When our words fail us

I am the way, the truth and the life. - John 14:6

October 1-2, 2010
Winnipeg, Manitoba

We met in the material resources warehouse, a symbol of what we can do together. Because of the generosity of our people, health kits and blankets and much more are shipped from this place to people who need them all over the world.

When the binational and Canada MCC boards met in Winnipeg this weekend, we took time to meet with leaders of the Chortitzer and Sommerfelder Mennonite churches because they don't believe MCC is always clear and true to the Biblical faith we say we believe.

MCC Binational chair Herman Bontrager remembered when he was an MCCer in Latin America. A Lutheran bishop's life was in danger because he worked with the poor so the MCCers decided they would be a presence with him by staying with the bishop in his house.

MCC Canada chair Neil Janzen remembers being called to a life of service through MCC terms in the Teachers Abroad Program in Africa and in India.

MCC Manitoba chair Ernie Wiens still remembers the stories of his grandmother in the Ukraine where an MCC soup kitchen helped provide needed nourishment for her children.

Bishop David Wiebe of the Sommerfelder church remembers his call to service as a Sunday school teacher, wanting to say no, but standing in front of the children and realizing he was being called to a lifetime of ministry.

Bishop Frank Unrau of the Chortitzer church remembers a life changing experience with MCC when he visited Nicaragua and experienced first hand how much stuff we have as North Americans and how few material resources some have in other parts of the world.

Our actions are always understood but not always our words, said Herman Bontrager. And that's why we were here this evening. We shared stories and fellowshipped together, but because of our words, or in some cases the lack of them, these brothers were not sure they could trust our actions.

"I am the way, the truth and the life," says Jesus. "On that there can be no compromise," said Bishop David Wiebe. We all believe that Jesus is the way, but MCC's work to build bridges with Muslims and our words of support for them have caused the Chortitzer and Sommerfelder leaders to wonder if MCC is compromising on the truth. They wonder if MCC believes the God of Muslims and the God of Christians is the same God.

How do we find a balance between humility and confidence in our message wondered an MCC board member. What does it mean to give an account for our faith when it is asked for, wondered one of the church leaders.

This evening, sitting side by side, we still found ourselves far apart in our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Our heartfelt words to each other were not enough. "MCC wants to be rooted in the church and do our work in response to Christ," said Ernie Wiebe in closing. Our words and deeds must come together, on that we all can agree.


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