History that inspires
I take great interest in reading the obituaries in the section Finish Lines. I never fail to be inspired by the real lives of real people.
I was always interested in history. History is not just famous people far away who fought military battles long ago. History is about all things and all people all around us.
The Bible has a lot of history in it showing God’s greatness and how he protected and guided the lives of his people. These stories teach us about life and God. As God is still great and still protects and guides the lives of his people, the life stories in Finish Lines also teach and inspire us.
It is also interesting how as time passes, there are fewer stories of people starting their lives in eastern Europe, then immigrating to traditional Mennonite rural communities, also an integral part of the history of the Mennonite people.
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More horizontal communication
In “A culture of mutual trust and respect” (OUTfront, May/June 2017), interim executive director Steve Berg expresses a desire for greater communication and transparency. I am so glad to hear this! Trust and respect go a long way. Berg also asks for response, “an added characteristic or a refining.”
The characteristic that I would like to contribute is greater horizontal communication. The focus is on transparency and integrity in conference leadership. There is also a request for individuals and congregations to speak directly with leadership, and these are important steps toward building trust and respect. But, when trust and respect are missing, it can be difficult to believe that one-to-one conversations will have any effect – that concerns won’t simply be isolated and ignored.
It may feel risky, but I believe we need to actively create space for members to hear each other, to learn that others have similar concerns, and to solve problems as a group, led by the Holy Spirit. As Brad Sumner writes in “The parable of the ostrich” (Viewpoint, May/June 2017), this requires that members (especially delegates) take the time to educate themselves and learn about each other’s concerns and points of view. We may find that there is also a need for greater trust and respect among congregations.
The solution is not merely a more transparent and accountable leadership, but also more direct conversations between and among members – conversations that don’t exclude leadership in a passive-aggressive way, but also aren’t refereed or managed by the leadership. The leadership can facilitate these conversations by creating opportunities and then stepping back. It’s a difficult job, and my prayers are with all of those who have been entrusted with engaging these issues.
Kevin Guenther Trautwein
God doesn’t make mistakes
Re “From the mother of a transgender child” (Letters, May/June 2017).
It makes me so sad that we can so easily disregard the Bible and condone sin because someone we love is sinning.
There are so many different forms of sin, each one laid before us by the enemy to snatch us from the hand of God. To say that God Almighty made a mistake when he fearfully and wonderfully made us and we need to take this into our own hands and change our bodies and appearance in to who we “really” are is saying that God is not God. We cannot say he is our perfect God when we accuse him of making sexual mistakes.
Being transgender is a decision. I do not belittle the struggles of sexual confusion, but if we can condone this sin, we may as well condone them all. Can we say, “God made me a liar,” “God made me a thief” or “God made me a homosexual”? These are all choices. I am not without compassion, but truth cannot be compromised. There is hope for everyone who is suffering. God loves us all and wants what is his best for us. This best begins even before the womb when he chose our sex.
Don’t forget the Ukrainian people
Re “MCC increases humanitarian assistance in Ukraine” (online article, Dec. 5, 2014). Thank goodness for Mennonite Central Committee for scaling up on humanitarian assistance in eastern Ukraine. Many do not know for over three years now there has been continued violence and armed conflict in my family’s country. Ukraine and its neighbour Russia have been having continued disputes that have erupted in a civil war. My father’s family originates in Ukraine. We have several relatives there, and some were able to flee to safely. They will continuously be in our prayers.
We need more funds to stop this continued violence. The fighting is not over. Tens of thousands, including two of my cousins, have been killed and they were innocent bystanders who didn’t agree with this fighting. I personally want to thank people for their time and efforts at this centre. Soldiers are shooting, people are in poverty with disabilities and many are badly wounded. We need to make this dilemma known. We need to send our prayers to Ukraine: pray for peace, for heart change for power hungry leaders and the witness of our Ukraine MB churches to lead to the salvation of many.
Showing respect for culture and history
Re “Who is my neighbour?” (Wiebe’s Witness, March/April 2017).
I admire how when the BTG conference was trying the find a church and a local Roman Catholic church went up for sale, even though the statues didn’t reflect the BTG congregation, they didn’t want to create offence by removing the statues. By that, I mean I liked how they recognized another culture and didn’t want to create any conflicts.
Therefore, to come up with a resolution, the congregation prayed about it and their prayers were answered by a new Catholic church being built in Poland and the BTG provided all the statues they needed.
Another thing I like is how MWC put together a booklet of about 200 statements entitled “Called Together to be Peacemakers” which reflects the topics such as history, church, baptism and peacemaking. Also that you want to be able to mend broken relationships by showing that the Catholic and Mennonite delegations can see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. It shows how you as a faith community care about rebuilding relationships, and how you want to explain what your faith is about to the world.
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