This summer Dutch Mennonite Mission organised in Guatemala its fourth edition of Strangers No More. Bishop Christopher Ndege from Tanzania reflects:
It was a real blessing to participate in the Strangers No More 2013 (SNM 13) in Guatemala this year.
To my knowledge Strangers No More was initiated several years ago by the Dutch Mennonite Mission (DMM) as a way of encouraging Mennonite Youths from the different parts of the world where Mennonite Church exists to meet, and learn from each other about their faith, their countries and situations where they live. To me this is a very important objective. Because it also involve youths into a journey of spiritual formation (a journey within) through reading the Word of God, singing and prayerful reflection which leads to ask: Who am I in God’s World? as well as: What is God calling me to be and become? The SNM is a mission program by itself.
SNM13 met this objective and much more. It did not only bring together Mennonite youths but other youths from organizations and churches that collaborate with DMM for example the youths from Zambia. The number of countries that participated in the SNM13 was very encouraging and even more encouraging was the program. The biblical learning and reflection from the story of Joseph fit so well with the theme of SNM13 which was Brotherhood. Our leader in the Bible Study Rev. Afke Maas did excellent work, and the input and response from the youth participants and the seniors was also very good. I am sure from the reflections I heard not youth returned home the same way they came.
The program was organized and coordinated by CASAS SEMILLA which is a Mennonite organisation. This also was very helpful and contributed to meeting the SNM13 objectives because we were able to link what we saw to our work as Christian and our mission in Christ.
For me of all the organizations and areas we visited in our exposure I was deeply touched by the MCC’s responses to Hurricane Stan that hit Guatemala. The collaboration between the MCC and ANADESA, providing that mutual emotional support, income generating projects toward sustainable development after the disaster is very tremendous partnership with impact to the community. Secondly, I was impressed by UPAVIM (United for a Better Life) activities. As a grassroots organization has worked hard to improve the situation of poor women and their families. Through interaction I learned that UPAVIM has become a beacon of opportunity and hope in their community in various programs such as generating employment, health care and education services for both adults and children. Finally, I treasure the work of the EMM as well as the Mennonite Church in Guatemala through SEMILLA and CASAS.
I talked to many leaders of the Mennonite Church in Guatemala in all the towns we visited and I notices some differences between the Mennonite Church in Guatemala and ours in Tanzania there are similarities as well as slight differences. However our mission is the same and the mission of the Mennonite Church among the Maya people – the Church here is very strong.
As Bishop of the Mennonite Church, I strongly confirm that SNM is a very important and relevant project. I hope that the lessons learnt in SNM13 will be shared widely and that the program organization for SNM13 will serve as guide for future SNM programs.
Note of the webmaster:
Wanna read more SNM13-stuff? Check: