“Is Guinea-Bissau 1) a country in West Africa, 2) hot, 3) politically tumultuous, or 4) all of the above?” fourth-year student, Steve Berkenpas, challenged Abbotsford, B.C.’s Columbia Bible College student body at its mission emphasis chapel. “How many vote for all of the above?” Berkenpas shared about his year living and working in one of the poorest countries in the world, followed by student Donna Mayer, who spoke about her year in Rwanda.
After a few years of teaching in public universities, I arrived in 2005 at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) to teach English. People often ask me what the difference is, perhaps expecting me to complain about the limitations now imposed upon me. My answer is instead that I can do everything I did in the secular academy, and more. One of the most prominent feelings about my new life at CMU is liberation.
A community validates its members by listening to their voices. The Mennonite Brethren community has grown from 18 families meeting under one roof to 18 conferences spread across the globe. As distance and diversity increase, it becomes more challenging to hear each other’s voices.
The 20th century was a tumultuous period in China. The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 sought to rid China of all foreign interests, and saw the massacre of countless missionaries and Christian converts. In 1921, the Communist Party was founded and periods of civil war ravaged the country, followed by war with Japan. Finally, in 1949, the country fell under Communist rule and officially became an atheist state. Due to religious intolerance and persecution, the Christian church was forced underground. Thousands of church buildings were destroyed or turned into civil facilities such as schools, warehouses, and factories.