Sunday, August 8, 2010
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia is the largest body of Mennonites in the world. Years ago, when the former govenment restricted the Christian church, the church went underground and grew by leaps and bounds. Now, the government is more open and the church continues to grow.
Sunday morning, I visited the largest Meserete Kristos church in Addis Ababa with about 50 others who were in the city for a service consultation. Arli Klassen, Mennonite Central Committee executive director, shared with the congregation of 2,000 that MCC service worker in Afghanistan Glen Lapp had been killed along with others who worked for International Assistance Missions (AIM).
Even though we can't see, we have hope, the preacher told the congregation. Glen's faith in God gave him the courage to sacrifice himself for others. Faith is not denying things, the pastor told us, it is about believing that God can change things.
The preacher's words were sobering to the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ leaders who had gathered in Addis Ababa for a service consultation to talk about how we can better serve the church and serve the world. Service is not just a concept, it's the way we are called to live.
Glen Lapp's death is a reminder to all of us that following Christ, serving others, can be costly. But that is what we are called to do. God can change things, in that we have hope, and we are called to serve.
In one of his last reports to MCC about his work in Afghanistan, Glen said that his hope was that he could treat people with respect and with love and try to be a little bit of Christ in this part of the world. In his life and in his death Glen demonstrated his love for others.
May our worship please you, the choir sang on Sunday morning. "Your mercy is so big and your love draws us to you," the choir sang.
Later in the church service, an elder told us that we owe God everything. Glen Lapp showed us that sometimes that includes our lives. Glen's death gave meaning to the banner which hung above the sanctuary on this Sunday morning - "I do it all for the sake of the gospel."