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Conference Recap: A Taste of Missions

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By Lydia Gingerich

Over the years, the Thursday evening program at CMC’s Annual Conference has grown and changed. What was once a somewhat dry time of reporting to pastors and others interested in missions, has evolved into a well-attended kickoff to the weekend.

This year’s program began with a welcome from CMC leadership. Brian Hershberger, CMC Executive Director, offered an appeal to make the weekend a time of learning “how to live as...and make authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.” John David Swartzentruber, Pastor of Greenwood Mennonite Church, and vice chair of the local planning committee, passed along his greetings from the home community. Dale Keffer, outgoing CMC Moderator, then addressed the audience, and shared some thoughts on what CMC has meant to him over the years and some hopes for its future.

After a time of worship led by Kevin Yoder and the conference worship team, Andrew Miller, RMM Director of Partner Development, introduced Sheldon Swartzentruber and Wayne Yoder – coordinators of the Rosedale Mission Cruisers and Ride for Missions fundraisers. These events – and their many participants – have substantially blessed RMM with financial support over the years. Wayne shared that RFM is more than a fundraiser; “it is a rolling mission passing through a broken land…it is a foundation for friendships, comradery, and healing.”

Joe Showalter, RMM President, then discussed the essential call of every believer to not only walk and talk like Jesus (discipleship), but to also help others to do the same thing (disciple making). When we are making disciples, we will also be reproducing other churches. Joe then introduced someone who will be giving direction to CMC in reproducing churches as Director of Church Planting: Larry Kaufman, pastor of Grace Mennonite Church. Larry requested those listening to pray for CMC “as we are defining this church planting vision.” He also asked anyone who knows that they want to plant a church to come talk to Joe, Brian Hershberger, or himself for assistance in taking that first step.

RMM then shared a short video about a recently baptized believer in South Asia who is sharing the love of Jesus among the villages in his region. His story comes after many years of work in South Asia by RMM and a team of local believers who are discipling Hindus and Muslims there. A small community of believers has begun to meet together and God is working in their hearts in spite of the intimidation and danger of continuing to live for him. In the video, Dan (an RMM field worker) asked those listening to pray for boldness and to get involved in the work God is doing.

Andrew Miller then took the stage again with Scott Miller, assistant Pastor at Oak Dale Mennonite Church, and Sam Scaggs, director of RUN Ministries (an acronym for “Reaching Unreached Nations”). They shared how churches can get involved with unreached people groups in places like South Asia. Scott talked about how his relationship with God made him want to help those who have not heard about God. He took action to see if their church could adopt an unreached people group as a way to pray for, partner with missionaries in the area, and even to go to that place to engage the group. Sam’s work with RUN provides a link between churches in the West and churches that are a part of the growing movement towards Jesus in the places where it is dangerous to be a believer. Scott then ended the program by leading those in attendance in praying for three unreached people groups from Thailand, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Everyone was then invited to taste snacks from South Asia including a spiced rice and vegetable dish, a sweet dish made from potatoes, sugar and milk, and a regional take on lemonade.

Café Diego: The Cost of A Dream

Following the Taste of Missions Program, RMM and RBG premiered the movie: Café Diego: The Cost of a Dream. Those who stayed enjoyed the inspiring 30-minute documentary that follows the life of a Nicaraguan coffee farmer named Diego Chavarria. It is a story of hardship, risk, faith, poverty, and perseverance. It is about being faithful with what we have, and believing God has a dream that is bigger than our own. You can watch the full movie below or at: cafediegomovie.com