And this is your family…

And this is your family…

Have you ever been introduced to a distant relative for the first time – maybe you didn’t even know they existed – and yet you immediately felt a connection with them?  After all, they are family!  Well, as part of a global Anabaptist family, we have family members all around the world, most of whom we have never met.  Yet we have deep bonds that connect us, deeper than our last name, cultural foods or language.  Bonds of common belief and commitment to following Christ, and ways that our churches relate and work together.  I just returned from a trip to Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I had the honor of representing Mennonite Church Canada at the Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM) partnership meetings.  So let me introduce you to some of our AIMM family:


Adophine, Marie and Hélène José are supervisors of the Literacy Program, run by the Mennonite churches in the DR Congo.  Literacy teachers are trained and provided with basic teaching supplies, to offer literacy classes in their own village, to women and children who haven’t had opportunities to attend school.  (photo credit: Lynda Hollinger-Janzen)


(above left)  Here is a young woman who has been able to learn in one of these Literacy Centres, who is reading the Bible in her own language.  Despite being crippled, learning to read and write has boosted her self-confidence and opened new job opportunities.

(above right)  Laurent is a part of a “Youth Association” in the DR Congo, created by a group of 10 incredibly motivated young people looking for work in a country of high unemployment rates.  Each member contributes 25,000 francs ($12) at the end of each month, and then they take turns receiving 90% of the money for personal agricultural projects.  The remaining 10% is used collectively by the group to plant, harvest and sell peanuts, with the profit being added to the collective fund.  As this fund grows, the Youth Association will invest in larger and more long-term agricultural projects.     


Pastor Ambeké (left) prepares to help Daniel (right) take his place as the General Secretary of one of the Mennonite conferences in Angola.  This is the first time this conference will have had a peaceful leadership transition since it began in 1983.  Ambeké said “Some of our young people have grown up thinking that the only way to change leaders is through tension and force.  Usually, new leaders are selected from senior leaders who are not leading good lives.  But this time, the church has called this ‘Little David’ because he has the right character.  He is humble and he is the one we want, even if he is young.”  As a leader, Pastor Ambeké has been a source of peace and stability in this Angola conference.  Even as he steps down from leadership, he is setting Daniel up to lead well.

(above left) Josué is a young electrician, called by the Mennonite church in Burkina Faso to start a hardware store in the village of Mahon.  Many business owners in Burkina Faso have set up hardware stores or bookstores in villages where there are no churches, and through their positive Christian witness, neighbours have come to know Christ and churches were planted.  This is the prayer and hope of the Burkina Faso church for Josué’s store in Mahon.  

(above right) And lastly, the grade 4 students of the Mennonite school in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, send you their enthusiastic greetings.  


These stories are our stories, as our Mennonite churches across Canada support these ministries which are strengthening the churches in the Congo, Angola and Burkina Faso.  And these people are our family!  


Tany Warkentin is Liaison to Ministry in Africa for Mennonite Church Canada.  She welcomes opportunities to share more stories about what is happening within our AIMM family, and help connect you to these ministries (; 403-627-2232).  She also serves as Pastoral Leader of Springridge Mennonite Church (Pincher Creek Alta), and Treasurer of Mennonite Church Alberta.