Messenger. en un Pesebre? in a Manger? The EVANGELICAL MENNONITE CONFERENCE VOLUME 43 NUMBER 22 DECEMBER 28, 2005

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1 Messenger The EVANGELICAL MENNONITE CONFERENCE VOLUME 43 NUMBER 22 DECEMBER 28, 2005 Dios Todopoderoso en un Pesebre? Almighty God in a Manger?

2 editorials Not any more Part of this issue of The Messenger is in Spanish. Surprised? Years ago our German-language publication the Christlicher Familienfruend (The Christian Family Friend) included an English section. Now The Messenger has a taste of Spanish. Why? Perhaps the reason is reflected in comments by moderator Ron Penner at the recent national EM conference council meeting held in early December (the moderator, however, did not know of the magazine s plans): But I think we best remember we Mennonites is not any more a southern Manitoba church or a minority of Germanic-speaking Christians. To be Mennonite today whether it s in our EMC or whether it s in the context of Mennonite World Conference is a network of churches and believers that encompasses over 60 different languages and involves Christians in every major continent of the world. And in our circles that s EMC s I dare say that we have many, many cultural and linguistic persons different involved in our operations. So just a little bit of an encouragement: Let s remember we are not just Low German-speaking people anymore. We welcome the other backgrounds that are part of our church. Delegates said Amen! and clapped in support. Our conference has Spanish-language churches, Spanish-speaking members in many congregations, and connections with Spanish-speaking countries. In October the executive of the Board of Church Ministries supported the magazine s basic action plan. Decisions will be made as to where it leads. (Will there be a French taste in the future? That s been talked about by BCM staff.) M T Terry M. Smith The number is not in service at this time Churches and pastors are, like it or not, in the communication business. Why, then, do some congregations and pastors make interesting choices? Some examples: A phone number that turns out to be a fax number with a high-pitched whine. (It hurts people s hearing and encourages them to hang up.) An answering machine that gives a mini-sermon before giving church information. (Keep the good thought for a special menu item.) An established church without a sign listing its name, service times, and contact points. The message? We haven t decided if you re welcome. This is a church for insiders. A church plant at Christmastime: No sign outside identifying the church, service time, or welcome. Inside, no directions of where the church meets within the building. The message? Seek and ye shall find us maybe. Churches that don t advertise in the local newspaper. (It costs money, but a lack of it costs contacts.) An outdated answering machine (poor sound or a beep that lasts far too long). Saying that real advertising happens by word-of-mouth. (Advertisers try to connect in various ways, but some churches think one size fits all.) An outdated website. Some churches might say they just go where the Spirit leads. We can hope they don t drive their cars that way. Congregations are communicating. It might be the right message or the wrong message and be done skillfully or poorly. What is your church saying? It could be different from what you think it is. M T Terry M. Smith The Messenger ASSISTANT EDITOR Rebecca Buhler EDITOR Terry M. Smith THE MESSENGER is the publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference. It is available to the general public. Its purpose is to inform, instruct and inspire: inform concerning events and activities in the denomination; instruct in godliness and victorious living; inspire to earnestly contend for the faith. Letters, articles, photos and poems are welcomed. Unpublished material is not returned except by request. The views and opinions expressed by the writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Conference or the editors. THE MESSENGER is published twice a month (once a month in July and August) by the Board of Church Ministries of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, 440 Main Street, Steinbach, Manitoba. Subscriptions: $12 per year (Manitoba residents add 7% PST, total: $12.84). Subscriptions are voluntary and optional to people within or outside of the EMC. In cooperation with the EMC Conference Council, members and adherents pay through their church. THE MESSENGER is a member of Meetinghouse and Canadian Church Press. Second-class postage paid at Steinbach, Manitoba. PAP Registration #9914 Publications Mail Agreement # We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada, through the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), toward our mailing costs. The magazine and its publisher, the Board of Church Ministries, are obligated to work within the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Mailing information: All correspondence, including undelivered copies, change of address and new subscriptions, should be addressed to: The Messenger 440 Main Street Steinbach, Manitoba R5G 1Z5 Phone: Fax: On-line edition available at MESSENGER SCHEDULE: No. 02 January 25 (copy due January 13) THE MESSENGER

3 Aboriginal leaders express deep concern We affirm the dignity and personhood of every Aboriginal person The Aboriginal Ministries Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada issued the following statement in response to the recent news reports of conditions on Canadian Reserves: The Council for Aboriginal Ministry Leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada stands in solidarity with all those who are living in unacceptable conditions on reserves and in urban settings. We denounce all policies that have contributed to Aboriginal people in Canada feeling loss of identity and place in our own lands--lands which have formed this country called Canada. We are deeply hurt by conditions on reserves that force people to fear their water will cause harm to themselves or their families. We are saddened that people have to be afraid to bathe for fear that it will cause skin disease. We are frustrated by the depletion of natural sources of food and water--resources stewarded well for millennia--whose loss now contributes to dependencies. As human beings, greatly valued by the One who made us, we are deeply distressed by the living conditions and profound loss of identity that lead our young people to take their own lives. We lament that our once proud people, many of whom have turned to drugs, alcohol, sex and other addictions to forget the pain of daily life, have been given such cursory and disrespectful treatment. As Aboriginal Christians, we affirm the dignity and personhood of every Aboriginal person. Our people are not above others in this land, but are uniquely different in this respect: This land has been our home since long before the nation of Canada came into existence. Many have come to Canada in search of justice and respect; we value and respect all who have come to make Canada their home. In return, we ask for understanding of our unique relationship to this land, and ask that the same justice and proper respect be extended to all of Canada s Aboriginal people. Our first nations are entitled to no less. We recognize that there is a spiritual element to the pain and despair that many Aboriginal people suffer. Many years ago now, Elijah Harper, one of our own, made this clear. We pray that not only safe water, but all social issues affecting our people might be addressed in a holistic way by Canadian governments and individuals at all levels of society so that spiritual and social renewal might result for our people that our people may walk with dignity and pride once again. The Aboriginal Ministries Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada brings together Aboriginal Christian leaders from various Aboriginal communities across Canada. The Council acts as a bridge between the Aboriginal and non-aboriginal Church, seeking to provide resources that will enhance communications and enrich the Church as a whole. EFC Latin American churches suffer loss and destruction Mudslides left many without belongings, without homes, and without relatives When hurricane winds and rain caused mudslides in the mountains of Guatemala on October 5, most of the 500 people in the village of San Pedro San Marcos disappeared. Doña Eudelia lost almost all her relatives in San Marcos. They were buried by the mud. Other relatives who survived were left without a house, without food. Today we witnessed and shared a partner s pain. Doña Eudelia is maybe one of the humblest sisters in SEMILLA, but a great champion of the faith, wrote Mario Higueros of Guatemala, a former dean at SEMILLA, the Latin American Anabaptist seminary. Many people in small villages, excluded by society, built their houses in the only places left for the poor. Their homes were in areas of risk. The mudslides left them without belongings, without homes. But it was the irreparable loss of relatives that left them heartbroken. You can replace everything little by little, although that may take many years, but what we will no longer have is the life of our relatives, said Doña Eudelia. When the storm swept across Central America, it devastated 319 communities in the San Marcos region of Guatemala leaving at least 284 dead, 133 disappeared and 5,449 homes destroyed. Nearly 75,000 people lost their belongings. More than 15,000 were given refuge. Some survivors in devastated areas received outside help after the storm moved on as well as a visit from Doña Sofía, Queen of Spain. Higueros plans to offer courses to help people deal with their traumatic experience, but it will not be possible to do so for some time as the highways are in bad shape, he said. Samuel Martínez Leal, president of the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de El Salvador, wrote that members of the Mennonite Church in El Salvador were not affected directly by the hurricane although the country suffered great damage. Felix Rafael Curbelo, pastor of the Brethren in Christ Mission Society in Cuba, reported that the hurricane affected scores of people located along many kilometers of sea coast in La Habana, the city s capital. In general, Mennonite and Brethren in Christ communities did not experience direct damage, he said. Javier Soler, president of the board of the Organización Cristiana Amor Viviente in Honduras, wrote that its churches in the US gulf states suffered greatly. For some time, he was unable to communicate with three congregations in Florida. He did learn that most of the people there lost cars, houses and the material things they left behind when they fled, but it appeared no lives were lost. The loss of material things and in membership is hitting the economy of Amor Viviente congregations hard. Many members of an Amor Viviente congregation of about 200 people in New Orleans have settled in other states, but about 50 people have begun to meet again. In many places almost no restoration can be done. Thousands of houses will have to be demolished, said Soler. Disasters also have had a positive effect with kindness, sensitivity and the visitation of God seen through men and women of good will, observed Higueros. God was present in Doña Chepita who handed a glass of water to the suffering, in the girl who lifted Santos from the mud, in the moral support and encouragement that Ubelezer received every day from his aunt and from friends. God does not prevent all catastrophes or illness, but God is always present to encourage us. MWC December 28,

4 Dios Todopoderoso en Almighty 4 THE MESSENGER

5 un Pesebre? God in a Manger? Lester Olfert Hay muchas diferentes tradiciones en cuanto al nacimiento de Jesús y como se celebra. Los relatos de los evangelios de Mateo y Lucas, dan detalles que establecen que fue un hecho histórico citando personas y acontecimientos políticos. También dan detalles que afirman que era cumplimiento profético. Diferentes tradiciones y culturas añaden detalles que no tienen base Bíblica. Por ejemplo, San Lucas no dice que José viajó a Belén con María montado sobre un asno. San Mateo no dice que eran tres magos que vinieron a buscar a Jesús y no llegaron al pesebre junto con los pastores. San Mateo 2:1 dice, vinieron del oriente a Jerusalén unos magos (no dice cuántos.) Mateo 2:11 dice, y al entrar en la casa, vieron al niño There are many different traditions in the way the birth of Christ is celebrated. The accounts of Matthew and Luke give details about individuals and political events that establish the birth of Jesus as a historical fact. They also give facts that affirm the fulfillment of prophecy. Different traditions and cultures add some details that are not found in the Biblical accounts. For example, Luke does not say that Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with Mary at his side on a donkey. Matthew does not state that there were three Magi that came looking for Jesus; neither did they come to the manager together with the shepherds. Matthew 2:1 says, Magi came from the East (it does not state how many), and Matthew 2:11 says, December 8, 005 5

6 con su madre María, y postrándose, lo adoraron; y abriendo sus tesoros, le ofrecieron presentes: oro, incienso y mirra. Realmente estos detalles no son tan importantes porque no cambian la esencia de la verdad. Cuál es la verdad esencial de este hecho histórico? Jesús nació en cumplimiento de muchas profecías. El profeta Isaías declaró unos 700 años antes que He aquí que una virgen concebirá, y dará a luz un hijo, y llamará su nombre Emanuel (Isaías 7:14). San Mateo cita esta profecía en su relato del nacimiento de Jesús (Mateo 1:23). Emmanuel quiere decir, Dios con nosotros. Cuando Jesús, el eterno Hijo de Dios, nació como un bebé, Dios vino a estar con nosotros. Como dice San Juan, Y aquel Verbo fue hecho carne, y habitó entre nosotros (y vimos su gloria, gloria como del unigénito del Padre), lleno de gracia y de verdad A Dios nadie lo vio jamás: el unigénito Hijo, que está en el seno de su Padre, él le ha dado a conocer (Juan 1:14, 18). On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. These details are really not that important because they do not change the essence of the truth. What is the real essence of this historical event? We will look at four aspects. Jesus was born in fulfillment of prophecy. There are many prophesies that predict different aspects of the Messiah s coming. The prophet Isaiah declared 700 years earlier, The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew cites this prophecy in his account of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:23). Immanuel means God with us. When Jesus, the eternal Son of God was born, Realmente no es tan importante cuantos magos vinieron a adorar a Jesús o si los pastores y magos llegaron juntos a ver a Jesús. Lo importante es por qué vino Jesús. Really it is not that important how many Magi came to worship Jesus or whether the shepherds and Magi arrived at the same time. What is important is why Jesus came. Jesús vino a revelar claramente a Dios con su vida, enseñanzas y milagros. La narración de los cuatro evangelios nos da a conocer como es Dios a través de Jesús. Por ejemplo, vemos el amor y la paciencia de Dios en el relato del hijo prodigo. Nos revela la misericordia y la compasión cuando resucita el hijo de la viuda de Naín. Comprendemos la grandeza de la gracia de Dios cuando Jesús rescata y perdona la mujer adúltera. Entendemos algo de la justicia de Dios cuando Jesús denuncia a los Fariseos. Vemos el poder de Dios en los milagros de sanidad, multiplicación de los panes, calmando la tempestad y echando fuera los demonios del hombre Gadareno. El nacimiento fue una humillación completa y una identificación total con la humanidad. Este nacimiento requirió una humillación completa no solo porque nació en un pesebre, sino porque no fue limitado al nacimiento. Incluyó la muerte en la cruz también. Como declara San Pablo en Filipenses 2:6-8, el (Jesús) cual, siendo en forma de Dios, no estimó el ser igual a Dios como cosa a que aferrarse, sino se despojó a sí mismo, tomando forma de siervo, hecho semejante a los hombres; y estando en la condición de hombre, se humilló a sí mismo, haciéndose God came to dwell with us. As John says, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father s side, has made him known (John 1:14, 18). Jesus came to clearly reveal God with his life, his teachings and miracles. The account of the four gospels helps us understand God through the life of Jesus. For example, we see the love and patience of God in the story of the prodigal son. His mercy and compassion is revealed when Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain. We get a glimpse of the unfathomable grace of God when Jesus rescues and forgives the adulteress woman. We begin to understand the justice of God when Jesus denounces the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. We see the power of God in the miracles of healing, the multiplication of the bread, calming the storm and casting out the demons from the 6 THE MESSENGER

7 obediente hasta la muerte, y muerte de cruz. El nacimiento de Jesús era esencial para quitar nuestro temor de la muerte. Es interesante notar que la palabra del ángel Gabriel a Maria era, Maria, no temas. También a los pastores el ángel dijo, No temáis. La humanidad tiene temor ante lo desconocido, y especialmente ante la muerte. El escritor de Hebreos dice, Así que, por cuanto los hijos participaron de carne y sangre, él también participó de lo mismo, para destruir por medio de la muerte al que tenía el imperio de la muerte, esto es, al diablo, y librar a todos los que por el temor de la muerte estaban durante toda la vida sujetos a servidumbre. Por lo cual debía ser en todo semejante a sus hermanos, para venir a ser misericordioso y fiel sacerdote en cuanto a Dios se refiere, para expiar los pecados del pueblo (Hebreos 2:14 15, 17). Esta es la razón esencial porque Dios se tenía que encarnar. La única manera que Dios podía librar a la humanidad de la esclavitud del pecado, temor y del diablo, era hacerse humano, vivir una vida sin pecado y ofrecerse como sacrificio en la cruz. San Pablo declara en Colosenses 2:15, y despojando a los principados y a las potestades, los exhibió públicamente, triunfando sobre ellos en la cruz. Jesús cumplió todo esto, lo cual lo establece como un intermediario entre la humanidad y Dios Padre. El representa fielmente a ambos lados. Jesús nos da una entrada abierta a la presencia de Dios porque intercede por nosotros. No hay necesidad de otro mediador. Realmente no es tan importante cuantos magos Gadarene man. The birth was complete humiliation and identification with humanity. The physical birth required complete humiliation not just because he was born in a stable, but because it was not limited only to the birth. As the Apostle Paul declares, Who (Jesus) being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). The birth of Jesus was essential to take away the fear of death. It is interesting to note that the word of the angel Gabriel to Mary was, Do not be afraid, Mary. The shepherds received the same message, Do not be afraid. Humanity has fear of the unknown and especially of death. The writer of Hebrews says, Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:14 15, 17). This is the essential reason why God had to take on human flesh. The only way that God could liberate humanity from the slavery of sin, fear and Jesús vino a revelar claramente a Dios con su vida, enseñanzas y milagros. Vemos el amor y la paciencia de Dios en el relato del hijo prodigo. Nos revela la misericordia y la compasión cuando resucita el hijo de la viuda de Naín. Jesus came to clearly reveal God with his life, his teachings and miracles. We see the love and patience of God in the story of the prodigal son. His mercy and compassion is revealed when Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain. December 28,

8 Aceptemos por fe el mejor regalo de Navidad, a Jesús nacido en el pesebre y crucificado en la cruz. El pesebre y la cruz son inseparables porque Jesús nació para morir. Let us by faith accept the indescribable gift of Christmas, Jesus born in a manger and crucified on the cross. The manger and the cross are inseparable because Jesus was born to die! vinieron a adorar a Jesús o si los pastores y magos llegaron juntos a ver a Jesús. Lo importante es por qué vino Jesús. Dios eterno y todopoderoso en un pesebre? Aunque no lo podemos entender, aceptamos por fe que el omnipotente Dios se encarnó (se vistió de carne humana) y nació como niño de la virgen María y fue puesto en un pesebre. Pero, no se quedó en el pesebre. Creció y llegó a ser hombre conocido como Jesús de Nazaret. Fue bautizado por Juan el Bautista y unido por el Espíritu Santo para, dar buenas nuevas a los pobres; sanar la los quebrantados de corazón, pregonar libertad a los cautivos, vista a los ciegos, poner en libertad a los oprimidos y a predicar el año agradable del Señor (Lucas 4:18 19). Últimamente fue crucificado en la cruz de Gólgota. No podemos separar el pesebre de la cruz! Muchos somos atraídos al pesebre, al misterio y maravilla de un niño recién nacido. Pero que de la cruz? La cruz nos repulsa por su crueldad. No veamos solo la crueldad de la cruz! Veamos el sacrificio de amor por el pecado de la humanidad, por nuestro pecado. Aceptemos por fe el mejor regalo de Navidad, a Jesús nacido en el pesebre y crucificado en la cruz. El pesebre y la cruz son inseparables porque Jesús nació para morir. M T Lester Olfert ha servido en México y Nicaragua como misionario ( ), como pastor, y en la Ofi cina Nacional de la EMC como Secretario Foráneo de misiones ( ). En Enero de 2006 él y su esposa Darlene desempeñarán servicios en Nicaragua por cuatro meses. Lester Olfert has served in Mexico and Nicaragua as a missionary ( ), as a pastor, and in the EMC national offi ce as Foreign Secretary to the EMC Board of Missions ( ). In January 2006 he and his wife Darlene will serve in Nicaragua for four months. the devil, was to become human, live a sinless life and offer himself as a sacrifice on the cross. The apostle Paul declares in Colossians 2:15, And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them on the cross. Jesus accomplished all this, which also makes him a mediator between humanity and God the Father. He faithfully represents both sides. Jesus gives us an open access to the presence of God and intercedes for us. There is no need for another mediator. So really it is not that important how many Magi came to worship Jesus or whether the shepherds and Magi arrived at the same time. What is important is why Jesus came. The eternal and omnipotent God in a stable? Even though we can not fully understand this, by faith we accept that the Almighty God became incarnate (took on human flesh) and was born of the virgin Mary and was placed in a manager. But he did not stay in the manger. He grew up and became a man known as Jesus of Nazareth. He was baptized by John the Baptist and anointed by the Holy Spirit to give good news to the poor; heal the broken-hearted; to proclaim freedom to the prisoners; make the blind see, release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord s favour (Luke 4:18 19). Ultimately he was crucified on the cross of Golgotha. We cannot separate the manger from the cross! Many are drawn to the manger, to the mystery and marvel of a new-born baby. But what about the cross? We find the cross repulsive because of the cruelty. Let s not just focus on the cruelty, but rather on the love that motivated the sacrifice for the sin of humanity, for our sin. Let us by faith accept the indescribable gift of Christmas, Jesus born in a manger and crucified on the cross. The manger and the cross are inseparable because Jesus was born to die! M T 8 THE MESSENGER

9 with our missionaries Mission-X helps lessons to sink home After six weeks of lectures at Steinbach Bible College, 21 students left campus October 14 to November 3 for real-life learning. For three weeks, SBC students spent time in Central America, applying lessons taught in the classrooms to the less formal outdoor classrooms in Belize and Nicaragua. Sharing bedrooms with scorpions and tarantulas may have been a new experience for students, but few included such stories in reports after returning to SBC. Instead, students spoke of lessons they learned from their national hosts. They learned about unselfishness from people living in simple shacks. They learned what it means to trust God, away from the luxuries of soap, water, and flush toilets. SBC mission professor Ernie Koop took 11 third-year students to Nicaragua, where he ministered for seven years in the mid-80s. Students were involved in various ministries, from preaching, teaching, and performing mime to carrying water for billets. They performed mime in churches. Traveling on foot to remote mountain communities gave them an appreciation for the pastor who regularly makes this trip to bring hope to his people. Ten students traveled with SBC professor Gord Penner to Belize. While there, students were paired off and sent into villages to minister for three Jody Barkman with a Belizian child in Yo Creek. weeks. Student Jody Barkman spent her time teaching grade one students in the small Spanish village of Yo Creek. Barkman reflects, I learned about God s faithfulness in a foreign culture with different languages, foods, and traditions but the same God. Wayne and Audrey Friesen, who spent time ministering to new Christians in Shipyard, discovered that their peace is not found in things, but in the grace of God. SBC began its Mission Exposure program ten years ago. Since then students have caught lessons in real-life ministry opportunities that they were taught in the classroom. This is the kind of just-in-time teaching that Erwin McManus, author of An Unstoppable Force, says our churches need. All first-year students are required to spend a week in the core area of Winnipeg during a three-week course called Introduction to Church Ministries. Second-year students take a six-week Evangelism course followed by a threeweek Introduction to Mission course that includes a week of living in a northern Manitoba First Nation community. The professors of these courses accompany students on the trips. SBC SBC students who traveled to Nicaragua were accompanied by Professor Ernie Koop and his family. Performing mime to the songs People Need the Lord and Via Delorosa was part of the ministry of the MX team that traveled to Nicaragua. December 28,

10 Asia I was sitting in another airport terminal, this time on my way home from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I had about five hours to wait for my next flight. After some time in Starbucks working on my s, I decided to find my favorite spot in the lounge at departure gate 16. From previous experience I knew this was where I could find a wall socket to plug in my laptop to recharge the battery. I decided that while it was charging I would take a break and play a game of hearts. One of the young male attendants at gate 10 came and looked over my shoulder and coached me in making the right moves (I lost to the computer anyway). After we had played for a while I tried to make conversation with him An airport terminal and hearts language but found he didn t speak English; talk about communicating in the hearts language. He went over to the counter at gate 11 and got his coworker to come and watch me play the game. I noticed an old textbook-like book in her hand. The title was Twenty literature lessons from the Bible. It was all in Chinese and she did not speak English either. I felt so helpless. I asked whether she was a Christian and she didn t seem to know what I meant. I took my PDA and read some literature to her from Psalm 23. She could not understand. It was frustrating. I so much wanted to use this teachable moment, this window of opportunity to share truth. Then I remembered that before I left my hotel room in Ulaanbaatar I had stuck the booklet Steps to Peace with God into my pocket, intending to give it to the cashier at the desk as I paid up. I forgot. I still had it in my pocket. I stuck it into the book as a bookmark and gave the book back to her. She took it gratefully and went to sit with her colleague, and together I heard them going through the booklet. They can t read it, but I pray that they take it to someone who can read English and will be exposed to the truth. Amazing! Maybe she will receive this amazing grace! A Follower of Jesus This EMCer serves in a country best not identified. with our churches Ministerio hispano en Braeside Spanish ministries at Braeside Braeside (Winnipeg, Man.): Ya pasaron mas de seis meses, desde que empecé a servir como pastor del Ministerio Hispano en Braeside EMC. En este espacio de tiempo he podido conocer a los diferentes miembros del ministerio hispano, a los miembros de la Iglesia Braeside en general y a algunos miembros de la comunidad de la EMC. Es muy bueno saber que somos parte de una comunidad y que trabajamos juntos por alcanzar las mismas metas. Al inicio dedique este servicio a Dios porque sé que dependo La instalación de Angel y Blanca Infantes, nuevos pastores del ministerio hispano./the installation of Angel and Blanca Infantes, new pastors of the hispanic ministry. Braeside (Winnipeg, Man.): Six months have gone by since I became pastor of Spanish ministries at Braeside EMC. During this time I have been able to get acquainted with different members of the Spanish ministry, members of Braeside in general, and others of the EMC community. It is good to know that we are part of a community and we work together to reach the same goals. At the beginning I dedicated this ministry to God because I knew I depend on Him in everything and I knew that the work belongs to Him. My wife Blanca and I started a visitation program, visiting every Spanish family with the purpose of getting to know them. Even though we all speak the same language, Spanish, we are very different because we come from different countries Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru. I also worked to strengthen the Spanish activities that were already going on: A monthly Bible service, a weekly Bible study, devotionals, and Sunday school. With the help of Carlos Pitta we are encouraging the worship team in their worship to God and to make a Spanish songbook. My wife is now in charge of the children s program during the service. Previously she trained a group of young girls to form a teaching team, and now the older ones teach the younger ones. Every Friday we have Bible studies in the homes with an average attendance of 17. At present we are studying the book 10 THE MESSENGER

11 Estudio biblico hogareño./a home Bible study. de Él en todo lo que haga y sé que la obra es del Señor. Así que junto a mi esposa empecé a visitar a cada familia hispana, con la finalidad de conocerlas, cada una muy diferente a pesar de hablar el mismo idioma, el español, por ser de diferentes países: Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua, Perú. También trabajé en fortalecer todas las actividades en español que ya se realizaban: Servicio hispano al mes, estudio bíblico semanal, devocional y la escuela dominical. El servicio hispano es el último sábado de cada mes, estamos animando, junto con el líder Carlos Pitta, al grupo de alabanza hispano en su servicio a Dios y a elaborar un cancionero en español. Blanca mi esposa está a cargo del programa para los niños durante el servicio, previamente ella entrenó a un grupo de jovencitas y formó un equipo de enseñanza, ahora las más grandes enseñan a los más pequeños. Los estudios bíblicos son cada viernes en los hogares de las familias hispanas. Tenemos una asistencia promedio de 17 personas por estudio. Estamos estudiando una serie del libro de Colosenses, cada semana preparo un capítulo de la serie y me da gusto ver a los hermanos participar en grupo en el desarrollo de las preguntas asignadas una semana antes, y de ahí seguir con el estudio de los versos para cada viernes. Los miércoles por la noche nos reunimos en la Iglesia para tener un devocional basado en la Palabra de Dios, que nos inspire en nuestra vida espiritual. Cada domingo por la mañana estoy preparando a algunos creyentes en el conocimiento de los temas básicos de cristianismo, después de evaluar a cada uno mediante un examen escrito (sin calificación), los otros miembros asisten a la clase en ingles impartida por el Senior Pastor Carl Heppner, donde tiene el apoyo de traductores para los que no dominan el ingles. Desde hace dos meses empecé con la visita pastoral formal, es una visita a cada miembro individual (uno solo) del ministerio, cuando se trata de una dama voy acompañado de mi esposa. En cada visita me gozo en escuchar la forma en cada uno conoció al Señor, hablamos de nuestra Fe y también de las responsabilidades como miembro de la iglesia, una pregunta que hago en estas visitas es: En que área te gustaría servir en la Iglesia? Me sorprendo al escuchar las respuestas y saber que cada uno desea servir en la iglesia, ahora estoy trabajando a fin de ayudar a cada uno a desarrollar su servicio al Señor. Con algunos estamos trazando estudios futuros que ayudaran a prepararse para su servicio. Uno de los retos es la etapa de transición del ministerio hispano, esto iba a generar algunos cambios que traté de evitar. Es muy poco el tiempo para hacer cambios (seis meses) y sé que los cambios generan distintas reacciones. Por eso con la Junta Directiva del Ministerio Hispano tuvimos un entrenamiento, a cargo del pastor Carl y mi persona, que trató los siguientes puntos: El ministerio hispano dentro de la iglesia Braeside EMC, los propósitos de la Iglesia y el Blanca (México) y Angel Infantes (Perú) serviendo en Winnipeg./Blanca (Mexico) and Angel Infantes (Peru) serve in Winnipeg. Un culto de adoracion en Braeside./A worship service at Braeside. of Colossians. Every week I prepare one chapter of the series, and it pleases me to hear them participate in the discussion of the previous week s questions and then continue to study the new portion for that day. Wednesday nights we meet in the church for a devotional based on the Word of God, which inspires us in our spiritual life. Sunday mornings I m teaching the basics of Christianity to some believers after evaluating them by means of a written exam (no grades). The others attend the English class taught by Carl Heppner with the help of interpreters for those who don t understand English. Two months ago I started with formal pastoral visits. It s an individual visit with every member, and, if it s a woman, my wife accompanies me. In these visits it has been good to listen to them share how they came to know the Lord. We talk about our faith and our responsibilities as members of the church. One question I ask is, In what area would you like to serve in the church? I m surprised as I listen to the answer as I realize that everyone desires to serve in the church. Now I am trying to assist them in developing their service to the Lord. With some I am planning future studies that would help them prepare for service. One of the challenges is the transition period, trying to avoid negative reactions to changes. Six months is not enough time to make these changes, for I know that change brings different reactions. So we had a training course with the December 28,

12 desarrollo de una reunión. Esto nos ayudó tener en claro la meta que esperamos alcanzar. Para ello se formó el Equipo de Líderes que reemplaza a la anterior junta directiva, pero incluye a los miembros que estuvieron en ella e invitamos a los demás miembros a ser parte del Equipo de Líderes, y estará en funcionamiento a partir del próximo año. Uno de los momentos de gozo fue el Retiro Espiritual que tuvimos el pasado mes de Septiembre, en Valley View Bible Camp, trabajamos al lado de los organizadores Ivan y Yesenia García. Los que asistimos recibimos la bendición de sentir la presencia de Dios en el desarrollo de las actividades, en el tiempo de las alabanzas todos sentimos ese toque del Espíritu en nuestros corazones, por lo que regresamos muy contentos y animados al saber que Dios esta obrando en nuestras vidas. Uno de los frutos del retiro es la forma en que Dios trabajó con la familia de Aldo y Miriam Rodríguez. Ahora ellos están participando activamente en la Iglesia. Miriam y sus hijos (Daniel y Dana) están sirviendo en el grupo de alabanza, por board of Spanish ministries, directed by Pastor Carl and me. We discussed the following points: Spanish ministries with Braeside church, the purpose of the church, and the format of a service. We formed a leadership team that replaces the former board, but this includes the former board members and we invite the other members to join this team. This team will start to function in One time of great joy was the spiritual retreat last September at Valley View Bible Camp. We worked alongside the organizers, Ivan and Yesenia Garcia. Feeling the presence of God in all the activities and the touch of the Spirit in our hearts during the worship time was a great blessing. We returned to our homes content and encouraged, knowing that God is working in our lives. One of the fruits of the retreat was the way God worked in the family of Aldo and Miriam Rodriguez. Now they are actively participating in the church. Miriam and her children, Daniel and Dana, are singing in the worship team. Also, Aldo and Miriam are forming a group with the children who will participate in the candlelight service, singing Christmas carols in Spanish. They come from a Mennonite church in Guatemala and have transferred their membership to Braeside. Vilma Aldama is a big help. She and her daughter came to Canada with help from Braeside. She is a psychologist and now works as a Spanish Christian counselor available to the whole Spanish community in Winnipeg. We are enjoying our first winter here and are driving with caution. It is good to go out and visit and feel the warmth of the people. There are some who cannot attend our activities because of family responsibilities or work at night, so we go and share the Word of God in their homes. My heart fills with joy to see families enjoying the study of the Word and, returning home, we say, Thank you, God, for making us useful servants in your hands. Pastor Angel Infantes Retiro Espiritual en Septiembre./Spiritual Retreat in September. otro lado Aldo y Miriam están formando un grupo con los niños hispanos que participarán en el Candlelight Night cantando villancicos en español. Ellos vienen de Guatemala de una Iglesia Menonita y han transferido su membresía a Braeside. Una gran ayuda que tenemos es la hermana Vilma Aldana. Ella y sus dos hijas vinieron a Canadá, en parte con el apoyo de Braeside. Ella es Psicóloga, y ahora colabora con consejería cristiana en español disponible para toda la comunidad hispana de Winnipeg. Este es nuestro primer invierno, lo estamos disfrutando y manejando con cuidado. Disfrutamos el salir a visitar y sentir el calor de la gente. Hay algunas personas que no pueden asistir a algunas actividades, por carga de familia o trabajan en la noche, así que vamos a sus hogares para compartir la Palabra de Dios. Al ver las familias disfrutar al compartir la Palabra, mi corazón se llena de alegría y al llegar a casa, decimos con mi esposa: Gracias Dios por hacernos siervos útiles en tus manos. Pastor Ángel Infantes Translation into English: Catherine Thiessen Reunion de mujeres./a ladies meeting. Entrenamiento de lideres./leadership training. 12 THE MESSENGER

13 Desafios y bendiciones en Brandon Challenges and blessings at Brandon Brandon, Man.: El verano pasado estuvo lleno desafíos. Fue un tiempo donde experimentamos crecimiento en madurez espiritual como Iglesia, y también en asistencia. Debido a esto sufrimos el cambio de local, pues en nuestra antigua dirección nos hallábamos muy apretados. Entre otras pruebas y dificultades que tuvimos, estuvo la espera que algunos miembros han pasado por sus familias. Han pasado casi tres años y todavía no han podido tener su estado migratorio de residente permanente arreglado para poder traer a sus esposas (os) e hijos. Alguno hermanos hablaron de esposas desesperadas y pasando por estados depresivos, debido a la necesidad de estar al lado de sus esposos y poder tener una vida normal, una vida en matrimonio. Saludos de un grupo de creyentes en Brandon./Greetings from a group of believers in Brandon. En Ebenezer entendemos la necesidad de ir y predicar el evangelio a las naciones y pensamos, Estamos en Canadá y podemos predicar el evangelio aquí. Sólo hay un pequeño problema; sólo unos cuantos podemos hablar Ingles, y el resto ni siquiera entienden este idioma. Sólo queda una solución, ir a predicar a todos lo de habla española. Pudimos tomar parte en campañas evangelísticas en Portage y Elie, Man., con los trabajadores temporales mexicanos que trabajan en el campo. Este año hemos tenido una magnífica respuesta de parte de ellos. Es un ministerio que hacemos cada verano con nuestro hermano Jake Kroeker de Rosenort, Man. El les da seguimiento y los visita varias veces para continuar instruyendo y edificando durante todo el verano. Contamos con tres estudios bíblicos por semana y el transporte ha sido uno de nuestros más grandes desafíos. La mayor parte de las personas que viven aquí tienen poco tiempo de haber llegado y no cuentan con vehículos y los domingos no hay transporte público. En nuestras clases de bautismo tenemos siete personas dispuestas a dar su paso de obediencia, para ser bautizadas en Y ocho están tomando clases de membresía y esperamos tener aceptación de miembros para diciembre 18, También estamos entrenando y discipulando a un grupo de personas para que ellos nos ayuden conforme la obra sigue creciendo. Para esto estamos llevando un curso de discipulado del Seminario Bíblico Río Grande. En el otoño en Ebenezer tuvimos el privilegio de participar Brandon, Man.: Last summer was full of challenges. As a church we experienced growth in maturity as well as growth in attendance. This meant changing to a different location, because we were getting to be much too crowded. Among other trials and difficulties, there was the waiting time that some of the members had for their families. Three years had gone by and they still hadn t been able to work out their permanent residency papers, which they needed before they could go for their spouses and children. Because of their need to be with their husbands and live a normal married life, some of the wives were getting desperate and going through depressing times. In the Ebenezer Church we understand the need to go and preach the gospel to all nations, and we think, We are in Canada and here we can preach the gospel. But there is one small problem: Only a few of us speak English and the rest don t even understand it. We were able to take part in evangelistic campaigns in Portage and Elie with the Mexican workers who had come temporarily to work on the fields. This year we had a magnificent response from them. This is a ministry that we do every summer with our brother Jake Kroeker from Rosenort, Man. He does the follow-up, visiting them a number of times to instruct and edify them. With three Bible studies a week, transportation has been one of our biggest challenges, because most of the people living here have come recently and don t have vehicles and on Sunday there is no public transportation. Several are taking baptismal classes, preparing to take this step of obedience and be baptized in Estudio biblico hogareño./home Bible study. Another eight are taking membership classes and we plan to receive them as members on December 18, We are also training and discipling a group so that they will be able to help us as the work keeps on going. For this we are using a discipling course from Rio Grande Bible Institute. In fall we had the privilege of having joint meetings and pulpit exchanges with some churches from Region 4: Sioux Valley, Treesbank, and Kola. At these meetings we also share food and they have enjoyed exquisite Latin American cooking. Not only have we been having fellowship with English-speaking churches, but also with the Spanish-speaking church at December 28,

14 Tiempo de alabanza en un hogar./worship time in a home. La familia pastoral: Janet, Jenifer y Stephanie junto con sus padres Antonio y Esther./The pastor family: Janet, Jenifer and Stephanie with their parents Antonio and Esther. en reuniones de fraternidad e intercambio de pulpitos con varias Iglesias del Área Cuatro Sioux Valley, Treesbank y Kola. En nuestras reuniones hemos intercambiado alimentos y ellos se han deleitado con la exquisita comida latinoamericana. No sólo nos hemos relacionado con hermanos de habla inglesa, también hemos tenido reuniones con nuestros hermanos hispanos de Braeside, en la que ellos nos vinieron a ministrar con la Palabra y la alabanza. También estamos planeando con nuestros hermanos de Love in Action en Calgary, Alta. Proximas reuniones e intercambios de pulpito. El Congreso Mosaico que tuvimos en este otoño en Toronto ha sido una gran bendición. Nos ha animado y al mismo tiempo nos ha refrescado y dado ideas para el ministerios en Brandon, porque se trató de plantación de iglesias. El liderazgo en Brandon estamos planeando interesantes proyectos y esperamos que el Señor nos vaya a dirigir y ayudar para llevarlos a cabo. El invierno viene llegando y a la misma vez que soportamos el frío clima de Manitoba, una ola de calor viene con los nuevos amigos inmigrantes que han llegado este mes a trabajar a la empresa de carnes aquí en Brandon. Finalmente después de perseverar en oración hemos tenido la llegada de dos familias de hermanos que por fin han recibido su residencia permanente. Aún quedan muchas familias esperando. Notamos que mientras que vienen más y más personas sabemos que muchas de esas personas no conocen de la salvación tan grande que hay en nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Nos damos cuenta que debemos seguir perseverando en oración y en acción. Queremos pedir de sus oraciones para que el Señor lleve a cabo su obra en Brandon, así como el resto de la comunidad hispana en Canadá. Pastor Luís Antonio Pitta Introduction to the OT Prof Gord Penner Discover how the stories of the Old Testament create one unified larger story. Jan 13 14; Feb 3 4; 24 25; Mar 17 18; Apr 7 8 Fridays 7 10 pm Saturdays 9am 12 noon 3 credit hours or audit Braeside, who came to minister with worship and the Word. Now we are planning meetings and pulpit exchanges with the Love in Action church in Calgary, Alta. The Mosaic Congress that we attended this fall in Toronto was a big blessing. It encouraged us and, at the same time, it refreshed us and gave us ideas for ministry in Brandon, as the theme of the congress was church planting. The leaders here in Brandon are planning interesting projects and we trust that the Lord will direct us and help us to accomplish it. Winter is coming, and as we tolerate the cold Manitoba climate, inner warmth has come with our new immigrant friends that arrived this month to work at the meat plant here in Brandon. Also, after persevering in prayer for some time, two families have arrived who finally got their permanent resident papers. Many families are still waiting. We are aware, as more and more come, that many of them don t know about the great salvation we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. We realize that we need to persevere in prayer and action, and would like to ask you to pray that the Lord will do his work here in Brandon, as well as in other Hispanic communities in Canada. Pastor Luis Antonio Pitta Register now for 2006 Evening & Weekend SBC Viewpoints Prof Corey Herlevsen Read several recently published books and participate in a guided discussion. Steinbach: Jan 14; March 20 April 28 Feb 11; Mar 11; Apr 8 Mondays & Thursdays Saturdays 9:30am 12 noon 7 10 pm SBC Campus Winnipeg: Jan 16; 3 credit hours or audit Feb 13; Mar 13; Apr 10 Mondays 7 9:30 pm Morrow Gospel Church 1 credit hour or audit Psychology II Prof David Driedger A continuation of Psychology I. Check to see if you have the prerequisite. Visit our website at for more information To register contact Christal ext 222 or Experiential Youth Ministry Prof Garth Friesen Discover how to lead youth in experiential learning through the use of cooperative games and problem solving initiatives. March 30 April 1 Thurs & Fri 7 10 pm Sat 9am 12 & 1 4 pm 1 credit hour or audit 14 THE MESSENGER

15 Stony Brook growing in many ways Stony Brook (Steinbach, Man.): All praise and glory to God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord! Because of Him, the feeling of community in our congregation continues to grow. We had a great summer, a wonderful fall, and now we look forward to the Christmas season with great anticipation. On June 12 we were thrilled to pledge to join with four sets of parents as they dedicated themselves to teaching their children to live for God. In early fall at our church camp retreat at Gimli Bible Camp, we became closer as a group when we heard about trials members of our congregation have been through. On October 23 we shared a potluck Thanksgiving supper. It was refreshing to have the opportunity to building relationships in another way. As our church s purpose statement says, we continue to strive to introduce and to reintroduce people to a relationship with Christ. We rejoice that we have recently seen people entering into such a relationship. We also rejoice when we are able to welcome new members to our congregation. Mount Salem, Ont.: Our church has had many struggles over the past few years. One in particular is the lack of a full-time senior pastor. Our lay ministers have been asked to do double duty and are burning out. There was a sense that we, along with the ministerial, needed a weekend getaway where we could forget about our struggles, spend some time getting to know each other better, and be encouraged. We decided to go away to Algonquin Park from May four days of roughing it, German Mennonite style. We were well fed with discos, barbecues, and bacon and eggs. We barely managed, but all of us made it home in one piece. During our four days up north we had a lot of time to reflect. Our goal for this weekend was to make new friends, build lasting friendships, and get excited about building God s church in Mount Salem. We invited Bill Wiebe, senior pastor of Leamington EMMC, to be our keynote speaker for the weekend. He brought us three evening sessions: Friday, Measuring Our Past (Philippians 3:1 21); Saturday, On November 6 we were privileged to receive five new members. Dean Poirier was accepted as a member by baptism, while Mark and Jamie Karr and Richard and Sharon Peters entered into membership by prior baptism. We praise God for their commitment to our church. Also on November 6, two elementaryaged children prayed a blessing over the shoe boxes filled with gifts we were gratefully able to send overseas with Operation Christmas Child. Our winter continues with another Fellowship of Five surprise visit and Mount Salem men s retreat Measuring My Personality (1 Corinthians 12:1 31); Sunday, Measuring My Potential (John 15:1 17). During these sessions we looked at, acknowledged, evaluated, and were Judy and Pat Martens, Chuck and Miryam Bueckert, and Sarah and Sheldon Neufeld dedicated their children to the Lord on November 28, another parent-child dedication, where three couples declared their commitment to raising their children in the fear and nurture of the Lord. Then quite soon Christmas will be here and we ll watch our children do their annual Christmas program. We praise God for the work He has done and is doing in our congregation. We pray also that just as (we) have received Christ Jesus as Lord, (that we would) continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as (we) were taught, and (overflow) with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6 7). Miryam Bueckert asked to come to terms with our past. We then were asked to make a decision, a commitment, a plan of action and a goal for the future. We also learned our continued next page Men gathered at Algonquin Park for a retreat; another is being talked about for next year. December 8,

16 continued from page 15 personality strengths and weaknesses. We also had testimonies and times of sharing and singing and, of course, sunflower seeds around the campfire every night. Two of the most memorable moments happened at night. After we went to bed, three guys in the tent next to us overdid it with Coke and seeds. The laughter and other sounds coming from their tent were better than a Mark Lowry CD. Some people were trying to sleep, but could not because of the loud neighbours, so they started thinking of ways to get even. It took till Sunday night before the loud guys tent came crashing down. Over all, we had an awesome time enjoying the great outdoors, fellowshipping with our fellow brothers, being encouraged and re-energized; we are already talking about doing a retreat again next year. Many thanks to all who put so much into making this retreat happen, and our wives who let us go. Hans Giebrecht Reporter: Sara Peters Mrs. Tena Brandt: That s still true today Morris, Man.: What a privilege and a blessing it is to be part of a larger faith community, our EM church family! May we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). On October 26 our Bible study group celebrated the birthday of our oldest church member: Mrs. Tena Brandt turned 98! What a blessing and challenge she is to all who visit her. Even though her eyesight is gone and her body is weak and frail, she has such a joyful spirit. Eck ha daut sou schen! ( I have it so good! ), she says. My precious daughter Elma takes such good care of me. Quién será más importante en esta Navidad? Jesús o el personaje que en los Estados Unidos llaman Santa Claus? Santa vive en el Polo Norte. Jesús está en todas partes. Santa se pasea en trineo. Jesús camina entre nosotros y camina sobre las aguas. Santa viene una vez al año. Jesús siempre está a tu lado para ayudarte. Santa tiene que preguntarte: cómo te llamas? Jesús sabe tu nombre desde antes que nacieras, conoce tu pasado y tu futuro. Santa tiene una barriga llena de algodón Jesús es delgado, pero tiene su corazón lleno de amor. Santa se ríe jo, jo, jo Jesús sabe que a veces las risas no son lo que necesitas, sino ayuda y esperanza. Los ayudantes de Santa hacen juguetes Jesús hace nuevas vidas, repara corazones y arregla hogares destrozados. Santa te hace reír Jesús te puede hacer volver a vivir. Si te portas bien, Santa puede dejar un regalo en el árbol. Jesús, sin importar como te comportes, hizo el regalo de su vida, la que ofrendó por ti. Por eso te pido que en vez de un vacío saludo de Feliz Navidad ; me acompañes a decirle a todo el mundo: Felicidades, hoy Jesús nació for ti! Colaboración de Emily República Dominicana Usado con permiso del autor. These young people were baptized at Morris Fellowship Chapel on October 9, 2005: Kyle Parkinson, Mark Siemens, Amy Siemens, Lance Baldwin, and Andy Klassen. Pastor Ward Parkinson stands with them. Mrs. Brandt has a smile on her face and a chuckle on her lips. She joins us in singing as much as her voice allows and still appreciates those good old German hymns from the past. I came across a testimony that she wrote 28 years ago for a local church paper. When I read it to her, she said, That s still true today. I ll share part of it: I am continually with Thee. Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou will guide me and afterwards receive me to glory. It was good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Thy good works (Psalm 73:23 24, 28). These verses express my feelings and my testimony. I have a wonderful personal God, whose nearness I feel every day. Even though I have gone through many tribulations and trials in life, I have the joy of the Lord and am happy in Him. His power and love are so much greater than my troubles, and I know that He is leading and guiding me. Betty Siemens Mrs. Tena Brandt continues to be happy in the Lord at THE MESSENGER

17 focus on... Word spread recently among our conference churches that Dr. Harold Fast, 56, a member of Blumenort EMC, died suddenly of a heart attack in Pakistan on Thursday, November 17. He and his wife Alfrieda had returned to Pakistan for a month, on a medical trip in response to the earthquake there. Dr. Fast was both a Christian medical worker and a member on one of our national boards. Harold s life has been an inspiration to me personally and also to many within our conference. From the time of Harold and Alfrieda s acceptance in 1983 as EMC workers, serving with TEAM, Harold has demonstrated the passionate and compassionate heart of a disciple of Christ. As a medical doctor he found much satisfaction in helping bring physical healing to the people of Pakistan; his greatest joy, though, seemed to be to teach and live out his faith to his Muslim friends. This desire to communicate Christ to Urdu speakers continued even after returning to a medical practice in Steinbach, Man., as the Fasts developed Bible studies and friendship circles. Len Barkman In 2003 Harold was elected to serve on the EMC Board of Missions. Here his cross-cultural experience and thoughtful wisdom was highly valued. His field visit to Paraguay in 2004 was a highlight for him and our workers. Harold s exemplary life, his humble walk with God and his ability to teach by word and deed have drawn many to Christ. We are deeply saddened that his life of service seemed to be cut short at a time when Pakistan and his family needed him. Dr. Arley Loewen, a cultural associate living in Afghanistan, has written: My friend and colleague, Harold, whom I admire very much, died with his boots on He died in action of love. He breathed his last breath in a country he had spent so much of his life, a country and a people he loved. He literally gave his life for Pakistan. And I know God will bring forth fruit. On behalf of the Board Missions and our conference, we are grateful to Dr. Fast for a life well lived in the service of Christ. And to Alfrieda and children Jordan, Kara, Stephanie and Mary Jane, we give you our sympathies. We want to continue to keep you in our prayers as a conference family. M T Dr. Harold Fast, together with Joanne Martens and Darlene and Lester Olfert, on a field visit to Paraguay in December 8,

18 Note: As a result of Conference Council discussion, this letter was sent recently to Al Jazeera, with copies to The Right Honorable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada; The Honorable Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada); Vic Toews, Member of Parliament (Provencher, Canada); Christian Peacemaker Teams (Canada and International); and the Canadian Islamic Congress. December 5, 2005 Dear Captors and Their Contacts: On behalf of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, graciously permit us to make a gentle, humble appeal for the safe release of four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams currently held in Iraq James Loney, Harmeet Sooden, Tom Fox, and Norman Kember. We are Christians appealing to Muslims, who both esteem Jesus highly, though somewhat differently. We say that the Prince of Peace is opposed to the war in Iraq and concerned about how we treat each other. The Evangelical Mennonite Conference is a small Christian denomination in Canada. We agreed at a national gathering on Saturday, December 3, to make this humble request. The EMC is a historic pacifist church opposed to all war. Deep, regrettable harm has come to Muslim- Christian relations because of the Crusades of the past and by recent and current wars in Iraq. Being opposed to all wars, the EMC opposes the war in Iraq. Christian Peacemaker Teams, which has Mennonite church roots, was formed about 20 years ago when Dr. Ron Sider stated that Christians opposed to war should be prepared to reveal their concern for peace by going to politically tense locations and show non-violent humanitarian concern. CPT opposes war and violence against the Iraqi people. To our knowledge all four members of CPT support non-violence, not war. CPT stands with the Iraqi people and protests against the pain and suffering that comes through war and an outside military presence within the country. The four men currently held cannot decide whether all Iraqi prisoners will be released. They do not have the power to control the political process that could Pre-registration Preferred decide this. If they did, the war in Iraq would not have happened. But they did decide to stand with Iraqi people to protest the war, the following occupation, and the suffering to Iraqi people. How will it help Muslim- Christian relationships and understanding when the lives of non-violent peacemakers, whether Muslim or Christian, are treated in this way? Because of this, we would ask those who have taken them to reconsider their decision and to allow these peacemakers to be released. We would ask their captors to be compassionate and merciful. We thank those who, in their wisdom, might consider this small, humble request. Salaam, Ron Penner (Rev.) Conference Moderator Terry M. Smith (Rev.) Executive Secretary SBC Leadership Conference 2006 Church Planting in Canada Speaker: Ewald Unruh, Director of Leadership Development and Evangelism Canada for the MB Conference Date: March 24-25, 2006 Time: Place: Friday, 1 pm to Saturday 3 pm SBC Chapel Cost: $40 by March 15 / $50 after March 15 For more information or to register call Christal or visit our website 18 THE MESSENGER

19 We as a family certainly would not have expected to bury both Mom and Dad within one year, but when couples have been married for such a long time (they were married close to 56 years), they often do pass away within a short time of each other. and there they enjoyed the fellowship of the tenants, having the opportunity to participate in various get-togethers of the tenants there. In the summer of 2004 Margaret came down with a rare lung infection and went into the hospital on August 9. After much testing and treatments with medication, it became increasingly evident that she was just weakening and her body began to slowly shut down. With her husband, daughter and son-in-law by her side, Margaret went peacefully to be with Jesus on His birthday, December 25. Perhaps Margaret hung on until Christmas Day so that she could see the family that was in Manitoba before she left this earth. Margaret was predeceased by her mother Maria W. Dueck and her father John W. Dueck, four sisters, six brothers; and numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws. Margaret was survived by her husband Peter, daughter Lorena and her husband Otto Zacharias of Winnipeg, Man.; son Richard and his wife Pam and their two boys, Zackery and Nicholas, of Salmon Arm, B.C.; and one sister Agnes Friesen (who since passed away in May 2005). Margaret will be missed very much, but we know that she is in a better place where there is no more sickness and sorrow. The funeral service was held at Steinbach EMC on Friday, December 31, Interment was at Heritage Cemetery. Her Family MARGARET (DUECK) DUECK It pleased the Lord to take our dear wife, mother and grandmother, Margaret Dueck to help Jesus celebrate His birthday in heaven on December 25, Margaret Dueck was born on July 14, 1919, to her parents, the late John W. and Maria Dueck in Rosenhof, Manitoba. Margaret had a happy childhood and, being the youngest in the family, she spent a lot of time with her nieces and nephews. Margaret would often have little parties and picnics for them, and they still have fond memories of that. She loved the Lord and was baptized upon her confession of faith and was received into membership at Rosenort EMC. Margaret and Peter were married on January 2, 1949, and were blessed with nearly 56 years of marriage. Margaret was a wonderful homemaker and also did some part-time babysitting. She enjoyed cooking and baking and would often bake a batch of coolies in the evening after a busy day. Margaret also made several quilts and always enjoyed going to the Mission Sisters meetings. She enjoyed fellowshipping with family and friends and it was important to her to be able to spend time with them. Margaret was an encouragement to her husband and children in their ventures. She loved family and friends dearly. Church and serving the Lord were important to Margaret and Peter and they attended faithfully. At times she and Peter would sing in the choir or in a small group. The John W. Dueck family, as well as Peter s family, always enjoyed singing. Margaret and Peter moved to Woodhaven Manor in January of 1995 PETER U. DUECK After a brief illness, Peter U. Dueck of Steinbach, Man., passed away to his home in glory on October 9, 2005, at the age of 86 years. Peter was born on October 22, 1918, in Friedensfeld, Man., the oldest of the Peter K. and Justina Dueck family. Peter was very studious and enjoyed reading, writing, and translating. Peter wanted to be a teacher, but he was needed on the family farm, so he took a year or two to help and then completed his high school. He went on to Normal School and began to teach. Peter also did work as a Conscientious Objector in Portage and Clear Lake during the war years. When teaching in Pleasant Valley, he was encouraged by his mother to correspond to a young lady that was working in the Steinbach Bethesda Hospital. The courtship between Peter and Margaret was short and sweet and they were married within three months of corresponding with each other. During their many years of marriage, Margaret was always faithful, encouraging Peter as best as she could. As a family, we enjoyed traveling and have fond memories of the many trips we took. Peter took several interesting courses in university, one being a course in Low German; he entertained his family by reading excerpts from Koop en Bua foare no Toronto (Koop and Buhr travel to Toronto), keeping them in stitches. Peter taught in various places and had some tough times, but he persevered through adversity and kept on fighting his strong fight of faith. Peter also took a course in bookkeeping and worked several years in that profession. He was also the editor of the Christlicher Familienfreund and did some translating of family diaries for others. Peter enjoyed studying the Word and taught his family of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter had some health problems and was admitted to Bethesda Hospital on September 27 with diabetic complications, dehydration, high blood pressure, and side effects of his medications. Within a couple of days Peter also developed pneumonia, and in spite of aggressive antibiotics, his body began to shut down. On the morning of October 9 he peacefully slipped into the arms of his Lord Jesus Christ. Peter was predeceased by his wife Margaret in December 2004; his father and mother, Peter K. and Justina Dueck; one sister in infancy, one brother, numerous in-laws and some nieces and nephews. Peter is survived by his daughter Lorena and her husband Otto Zacharias of Winnipeg, Man.; son Rick and his wife Pam and their two boys, Zackery and Nicholas, of Salmon Arm, B.C.; eight brothers, four sisters, in-laws and numerous nieces and nephews. After his wife Margaret died, Peter was hoping to be able to go to Rest Haven. He will be missed very much, but we know he is in the best care home ever. His Family December 8,

20 The Messenger index ARTICLES Where was God? Judy Schmidt Jan. 12 The New City, Larry Miller Jan. 26 The story behind the photograph, Herman and Anne Fehr Feb. 9 Spiritual retreats: How do we make them work? Irma Janzen Feb. 23 These churches are unstoppable! Darlene Olfert March 9 Mennonite conferences differ on women in the pulpit, Paul Schrag March 9 We are not forsaken in our suffering! Tom Warner March 23 The lack of deep community, Dawson Kroeker March 23 Living in community, walking with people, sharing the precious gift of love, Pam Driedger April 6 Death and life for Christ and the Christian, Jake Enns April 20 Let a child be a child! Harvey Plett May 4 Using excess money: the wealthy in the land, Wally Kroeker May 25 Three conversions needed, Wally Kroeker May 25 Ethiopian church grows and faces challenges, Byron Rempel- Burkholder June 15 After 60 years, would I do it again? Dave K. Schellenberg June 29 Beyond Integration: It s not my problem? Wally Doerksen July 20 Finding calm in the chaos through an exclusive allegiance, Rod Masterson Aug. 17 Back to School? Why? Dr. Al Hiebert Aug. 17 Finding calm in the chaos through an exclusive trust, Rod Masterson Sept. 7 What are the benefits of being part of the EMC? Ron Penner Sept. 7 AIDS has a face, Menno Plett Sept. 7 Finding calm in the chaos through an exclusive reverence, Rod Masterson Sept. 21 The future of the Anabaptist vision, Walter Klaassen Sept. 21 Finding calm in the chaos through an exclusive holiness, Rod Masterson Oct. 5 Welcome to the Church! Layton Friesen Oct. 19 A new radical remembers a child of God, Bill McCaskell Nov. 2 Bear one another s burdens, Layton Friesen Nov. 2 Grieving losses other than death, Irma Janzen Nov. 16 Joy to the World! Ed Peters Dec. 7 Dios Todopoderoso en us Pesebre? Almighty God in a Manger? Lester Olfert Dec. 28 BIRTHS Jan. 12, Feb. 23, March 9, April 6, May 25, June 15, July 20, Sept. 7, Oct. 19, Dec. 14 BY THE WAY Apologies and forgiveness Feb. 9 The family of God March 23 Are we joyful as Christians? June 15 Church planting and my family Aug. 17 CHURCH NEWS Abbeydale Aug. 17, Sept. 7, Sept. 21, Nov. 2 Aberdeen Feb. 9, March 9 Anola Feb. 23, Sept. 21 Blumenort Aug. 17 Braeside Oct. 19, Dec. 28 Brandon Jan. 26, Dec. 28 Burns Lake July 20 Braeside June 15 Creighton March 23, Oct. 5 Crestview Oct. 5 Fort Frances April 6, Sept. 7, Oct. 5 Fort Garry Oct. 5, Nov. 2 (correction) Good News Oct. 19 Grande Prairie Feb. 23, March 9, May 25 High Level Feb. 23, Nov. 2 Kleefeld April 20, July 20, Nov. 2 Kola June 29 La Crete March 9 Landmark June 15, July 20 Leamington June 15 Lorette July 20, Oct. 19 MacGregor June 29, Dec. 7 Mennville Feb. 9, July 20 Morris May 25, Dec. 28 Morweena March 9 Mount Salem Dec. 28 Pansy Feb. 23, June 29, Sept. 21 Pelly Jan. 26, June 15, Oct. 19 Pleasant Valley May 25, Dec. 14 Portage Jan. 12, Feb. 23, May 25, Aug. 17, Nov. 16, Dec. 14 Ridgewood Jan. 26 Riverton April 20, June 29, Dec. 14 Roseisle April 20, June 15, June 29, Nov. 2 Rosenort Jan. 26, April 20, July 20, Dec. 14 Rosenort Fellowship Feb. 9, April 6, May 25 Steinbach April 6, July 20, Sept. 7, Nov. 16 Steinbach EFC May 4, Sept. 21 Stony Brook March 23, Dec. 28 Straffordville Jan. 12, March 23, Aug. 17, Nov. 16 Swift Current May 4, Sept. 7, Dec. 14 Taber Jan. 12, Feb. 23, Oct. 19, Dec. 14 Tilbury Sept. 7 Tillsonburg Feb. 9, July 20, Oct. 19 Treesbank Feb. 9, Feb. 23, May 25, Sept. 7 Vanderhoof Aug. 17 Wymark March 9, Nov. 2 CHURCH PROFILE Tillsonburg, Ont. Oct. 19 EDITORIALS Remember those who suffer Jan. 12 SCOs and the law Jan. 12 The EMC two-step Jan. 26 Suicide never affects only one person Jan. 26 What is our practical answer? Feb. 9 Discussions and related contexts Feb. 9 What does my Bible say? Feb. 23 French Canada and the EMC Feb. 23 Tipping the balance March 9 Exploring our theology March 9 Mexico and Native ministry in Canada March 23 Another blow to the farming sector March 23 The Ascension of Christ April 6 The gift of helps April 6 Christ s Spirit and an expanding world April 20 The question woven into Acts 12 April 20 Districts or presbyteries? May 4 Our hope is in Christ May 4 What about safe injection sites? May 25 Rethinking the Church Year May 25 Do we assume too much in our churches? June 8 I am indebted June 8 Abundant Springs and tomorrow s efforts June 22 No glib words about the weather June 22 Rev. Ben D. Reimer was not my uncle July 13 A future dark beyond our description July 13 Less than 72 hours Aug. 17 Christ, Menno, and Luther Aug. 17 Helping after Katrina Sept. 7 Mutually enriching adjectives Sept. 7 Suicide and church s response Sept. 21 One black sheep to another Sept. 21 Thanksgiving for Corinth Oct. 05 The Commission is Great Oct. 05 Christ is our centre Oct. 19 Lester Olfert isn t retiring just yet Oct. 19 An appreciation that goes beyond agreement Nov. 2 Peace and prosperity for all Nov. 2 A long-term response Nov. 16 Hurt by the church? Nov. 16 Advent is a time of hope Dec. 14 Advent can be a time of grief Dec. 14 Not any more Dec. 28 The number is not in service at this time Dec. 28 FAITH IN ACTION Spiritual Retreats: How do we make them work? Irma Janzen Feb. 23 Beyond Integration: It s not my problem? Wally Doerksen July 20 Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide (review) Sept THE MESSENGER

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