Aug 23, 2017

Anna Liechty Sawatzky Interview


This interview was done by Mennonite Women USA and with their permission we are sharing it on our blog.



Q&A with 

Anna Liechty Sawatzky

author of the 2017 Bible Study Guide 

"Live your Call"




Posted on August 22, 2017



How did you, working full-time and the mother of four active sons, make time to write Live Your Call?

A lot of my writing and thinking was done in dribs and drabs, here and there. I do a lot of driving for my job so early in the writing process I got John’s Gospel on CD from the library. I listened to that while I was driving and contemplating the theme of mission. After I had selected scriptures and themes, I worked on one text at a time, reading it over and over and then pondering it while driving. The devoted time I spent sitting down to work was much less than the time I spent writing in my head. I find that this is how I work best anyway. I like to work on something for a little while and then give it time to percolate. When I come back to it, thoughts have formed more clearly in my mind. Toward the end of my writing time, I had to have some more devoted time to sit down and write.

What is your experience with Bible study guides?

I don’t have a lot of experience specifically with Bible study guides. What inspired me more was conversations, talks, books, and articles over the years that have given me what I call a “clarifying concept”. I love it when someone gives me a framework or a concept to understand something. A very important example is the one I use in the BSG, the concept of mission as “ministry in the dimension of difference.” The author, Titus Presler, gave me words to understand something and un-muddied the waters for me. I have had many other similar experiences over the years, sometimes in unexpected places. It was this sense of clarity with deep study of scripture that I wanted to bring to the guide.
How does studying the Bible empower women?
One of the things that I loved when working in South Africa was how the Bible was what everyone had in common. We worked with a Bible school for leaders of African Initiated Churches and the majority of the students were women. We came together seven times a year to study the Bible. You didn’t have to have other books, you didn’t need to know what the scholars said, you didn’t even need to be able to read, you just had to be open to reading or hearing deeply to understand what God had for you. It was amazing what understanding we could form when we were all working together on a text. The other thing I love about the Bible is that there is always new meaning to be unearthed. You can read a story over and over again and always get something more from it. This process is open to anyone and can be very empowering.
Why focus on mission and service? How can mission and service be applied to home?
Mission is who we are as the church. As soon as we stop caring about those outside our doors, we have lost ourselves. We are all called to reach outside ourselves with the Good News, but for each of us the call will look different. I wanted the lessons in this guide to equally applicable to those who are called to service as those who are called to evangelism. And there are endless ways of doing mission within each of these broader categories.
Mission can be applied at home. The definition of mission I work with is that it is “ministry in the dimension of difference.” Ministry is that which we do for our own and it is important. When we cross some kind of barrier or wall to offer the Good News, we are doing mission. These barriers are all around us and can be found at home as well as far away.
What is one of your favorite sessions from Live Your Call? Why?
Each of the lessons came out of experience I have had with finding new understanding of scripture and life. I organized the chapters in pairs because our faith is so deeply rooted in paradox—Jesus is the servant leader who died that we might have new life. And so it is equally true that we are called to give as to receive, to engage as to retreat. The other reason it is hard to choose a favorite is that as soon as I was done, I could think of things I would add or do differently. I have already had several invitations to meet with groups and I welcome these opportunities because they help to make the study more dynamic for me. I am sure that in another year, conversations with others will have helped me to grow and I would construct the guide slightly differently. I do pray that through the guide, women will connect more with God and with each other in a way that emboldens them to live the call that God has for them.
Anna Liechty Sawatzky is a home visitor with a child abuse prevention program. She and her husband, Joe, served as missionaries in South Africa with Mennonite Mission Network. Anna, Joe and their four sons currently live in Goshen, Indiana.
Interested in materials for fall study? Click here to purchase the 2017 Bible Study Guide Live Your Call, written by Anna Liechty Sawatzky.

Aug 10, 2017

Photos from Women Encountering Jesus Retreat in Manitoba

Women Encountering Jesus
A Spring Retreat offered by Mennonite Women Manitoba

Note:  I posted a write up about this retreat on August 8 and the following day received these photos from the event!  I've included the write-up and inserted the photos.

You could have heard a pin drop, as the 45 women who had gathered for this day of retreat, received the stories of women encountering Jesus. We were treated to stories drawn from Scripture, early Christian history and the contemplative tradition, along with stories from more recent history, all presented in simple and profound dramatic form.

Stories of women encountering Jesus (1)
Stories of women encountering Jesus (2)
Stories of women encountering Jesus (3)

Laura Funk, Guest Speaker
Our retreat director, Laura Funk, a local Spiritual Director and founder of Butterfly Journeys, crafted the day to introduce us to the voices of these historic women as well as to practices of prayer that have stood the test of time. Laura also prepared a resource booklet for participant in which she stated, “My hope is that if you sense the need for a change in your own spiritual journey, something here might help you along.” And the booklet provides many such helps; reminders of the practices we tried out, and descriptions of the ones we didn't have time to try.
Kathy Giesbrecht, Mennonite Church Manitoba




Our day together truly was a day of retreat as we engaged and selected and experienced a wide array of prayer practices. The prayer stations, created by Laura, included written introductions and explanations to each (in the provided booklet) that invited us to enter each practice.  Women from a wide variety of age groups waded in, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a group of others. Retreaters affirmed that being introduced to new ways of encountering Jesus was refreshing for them.  They also affirmed the use of storytelling as a way to ‘hear anew’ the words of Jesus. 

Prayer station - an array of prayer practices

Prayer station - an array of prayer practices

Lunch and snacks were included!
This Retreat looked distinctly different from the Sister Care Seminar we had offered in the spring of 2016. Both the ‘returning retreaters’ from 2016 and the new women who ventured into this years retreat encouraged us to keep providing such events.
Lunch and snacks were included!
As the MWMB planning group reflected on this event, it affirmed that allowing the Retreat to go in distinct directions served our hopes of offering differing spaces for women in our community. MWMB will continue to offer Spring Retreats, along with the other initiatives it is pursuing. Next year's event will focus on mental health. Watch for news about it this fall.
Laura Funk with Elsie Wiebe,
President of Mennonite Women Manitoba


Submitted by Kathy Giesbrecht

Aug 8, 2017

Mennonite Women Manitoba - Spring Retreat 2017

Women Encountering Jesus
A Spring Retreat offered by Mennonite Women Manitoba

  You could have heard a pin drop, as the 45 women who had gathered for this day of retreat, received the stories of women encountering Jesus. We were treated to stories drawn from Scripture, early Christian history and the contemplative tradition, along with stories from more recent history, all presented in simple and profound dramatic form. Our retreat director, Laura Funk, (a local Spiritual Director and founder of Butterfly Journeys)  crafted the day to introduce us to the voices of these historic women as well as to practices of prayer that have stood the test of time. Laura also prepared a resource booklet for participant in which she stated, “My hope is that if you sense the need for a change in your own spiritual journey, something here might help you along.” And the booklet provides many such helps; reminders of the practices we tried out, and descriptions of the ones we didn't have time to try.


    Our day together truly was a day of retreat as we engaged and selected and experienced a wide array of prayer practices. The prayer stations, created by Laura, included written introductions and explanations to each,(in the provided booklet) that invited us to enter each practice.  Women from a wide variety of age groups waded in, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a group of others. Retreaters affirmed that being introduced to new ways of encountering Jesus was refreshing for them.  They also affirmed the use of storytelling as a way to ‘hear anew’ the words of Jesus.

    This Retreat looked distinctly different from the Sister Care Seminar we had offered in the spring of 2016. Both the ‘returning retreaters’ from 2016 and the new women who ventured into this years retreat encouraged us to keep providing such events.
As the MWMB planning group reflected on this event, it affirmed that allowing the Retreat to go in distinct directions served our hopes of offering differing spaces for women in our community. MWMB will continue to offer Spring Retreats, along with the other initiatives it is pursuing. Next year's event will focus on mental health. Watch for news about it this fall.


-->
Submitted by Kathy Giesbrecht

Jul 26, 2017

DIRKS UPDATE


For five years, Nathan and Taryn Dirks served as Mennonite Church Canada workers in Gaborone, Botswana, nurturing relationships with young people through a variety of efforts ranging from prison ministry to sports. Their term has ended, and they have now returned to Canada with their young son, Malakai. Thank God for the dedication of Nathan and Taryn, and pray for God’s blessing as they discern what the future holds. 
(from PrayerNet, July/August 2017)

BARKMAN UPDATE




The Barkmans have sent the following update:  Greetings, friends and family! Attached you'll find our latest newsletter ... and Peace Church's most recent Weekly Prayer Bulletin that Kathleen Limayo, Peace Church member and staff, has been putting together. 
Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we serve in the Philippines! 
With love,
the Barkmans

The newsletter and the prayer bulletin have been posted to our website at

Jul 21, 2017

Women Walking Together in Faith - July 2017 - "Letting all our gifts bloom"



The latest of our bi-monthly articles in the Canadian Mennonite was written by Ev Buhr. Ev has been the Alberta Rep on our executive for many years and is the office administrator at First Mennonite Church in Edmonton. She enjoys letting her gifts bloom through music and children's stories during worship.  

In her article she asks:  "How often do we hold back for fear of other people's inadequacies being heightened? How often do we minimize our efforts so the person praising us still feels worthy? How do we deal with an expression that seems to stem from jealousy or seems to be fishing for a compliment in return? How do we let our gifts bloom so others can bloom as well?"

You can read her article HERE.

Jul 11, 2017

Crisis in DRC ~ Prayer Request

I received the information below from the President of Mennonite Women Canada, Shirley Redekop. Her counterpart, Adolphine Tshiama, National President of the women's organization for Mennonite Church of Congo, wrote the following letter to Africa Inter Mennonite Mission (AIMM) sharing her grief and sadness at the violence which has affected many families. She herself has lost a number of her family to the violence.  
Adolphine Tshiama writes:  
"It is with great sadness that I share this sad news. When my husband was still alive, he purchased agricultural land on the road leading to Ndjoko Punda, 65 kms from Tshikapa at the village of Inga which is inhabited by the Chokwe ethnic group.
After his death, the land was divided in two, one part for me and one for the members of his family. My young brother decided to go live on my land in order to farm it and to help me as well as make a living for his family. In the troubles (the violence, sometimes between ethnic groups, currently happening in the Kasai region of the DRC) he was attacked by some Chokwe, and in that attack lost his 23 year old son, who left behind a widow and two children.
On Friday June 16, 2017 their farm was attacked a second time. My brother was killed and dismembered, his wife and his two daughters along with his son's widow were all killed. The two children of his son have disappeared and have not been found up to today.
I ask you to pray for me, placing me in the hands of the Lord. I am going through a difficult time." 

Rod Hollinger-Janzen, AIMM staff, encourages us to:
* Pray for Adolphine and her family, that the Lord would comfort and strengthen them
* Pray for the two children, traumatized and in grief, wherever they are, that the Lord would protect them and bring healing
* Pray for all families living in the Kasai who have experienced loss and grief
* Pray for an end to violence and hostility in the Kasai region
* Pray that the church might continue to play its role as the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus who gave his life to bring an end to hostility and to reconcile all things to himself

(Information from an email received from Shirley Redekop)