Category Archives: Growing Together

The Way We Give

by Josiah Neufeld

It was mid-morning when I found Mamadou Traoré at his restaurant, a six-foot-square plywood kiosk painted baby blue, its shutters propped open with sticks, bar stools lined up at the window. His eyelids were drooping, and he was falling off his chair. He had worked all night selling omelettes and glasses of sticky-sweet Nescafé. In West Africa during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink all day, nights are good for business.

We hadn’t seen each other in four years.

I sat on a bar stool while he stirred sweetened condensed milk into a glass of coffee for me. He set a square plywood coaster over the mouth to keep out the flies and took out his cellphone to snap a photo. “Now all my customers will believe me when I tell them I have a white friend.” Continue reading The Way We Give

“Yiin–Lampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl!” “Look–five lamps!”

by Paul Thiessen

A dozen children pressed their noses against the screen of our porch staring into the white people’s house. “Look”, one of them said, “They have five kerosene lamps burning!” YiinLampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl! At their homes a family had only one lamp burning. These white foreigners were very wealthy indeed! Our kitchen stove, kerosene refrigerator, library of schoolbooks and our pickup truck set us apart from our neighbors in the village.

The result of our lifestyle also meant that we often had excess material belongings that we wanted to get rid of. Usually, it was when we were preparing to go back to Canada for a furlough that we sorted our stuff and came up with bags or boxes of household goods we wanted to clean up.

Continue reading “Yiin–Lampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl!” “Look–five lamps!”

Misunderstandings of Patron/Client Relationships

by Janice Loewen

We had lived and worked in a particular country for several years and had learned and adjusted to much of the culture. Most days we loved being there, sharing our lives and the gospel. But there were also occasions of difficulty. Some of our new friends seemed to often need financial help along the way. We wanted our friendships to be genuine and free from the complications of lending and borrowing money. So, we decided right from the start of our ministry that we would not give out loans. After all that would put our friends under the burden of debt and paying us back. Continue reading Misunderstandings of Patron/Client Relationships

Working Among Ourselves

Kerry Saner-Harvey is coordinator for MCC Manitoba’s Indigenous Neighbours program and attends the Aberdeen EMC in Winnipeg, Man.

We are talking today about how we, those of us who are white Canadians, work among ourselves to process what we have been hearing over the years about residential schools, and particularly since the unmarked graves were identified near so many of these former schools.

GT:         Thank you for joining me today, Kerry.

K S-H:    I’m happy to be here.

GT:         To start with, can you tell us a little about what your work with the Indigenous Neighbours Program is about?

K S-H:    Often the way I’ll refer to the work, even though we’re called Indigenous Neighbours is I’ll say Indigenous/settler relations or Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations because I think that’s really what it’s about. We’re part of this equation.

One of the areas where MCC’s been involved for a long time and I continue to work with is in hydro-impacted communities in the North. In Manitoba there has been a long history of hydro affecting Northern communities as many of us know.

You mentioned working among ourselves and I think that that’s a really important question and important part of what I try to do. It’s important to look at things like residential schools and especially now that that’s in the news and taking a step back and seeing how it was part of a bigger trajectory and how we as churches are part of that history whether we would like to believe that or not and how do we unpack that.            Continue reading Working Among Ourselves

These are Not Statistics—These are My Friends

by Anna Penner

When the discovery of unmarked graves near the Kamloops residential school hit the news, I did not know what to feel, or think, or whether I wanted to process this at all. Why do we need to be reminded of this terrible segment of our history? And yet an overwhelming sadness came over me; a sense of sorrow, grief and a dark cloud of depression. I could not block it from my consciousness.

Over the years I have heard many personal stories. These are not simply statistics; these are my friends (from different communities and from different generations) who were personally affected. Continue reading These are Not Statistics—These are My Friends

When Loving Each Other is Complicated

by Erica Fehr

My “group” spans the full spectrum on politics, science, social issues, COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations. I actively dislike the terms “right” and “left” but will use them—because they are useful. Some of my friends seem almost as far right as you can go and others as far left and it began well before COVID. We love each other and spend time together as allowed but it has been a challenge and we’ve learned and re-learned a few things that may be worth sharing.

Continue reading When Loving Each Other is Complicated

Do Safety Measures Keep Us Safe?

Transcript: Do Safety Measures Keep us Safe?

GT: I’m Erica Fehr; I’m EMC communications coordinator and I’m talking today with the Mount Salem leadership team. Albert Loewen is Lead Pastor, Patrick Stanat is Youth and Young Adult Pastor and Jennifer Loewen is Children’s Pastor. We’re going to be talking today about safety and a core question is on whether our culture’s increasing focus on safety has actually created greater safety, created a sense of safety, or has it actually done the opposite and created a sense of risk and danger and fear—and how does that affect church ministry? Continue reading Do Safety Measures Keep Us Safe?

Love is More than Safety

by Layton Friesen

Safety has been a divisive question during this pandemic. We have also heard much about clergy sexual abuse recently—again. The grim recurrence of these headlines confirms again what the church should have known: loving and protecting the vulnerable is part of the essence of biblical faith. Is this possibly the harshest thing Jesus ever said? “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). No one can read that without sensing that Jesus had a gut-level, mama-bear instinct to protect the vulnerable rooted in the ancient Israelite concern for the orphan, widow and alien.  Continue reading Love is More than Safety

My Mom is Dying

by Andrew Dyck

In truth, we are all on this particular journey, though it seems she is further along than my family and I anticipated. Or hoped. As cancer wreaks its havoc unseen, she is confined to bed, where she has spent the last three months. It is appropriate to call this time bittersweet, as shock of her terminal diagnosis has been accompanied by rich time together during her final days. I treasure all the conversations with my mother, holding onto them as unexpected gifts never again to be taken for granted. We have talked about deep matters of faith, memories of a life lived together, poked fun at my dad’s expense and bemoaned the Winnipeg Jets’ leaky team defense. Big things, small things, and everything in between. Continue reading My Mom is Dying