Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!
Sign Up for Free
Choose Password
Confirm Password

Thank you for registering with us.

Global Teamwork

I just returned from three weeks in a very special place that I call, “My beloved Brazil.” Nearly 100 international guests gathered in Curitiba for the annual summit of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB). Delegates from twenty-two member conferences were joined by leaders from ten emerging conferences, together with dozens from our global Multiply team. Following the summit, our visionary hosts invited us to join hundreds of Brazilians for a renewal event called Despertar, which means Awakening.

Here are several outstanding memories for me personally: 

  • Since guests from Ukraine could not come due to the war, the ICOMB crowd gathered around the Ukrainian flag and our European representatives. In strong unity, we cried out to God on behalf of the Ukrainian church, for endurance in suffering and for peace to come. 
  • With other experienced workers, we offered counsel to Safari, leader of the MB conference in Malawi, as he follows God’s call to leave his current home for missionary service in another country.  
  • Listening to Thai pastor Naat’s plenary address where she shared, with considerable transparency, how she has learned to grow in her love for God through weakness and shortcomings.  
  • Translating into Portuguese for two brothers from India and Morocco as they inspired a local Brazilian church with their testimonies of God’s faithfulness and their obedience to the missionary call.

There are common threads in these four memories. God is raising up outstanding men and women, equipping them for his mission, and sending them to the unreached both in their own countries and beyond. By God’s enabling, they come with strong Christian character, with resilience learned in the crucible of suffering, and with missionary vision second to none.

The international ambiance, enhanced with dozens of colorful flags and a Babel of languages, immediately led me to Scriptures that speak of goings and gatherings. “(I will) gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory… I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations… and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations” (Isaiah 66:18-19). And of course, the classic vision that so often has inspired me to carry on reaching out to unreached people groups, “…there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). Isaiah looks forward to where God is going in order to gather the nations; in Revelation, John looks back as it were, to declare, “Mission accomplished!” 

We live in between Isaiah and Revelation, but occasionally we are allowed real-life glimpses of the glory that is to come. It is God’s vision to reach all nations through all nations. In our day, he is accomplishing this vision, which is his mission from everywhere to everyone.

One reason the Brazilians asked international guests to stay for a few extra days was to remember an historic event that occurred thirty-four years earlier—Awakening 1988. As a young missionary in Brazil at the time, I remember well that occasion. Led by Victor Adrian, General Director of Mennonite Brethren Missions/Services (our agency’s name at that time), and Jacob August Wall, Director of the Brazilian mission department, 805 delegates from fifteen countries gathered to consider God’s call on “The Mennonite Brethren Mission in the World.” 

In 1988, the purpose of the gathering was to enable us to encourage each other in faith and life, to grow in our understanding of our mission, and to forge closer partnerships. Out of that gathering, ICOMB emerged in 1990. This network of global MB conferences, with whom Multiply partners on all fronts, has been instrumental in shaping a stronger identity, in facilitating stronger community, and in fostering missional expansion. The purpose of Awakening 2022 was not only to remember with fondness, but with fortitude to reach forward in our common mission.

Yet there were some marked differences between 1988 and 2022. Among them was the global teamwork I mentioned above. In 1988, the event was envisioned and led by missional leaders of North American and/or Germanic background. In 2022, the vision, the planning team, the speakers, and the logistics team were truly multi-ethnic and multi-national. Furthermore, the take-away stories above indicate an international collaboration for global mission that our leaders only dreamed of in 1988. 

What does this mean for North Americans? Is God still calling us to go, and to send missionaries? If others are stepping up to lead, is it our time to back away? If not, what is our role?

In short, I strongly believe that God is still calling North Americans into global mission, and that our local churches must still be in the business of sending workers into the global harvest. The Great Commission is valid for all followers of Jesus and for all generations, until our Lord returns. Indeed, others from the global South are stepping up, but this is not meant to substitute those from the North, but to supplement global efforts to finish the task before us—reaching the last, the least, and the lost.

Awakening 2022 made it clear that our global MB family has taken great strides in global teamwork. North Americans are still playing key supportive roles, but there is certainly a greater sense of global cooperation and solidarity. As we continue to find our roles and learn how to work together, we must remember that even the apostle Paul needed his older colleague and shepherd, Barnabas, to open doors for him, coach him and empower him. That said, the call to global teamwork is not about who will lead and who will support. It is about following Jesus, our Team Leader, according to his special assignment, whatever that may be.

I came back from Brazil encouraged, humbled, and aspiring to obey. I entrust the same to you. Be encouraged as our mission team continues to grow with wonderful people. Be humble about the role that you will play. Be obedient as God calls you to pray, to give, and to go—because the mission is not over!

Vic Wiens serves as the Interim General Director of Multiply. He will remain in this role until August 31, 2022.

As of May 16, 2022, Bruce Enns became the new General Director of Multiply. In the Fall edition of Witness, Bruce will address readers in his first editorial.


more stories

related projects