PERU – The Lord leads and guides in mysterious ways. Sometimes our dreams seem forever lost and then, in the twinkling of an eye, they come to fruition in ways we never thought possible. It was this way with our dream to move to the Peruvian coast.
When I came to Peru as a long-term missionary in 2008, the plan was to do church planting on the coast with Jim and Vegas Dargatz. They say flexibility is an important quality in a missionary! At that time, the Dargatzes were suddenly needed to give leadership to Camp La Joya instead, so I decided to live in the big city of Arequipa where I would have a support team. There was plenty to do!
Allen and Amy’s coastal church planting dream began after they couldn’t find a church to attend while on a family vacation during the summer of 2010. They decided to wait until the kids were out of school before pursuing a solution to this problem. Allen was field director at the time and there weren’t any good schools for the kids to attend in the small coastal towns. Then Amy passed away, closing the door on a season and bringing Allen’s future plans under evaluation.
When we started dating, one of the first questions Allen asked me was how I’d feel about doing church planting on the coast! Neither of us knew about the other’s dream. For me, our mutual perspective was evidence of the Lord’s careful tying together of our lives.
Last July, after dropping off our youngest son in Michigan at his aunt and uncles’, Allen and I started praying for a team of Peruvians to join us—particularly a couple willing and trained to pastor a church plant. In December, a friend of ours remembered a young man who had just graduated from seminary and suggested him as a possibility. We talked to the young man’s pastor at Las Flores Baptist Church (Peruvian church protocol), and he was instantly enthusiastic about our proposition and methodology.
After much prayer, thought and an exploratory trip to the coast, seminary graduate Pastor Elvis and his wife Rosita have decided to join the team! His congregation has been very involved in their decis ion-making process over the last few months and are eager to support the plant as a daughter church.
They plan to s nd evangelistic teams to visit the chosen location once a month while we are on home assignment from June 2021 to February/March 2022 and the couple will use this time to fundraise so they can dedicate their full energy to the plant. When we return, Elvis and Rosita will move to the coast with us to officially launch the church.
We see the Lord’s hand moving strongly in these prayerfully-laid plans and we know that he will take care of the unknowns. Your prayers are also greatly appreciated as we take the gospel to a very unreached part of Peru.
Mary Beth and Allen George (Blumenort Community Church) are with Serving in Mission in Peru.
On June 19, 2021, EMC Conference Council delegates met by Zoom to hear and discuss the work of the Conference. Among items shared is a church merger taking place in Calgary, Alta., between Abbeydale Christian Fellowship and Iglesia Emanuel. A church partnership is also forming between Kingdom Life Church (an outreach church plant for Syrian refugees) and St. Vital EMC in Winnipeg, Man. The details of what that partnership will include are still in process. Continue reading Cross-Cultural Church Partnerships Happening in Calgary, Winnipeg→
Backwater hicks. Rednecks. Trash. Uneducated hillbillies. I have heard all these labels and more applied to people in rural areas. People dismissed simply because of their postal code.
Having spent most of my life in small towns and rural areas, I have come to love living close to nature, to farms, open fields and big skies. When I think of the many farmers I have known, there is a deeply profound wisdom that comes from their lives.
Most of the farmers I have known are simple and beautiful people. They work hard, they love their families, and they enjoy their lives and work. Due to the nature of farming, many live in rural areas near their fields and animals.
For many, their day-to-day work isn’t lived in a metropolis surrounded by thousands of people and their varying opinions. As such, given that they don’t have to watch urban homelessness every day or deal with sub-par public transportation, it can seem like they are ignorant of those matters that mean a great deal to a lot of people. So these lovely farmers get dismissed as being as unknowledgeable just because their field of knowledge is different than others. And it is true that some might remark, “I don’t know about all of that stuff” and then go back to work planting their fields or harvesting their crops.
And this really is my point. They get back to work doing what they know they should. Our polarized world has a tendency to spend a lot of time talking, debating, arguing and fighting. We try to figure everything out, to understand it all, to defend our positions and convince everyone else to be like us. We debate back and forth about the minutia of politics and ideologies and spend time endlessly quarrelling over debatable things. But what if we set aside so many of those squabbles and simply got back to the work that we know we should be doing? To loving God and loving others, to being a good neighbour, to living honestly and being kind?
Ecclesiastes 11:4–6 (NLT) says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.”
No matter if we are urban or rural, a farmer or a philanthropist, none of us will know everything, and if we wait to do what we know is right until all the conditions are perfect, we will never do anything. So let’s take a lesson from the farmer. You don’t have to know everything, and you don’t need to understand or be right about everything in order to follow God. Let’s get back to work.
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.
On July 8, 2001, a group of us celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1951 revival in the Rosenort (Man.) EMC. Now, 20 years later, those of us who have not been promoted to glory celebrate 70 years since our dear Saviour sent a revival into our midst. Through the revival, we saw church members reconciled and many, many young people (as well as some parents) come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour!
What led up to that revival? Years of earnest praying by many deeply concerned parents; then a sad event hit our community when one of our own tragically died. Rev. Ben D. Reimer from Steinbach, Man., was invited to speak at the funeral. Rev. Reimer returned shortly after the funeral for two weeks of special meetings in our church.
He preached a week and a half with no visible results. It seemed no one was willing to confess “I’m at fault.” On the second Wednesday, Mom Plett said, “This very night I ask your forgiveness for the misunderstandings and fights.” After that Wednesday service, many came to our car to ask my mom for forgiveness. We got home way past midnight! (Mother’s German-Lutheran upbringing made it hard to fit into our community.)
The very next night, on July 5, blessings started to flow. Two of my sisters and a few others came to know the Saviour. Then on Friday night, 50-plus more youth surrendered to Jesus! (My late husband Edward and I were included in this Friday group.) By Sunday night, more than 70 in all had come to know the Lord! Our youth, homes, church and community were completely changed that weekend.
On March 19 of this year, I listened to “Back to the Bible.” The speaker asked, “Are you…am I…plugging the ‘flow’ of revival?” Thank you, Mom Plett, for removing the “plug” in our church on July 4, 1951.
My prayer, “Dear Lord, am I a plug that is blocking the channel of blessing of revival to my family, my church, my country and the world? “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23–24).
As a result of that revival, a burning flame for missions was kindled. The revival rippled on to our neighbours, friends, other towns, provinces and countries in the following years. And it still ripples on! (Revelation 7:9, 12)
Encouragement to those still around:
So, let us keep travelling, tho’ at times we stumble and fall Till through death, or at the sound of the last trumpet call We will be swept through that beautiful heavenly gate Where we’ll forever and forever this Revival celebrate!
“No turning back, no turning back!”
Leona (Plett) Friesen with her late husband Edward is one of several missionaries (Frank and Marge Kroeker, Fred and Doris Friesen, among others) who ministered cross-culturally after committing their lives to Christ during the Rosenort revival of 1951.
You can listen to Leona reading her poem below.
I wrote the following poem and presented it on July 8, 2001, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1951 Revival at the Rosenort EMC Church.
We Decided to Follow Jesus
This celebration began at the cross of Mount Calvary
When our precious Saviour died for you and me.
For years we had spent in sinning and pride
Ignoring the fact that the Lord Jesus had died.
Concerning this date; well, some fifteen years prior
There were earnest prayers for a revival fire.
Also, a foursome of brethren who in spite of foul weather
For soul-searching prayer, would gather together.
But all of you present here I am sure will know
That in 1951, exactly half a century ago,
Our dear Lord did not leave us in a lurch
But wonderfully touched our own home church.
Numerous young people on sinning were bent
Then into our midst an awful tragedy was sent.
Our whole community with deep sorrow was filled
As one of our own was tragically killed.
To speak at the funeral, an evangelist came
After that, our community has not been the same.
Tho’ of the speaker’s intentions, many were not sure
Mr. Ben D Reimer preached God’s Word, clear and pure. (Mr. Reimer returned shortly after the funeral for two weeks of special meetings.)
A whole week and a half, with no seeming result
Nobody was willing to confess, “I am at fault”
Till the second Wednesday, Mom Plett said, “This very night
I ask your forgiveness for misunderstanding and fight.” (Mother’s Lutheran upbringing made it hard to fit in.)
The very next night, on July 5, blessings started to flow…
Two of my sisters and others, the Saviour came to know,
Then on Friday night, fifty more youth and then some!
By Sunday night, seventy in all to the Saviour had come.
Friday night a certain girl in the church foyer did wait
Against whom in my heart there had been a deep, deep hate.
In grade school us Plett kids were often called ‘half-price’
We did not accept this term as very flattering or nice.
That evening I was changed, my heart filled with love.
For me, this was an extra special gift from above.
I found that forever was gone, that feeling of ill;
Heavenly love took care of it and always will!
Our youth, homes and church were SO changed that week.
Forgiveness for sinning toward others, we all did seek.
We went to friends and neighbours to confess our wrong
‘Cause we were forgiven and our hearts filled with song.
Edward’s sister Bertha, also one who came to the Lord.
Nine years later, her tombstone read these words,
“Where I am now, there must you be
Prepare my friend to follow me.”
Others did follow: George Kornelsen, the husband of Rosie,
She’d still want him with her, in her home so cozy.
Our dear brother, Melvin Dueck, and there are several more
Who are not here with us; they’ve gone on before.
Some others could not be at this celebration today
‘Cause of other obligations; or simply lived too far away.
Then, there are those absent, because they are sick;
One that comes to my mind is, dear Ralph Dueck.
Also missing is Fred, always ready with his wit and a joke
Now being in public is difficult, due to a stroke.
Then, there is Tina Reimer, she was Tina Friesen
She is absent as you know… cancer is the reason.
Even though since that blessed and unforgettable day,
Most of us have turned either bald, wrinkled or gray…
Let’s still be faithful, sharing the redemptive work of God’s Son
So that many others, like us, to the Saviour will be won!
Anyone who wants a copy of this simple rhyme
Can come to me, it’s yours for a quarter or a dime!
Come soon … “Cause in another fifty years from now
I won’t write a very much better one anyhow!
… Or I’ll do it perfectly!
‘Cause our next celebration probably will be in glory
And there we will witness the whole perfect story!
So, let us keep travelling, tho’ at times we stumble and fall
Till through death, or at the sound of the last trumpet call
We will be swept through that beautiful, heavenly gate…
Where we’ll forever and forever, this REVIVAL celebrate!
My late husband, Edward Friesen, and I, and countless others, will forever be grateful for deciding to follow Jesus! Our theme song was “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” Only Heaven will reveal what the blessed results were of that Revival. There we will all know “the whole perfect Revival story”!!
If you could be an animal, which would you choose?
Would it be the graceful giraffe gliding across the grasslands munching the tops of trees? The lumbering elephant who gulps down 150 litres of water per day? Or the “super” gecko? It can climb straight up a wall at a metre per second, hang upside down from the ceiling and skim across water faster than a duck can swim. It can glide through air, turn itself around in mid-flight, and swing under a branch headfirst and cling to it to hide. And it can change color. Those are super skills!
Some animals look weird. Consider the star-nosed mole. Around its snout is a ray of twenty-two fleshy feelers. These feelers wiggle constantly as the mole digs through wet soil. The mole is blind. He hunts with his star nose bopping against the soil as fast as possible. When he feels an insect or a worm, he gobbles it down faster than you can say “one.”
The blue footed booby is a bird about the size of a duck. It lives on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. And it has blue feet. The booby uses its blue feet to attract a mate. The bluer its feet the more attractive it is. Because the sun on the islands can be harsh, the booby has to cool itself down so it won’t get overheated. It opens its mouth and makes the skin on its neck vibrate. It looks like it’s laughing, but it’s just trying to stay cool.
Why did God create so many different animals?
First, he created them because they please him. He looked at them and “saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).
God made animals in all colours, shapes and sizes. Some are beautiful and cuddly. Others are strange and unusual; some are downright scary. The parts we find strange are exactly what they need to survive. Like the ray of feelers on the star-nosed mole.
Every animal has a purpose. God created them for us to enjoy and to learn from. Scientists study animals to see how they live and interact with each other, and how they fit into their environment. He created them to help us live successfully in our environment.
For example, bees are necessary for plants to reproduce. As they buzz from plant to plant, they carry the pollen each plant requires to produce seeds.
Squirrels help trees to grow. They forage, collect and stash their nuts and seeds, and often forget to dig them up again. Instead of being eaten the nuts and seeds develop roots and grow to be new trees.
Birds create balance in nature. They drop seeds as they fly, eat pests like bugs and mosquitoes, and they fertilize the soil with their droppings.
God cares about animals. He created them for us and to help us. We help them by treating them well.
WINNIPEG, Man.—“Mom, you’re the only one I know who likes having church on Zoom!” This comment, made by an adult son to his mother, was shared after a recent Aberdeen prayer meeting on Zoom and started a discussion about our experience of church by Zoom. Continue reading Experiencing the Church on Zoom→
PICTURE BUTTE, Alta.—Pastor couple Ben and Maria Dyck and pastor couple Craig and Laura Cornelsen pray a blessing over new lay minister Peter Goertzen and his wife Annie at their installation on January 31, 2021, at the Picture Butte Mennonite Church. Standing are Ben Dyck, Craig Cornelsen, Maria Dyck and Laura Cornelsen, while Peter and Annie Goertzen kneel to receive prayer.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference