2005 IMA meeting report

After participating on international ministry teams throughout Indonesia, the International Missions Association (IMA) met for their annual business meeting, May 20-21, and received three new members. This brings the total to 13 member organizations – three from Asia, four from Africa, three from Latin America, and three from the United States.

In his opening devotional, David Shenk, global consultant for EMM, reflected on the growth of the IMA. He said, “All the years I worked as director of overseas ministries I thought that when EMM’s international partners begin to come together in mission my work would be completed. The IMA is an expression of that dream fulfilled.”

Shenk said that he’s been touched by the deep passion for missions evidenced among Indonesian Christians. On several occasions, parents have brought children to him for prayer – asking that their children be dedicated for missions. “I’ve never experienced that kind of a request in North America,” he said.

Then Shenk spoke of the zeal of the 16th century Anabaptists and of one of their early missionary conferences, which about 60 people attended. Two years later, all but two of the attenders had been hunted down and killed. Then he asked the sobering questions, “What would happen if by next year all but two IMA members were killed?”

Throughout the two day meeting, members and visitors reported sobering news of persecution and challenge along with joyful reports of growth and cross-fertilization.

Adi Walujo, a guest participant from GITJ, the largest and oldest Mennonite church in Indonesia, which was born out of Dutch Mennonite mission efforts, requested prayer for one of their churches that had just been closed by the government and a local Muslim leader. They have been told, “Go somewhere else to worship your God.” This is new challenge they are facing, and they are very interested in becoming involved with the IMA for international support and cross-fertilization.

Tefera Bekere, a mission leader from Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, said that the IMA reminds them of the mission vision and the suffering in their Anabaptist background. He reported that they now have 131 full-time missionaries who serve throughout Ethiopia, and five in neighboring countries.

Kenyan Bishop Moses Otieno reported on an IMA-inspired visit from 2 Ethiopian missionaries, sent by MKC. They visited all 7 synods of the Kenya Mennonite Church and taught on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He said that as follow up, Kenya Mennonite Church plans to send two of its young leaders to Ethiopia to learn more of what MKC is doing in mission work and in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Tilahun Beyene, who serves as coordinator for the IMA said, “There’s so much more that could be done, but I’m excited about the IMA as a movement.” He’s already starting to work on the 2006 meeting, which is set for September 8-18 in the Philippines, to be hosted by the Integrated Mennonite Churches.