Family gatherings can be a great occasion to celebrate, connect, and enjoy the company of loved ones you don’t see regularly. Tables covered in great, home cooked food, lawn bowling and board games, different generations mingling in conversation; gatherings can be a rich time to share life with one another.
Yes, there are occasional awkward moments. Family members are not always on the same page. Some may not like the food, sometimes there’s not much not to say to each other. Sometimes hurt feelings come to the surface. Being a family can be uncomfortable at times. But it is not all bad: Family can teach us how to love, and how to receive love.
Through Christ, Christians are bonded together as an unusual and beautiful kind of family. Here at MB Mission, our summer ACTION program functions much like a family gathering. Participants come from all over the Prairies and beyond to form teams of five to six. During the orientation week, through breaking bread, learning each other’s stories, playing, and worshipping together, these teams form little families.
But the family gathering doesn’t stop there. There are many more family members around the globe to connect with! So the teams go out. After orientation, ACTION teams spend 4 weeks with long-term MB Mission workers and members of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) all around the world. The family gathering grows! This year, teams will connect with other churches and believers in Malawi, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, and South-East Asia.
During this ACTION assignment, the North American teams will break bread with other believers. They will work together with them at orphanages, English language training centres, churches, soccer fields, and worksites. They will share their stories with one another, pray together, and worship side-by-side, each in their own tongue. And with God’s help, they will participate in making the family grow, proclaiming the good news that God has chosen to adopt all of us into Jesus’ great big family, the church.
Jozanna is part of the ACTION team in Malawi, working with ICOMB partners. She writes: “Today there was church, a church full of laughter, smiles, and of course, dancing. We started with some of our classic Canadian songs, and then soon they broke into their own music, all of us baffled by the different language, just danced and clapped with them. Without words we could still join together in God’s family. We soon came to a close with singing and began to share our testimonies.”
Allison is working with Dave & Louise Sinclair-Peters as a member of the team in Thailand. They recently visited a nearby village that has not yet been exposed to a Christian influence. “This is a village with a vision to church-plant one day.” says Allison, “We arrived in the evening and Pastor Isaiah preached, while our team played with kids and made bracelets with them in the corner. That evening, nine people accepted Christ. Praise God, for He is more powerful than darkness! We passed out Bibles, soap and toothbrushes. The atmosphere when we left was completely different from when arrived.”
In two weeks the teams will return from assignment to share more stories with those of us back at home. We will celebrate how the family grew in strength and in number. Teams will reflect on how their summer experiences impacted life back at home. As they return to their own families, friends, and churches, they will share what God is doing around the world through our global family.
There will be hard moments, awkward exchanges, and disagreements, to be sure. After all, being a family isn’t always easy – but with grace, we continue to learn how to love and be loved by one another. And most of all, we return thanks to God for the incredible gift of membership in this unusual and beautiful family.
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are… Beloved, we are God’s children now.” 1 John 3:1-2
To see a video of the orientation week, follow this link
MB Mission’s central ministry focus and the activity of each day is to multiply healthy disciples and missional leaders.