12, Faith, Hope,
Charity, and Grace with their
father led singing in five
languages. Rev. Eidse, 84 this
October, said that he was more certain than ever that the
Lord had led them step-by-step.
He sought to encourage those present in the Lord. He
felt called to “empower the powerless” and told stories of
confronting political officials.
John Schellenberg, a son-in-law who with his wife
Charity works in Congo, spoke of how the tradition of faith
knows no boundaries.
When Rev. Eidse and family members recently returned
to the Congo, John faced bureaucratic obstacles to arranging a plane ride within the country. When another official
overhead John talking about Ben as a Chokwe elder, he
hurried over to say that Ben was dead and seemed to doubt
if the stories he’d previously heard about him were true.
John replied that Ben “is in my car.” After the official
met Ben, they had “red carpet” treatment to the plane.
A book launch was also held at Rosenort EMC on Aug. 11.
Light the World is available from Faith Eidse ([email protected]), Rev. Ben Eidse in Steinbach ([email protected]
mts.net), and the EMC national office ([email protected]).
The price is $20 (with mailing extra). An e-book is available
for $5.99 at various non-EMC on-line sites.
– Terry M. Smith
PHOTOS: TERRY M. SMITH
Sixty years later God’s leading is recognized
Many people lined up for signed copies of the Light the World.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 27
AIMM celebrates its centennial
Pioneers and early principles were blessed
GOSHEN, Ind.—In January 1912 a small inter-Mennonite
mission board was created in the hamlet of Meadows, IL,
and named the Congo Inland Mission.
Before year’s end, Lawrence and Rose B. Haigh and
Alvin Stevenson stood near the Kasai River in the southcentral region of the Belgian Congo. They believed that,
with God’s help, they would plant a Mennonite Church.
Living in tents, they cleared brush, felled trees and
created simple shelters. They struggled to learn Tshiluba,
the local language. Alvin Stevenson soon lay in an African
grave, leaving a widow and three children in Illinois.
In two years six recruits joined the remaining duo. By
then, they were allotted an area of responsibility between
the Kasai and Kwilu Rivers and home to six major tribes.
They were the only evangelical witnesses in that region.
Exhibiting vision and faith, they set goals and guidelines to:
• Establish a resident missionary presence within
each tribal group
• Tell about Jesus in the tribe’s mother tongue
from the past...
into the future
Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission
Centennial Celebration Banquet
Friday, September 28, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Heartland Community Church
available at the
440 Main Street
28 The Messenger • September 2012
Offer children literacy through schools and materials in their tongue
• Be holistic, ministering to people’s spiritual and
• Whenever possible, provide Scriptures for each
group in their language
• Settle for nothing other than one inter-tribal Mennonite church, believing in Christ enemies can
become brothers and sisters.
• Africans will be the primary evangelists and church
• Work with other Protestant Missions where feasible and beneficial.
That the CIM, now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission
(AIMM), is celebrating its centennial is a tribute to how
God honoured their faith and missiological principles.
By the 1960s there were six groups involved within
AIMM: the Evangelical Mennonite Church (US), the
Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, the General Conference
Mennonite Church, the Mennonite Brethren, the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, and the Evangelical Mennonite
Today there are three autonomous Mennonite conferences in Congo. Two stem directly from AIMM; a third
has indirect ties. They total more than 220,000 members.
In July two conferences celebrated their AIMM history. A highlight was the release of 100 stories researched
and written by Africans about Africans of when the first
witnesses to the gospel were unwelcome and frequently
rebuffed and menaced. The stories’ standards of devotion
and commitment remind us: “It is not by might nor by
power but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
In North America, September is a time for celebration.
For the EMC, it will be held on Sept. 28 in Landmark, Man.
Call the national office (204-326-6401) for reservations.
Two African brothers will participate: Rev. Benjamin
Mubenga (president, CEM in Congo) and Rev. Siaka
Traore (president, Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso).
There will be a video of the July celebration in Congo,
a PowerPoint overview of AIMM’s history, reflections of
AIMM-related people, and the release of an English collection of stories about African Mennonites.
In 1953 Ben and Helen Eidse were sent by the EMC
to serve in Congo under AIMM, the first officially sent
– AIMM and EMC
250 gather for bicentennial party in Region 8
One celebration of many intended for 2012
STEINBACH, Man.—The spiritual descendants of
Christians content “to live quietly in faith and peace” are
now “loud,” having “heard the call of God to evangelize the
world”—so said Darryl Klassen, speaker at a recent EMC
bicentennial celebration in Region 8.
Klassen (Kleefeld) addressed about 140 people gathered on August 21, 2012, on the parking lot shared by the
EMC’s national office and Steinbach EMC, one its earliest
churches in Canada.
Pastor Mo Friesen and Colin Friesen (both from Steinbach EFC) led in singing and provided background music
through the midday event.
Left: Leonard Barkman (Pansy Chapel) winds up to “Dunk a Pastor.”
Right: Steinbach EMC senior pastor Garry Koop gets wet—again.
Tim Dyck, the EMC’s general secretary, opened the
gathering in prayer, thanking God for his “faithfulness
through the generations” and “how you have led” the
“conference of churches.” Klassen then spoke.
The EMC story is one of faith, not migration, said
Klassen. “We celebrate, rather, a spiritual journey that God
instigated and sustained through many joys and trials.”
Today, the original 150 families now comprise nearly
8,000 members and the Conference includes people of
many backgrounds, he said.
“The beauty of a faith like ours is that cultural walls are
meant to be broken down so that all may come and know
Jesus,” said Klassen. “We in the EMC have a particular
perspective of Jesus and we want to share him with others.”
Henry Klassen, the conference’s first General Secretary,
spoke of how the EMC has developed in organization. Former staff members and board members were recognized.
Tim Dyck then read a letter from MP Vic Toews. Chris
Goertzen, mayor of Steinbach, spoke appreciatively of the
contributions of EMCers within Manitoba and wider.
Kelvin Goertzen, MLA, encouraged those present to
keep Jesus central in the church. Don Plett, the first EMC
member to serve as a senator, brought greetings from the
Government of Canada.
Tim Dyck spoke of gratitude to KG pioneers for their
faith and to the governments of Canada and Manitoba for
religious freedom and land. The church’s “motivation” in
moving here was for religious freedom, not “wealth or opportunity,” he said.
Dyck said the EMC is “not the same group” as it was
200 years ago, and he hoped people “sensed an inviting
spirit.” He said, “We are a church of people who are
centred around the person of Jesus Christ, and we are
committed to a life that is patterned after his example.”
Moderator Richard Klassen (Straffordville, Ont.) said
that while at times cultural matters were “too prominent,”
earlier members would have said “their faith in God” was
of “ultimate importance.” He led in a prayer of gratitude
A barbecue lunch and birthday cake followed, enjoyed
by about 250 people. Activities included face painting and
a dunk tank—where several EMC pastors and national
staff members experienced what Garry Koop, a suddenly
wet volunteer, called “reverse” baptism.
The EMC is having a year-long celebration of God’s
faithfulness; strategic planning is also underway. A national celebration was held in July at convention, and churches
and regions are encouraged to celebrate locally.
– Terry M. Smith
About 250 people enjoyed the lunch celebration.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 29
Food crisis in Sahel deepens in rainy season
People hope for a good harvest
NG 2 0
PHOTO COURTESY CFGB
Most projects are funded through MCC’s account in
Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Donations can be made online, by telephone (1-888622-6337) or by sending a cheque to MCC designated for
the “Sahel food crisis.” Till Sept. 30 the Canadian government is matching what individual Canadians contribute to
registered Canadian charities.
Lebane (left) and Umale (right) are part of a community group in
their village in south-west Niger that identifies families who need
emergency food assistance.
taught by David Driedger
WINNIPEG, Man.—More than 18.7 million people,
including one million children, are affected by a food and
malnutrition crisis in the Sahel region in West Africa, according to reports from a United Nations agency.
MCC is providing emergency food assistance in
Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali.
The harvest failed in 2011 and the crisis has deepened
since the year started, says Mark Sprunger, an MCC director for West Africa.
“The Sahel is in the rainy season and it is when food
supplies are the most limited,” says Sprunger. “In some
places the rains are better than last year. There is hope for
a good harvest, but until crops are harvested food supplies
will be low.”
Sprunger says prices of basic food have increased
dramatically. Vulnerable are small farmers who might be
forced to use their seed grain or sell assets, like their animals. If something happens to the cow used for cultivation,
they cultivate by hand.
Conflict in Mali has resulted in families fleeing; and in
Burkina Faso deforestation has led to conflicts between
herders and farmers.
Working through local partners, MCC provides food
and grain to families, strengthens grain banks to give
farmers a market, and supports food-for-work and cashfor-work activities.
1812 ~ 2012
Convention 2012 Giving
SBC (Fri. evening)
Convention expenses (Sat. evening)
Missions projects (Sunday)
30 The Messenger • September 2012
– Board of Trustees
This course will initiate students to the management functions common to ministry and non-profit organizations. Topics include biblical foundations of vision, mission and values,
governance and leadership, strategic planning, management
theories, staff and volunteer resources, communication
strategies, and finances. This weekend course is open to all
and will equip both the professional and lay person. Visit
SBCollege.ca for information or to register.
October 18–20, 2012
Thursday and Friday 7:00–9:45 pm,
Saturday 9:00 am–4:00 pm
Rain brings hope of good harvest in Mexico colony
Food will be scarce until crops are harvested
PHOTO: MARGARET PENNER
DURANGO COLONY, Mexico—Green
Food packages are being distributed
fields of corn, oats and beans once again
to vulnerable families. “Between now
dot the landscape in Durango Colony,
and October, when the crops are
a community of Low German Menharvested, food will be scarce,” said
nonites in Mexico.
In a region reeling from drought, the
MCC also assists families living
promise of a good harvest is welcome
in the villages and hills in the Nuevo
news, said Peter Hiebert, a member of a
Ideal area. Support outside the colony
committee coordinating MCC’s drought
includes food packets containing beans,
oil, corn, lentils, noodles and sugar,
Justina Braun, with daughters Maria and
“We are very thankful that God sent
MCC canned meat, and MCC blankets.
Anna, poses for a photograph with Betty
us rain and that we have seeds that we
MCC has committed $105,000
Kasdorf of MCC Canada. Braun, a widow
could put into the ground,” he said.
to the drought assistance projects in
with 11 children, received food assistance.
To help families, MCC provided
Mexico. To date, about $28,000 has been
vouchers for the purchase of feed for animals and seed for
received. Donations are welcome. Cheques should be made out
planting new crops.
to MCC and designated Mexico Drought. They can be mailed
“The smallest farmers were hit the hardest,” said Hiebert.
to your nearest MCC office. Contributions can be made by call“If there is a good harvest, they will buy calves and soon after
ing the nearest MCC office in Canada at 1-888-622-6337.
that they will be able to start milk production again.”
Levi Loewen Kroeker
Levi, the youngest of eleven children,
was born on Jan. 17, 1929, to Bishop
J. B. Kroeker and wife Helena in Rosenort, Man. Levi experienced the hand
of God on his life at a very young age
when he contracted diptheria and
received a vaccine just in time to save
Although he had a dramatic beginning to his journey in life, he decided
he could do best on his own. It, unfortunately, took losing his worldly possessions and his family to bring him to
the point where Jesus Christ was his
only hope for salvation. This brought
about dramatic changes in 1961 as he
was restored to his old job, his loving
wife and family who embraced him,
and a new direction for his life began.
In 1965 this brought a move to
B.C. where Levi and his family took an
active part in the planting of a church
in Chase, B.C. Although a mechanic
by trade, Levi enjoyed trucking and
this passion led them to move to
Armstrong, B.C. where they still have
Although far from his family and
roots, Levi was very much connected
to them. Many trips were made back
to Manitoba where he enjoyed meeting with siblings, many nieces and
nephews and cousins.
He passed away on May 17, 2012.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years,
Lillian Warkentin (also of Rosenort);
seven children, 12 grandchildren and
seven great-grandchildren; his brother
Ben and sister Anne; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Although we all miss him greatly,
he was failing and very anxious to go
home to Jesus. He is home now.
– His Family
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 31
Helen (Reimer) Eidse
Helen Reimer Eidse, 82, entered her
eternal home surrounded by family
on October 17, 2010. She is survived
by her husband of 58 years, Ben Eidse,
and four daughters, Hope, Faith,
Charity, and Grace and their families.
Helen was born on March 3,
1928, the daughter of Peter D. and
Marie Reimer. She was one of eleven
children raised in the Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church and one of
five daughters who served in overseas
In 1952 she graduated as a Registered Nurse from Grace Hospital,
Winnipeg, and married her high
school sweetheart Ben Eidse of Rosenort EMC on March 30.
While they were serving with
Western Gospel Mission in Saskatchewan, the Eidses were asked by the
EMC to be their first officially-sent
foreign missionaries. During three
decades in Africa, Helen established a
medical work in southwestern Congo,
training nurses and delivering the
leprosy cure in the 1970s.
Patients often sought her medical
and spiritual care instead of going
to the closest hospital. She later directed all the clinics in western Kasai
Helen also helped her husband’s
translation team complete the modern Chokwe Bible. She was fluent
in several languages, often writing
encouraging letters in French. While
32 The Messenger • September 2012
proofreading the Bible in Congo in
1987, she delivered Grace’s daughter
When the Eidses retired to
Steinbach, and Ben became president
of Steinbach Bible College, Helen
made their home a sanctuary for the
homeless, elderly and a foster child.
She became president for Serving
Seniors, launched Meals on Wheels,
and earned the Governor’s Award for
When Ben was accepted into the
PhD program at the University of
Edinburgh, Helen returned to nursing
and in Scotland was charged with first
contact for home health care delivery.
The Eidses returned to Steinbach
several months before Helen’s mother
died in 1994.
Five months later in March 1995
Helen suffered a major stroke. The
Eidses sold the house on First Street
and the family helped them move to
an apartment at Woodhaven Manor.
There Helen learned to transfer in
and out of bed, and Ben took care of
her daily needs. If asked how she was
doing, she would say, “Excellent!” She
encouraged her family to “Sink into
She enjoyed reading and often
borrowed 20 books a month from
Steinbach Library’s Bookmobile. She
received home care daily from dedicated workers and often greeted her
visitors with jokes (search Helen Eidse
Helen lived in her bed and wheelchair for almost 16 years, prolonging
her listening, singing, laughing and
praying with and for her beloved family and friends.
Viewings and devotionals were
held at Woodhaven Manor, Steinbach,
and at Rosenort EMC on October 20,
2010. A funeral service was held at
Steinbach EMC on October 21, 2010.
– Her Family
Discover Your Ministry Potential
A weekend of self-discovery
Westpointe Community Church
AIMM Centennial Banquet
Heartland Community Church
204-326-6401 for free tickets
Mental Health Workshop:
Forgiveness and Mental Health,
a Stepping Stone to Recovery
For details, see ad on p. 11
TRU'12: EMC Youth Leaders' Retreat
Wilderness Edge Retreat and
Conference Centre, Pinawa
204-326-6401, [email protected]
MCC Ride for Refuge
Waterloo, Niagara, Brampton
Check website for more dates
MCC Ride for Refuge
Check website for more dates
West Zion Mennonite Church, a rural church near
Carstairs, Alta., is seeking an experienced full-time
senior/lead pastor for a multi-staff growing congregation of 180–200 in a rural/urban setting 70 kms north of
Calgary. We are a Mennonite church that is evangelical
and outreach/missions oriented. The applicant should
be a deeply spiritual leader gifted in preaching/teaching and one who is committed to doing pastoral work.
Interested persons should send a resume, a brief biography and statement of faith to: James Miller, Box 1078,
Didsbury, AB T0M 0W0.
The Australian Conference of Evangelical Mennonites
Church of Hope requires an enthusiastic pastor with a
passion for Christ to come to Australia for a minimum
term of two years to take over the spiritual leadership
of the church.
We are a small congregation wanting to continue
the Mennonite/Anabaptist vision here in Australia, looking for a person(s) to help us in that work.
For information on this position please contact:
Anne McQueen ([email protected]) or David
Rouse ([email protected]).
Crestview Fellowship (www.crestviewfellowship.ca),
an Evangelical Mennonite Conference church located
in Winnipeg, Man., is prayerfully seeking applications
for a senior pastor. If you feel God calling you to this
position or if you have any questions about the position,
please call Alex Wiebe at 204-837-2516 or send resume
and references either electronically to the Pastoral
Search Committee, Attn: Alex Wiebe ([email protected])
or by mail to Pastoral Search Committee c/o Crestview
Fellowship, 271 Hamilton Ave, Winnipeg, MB R2Y 0H3.
Picture Butte Mennonite Church, a young congregation
of about 200 people, seeks a full-time pastor to begin
as soon as possible. Picture Butte is a small town in
Southern Alberta approximately twenty minutes north
of Lethbridge, the closest city centre. As our congregation consists largely of Mennonites who have settled
here from Mexico, the successful applicant must be able
to speak and present their messages in both the English
and Low German languages. Please forward resumes
with references and all other inquiries to: Henry Krahn,
Box 891, Picture Butte, AB T0K 1V0; 403-732-5994 or
La Crete Christian Fellowship Church (EMC) seeks a fulltime associate pastor.
La Crete, located in NW Alberta, offers rural lifestyle
and a progressive outlook. With a range of familyoriented amenities, it’s a great place to raise a family.
LCCFC is a vibrant church of approximately 500 regular attendees who desire to spread the Word through a
variety of ministries.
The associate pastor will provide direction to our
care giving and outreach ministries as well as work
closely with the pastoral team to strengthen the parishioners’ personal connection and commitment to Jesus
The applicant should be committed to a personal
Christian faith, a disciple of Jesus Christ, a willing and
teachable leader, and a person whose love for the Lord
is reflected in their ability to work well with others.
If the Holy Spirit seems to be inviting you to pursue
this further, please contact Bill Neudorf at 780-8141439, [email protected], or www.lccfc.ca.
First Mennonite Church, Burns Lake, a small body of
believers in northern BC, is looking for a part-time or
full-time servant leader pastor. We desire to find a
person who shares our vision and will work with us to
fulfill it. Our ideal candidate will have an exceptional
ability to inspire discipleship, outreach, and a desire to
embrace our community, while holding firm to sound
biblical doctrine. Our candidate will agree with the
Confession of Faith in the Mennonite Perspective. Please
send your resume to FMC c/o Wilf Dueck [email protected]
telus.net, phone 250-692-3455 or (cell) 250-692-6454.
New Life Christian Fellowship in Stevenson, Ont., seeks a
senior pastor who has a heart for people and loves the
Lord. We are an evangelical church located in Stevenson,
Ontario. The church is mostly young families with
average attendance between 80 and 100 people. The
majority of the people attending have a Low Germanspeaking background. We seek a pastor who has the
heart of a shepherd and a desire to see our church grow.
He should have strong preaching and teaching skills
and ability to develop leaders. Pastoral experience is
preferred. He must be in agreement with our constitution and statement of faith. Anyone who possesses
these qualifications and is interested in this position can
forward their resume to [email protected]
Rosenort EMC, in southern Manitoba, seeks a senior
pastor who will prepare and preach sermons that
inspire, challenge and convict, emphasizing spiritual development. He will equip members, teaching and modelling local evangelism and missions and oversee the
Leader-In-Training program. His ministry team includes
a full-time youth pastor, lay ministers, deacons, and 250
He will be a servant leader, modelling faithfulness
and love for the Lord, caring for those with needs while
guiding, directing, correcting and unifying the church
with sound Biblical teaching. He views the Bible as the
inspired and true Word of God, the authority for faith
and action. Having a deep personal faith, strong convictions, and valuing family highly, he is a warm and loving
person. He relates to us as a listener; not afraid to reveal
personal pain and struggles; a compassionate and godly
See www.rosenortemc.com for full ad. Contact:
Arlin Scharfenberg, [email protected], 204746-6154.
Ridgewood EMC is looking for a full-time senior pastor. This multi-generational family oriented rural church
is located north-east of Steinbach, Man., with over 200
in attendance on Sunday mornings.
As the spiritual overseer, the senior pastor is the
shepherd and guardian of the congregation. This ministry is accomplished by studying and teaching, praying
and preaching, and visiting and visioning on the basis
of the Word.
Ridgewood EMC members strive to be a people
that minister to the whole family, worshipping God
together, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in love,
responding to needs around, and cultivating a culture of
Biblical discipleship, prayer and fellowship—all for the
glory of God.
Applications along with a cover letter should be
sent to Stan Hamm, [email protected], or Stan Hamm,
Box 140, Blumenort, MB R0A 0C0.
Do you enjoy fishing? How about quiet community living? If you are God-fearing with a deep personal faith
and seeking a full-time pastoral position, Treesbank
Community Church (EMC) could be the place for you.
We are a small country church located in southwestern
Manitoba, between the Souris and Assiniboine Rivers.
If you are interested in this position, please contact
Leonard Plett at 204-824-2475 or at [email protected]
The Morweena Christian School (MCS) is looking for a
classroom teacher to serve on the teaching team in
High School. Candidates with strengths in Math and
Science will be given preference.
MCS is a rural school about 90 minutes North of
Winnipeg Man., serving about 120 students.
The two-grade split classes range in size from 15 to
26 students. MCS was founded in 1966 by families of the
local Morweena Evangelical Mennonite Church.
The candidate needs to be certifiable in the
Province of Manitoba, needs to embrace the Evangelical
Mennonite Conference Statement of Faith and be active in congregational life.
Send resume to Tim Reimer, Principal, [email protected]
Inner City Youth Alive in Winnipeg, Man., is looking to
fill the position of director of programming to work
closely with the Executive Director in giving oversight to
all day-to-day functions and future endeavours of ICYA.
Primary attention will be given to providing leadership
and direction to the program staff of Inner City Youth
Alive. Go to www.icya.ca for details. Forward resumes to
The Messenger does not sell advertising,
but provides free space (classified and
display) to enhance our Conference, its
churches, boards and ministries; interMennonite agencies and educational
institutions; and the wider church. Ads
are not to be for monetary benefit. To
place an ad (150 words or less), e-mail
[email protected] or call 204-3266401 and ask for Rebecca Roman or
Terry Smith. Ads will run twice unless
other arrangements are made.
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 33
Columns • here and far away
Waiting and gardening
by Jocelyn R. Plett
’ve found gardening to be a spiritual activity.
Whether it’s in the tending of things I cannot grow on my own strength or because
the Spirit speaks to me lessons of life through
the plants growing and maturing in my front
little patch of sub-tropical garden—all I know is,
whenever I make time to get close to the plants I
learn something anew about the Gardener.
What I’ve grown to love about gardening is
that, as my garden matures and fills the place it’s
been given to grow, the seasons bring with it a
newness and beauty all its own. Just like in my
In the front garden we have a Winter Tree.
Not knowing the real name for it, I’ve taken to
calling it this because it blooms a cloudy haze
of mini petals in May and June when the cold
begins to seep under our doors and around the
cracks in our window frames. In July it begins to
turn a marvellous shade of pink as the
winter passes by.
I love the Winter Tree’s blooms. I
wait for it to bloom in the autumn despite the knowledge that the cold will
cause my body to ache and create more
work in the mornings because we must
use the fireplace to warm the house.
The pink buds of the jasmine vine
sprawling over the arbour Josh built for
me over our driveway catch my breath
with anticipation, for I also love the jasmine blooms—sharing their pungent
sweet scent all through August and
Now that I’ve learned
that each season
brings a new joy of
its own, I’ve learned
to sit back and enjoy
each season for
what it brings.
PHOTOS: JOCELYN R. PLETT
34 The Messenger • September 2012
September. They cast perfume onto the warming breezes like blown kisses.
Now that I’ve learned that each season here
in our little patch of garden brings a new joy of
its own, I’ve learned to sit back and enjoy each
season for what it brings. This reminds me to
do the same in my own seasons of life: to wait
expectantly—not anxiously—for that which will
come in due season and the new mercies God
will bring us.
It’s definitely not easy. But I am learning
the wisdom of enjoying the present rather than
missing the past, or wishing I was somewhere
else. I’m learning to enjoy the pleasures of a
hectic household with small children instead of
wishing I was free to go on trips to the bush with
Josh in the plane.
Resting in the time God has me in this moment, and enjoying it, taking the time to be near
to what is right in front of me, that is contentment. It’s something I relearn constantly.
If I yearn for what I don’t have—lake life with
family in Manitoba, for example—I will miss out
on what God is doing right in my front yard, and
will not fully enjoy any place at all.
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to
you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are
all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).
Editor’s Note: We welcome Jocelyn R. Plett as
our new columnist. Originally from Prairie Rose
EMC and Landmark, Man., Jocelyn was called
into overseas missions service at
16 while studying in Germany.
She holds degrees in English and
theology, and has taken master’s
level theology courses while serving for three years each in Lithuania and at CMU. Since 2006
she has lived in Madagascar.
To read more about the daily
life of Jocelyn, her husband Josh
(with Mission Aviation Fellowship), and their two boys, Judah
and Asher, see writewhatyousee.
Columns • stewardship today
Needed: life specialists
much to offer—time, experience, knowledge,
Many of the folks that pay close attention to
my MFC travels are seniors. They let me know
they are holding me in prayer Sunday morning
for safe travels, clear words and a calm spirit.
It’s wonderful to know that I’m remembered
and held in prayer even when I’m away from my
So how can churches help bridge the generation gap? You could interview your seniors and
share the information with the congregation.
You could hold intergenerational events
where all ages are mixed together. Youth and
seniors could cook together and share a meal, tie
comforters, quilt, or can fruit and vegetables.
Some congregations pair older and younger
members of the congregation including youth,
young adults and young families and help establish cross-generational friendships.
The Bible is full of seniors that followed the
direction of God and did surprising and wonderful things. Abraham and Sarah were seniors
when they finally had a baby.
Elizabeth and Zachariah were older when
they gave birth to John. Moses was past middle
age when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
What are the amazing things that seniors are
doing in your congregation? What can these life
specialists in your congregation teach you?
by Sherri Grosz
Sherri Grosz is a
stewardship consultant at the Kitchener,
Ont., office of Mennonite Foundation of
Canada (MFC). MFC
education and estate
and charitable gift
planning at no cost.
Contact your nearest MFC office or visit
Some congregations pair older and
younger members of the congregation
and help establish cross-generational
ccording to Moses Znaimer, “Everybody wants to live long, but nobody
wants to be ‘Old.’”
What do you think of when you hear the
words senior or senior citizen?
Seniors are a growing group in Canada. Our
seniors are both older and younger than ever.
Life expectancies are growing and people are
Having residents in their 90s or 100s is not
unusual in many care homes. At the same time,
the word senior is applying to an ever younger
A few decades ago, you would need to be
age 60 or 65 to receive a senior’s discount; now
sometimes even 50-year-olds qualify.
Many institutions in Canada segregate by
age and churches are no exception. We may
all gather to worship, but we may not interact
much during worship time.
The gatherings, groups, and Sunday School
classes are often broadly age defined—the
children go here, the youth go there, the seniors
meet in this space and the rest of the group
meets somewhere else. I’m simplifying, of course.
We can learn much from each other, both
from those that are just a little farther down the
road we’re travelling and from those that travelled that road many years before. Some details
may have changed but the big questions often
remain the same from generation to generation:
• What is my purpose in life?
• What does God
want from me?
• Will I get through
• Where is God?
Sometimes what we really need is assurance that
this will pass, that God
does love us and that those around us care and
pray for us. Sometimes we need practical advice
on dealing with loved ones, transitions, and the
challenges that life can bring our way. Often we
Our seniors are life specialists and have
www.emconference.ca/messenger • The Messenger 35
Columns • kids’ corner
A good beginning
hat would you
like to achieve
Often when we begin
something new we also
look to its completion. We
want it to go well, and we
want to finish well. We call
this success. We want to be
Success can mean different things. One is to complete what we have aimed
to do, to reach our goal.
Another is that when we are
finished with something we
want to feel satisfied. Different outcomes can each
be a success.
Did you watch the London Olympics? Think
back to two different results, each one a success.
One is the perfect routine of Rosie MacLennan, the Canadian trampolinist. She achieved
her highest goal, to be the best, and
she got a gold medal. Another one is
the Canadian girls’ soccer team. They
Activity: Learn from
not win a gold medal because they
someone who is successful
not first, not second, but they
It can be a family member, a
third best. They got a bronze
friend, or someone you admire
Find out how they became
medal and they were very satisfied. In
fact, they were overjoyed. Why were
• What is their success?
they so happy?
• What helped them get
First, they had a goal. Their goal
was to win a medal. And they did.
• What did they do?
Second, they worked as hard as they
• How long did it take?
could. They were playing against
• Who helped them?
another very good team and they had
• Have they helped anyone
to play their best. Third, they did not
else become successful?
give up. Each player kept on believing
Write a story about the person
they could win.
and their achievement.
What do you want? Do you want
Draw a picture about it.
to work well in a group on a project?
Share what you discover with
Do you want good marks? Maybe you
your family or a friend.
want to excel in history or in biology.
Or you might want to be a peer helper
36 The Messenger • September 2012
You need to be calm and
patient; if your math assignment is hard ask someone for help who can explain it again.
because you can explain things
What do you need to
One thing you need is to have
a reliable character. Character
is how you behave when no one
can see what you are doing. Are
you honest when no one is looking? Character is
the real you.
Second, you need a goal and you need to
keep working toward it. If your goal is to clean
your room, it means all of your clothes and all of
Third, you need to be motivated. This means
you need to want to do it. If you’re reading a
book and you want to finish it you may have to
give up something else, like talking on the phone.
The fourth thing you need is to be calm and
patient; if your math assignment is hard ask
someone for help who can explain it again.
Fifth, you need to make sure what you eat is
healthy and that you get outside everyday for
Sixth, never give up. Stay focused on what
you want to achieve. You may fail some of the
time, but you will reach your goal only if you
keep at it.
God talks about what you do every day as
a race. God is everlasting, the creator of all the
earth and he does not get tired. If you depend
on him he will give you the strength and the
ability you need to do it. Read about it in Isaiah
Evangelical Mennonite Conference
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