Called to a ministry of reconciliation

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  - II Corinthians 5:18
Through alternative service workers in the Pax program, MCC began working in Nepal as part of the United Mission to Nepal more than 60 years ago.

When the earthquake struck Nepal five years ago, MCC was prepared to help. Our Nepal team had longstanding partnerships with local organizations. Being on the ground meant we were able to help provide emergency relief quickly, with the generous support of our constituency.
And we are still there. In the village of Nallu, in southern Lalitpur District, where I visited, 200 families are rebuilding their home thanks to the housing support they received from MCC.
In 2020, our centennial year, our scripture theme is from II Corinthians 5. God reconciled us to himself through Christ, God gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

From the early Pax workers to emergency and long-term earthquake response and rebuilding…

Everyone helping each other

Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations (were shaken) . . . We are all here. Acts 16:26, 28
“When the earthquake came, we ran to find a place to hide,” Shanti and Krishna told us. “Our house collapsed and it was a day or so before help came,” they said. “Shanti said her family thanked God it was a Saturday when the earthquake struck because the schools were closed and their three children were home with them instead.
When the earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, 9,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people became homeless overnight.

In the village of Nallu, about two hours south of Kathmandu, where most of the houses were destroyed after the earthquake, I stood with Shanti and Krishna beside their new home. From here, we can see the remains of their old house perched on the hillside above.
With government assistance and their own savings, and with some additional “top-up” funding help from MCC through our partner Rural Institution for Community De…

Extending the good news to those who are excluded

He has sent me to proclaim good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted. Isaiah 61:1

We hear overwhelming stories of abuse from the women we meet at KOSHISH in Kathmandu, Nepal. Bound in chains. Hidden away. Abandoned. These women were abandoned because of their mental disabilities.
KOSHISH director Matrika Devkota tells his own story of mental challenge and hardship. He had a breakdown in his 20s and was eventually able to regain his health through the intervention of an MCC worker.
Later, Matrika decided he was called to a personal mission of helping others in need like himself, and he says, MCC was there to provide some help.
KOSHISH now houses up to 40 women who are suffering from mental distress. The center offers treatment for them as well as rehabilitation in short-term residential communities and peer support networks. KOSHISH also advocates for inclusion, dignity and meaningful participation for people with psychosocial disabilities.

One woman, Kamela, tells us she…

The bread of the Lord's compassion

We get our bread at the peril of our lives. – Lamentations 5:9
In Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine at the Mennonite Family Center, we hear Boris Letkemann share his family’s story of exile and homecoming. There was so much suffering and so much death.
Boris remembers, they took his father and his father never returned. Years later, in a camp in Siberia, the family is reunited and they make their way back to Zaporizhzhia. Today, Boris works at the Center and helps provide food, shelter and support for people like him who need what he needed those many years ago.

As Boris shares his story, the elderly women across the hallway, a few of the 120 women who receive home health care from the Mennonite Family Center, plaintively sing the old hymns of the church. Later, we sing back to them, and then we sing together, How Great Thou Art.
In Russia, between 1914 and 1923, millions of people lost their lives to war, disease and starvation. Mennonites were among those who suffered. And Mennonites were among th…

God multiplies our efforts

The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail. – I Kings 17:14
Ana Hinojosa remembers growing up on the Texas-Mexico border near Brownsville in the late 80s. Her family’s house was a mile from the border wall and she remembers the extended family gatherings in her back yard. Ana, an MCC immigration staff person, says border patrol agents would rest in the shade of the trees near the front of her house and, in the same day, it would be possible for a family from Mexico to knock on her front door to ask for food or directions. Her family turned no one away.
Life on the border can look quite different today.
When we enter the Catholic Charities respite center in McAllen, Texas, it is startling to see the contrast from the serenity of the neighborhood outside to the chaos inside. Cesar Matta tells us that, today, the center is hosting 350 people who have just arrived to be processed for asylum. Most of these people are fleeing violence and poverty in Guatemala or Hondu…

We can become one again

Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. – Jeremiah 29:10

Just after the Korean War In the 1950s, Hyung Gon Lee was a farm manager for the Mennonite Vocational School in Taegu, South Korea established by MCC relief volunteers.
Following the war, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Food, fuel and electricity were scarce and there was massive unemployment. A third of all the houses in the entire country were destroyed, as well as almost half the industrial facilities.

Beginning in 1952, MCC set up feeding stations and distributed clothing and bedding. Hyung Gon says MCC provided a serving of milk and rice to 5,000 people each day. The vocational school trained hundreds of orphans for jobs in post-war South Korea.
I heard second-hand from one of these orphans who is now a successful businessman in Chuncheon, “Every Thursday the MCC truck would come in and we were so excited becau…

People are dying out here

The son of man will be handed over to be crucified. – Matthew 26:2
Artist Alvaro Enciso builds beautiful crosses from empty tin cans he finds on the migrant trail in the desert on the Mexico and Arizona border.
Alvaro says he had no idea people were dying out here in the Sonora desert, but the deaths of 3,000 people have been documented and 2,000 more people are still missing. He works with a group of older adults called Samaritans who provide water stations for migrants who are crossing the border searching for a better life.

He remembers seeing a map with red dots where people have died in the desert. Sections of that southern Arizona map had so many red dots that it was simply a mass of red. Every week, Alvaro walks out into the desert to mark the places with one of his crosses where people have died.
Each Tuesday, his goal is to mark at least one more grave. So far, he’s marked 800 graves with crosses. He knows his task will never end because more people keep dying out here.
Each cros…