February 28, 2017

Regional representatives: guiding missions on location

Karen Baker (left) and Guinean women shell cashews together. Karen Baker (left) and Guinean women shell cashews together. Image provided by Karen Baker.

EMM’s regional representatives (RRs) are experienced missionaries who specialize, serve, and usually live in a particular region of the world. Due to their insight and experience, each RR provides valuable oversight for the EMM work happening in his or her region. This includes general guidance (for example, forming a mission vision and strategy for a region), and also counsel in specific situations. Recently, RRs were essential in helping two West Africa workers navigate a tricky situation.

As the time for the 2016 presidential election approached in The Gambia, EMM workers Dave and Delores Shirk, as well as local church leaders, were concerned about the possibility of violence. Partners Jeremiah Sillah, who runs MEDHA, and Pastor Juan-Pierre, who has pastored a number of Mennonite churches in The Gambia, understood the region’s past experiences and the culture. They advised the Shirks to leave for a time.

This began a process. The Shirks spoke with their West Africa RRs, Mike and Karen Baker. The Bakers assessed the situation and, in consultation with EMM’s Mission Team and HR personnel, reached a decision for the Shirks to split their time between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. In Senegal, their unique skill sets could be well-utilized alongside Beryl Forrester, an EMM volunteer missionary. In Catel, Guinea-Bissau, they spent weekends assisting the church, holding church seminars, and hosting the EMM team. The Shirks returned to their assignment in The Gambia on Feb. 14, 2017.

EMM’s important structures like the RR role are made possible through your contributions to the Impact Fund. Thank you for providing a strong support system to undergird our kingdom work!