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For me and my wife, Marty, the end of August marked the end of a major portion of our missionary journey. In August 1982, we were sent by Butler MB Church in Fresno, California, via MBMS (Mennonite Brethren Missions and Services), on a three-year mission to São Paulo, Brazil. Forty years later, after serving in almost as many countries, I look back and marvel at the amazing grace of God. Truly he has been our faithful Helper and watched over our comings and goings (Psalm 121). While my life journey is not over, and I expect to continue living on mission, it seems timely to offer some reflections, both personal and collective. I have done so below by way of an acrostic, using the letters of the word together.

T is for training.

Marty and I met on the campus of Fresno Pacific University. We were mentored by godly professors. As missionaries, our agency leaders twice granted us extended study leaves for further formal studies. During the last two decades, I have dedicated much time and energy to training workers in Brazil and building mission capacity among our global MB conferences. I am convinced that training is a gift that God has given to us, and we as MBs must steward it faithfully. Paul encouraged Timothy to invest heavily in multiple generations of leaders (2 Timothy 2:2). As churches, and as a mission agency, and as schools, we will do well to value training and continue together in preparing the next generation for mission and service.

O is for ongoing renewal.

My own spiritual journey is filled with the influence of renewal movements: growing up as MB, Jesus People, Charismatic, Torchbearers/Capernwray, and Promise Keepers. As individuals, families, local churches, and national conferences, we need to remain the place of prayer and keep asking God, “Revive us again.” Note the “us” in that prayer. There is a place for seeking renewal in solitude, but in order to sustain individual renewal, we need to come together to “spur each other on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

G is for the Great Commission.

In the context of God’s mission expressed throughout Scripture, the Great Commission has been and should be a compass text. The one imperative in this multi-verb text is “make disciples.” This is our individual and collective call. In recent months at Multiply, we have reviewed our mission and once again landed on this clarion call—unashamedly, we are about making disciples! Yet the call was not to do it alone, but together. Jesus continues to send out teams of two, twelve, even seventy.

E is for end time harvest.

We spent twenty-five years in the megacity of São Paulo, with a population of more than twenty million. Almost daily, we mingled with the multitudes. Jesus’ attitude took on a new meaning, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless…” And now, as a missiologist, I see the billions of still unreached people, many with zero Gospel witness. Jesus’ prayer is more relevant than ever, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few… Ask the Lord of the harvest for workers” (Matthew 9:35-38). Again, the harvest is too big—we must do this together!

T is for theology.

Convictions matter. In my theological journey, I have been exposed to and enriched by multiple understandings of the Bible, the Church, and mission. Like a river, our MB movement has been enriched by some streams of non-MB renewal movements and now by younger churches joining us. I value what has been passed to me, beginning with the Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth century and then the MB renewal of the nineteenth century. I embrace both our North American and our global MB Confessions of Faith. Today, we face challenges to our theology and ethics from without and from within. Just as the apostles and elders of the Early Church gathered together in Jerusalem to discern theology and missiology (Acts 15), we too will need to face together similar challenges that come our way.

H is for household of God.

I believe in the Church. And I believe the Bible teaches that Church and mission belong together, even when specialized mission teams are sent out from churches (Acts 13). Over the years, Marty and I have often said that if we were to do our mission journey again, we would do it with the same agency, mostly because it is a church-based agency. We were sent to carry out a mission by the Church, through the Church, and unto the Church. We knew that we would gather new believers into our own local church. We knew that the new churches we planted would be gathered into a known and trusted family of churches. And now in my volunteer role as Equipping Coordinator for the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), I know where to direct emerging networks of churches that are looking for a global family. Again, our mission under God is clear: we are to make disciples and plant churches.

E is for the eleventh hour.

I refer here to the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20). One application of this parable is that the missional workers from the global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America) are called into the Lord’s harvest at a later hour in the modern era. However, they are just as needed, as valuable, and worthy of reward as workers from the global North (Western countries) that have dominated the mission enterprise since the eighteenth century. Today, almost half of long-term missionaries are from the global South. I have seen this shift happen, including excellent workers sent from our beloved Brazil, and I am grateful for it. Here too, from the West and from the rest, we must harvest together.

R is for reaching nations.

As MBs, our first foreign mission field was India (1889). India is one country that is made up of thousands of distinct nations! The word for “nations” in the Great Commission is ethne, which refers to ethnic/linguistic people groups. Therefore, we are not simply reaching out to geo-political countries, but to people groups. The task seems enormous, yet we are reassured that it is God’s mission, and he will accomplish it. As Abraham’s spiritual offspring, let us remember we are blessed to be a blessing to the nations—these people groups near and far. Have faith and take courage that one day we will be gathered together before the throne, and together with an uncountable multitude of nations crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God” (Revelation 7:9-10).

As Marty and I conclude this phase of our mission journey, I am filled with hope for Multiply and for the global family of churches with which Multiply partners. I pray that we stay focused on our mission and faithful in our calling to togetherness.

Vic served as Interim General Director of Multiply until August 2022, when he retired from full-time service. He and Marty will continue to live in Abbotsford, British Columbia as Vic serves in a volunteer role with ICOMB.

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