The Impact Fund is essential to all areas of EMM’s mission. It enables EMM to recruit and send workers, cover some of the cost of worker support, update constituents through publications like Missionary Messenger, provide salaries and benefits for the staff who support these activities, and much more. A charitable gift for which you do not indicate a preference will benefit the Impact Fund.
A partner is an organization with whom we are mutually and actively engaged. EMM values, nurtures, and pursues partnerships in all our work. EMM partners with groups and organizations in a variety of ways. Some partnerships have written agreements; other partnerships are more informal. EMM is committed to strong collaborative relationships with all partners mentioned here.
Africa Association of Bible Schools: An organization located in Accra, Ghana, which exists to resource African Bible schools. EMM coaches the director of this program, who is an associated EMM worker. Learn more here.
Eastleigh Fellowship Centre: EMM workers David and Grace Shenk founded this center in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, in 1978. It is a community center with the goal of fostering dialogue and friendship between Christians and Muslims, and also providing youth with a safe place to do constructive activities like sports. Learn more here.
Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (KMT): The KMT was the first international church established by EMM workers, who arrived in 1934 and founded the church the following year. In 1966, Zedekia Kisare was chosen as the first national bishop. In 1972, the church revised its constitution and adopted a Swahili name, “Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania”, although “Tanzania Mennonite Church” (TMC) is also used. KMT is officially associated with Mennonite World Conference. In 2006, KMT had 50,560 members in 286 congregations. EMM and KMT partner through membership in the International Missions Association. Learn more here.
Kenya Mennonite Church (KMC): The Tanzania Mennonite Church (Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania, or KMT), which was planted by EMM in the 1930s, spread the gospel to Kenya throughout the subsequent decades. In 1977, the Kenya Mennonite Church was established as an entity separate from KMT. In 2006 KMT had 11,800 members in 140 congregations. EMM and KMC partner through membership in the International Missions Association. Learn more here.
Mennonite Church of West Africa: Mennonite Church of West Africa is part of a Mennonite mission presence in West Africa since 2000. The mission began first in The Gambia and by 2005 the good news was being carried to Guinea Bissau by new believers from The Gambia. Most of the work focuses on the Balanta people, but other people groups are also part of the emerging church. The mission is sponsored by EMM and seeks to establish an Anabaptist circle of churches in those two countries plus in the intervening territory of Senegal. The Mennonite Church in West Africa includes health and community development initiatives, including a preschool and a health clinic.
Meserete Kristos Church (MKC): This Mennonite church, the largest circle of Mennonite churches in the world, grew from the witness of Mennonite missionaries — including EMM workers — and relief workers after World War II. Affiliated with Mennonite World Conference. Established 1959. EMM and MKC partner through membership in the International Missions Association.
Sierra Leone United Brethren in Christ Mission: EMM workers are currently partnering with this organization by working at a rural hospital in Sierra Leone founded by this mission.
Tanzania Mennonite Church (KMT): See Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania.
Cambodia dormitory: A university student ministry started in Phnom Penh by EMM and Franklin District of LMC. There are dorms for both men and women. Currently EMM workers head this ministry.
The Conference of Mennonite Churches in Hong Kong Limited (CMCHK; 3 churches): EMM workers like James K. Stauffer helped to establish a Mennonite church body in Hong Kong during the 1960s. Learn more about CMCHK here and here.
GITJ (Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa; “Evangelical Church of Java”): The Javanese Mennonite conference of the north central part of the island of Java, Indonesia. EMM has partnered with the church for mission training and outreach. EMM also partners with GITJ through membership in the International Missions Association. Learn more here.
GKMI: See Indonesia Muria Mennonite churches.
Indonesia Muria Mennonite churches (GKMI): The Indonesia Muria Mennonite churches (abbreviated in Indonesian as GKMI), were birthed in the early 1920s when a special visitation of God resulted in 88 new baptized believers in the Mount Muria region. PIPKA serves as their “conference” mission board. Occasionally referred to as Muria Synod. Indonesian name: Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia. EMM workers in the region have worked alongside this circle of churches.
Life Enrichment Church (LEC): EMM workers helped to establish house churches in Thailand, which became self governing in 2005. Outreach outside the churches included financial counselling and a ministry for HIV and AIDS sufferers. EMM workers continue to work with the church.
New Life Ministries (NLM): Founded in 1979 as a multifaceted Christian ministry in India, NLM has established an orphanage, school, Bible college, and missionary training center, among other things. EMM is involved in fundraising efforts for NLM ministry projects.
Phnom Penh Mennonite Church (PPMC): Began as an EMM church plant in 1996. Since then, the church has become an important outreach to the Khmer people and university students living in the Cambodian national capital. Learn more here.
PIPKA: The mission board of GKMI (Union of Muria Christian Churches of Indonesia), founded in 1965. PIPKA is an acronym for Pekabaran Injil dan Pelayanan Kasih (evangelization and service). PIPKA sends missionaries, church planters, and community development workers to the various islands and provinces of Indonesia that cannot be reached by the Muria churches (which are located primarily in Central Java). Among PIPKA’s ministries are: leadership training; church planting; charity and social services in areas such as disaster relief, scholarship, and support for undeveloped regions; and community development, with projects in agriculture, fish farming, and cattle raising. PIPKA and EMM partner through the International Missions Association, which they both helped found.
Vietnam Mennonite Church: Mennonite Central Committee workers entered Vietnam in 1954, followed by the first EMM workers in 1957. The Vietnam Mennonite Church struggled to become legally recognized for 15 years, finally receiving official recognition in 2007. Today, EMM partners with the church in leadership training.
Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren: EMM church planting workers have collaborated with and been trained by leaders in the Czech Brethren Church in preparation for training disciples and witnessing in Eastern Europe. Learn more here.
German Mennonite Church: EMM and the German Mennonite Church partner in running Freiwilligem Sozialen Jahr (“Voluntary Service Year”), a program that allows youth to serve locally (fsj-at.org). EMM and the German Mennonite Church also partner in sending cross-cultural mission workers.
Lezha Academic Center: EMM, along with Virginia Mennonite Missions, founded the Lezha Academic Center in 2011 in order to provide the youth of Albania with a strong education and opportunity for spiritual growth. EMM continues to provide staff for the school. albanianchristianschool.org
LCC International University: Founded in 1991 and located in Klaipeda, eastern Lithuania, LCC International University seeks to educate young leaders and expose them to the truths of Christ. EMM has provided a number of volunteer support staff. Formerly Lithuania Christian College (LCC). lcc.lt
Lithuania Evangelical Bible Institute (LEBI): EMM works with LEBI to provide scholarships for students and leadership training. mbmission.org/countries/lithuania
Soli Deo: EMM provides funds and personnel to this intercultural fellowship of believers located in the immigrant hotspot of Halle, Germany. soli-deo.de/en
Academia Los Pinares: A bilingual English/Spanish school for students of all ages near Tegucigalpa, Honduras. EMM first founded the school as a boarding school for missionary children. Enrollment is now over 700. EMM workers continue to serve at the school. pinares.org
Amor Viviente: A circle of churches in Honduras, established in 1974. Amor Viviente resulted from a charismatic youth ministry in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, started by EMM missionaries Ed and Gloria King. In 2003, Amor Viviente had over 10,000 members in 48 congregations across eight countries. EMM and Amor Viviente partner through membership in the International Missions Association. Learn more here.
Belize Evangelical Mennonite Church: Hurricane Hattie, which hit Belize hard in 1961, prompted the arrival of numerous Mennonite agencies to provide disaster relief, including EMM. The presence of these Mennonite agencies led to the founding of the Belize Evangelical Church in 1973. Currently EMM is working with the Belize Evangelical Mennonite Church as a channel to provide scholarships to local high school students.
Centro Cristiano Internacional (CCI) (Honduras): CCI is a network of Honduran and international churches, founded by President Dr. René Peñalba. CCI has more than 500 churches in Honduras and around the world Learn more here.
Evangelical Mennonite Church (El Salvador): Related to the Honduran Mennonite Church begun by EMM workers. Currently partners with EMM in mission and discipleship training. Learn more here.
Evangelical Mennonite Church (Guatemala): EMM workers planted the beginnings of this Mennonite conference in Alta Verapaz and Guatemala City in 1968. It is now the second-largest Mennonite conference in Guatemala. EMM workers continue to support this conference’s work. Learn more here.
Honduran Evangelical Mennonite Church (IEMH): Iglesia Evangélica Menonita, Honduras (Evangelical Mennonite Church, Honduras) had its beginnings in Trujillo in 1950 with the arrival of the first Mennonite missionaries, EMM workers George and Grace Miller. As of 2003, there were over 100 congregations with 9,000 members. EMM and IEMH partner through membership in the International Missions Association. Learn more here.
K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church: The K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church, birthed with the first baptized believers in 1972, now numbers about 10,000 members in approximately 130 congregations. The K’ekchi’ people are one of approximately 22 indigenous Mayan people groups in Guatemala, the K’ekchi’ rank about third in population size. They live at a subsistence level, primarily in the Alta Verapaz and Peten regions, picking coffee and cardamom on large plantations. EMM workers continue to walk alongside the church, and its educational and vocational residential center for K’ekchi’ youth and young adults called Bezaleel.
La Comisión de Discipulado y Misión (CoDiMi) (The Commission of Discipleship and Mission): A 10-month mission and discipleship training program for Central American youth, organized by leaders of Mennonite conferences in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize, and with ideological and logistical support from EMM and VidaNet. Learn more here.
Mennonite Church in Charallave (Venezuela): This congregation is part of the Council of Mennonite Evangelical Churches in Venezuela, the conference of churches that developed out of the mission activity of EMM in Venezuela. Charallave is an industrial town 42 mi. south of Caracas; the church was founded in 1982. EMM has sent relief funds to this congregation. Learn more here.
Mennonite Church of Peru (Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Peru): The Mennonite church among the Quechua, an indigenous people group in Peru. The Quechua Mennonite Church was started through the efforts of EMM missionaries, the first Mennonite missionaries to the Cusco, Peru, region. One way EMM workers partner with this church is by assisting with PROSIM, a traveling health ministry that brings health education to far-flung mountain villages.
Niños Caminando en Victoria (Children Walking in Victory): A nonprofit dedicated to preventing the sexual abuse of children in Chile through educational workshops for both children and parents. This nonprofit was founded by couple Eliana Medina and Ricardo Ibaceta. Local EMM workers walk alongside this ministry. Niños Caminando en Victoria has made periodic visits to the PROMESA school in Peru to present its workshops. Learn more here.
PROMESA: A K-11 school founded in 2005 by the Peruvian Mennonite Church, with the help of an EMM worker. This school now includes about 300 students, many of whom are from Quechua and/or evangelical backgrounds. EMM workers frequently serve at PROMESA, teaching English and occasionally other subjects. promesamenonita.com
VidaNet: A multifaceted mission and discipleship ministry in Heredia, Costa Rica. Founded by DeLynn and Gloria Hoover in 2003, VidaNet now includes mission opportunities, a 10-month discipleship program called Vida220, and El Nido crisis pregnancy center. EMM workers are helping with VidaNet’s programs, and EMM is actively sending youth to be discipled through Vida220. vidanetonline.org
We Help Children: A nonprofit ministry that helps children in crisis heal spiritually and emotionally. We Help Children operates in Guatemala, Honduras, and Chicago. EMM mission interns have served with this organization in several orphanages in Guatemala. wehelpchildren.org
White Dove School: The White Dove School in Santa Clara, Honduras, was started in 2010 as a Christian school for local children. It currently has nearly 100 students in kindergarten through middle school, and adds a new grade every year. EMM works with the White Dove School to provide scholarships for local children. whitedoveschool.com
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC): A Mennonite conference of churches in the mid-Atlantic region. atlanticcoastconference.net
Church World Service Lancaster: A refugee resettlement agency in Lancaster, Pa. CWS works hand-in-hand with caring churches, organizations, and individuals to provide help and homes to refugees. EMM and CWS partner to provide information/training sessions to help the public understand and connect with refugee needs. cwslancaster.org
Eastern District Conference: A Mennonite conference of churches located in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. easterndistrict.org
Evana Network: EMM is a strategic partner with the Evana Network.
Evangelical Garifuna Churches: These Garifuna Mennonite churches in New York City have been planted by immigrants who are of the Garifuna people group, an indigenous group from coastal areas of Central America. EMM partners with these churches for cross-cultural outreach.
Good News Fellowship (GNF): A network of churches in the Southern U.S. originally founded by LMC. EMM works with GNF to help plant churches. gnfonline.org
Immerse International: Based in Millersville, Pa., Immerse International is an English-language immersion program and community living situation for students from all over the world. EMM and Immerse International partner for the international student ministry worker internship, which brings local and international youth together to live and learn in community. immerse-us.com
International Christian Mission Services: Based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, ICMS helps to facilitate Canadian citizens serving internationally with EMM. icmsgo.com
International Missions Association (IMA): An association of Anabaptist mission bodies established for prayer, mutual support, and partnering in carrying out the Great Commission. It was begun in 1997 by four members (PIPKA of Indonesia, MKC of Ethiopia, Amor Viviente of Honduras, and EMM of the U.S.), and presently includes more than 20 members. For a list of other partners, visit emm.org/ima.
Lancaster County Refugee Coalition (LCRC): An organization that exists to improve refugee integration in Lancaster County by empowering the community to incorporate refugees into social services and community systems. EMM is a member. lancasterrefugees.org
LMC — a fellowship of Anabaptist churches: Formerly known as Lancaster Mennonite Conference, this is a large Mennonite conference of churches consisting mostly of churches in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. EMM has always been closely connected with LMC in a variety of ways, including projects and church planting. lmcchurches.org
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC): A worldwide Anabaptist ministry agency focused on relief, development, and peace in the name of Christ. EMM and MCC jointly created ASOPortal.org, a website where older adults can locate short-term international service opportunities. mcc.org
Mennonite Children’s Choir of Lancaster (MCCL): A Mennonite choir program for children in grades 1–12, MCCL is a program of Lancaster Mennonite School. EMM partners with MCCL for international ministry trips. mennonitechildrenschoir.org
Mennonite Mission Network (MMN): A mission agency program of Mennonite Church USA. Partners with EMM in sending and strategy. mennonitemission.net
Missional Pathways: A mission consulting network that matches community members with mission opportunities and resources. Missional Pathways is a partnership of EMM and Lancaster Mennonite Conference. missionalpathways.org
New York Mennonite Conference: A Mennonite conference of churches located mostly in New York state. nymennonite.org
Partners in Evangelism (PIE): A network that connects national missionaries with supporting churches. This group of businesspeople meets several times a year to hear reports of ongoing projects, plan fundraising (including an annual banquet), and offer counsel.
The Refugee Center and Community School at Reynolds (RCCSR): An IU13 community center housed at Reynolds Middle School (School District of Lancaster) with a focus on refugees and immigrants. EMM partners with RCCSR for K-team events and other refugee-related work. Learn more here.
Rosedale Mennonite Missions (RMM): The mission agency of the Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC). Partners with EMM in sending and strategy. A member of the International Missions Association. rosedalemennonitemissions.org
Shalom Council of Evangelical Churches (Concilio Iglesias Evangelicas Shalom): The Shalom Council, a network of LMC, was organized in 1970. It seeks to plant churches, evangelize, and coordinate work among Spanish Mennonite churches in the eastern U.S. The Council also works in Latin America, including Mexico and Costa Rica. EMM and the Concilio partner through membership in the International Missions Association.
Virginia Mennonite Missions (VMM): A Harrisonburg, Va.-based mission agency that was started as the mission agency of Virginia Mennonite Conference. Partners with EMM in sending and strategy; founded Albania Mennonite Mission together and work as partners in Albania, Kosovo, and Thailand. EMM and VMM partner to help fund Albania Roma Ministry, an outreach of the Albania Mennonite Church in Lezhe. vmmissions.org
Word of Grace Network: A relationship-based fellowship of church leaders that was formally launched in 2001, with seven founding members who were pastoring churches across New York. EMM and Word of Grace Network partner through membership in the International Missions Association. penn-clark.com
In 2017, the story of God’s work through EMM was filled with firsts, like when EMM workers David and Grace Shenk were asked to give away over 2,000 books about Christian-Muslim dialogue at the largest annual gathering of Muslims in North America.
It held big projects like an adventure fundraiser for the PROMESA school’s new building, where more Peruvian children will have access to high-quality, discrimination-free, Christian education.
It featured quiet but powerful moments, like when South Asia EMM workers Jack and Julia* opened their home to an injured woman who had no other support system.
And it was all supported by people like you, who selflessly gave because you believe in God’s mission of transforming the world through Jesus. In addition to many other generous gifts throughout the year, you helped raise $1,428,337 for EMM’s Impact Fund need!
2018 will be another beautiful chapter in God’s work through EMM. I hope you’ll continue being part of the story — you help make it all possible.
In 2017, 46 churches each gave over $5,000, and 28 churches each gave over $10,000.
Metzler Mennonite Church, a 290-year-old congregation in Ephrata, Pa., has made the work of EMM a long-time priority. When asked why his church gives regularly to EMM’s Impact Fund, Deacon Lee Roy Martin said:
The Metzler congregation has a long history of supporting the work of EMM. During EMM’s earlier years in Tanganikya (now Tanzania), a member of our congregation served as a missionary. Throughout the years since then, members have served with EMM at home and abroad. Interest in missions remains strong when members connect on a personal level with those serving. Our congregation provides a subscription to Missionary Messenger for each family, as another way to help keep the congregation informed and connected.
We believe in the importance of supporting the mission efforts of our conference and have included EMM on our offering schedule for many years. Our congregation continues to provide support because we trust EMM to faithfully live out Jesus’ call to go into all the world and make disciples. The mission statement of EMM aligns with the mission statement of our congregation. EMM is an extension of our congregation’s vision, enabling us to reach beyond ourselves.
By supporting EMM, we are helping to share God’s transforming love and participating in God’s mission in the world.
EMM considers its relationship with churches to be like a family, as we all work together toward the life-transforming mission of God. This means that EMM encourages and resources the missional work of local congregations — at the same time, we rely on churches to support local and global mission work. EMM is incredibly thankful for churches like Metzler Mennonite Church.
Perhaps your church is considering supporting EMM financially. Lee Roy shared some advice, as your church explores this possibility:
You should view the decision as more than a financial one. Supporting EMM is a privilege and an opportunity to participate in enlarging the kingdom of God.
If you feel that God may be asking your church to give regularly to EMM’s Impact Fund, I invite you to give here. I am also happy to discuss church giving with you; contact me. EMM would be delighted to partner with your church, as together we work toward making disciples of Jesus locally and around the world!
Kaylene Derksen serves as Development director at EMM.
In 2017, 14 businesses gave to EMM’s Impact Fund
Individual donors and congregations are a vital part of EMM’s support structure. Another leg of support is the businesses who give financially to this mission.
Adrian Groff, vice president of Groff’s Heating & Plumbing in Willow Street, Pa., says the following about why his family-run, Lancaster-born business gives to EMM:
“We have been partnering with EMM for many years and have always been impressed by the leadership and vision of EMM’s team. The Impact Fund seems to be a valuable kingdom tool that allows local businesses to make an impact that follows the heart of Christ, here and abroad.
God has given amazing resources to business folks in Lancaster. He is asking the business and church communities here to be faithful stewards of our Christian heritage. Groff’s is just one of many businesses that are looking to invest in people in a way that brings value and the love of Christ to as many communities as possible!”
I’m thankful to Lancaster County — and beyond — for the constant generosity you have shown over the past hundred years and more, as EMM has worked to share the love of Jesus locally and throughout the world.
We are also thankful for those businesses who are currently partnering with EMM through sponsorships — learn more about them. To find out how you or your business can respond to God’s compelling love through crossing cultures, engaging the world, and inviting people to becoming disciples of Jesus, contact me. You can also give anytime at emm.org/impactfund. God bless you!
Kaylene Derksen serves as Development director at EMM.
In 2017, 49 people gave to EMM in someone’s honor
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
In May and June, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day bring opportunities to thank those who raised and nurtured us. On occasions like these when you want to celebrate your loved ones, consider giving a charitable gift in their honor. Your gift will make a lasting impact on others, just as your family member or friend has done for you.
When Nevin and Mary Boll of Lititz, Pa. were getting ready to celebrate a milestone in their lives, they wanted to make charitable gifts a part of their big day. Mary tells us what this day meant to her:
“When we considered our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, we felt we needed to celebrate this tremendous blessing from God. We decided to have an afternoon drop-in for extended family and friends.
We debated how to handle gifts, and that’s when we talked about what Nevin’s parents had done on their 50th. They requested that gifts go to Mennonite Disaster Service, which Nevin’s father was involved with for many years. For us, we knew EMM would be our choice. In our invitations, we put this note: ‘No gifts necessary, but if you wish to honor Nevin and Mary, please consider a donation to Eastern Mennonite Missions to support Kosti and Ori Zguri in Albania.’
We had already pledged an amount to the Zguris’ ministry. We assumed that even with any anniversary gifts that might come, we would need to add to that amount by several hundred dollars to meet our pledge, which we were happy to do. Well, the total gifts turned out to be more than what we had pledged!
We felt very humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support for the Zguris, as well as the show of honor and love to us. We still got a few gifts, but the gifts to EMM were the best part. After 50 years, we don’t need more stuff, but this gift helped others have an investment in the work in Albania and will hopefully help them remember to pray for the place in which they invested.”
Maybe you’d like to include world missions in your gift-giving, too. Whether that means asking others to give charitably on your behalf — as Nevin and Mary did — or giving a charitable gift in someone’s honor, it is always a beautiful thing to express your thanks through generosity. Consider EMM’s Impact Fund as you give. The Impact Fund sustains all areas of God’s mission through EMM, and for a person who is passionate about sharing Jesus with the world, a gift to the Impact Fund on their behalf is sure to be meaningful.
110 individuals have given to the Impact Fund 5 years in a row.
EMM’s Impact Fund is like soil that quietly sustains new growth, including all the exciting work of the past year recounted in this annual report. From 84 youth baptisms in Cambodia to locally-led community development projects in Guinea-Bissau, each moment of transformation was undergirded by worker recruitment, missionary training, connecting local churches with overseas needs, providing crisis care for EMM workers, and a host of other things made possible by the Impact Fund.
And who makes the Impact Fund possible? You! EMM staff and workers are so grateful for those who give to God’s mission through the Impact Fund. Six hundred twenty-eight individuals gave to the Impact Fund in 2017, raising $358,926! One hundred ten of these people have given to the Impact Fund five consecutive years. Josh and Rosemary Blessing of Lititz, Pa., are among these regular givers. I asked them what compels them to give, and here is what they said:
“My (Josh’s) first exposure to EMM came through a ‘Perspectives on the World Christian Movement’ class where EMM worker David Shenk was one of the presenters. This was only a few years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. David shared some of his stories of witness among Muslim people groups, and I will never forget hearing how he was invited to dialogue with imams in Iran and the London Central Mosque. He said that those in London told him they wanted to invite him back because ‘we know you love Muslims.’ What a fantastic witness.
Then I happened to look up David on YouTube, and sure enough, there were videos of him giving a clear and passionate, yet loving witness of Jesus to a large group of Islamic scholars. I was amazed at how God was using David in that environment, and since then I have been inspired by the other members of the Christian-Muslim Relations Team. We need more peaceful Christian witness in the world today, and EMM helps facilitate this kind of voice!
We love EMM because it seeks to live out its vision both locally and overseas. The world has come to our hometown through immigration and refugees, and EMM wants to use its resources to help serve and be a witness to that population right here in Lancaster. What a great idea! Any mission organization must deal with changing realities and be flexible enough to serve where there are great needs, especially if they are right next door.”
Perhaps EMM is doing work that inspires you and makes you want to join in, too. EMM workers are engaged in church planting, leadership training, health care, community development, and so much more. You can flip through the pages of this annual report for a sample, and visit emm.org to dig deeper.
I hope you’ll consider becoming a part of this work by giving to the Impact Fund. You can learn more about how to do that at emm.org/impactfund. May God bless you with opportunities to join His mission in life-giving ways, whatever they may be!
Everyone fell silent. Games had been played and laughter had been abundant. Then, the narrator shared the Nativity story in the local language. The joyous partygoers — 80 Muslim villagers — were filled with anticipation. They were celebrating their very first Christmas!
Owen and Abby*, EMM workers in Southeast Asia began holding get-togethers to build relationships with their neighbors. After the second gathering, the community was eager to learn more about the celebration of Christmas. This interest in Christian holidays was not normal for this village — so Owen and Abby jumped at the opportunity to have a Christmas party. Everyone was excited!
Their excitement to learn more about Christ brings to mind the Magi who traveled to find Jesus:
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:10–11a).
May we, like the Magi, have this same anticipation for Christ in our everyday lives. May we also be like the neighbors who came to Owen and Abby’s Christmas party, eager to experience Jesus. Lastly, may we be overjoyed in Christ, compelling us to share with others the hope and life that is found in Him.
Merry Christmas to you in this joyous season!
Eastern Mennonite Missions
*Names changed for sensitivity reasons.