Sharers in the promise of Christ Jesus
. . . members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.(Eph 3:6)
"In Indonesia, MCC is salt so that the church can be the light," long-time MCC Indonesia worker Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi told me in the MCC office in Salatiga. There are good reasons why MCC has a long record of working in this country, she told me.
There's a history of violence here and Indonesia is in a part of the world that experiences natural disasters regularly. The largest Islamic population in the world is here. And one of the largest populations of Mennonites outside of North America is also in this country. In fact, Jeanne said, every partner MCC has in Indonesia and every placement it makes is with the blessing of the three Mennonite Church synods.
Later that week, we gathered in Semarang, Indonesia. Eighteen candidates. A leadership team from the three Mennonite synods. And Mennonite Central Committee workers. Our purpose was the same - to determine which six young adults would represent Indonesian Mennonites in North America or in other parts of the world as part of MCC's service programs for young adults.
Virtually all of the leadership team were also graduates of these service programs. Ronny Agostino served in Abbotsford, British Columbia and in Waterloo, Ontario. Little did he know that working in a thrift shop in Canada would eventually lead to owning 15 Honda motorcycle dealerships.
Nindyo Sasongko, a pastor for a number of years, is looking forward to more schooling at Seattle (Wash.) University next year. He'll be focusing on spirituality courses at this Jesuit school. He's already made connections with the Mennonite congregations in Seattle. Ronny and Nindyo are prime examples of what I've experienced elsewhere - MCC's international young adult service programs are regarded as vital leadership training programs by Anabaptist churches around the world.
Back in Salatiga, I attended the 6 a.m. Sunday morning worship service of the Warta Jemaat congregation. I had a chance to greet the congregation near the end of the worship service on behalf of MCC and Mennonites in North America. I reminded them that, in Christ Jesus, we are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, connected as if we were parts of the same body.
It is a privilege to serve in MCC and meet so many people who are sharers in the promise of Christ Jesus.
Ron Byler is executive director of Mennonite Central Committee in the United States.