EMM work by region
- East Africa
- West Africa
- Central America
- South America
- West Europe
- Central Asia
- East Asia
- South Asia
- Southeast Asia
- East/Central Europe
- Middle East
Context: Nations in this region differ vastly from their neighbors in terms of ethnicity, economics, history, and politics. The religious atmosphere is also diverse among ethnic groups within one country; some areas have a nominal evangelical majority, several are Muslim, and one country is communist and actively persecutes people of any faith.
Most of the region is rural and agrarian, and it includes some of the world’s poorest and most violent countries on the globe. Visitors frequently comment on the staggering depth of the poverty and human suffering.
EMM work: EMM’s relationships in East Africa include people and groups in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. EMM East Africa is wholly focused on catalyzing both our workers and our partners to sustainable, multiplying patterns of discipleship and mission that extend the kingdom of God in East Africa and beyond.
Current work includes:
Pioneer mission efforts
- Church planting in unreached areas of Kenya
- Funding for indigenous mission work in rural Ethiopia
- Healthcare work in Muslim villages
- Partnering with a community center to provide ESL classes and sports ministry for Muslim refugees
- People of God study course, which introduces hundreds of Muslims to the Christian scriptures each year
- Advocacy for underground church groups
Church and leadership development
- Training and mentoring of local church leaders
- Development of Anabaptist theological study materials in Swahili
- Educational scholarships to develop contextualized theological competence among local leaders
- Linkages between church bodies in East Africa and North America
Mobilizing partners for mission
- Coaching and support for indigenous church planters in the region
- Small grants for locally-initiated training and church planting efforts
- Arranging for visiting lecturers to teach in East African Anabaptist educational institutions
- Supporting those who serve East Africa through hosting at Amani Gardens Inn (formerly the Mennonite Guesthouse) and educating missionary children at Rosslyn Academy
Vision: Our dream is to be, and to inspire, a movement of movements all over East Africa and beyond. Our aim is transformation, not mere information; discipleship, not mere religion. We long for all people to become fully committed followers of Jesus, but recognize that there are many expressions of the kingdom of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
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Context: One dimension of EMM work in West Africa occurs within an area running from the western end of The Gambia to the south through the Casamance area of Senegal, and ending in the northwest region of Guinea-Bissau: a radius of 50 miles.
The population of this area includes over a dozen people groups, many of which are considered unreached. Some of these people groups are primarily animistic in belief, relying heavily on the occult and witchcraft, with some having a façade of nominal Christianity. Other people groups adhere primarily to folk Islam. There are some established evangelical churches in the region, which contribute to a small percentage of evangelical Christians in the population.
Other EMM work in West Africa takes place in the area from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, where many churches have been established. However, it has been observed that the spread of the gospel in that region is “a mile wide but only an inch deep.” According to local pastors and bishops, much work remains to be done in the areas of discipleship, training, and leadership development. Some churches own and operate Bible schools to provide this training; they are looking for administrative guidance and curricular resources to help them do a more effective job.
EMM work: EMM workers in the Gambia/Senegal/Guinea-Bissau corridor have partnered with the national church as it has established churches in numerous villages. The church plants function under local leadership; others are led by African evangelists/teachers who come from the established congregations. EMM ministers to this region through leadership development and health work as well as Bible teaching and introducing people to Jesus.
Primary ministry responsibilities have moved from the expatriate missionaries to African believers in recent years, with expatriates serving as teachers and encouragers for the African leaders. People are generally open to the gospel, especially when we use a holistic approach.
In the broader region, EMM partners with the Africa Association of Bible Schools (AABS), headquartered in Ghana, which comprises over 500 Bible schools in 10 countries. AABS provides a 62-course curriculum to Bible schools, along with materials and coaching on how to set up and operate a Bible school.
Vision: In the Gambia/Senegal/Guinea-Bissau corridor, it is clearly the time for Anabaptist workers to be actively establishing faith communities. Presentation of the gospel from an Anabaptist perspective has been quite attractive to West Africans over the past several years and holds great potential for growth in the region and beyond. We have been building collaboration with local evangelical churches and seek to plant churches among people groups and in villages where Jesus is not well known, rather than competing with other denominations.
AABS exists to empower the local churches of Africa through helping to establish independently operated Bible schools, providing Biblical teaching resources, and encouraging pastors and leaders. Local Bible schools draw upon the strengths, experience, and resources of AABS to increase their ability to teach believers and train ministers for the work of the local church.
Context: Central America is made up of seven densely populated countries with a combined population of more than 42 million. It includes some of the poorest countries in the world, but also has areas of rich natural resources. Many of the countries are characterized by a great disparity between the rich and the poor, with a large percentage of land and resources owned by only a small percentage of the population. The population includes many indigenous groups as well as a significant number of people of European or African descent.
Spanish is the official language throughout Central America, except in Belize, where English is spoken. People also speak many indigenous languages in rural areas. The majority of Central Americans are Catholic, but in many areas indigenous animistic religions coexist with Catholicism. In the last 60 years, the evangelical and Pentecostal Christian movements have made significant inroads. The K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church in Guatemala is one result of these movements.
EMM work: EMM relates to Mennonite churches in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The two largest of these churches are the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church (12,000 members) started by EMM workers in 1972, and the Honduras Mennonite Church, started in the 1950s.
All of the churches with which EMM relates have their own local and national leadership. EMM workers support these churches in their outreaches to meet the many spiritual and physical needs that are present in the area.
Workers are currently involved in planting a church among the Deaf in Orange Walk, Belize, and mentoring leaders within the Garifuna church in Belize. A couple is serving in La Ceiba, Honduras, working with children at risk and another couple is serving in the Los Pinares school in Tegucigalpa. A couple is serving with the K’ekchi’ in Guatemala in a business for transformation project with coffee farmers.
Vision: Plans are in place to strengthen the potential for short-term mission groups to serve with the local churches in Central America. Discussions are taking place regarding the formation of a school of discipleship and missions for the churches in Central America.
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Context: Home to llamas and the largest rainforest and the highest waterfall in the world, South America boasts cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity. Peoples originating in South America, as well as Europe, Africa, and Asia, live here, leading to rich variety in food and music. Most South Americans speak Spanish or Portuguese. Many belong to the Roman Catholic Church, although there are a growing number of evangelical Christians. A lack of godly leadership in both Catholic and evangelical settings has caused skepticism toward formal church structures, but people continue seeking real, genuine experiences of God through Bible study and Christian relationships modeled in real life.
EMM work: Teams of EMM workers serve in Chile and Peru. Work in Venezuela happens in partnership with local leaders and churches.
The Chile team has targeted the island and mountain communities of the tenth region of the country (the country is divided into 15 regions) along with raising up a new generation of Jesus followers through house church fellowships in cities throughout Chile. On Chiloe Island, workers focus especially on children, discipling them and working to prevent sexual abuse. The house church networks involve numerous business leaders throughout the country.
In Peru, EMM workers provide support to the Peru Mennonite Church (which grew out of EMM work that began in 1987) in the areas of leadership development, health, and education. Team members mentor leaders; work for PROSIM, the church’s health organization; and teach and provide administrative support at PROMESA, the bilingual school established by the church.
In Venezuela, EMM partners with a network of churches in church planting and leadership training.
Vision: We focus on making disciples who make disciples, trusting and praying that vibrant communities of worship and mission will begin and grow as the number of disciples increase. We are establishing a Christian camp and ministry outreach center on Tenglo Island in Chile, and hope to see a school board established for PROMESA.
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Context: West Europe has a robust multicultural population living in densely populated metropolitan areas. Europe’s western world-class cities are teeming with a postmodern populace, but the eastern sections of West Europe are largely post-communist in ideology.
Europe as a whole is post-Christian, as the organized official church (whether Catholic or Protestant) has lost its influence. Atheism has strongly shaped the continent, and New Age and ancient religions are returning. Islam is rising with the influx of Muslim immigrants in the largest cities. In general, Europe is fairly “closed” to the gospel. However, inroads have been made by spreading the gospel through personal relationships.
EMM work: EMM has nurtured longstanding relationships with churches and mission partners throughout West Europe. The focus in this region includes both community transformation through church planting (generally led by EMM) and church development in cooperation with churches, conferences, and mission organizations.
Current involvement includes community outreach in Wales, refugee ministry, community transformation and discipleship training in Germany, and church development and leadership training in the Netherlands.
Vision: We are exploring partnerships and mission efforts in Spain, and plans are underway to form an EMM team to connect with Marseilles, France. Our long-term vision is to form international teams to reach immigrant populations and the largely unreached urban population of Europe.
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Context: From the 1920s through the 1980s, Central Asia experienced 70 years of communism. This was followed by a season in the early 1990s when many young adults plunged into, and began to embrace, all things western. Now Central Asian families are at a crossroads, struggling to remember their roots and discover their future. There is both a widespread fear of fundamentalism and a deep desire to reconnect with God.
In the midst of this searching, EMM workers have been sitting on floor mats, eating dried apricots and pistachios, drinking tea, and discussing faith and life purposes with Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Kazaks. This highly relational approach to sharing Jesus fits these warmly relational cultures in which “a guest is more honored than a father” (Central Asian proverb).
EMM work: An EMM exploratory team spent 40 days in the region in 1997, and since 1999, EMM has maintained a witness in Central Asia through long-term missionaries, YES teams, and individuals serving on short-term GO! assignments. Our focus has been on building authentic relationships through transformational businesses that serve as tools for economic, environmental, educational, social, and spiritual development.
The current team in Central Asia hopes to be joined by English teachers, office managers, home school teachers, accountants, agricultural specialists, a coffee shop barista, students interested in studying local languages, trauma counselors, and computer programmers. We long for a beautifully diverse team of various ethnicities and nationalities, families and singles, young people, and those entering the field after retirement – together representing God’s love.
Vision: We envision communities of worship emerging in every neighborhood across Central Asia. We are committed to learning local languages well, to developing rich relationships, to sharing God’s love and plan of salvation broadly, and to partnering with local leaders to equip them for multiplication movements. We are strategizing ways to help open doors for increasingly healthy relationships between Central Asians, Chinese, Central Americans, and North Americans, and between Muslims and Christians.
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Context: More than 1.5 billion people (22 percent of all the people in the world) live in East Asia. One of the world’s most populated places, East Asia includes fast-growing cities that present new challenges in urban development and modernization of local cultures. This fast-paced region holds the record for some of the fastest commuter trains and largest train stations on the planet.
Many minorities in this region have had very little chance to hear the gospel. While East Asia is fairly “closed” to the gospel, many inroads have been made through personal relationships and business networks. East Asia sits on the threshold of embracing the gospel, but the window of opportunity is quickly closing as many people become enticed and captured by materialistic pursuits.
EMM work: Workers in the region are currently teaching English; working in coffee shops, bakeries, and video/media production; studying language full-time; and building business partnerships to help spread the gospel. They work with an increasing number of partners from Latin America and Southeast Asia as well.
Despite fragmentation in some local churches, believers in the region are passionate about their faith. God is raising up a generation who is striving for more unity and sharing the gospel with those who have not heard. The church is still quite young in its Great Commission focus.
Vision: Expect this region of the world to be the site of significant movements to Jesus in the near future!
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Context: South Asia is home to well over one-fifth of the world’s population, making it both the most populous and most densely populated geographical region in the world. Although South Asia includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, India lies at the heart of the region. India is home to 1.2 billion people, making it the second most populated country in the world; 1 out of every 6 people on the planet live in India.
The towering Himalayan mountains, rich curry dishes, Taj Mahal, and crowded, noisy, colorful cities and streets – all these and more create the sensory overload noted by so many travelers to India.
While most associate India with Hinduism (80 percent of Indians call themselves Hindus), India also has more Muslims than any other place in the world, with the exception of Indonesia. More unengaged, unreached people groups live in northern India than anywhere else in the world.
EMM work: EMM workers in the region are currently involved in various ministries in India including a missional prayer house, engagement in pioneer disciple-making movements among Muslim communities, and continued partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, a group involved in church planting primarily in India. While our workers maintain relationship with one another, they enjoy being a “sprinkling” of Anabaptist flavor within their various team situations and communities.
One of the key threads shared by these workers, regardless of location and specific ministry focus, is a deep desire and commitment to incarnational living wherever the Lord has placed them. For some this means engaging deeply in daily life among Muslim communities that have never had Jesus come close to them in that way before. For others, this means building deep relationships with those who already profess faith in Christ, seeking to discover how God is working in their lives and becoming a part of their ongoing discipleship. A specific emphasis is on equipping and mobilizing them to share their faith with and disciple others.
EMM also partners with a church planting group in the Himalayan region, sending short-term teams and holding mission training events.
Vision: EMM’s vision for South Asia is to continue to expand our incarnational witness in the region. We want to focus our efforts on reaching more deeply into the unreached communities in this region, and believe EMM workers have a special role to play in reaching the Muslim communities of India and beyond. We desire to engage in Muslim-focused ministry through sending new workers to pioneer with others in discipleship-making movements and through missional prayer. We continue to engage deeply and intentionally with the national church (primarily Hindu-background believers) to cast vision and equip them in new ways with models for praying for and engaging with their Muslim neighbors.
We also have a special interest in maintaining historical EMM church partnerships in the region. We want to continue to learn from their experiences of incredible growth and their commitment to an incredible God-sized vision for church planting within India and beyond over the next several years, while also faithfully sharing with them some of the experience and vision God has given our workers for authentic and incarnational Muslim engagement. One exciting thing that is part of the DNA of both EMM and our church partners in the region is an emphasis on discipleship training/missional internship opportunities, especially as formational experiences for young people. This is a vision shared by many of our workers in the region, and we are excited to see how God will use this vision over the next several years to continue to equip and disciple both North American and South Asian young people, catalyzing further work among the unreached peoples of the world.
In this region of incredible opportunity, including that of being a blessing and engaging incarnationally in these communities through business for transformation, we pray for workers who will share Jesus and walk with disciples who are learning to make disciples. We believe that one day we will see expansive growth of vibrant communities of worship and mission that have a life-giving impact on the whole region.
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Context: The original inhabitants of Southeast Asia were animists, and at their core they remain so, despite layers of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity having been added through the centuries. Each culture in the region uniquely combines the primary influences of the two giants — India and China — that flank its borders.
Southeast Asia is home to some of the world's fastest growing economies and to ones that struggle significantly. Each country has had to deal with its particular legacy of being colonized, of being pawns in the hands of larger powers during World War II, and of living with the consequences of communism's sweep through the region.
Workers were sent to Vietnam in 1957, the Philippines in 1971, and Indonesia in 1977. In each of these nations, we have seen churches emerge whose leaders are now our partners and peers in mission.
EMM launched new church planting initiatives in Thailand in 1990 and in Cambodia in 1995. In northeast Thailand, EMM personnel walk with a delightful "homegrown" church movement among Lao-speaking Isaan farmers.
In Cambodia, we have provided a dorm in Phnom Penh to facilitate discipleship of young people, and have walked with the church that has emerged in that context. We also have a solid presence in a densely populated rural region of Cambodia — offering access to medical care through a clinic and tuberculosis program as well as proactive supplementary character development for at-risk children. Also, long-term relationships with leaders of house churches put us in an ideal position to nurture what God is doing in raising up His church.
Other work in this region includes the creation of a business entity that hires local employees and provides an affordable product that can dramatically impact health throughout the region, especially in isolated tribal areas.
Vision: We would like to expand our impact in the dorm ministry in Cambodia to include a greater emphasis on disciple-making. We believe that with new workers there will be new vision - and that someday, there will be vibrant indigenous churches rising and thriving, and glorifying God in wonderful, unique ways. We also want to expand our impact among children at risk in Cambodia and through business ventures in several locations. Our vision is also to see the church in Cambodia and Thailand grow in their missional outreach, reaching out to their neighbors and beyond.
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Context: Eastern Europe has a complicated past. The effects of communism are still ingrained in various aspects of the culture and show up in different ways in each of the countries in the region. Countries in East/Central Europe lack an evangelical Christian presence — one of the effects of living under communism. Christianity is not prevalent in any of the countries, and the Czech Republic is considered the most atheistic nation in all of Europe. How far the Czech Republic has moved from the time of Jan Hus (a church reformer in the 15th century) and the 24-hour prayer movement that took place back in the 15th and 16th centuries!
EMM work: Before workers are able to share their faith in East/Central Europe, relationships must be formed. And in these countries, relationships require serious effort. It is a complicated yet rewarding task to break through the layers of skepticism and doubt in order to befriend individuals.
EMM personnel currently serve in Albania and the Czech Republic. Additional relationships and projects exist throughout the Baltic and Balkans region. Workers can serve as English teachers (a great asset in any of the countries in the region), youth workers, church planters, and business people at a milk processing plant. Opportunities also exist to teach university classes in Lithuania, to teach in an American-Albanian school in Lezhe, Albania, or to work with the Roma (Gypsy) community in various locations.
More workers are needed to support and strengthen the existing churches of East/Central Europe, and also to plant new churches and engage in new forms of evangelism in the region.
Vision: Workers who long to see the kingdom of God flourish in this region will come to East/Central Europe and invest in relationships, realizing they may not see fruit for some time. Believers will build relationships through teaching, ministry, business, or any other open doors. As people in the region connect with Jesus and churches begin to grow, Christians will have a life-giving impact on this area.
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Context: The Middle East has been called “the crossroads of the world” because it is the meeting of three continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe – and the site of much trading and cross-pollination of cultures.
Arabs comprise the largest ethnic group in the Middle East, with Arabic being the most commonly spoken language. Iranians speak Farsi, Israelis speak Hebrew, and Turks speak Turkish. Most people in the Middle East are Muslims, although Lebanon has many Christians and Israel is mostly Jewish.
The ongoing conflicts, frequent trauma, and recent restlessness in the Middle East point to the great need for those who live there to experience the healing love, forgiveness, and soul-satisfying peace and joy of life in Christ.
EMM work: Workers in the region learn language, serve as teachers, and work in the areas of hospitality and training of leaders.
Vision: As we learn language, develop relationships, share God’s love and plan of salvation, and equip local leaders, we hope to see communities of people who worship and follow the ways of Jesus growing throughout the region.
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