by Tim Dyck
Blumenort, Man. How do you celebrate a lifetime of service in cross-cultural ministry? What is an appropriate response to those who have sacrificed so much in service to the mission of the Church? This September, EMC Missions attempted to do just this, as we recognized Paul and Lois Thiessen for their ministry of Church Planting through Bible Translation for the Siamou people in Burkina Faso.
Each year, EMC Missions plans a Missionary Fellowship and Recognition Banquet and for the past 13 years, there has been at least one retired missionary or couple that has been honoured. A particular challenge this year was keeping the banquet within public health guidelines due to the pandemic. This meant inviting a maximum of 50 people (including the guests of honoured missionaries) and maintaining physical distancing and other hygiene practices.
The evening began with a meal served by staff and volunteers – wearing masks and gloves of course! To keep numbers below 50, only retired missionaries were invited to attend the banquet. Current missionaries who were in the area were instead invited to a BBQ event held two weeks earlier (see that story elsewhere).
A program highlighted the ministry of Paul and Lois Thiessen over the past 35 years. There was beautiful special music presented by Myka and Norine Plett. Anthony Reimer, associate pastor of the Blumenort Community Church, provided a devotional about Gideon, who was a normal person called upon to be used of God in astounding ways. He reminded us that we are all like Gideon – including Paul and Lois – and that God uses ordinary people to accomplish His purposes.
Tim Dyck gave a tribute to Paul and Lois describing how they had engaged their minds (through the challenges of language work); their Cultural Intelligence (understanding how best to engage the culture with the gospel); and their hearts (in loving the Siamou people). Siaka Traore, a leader in the Church in Burkina Faso, has known Paul and Lois for many years, and sent a moving tribute that was read at the banquet.
Paul and Lois responded by thanking the various people who had encouraged and supported them throughout their years of ministry. A plaque was presented to them with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” in three languages – English, French and Siamou.
The evening was capped off with a time of prayer for EMC missionaries – both retired and current – and giving praise to God for His faithfulness.
Thank you, Paul and Lois, for the sacrifices you have made to bring the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Siamou people of Burkina Faso.