CBM Responding Issue 7

I S S U E 0 7 | Summer 2022

Photo of Gordon Brew in duotone

Summer is a busy time for us as we complete campaigns that will roll out in the fall and winter seasons. Yet, each of us will find an opportunity to close down our computers and set aside work for planned summer vacations. What are your plans for the summer? Whether on a plane or on a dock, summer provides the time and space for reading. Here are some suggestions from my CBM colleagues for what books to pack in your bag this summer.

Holly Ho, Team Lead, Finance & Accounting

Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Bruggemann

The author and the title drew me to this book, and I thought it might help me with emerging from the pandemic in my stage of life and circumstances. I realize I’ve lost the concept of intentional rest. I would recommend this book for its refreshing perspective on what sabbath means.

Kylah Lohnes, Program Officer

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall-Kimmerer

I am reading this book for the second time this summer! I was initially drawn to it because it brings together two themes that I care a lot about: creation and Indigenous rights. The first time I “read” this book, I actually listened to it as an audiobook on my commutes through Toronto. Robin’s voice is so soothing and powerful and the stories were exactly what I needed to move my mind beyond the concrete jungle of the city and out into the fields, forests and waterways of the wider world. I would definitely recommend this book because it can spark really good ideas and practices around connecting with creation and learning from Indigenous people. It’s an invitation to really notice and fall in love with creation, and to do so through the eyes of those first trusted by God to care for this beautifully diverse landscape. 

Gato Munyamasoko, Peace and Reconciliation Specialist

This summer I am allowing Dr. Paul Stevens to be my teacher as I am reading Doing God’s Business – Meaning and Motivation for the Marketplace. This is my third book on the topic of marketplace ministries and it is the subject that has been filling my head for a while now.

Jessica Banninga, Communications and Social Media Specialist

21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act by Bob Joseph

I was drawn to this book because I think that as a Canadian settler, it is really important for us to know our history, even the parts that make us cringe, shake our fists and weep. I believe that we should not turn a blind eye to these laws that in fact, still govern and oppress Indigenous Peoples residing on Turtle Island (North America). If we want to walk in a good way with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we must acknowledge the past and fight for a just future where we celebrate each unique culture, rather than trying to bury it. This book is great because it is shaped in a way that makes the Indian Act easier to read, understand and digest. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to begin or continue the long journey of reconciliation.

Wherever you find yourself this summer, it is our hope that you find the time to renew and recharge.

According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 6.2 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 3.3 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 924,000 in Romania, more than 610,000 in Hungary and more than 464,000 in Moldova. Inside Ukraine, roughly 7.7 million people are internally displaced as a result of the conflict, which is equivalent to 17.5 per cent of the entire population.

The Ukrainian Baptist Union Coordination Centre continues to distribute aid across Ukraine. As of May 20th, they have sent out at least 320 vehicles filled with humanitarian supplies from their warehouse. Churches inside Ukraine continue delivering food, medicine and other necessities to those in need, some of whom are still sheltering in basements.

The Donetsk and Luhansk regions continue to experience heavy shelling. Local churches continue to provide aid and are helping to evacuate those wishing to leave. About 60,000 people remain in the free Luhansk region and are in need of humanitarian goods. A team of volunteers from a local church have been serving those by helping refugees leave, bringing medicine and food, and visiting basements and bomb shelters. Because of the heavy shelling, the city of Lysychansk has no electricity or water supply.

On Easter Day, church services were held across Ukraine, with many non-Christians attending. In the Chernihiv region alone, 25 people gave their life to Jesus during the Easter celebrations.

In Irpin, a local church is housing a team of up to 70 volunteers. The team repairs damaged homes, delivers hot food to the armed forces, and welcomes people into the church to wash their clothes, charge their phones and receive food and clothing. Pastors and deacons are on hand to provide pastoral care.

As well as responding to the needs created by the conflict, congregations such as the Church of the Resurrection in the Odessa region continue to provide practical support to blind people and run rehabilitation centres for people struggling with drug addiction.

The Baptist Union in Moldova is operating four refugee shelters with space for over 700 people per day. Two of those centres are being run at camps, housing 400 people per day with the support of 75 volunteers. Refugees are also volunteering in the centres, including a refugee who is a trained chef and is helping to prepare meals.

Immediately after the conflict broke out in Ukraine, 50% of churches in the Polish Baptist Union cancelled all their meetings and opened their doors as shelters for Ukrainian refugees. The shelters in churches and seminaries are providing hot drinks and meals, personal hygiene supplies and beds to approximately 1,600 people per day. The union is also helping to transport some goods across the border into Ukraine to support those internally displaced by the conflict.

In Romania, our Partner, All4Aid continues to respond to the refugee crisis in a multitude of ways. In April, All4Aid completed the setup of their third and largest housing unit in Bucharest: The House of Hope. Following their principle of working with refugees, and not only for refugees, they have invited the Ukrainians staying at the other All4Aid houses to come and help. They gladly assembled beds, fixed curtains and did many other jobs to help make House of Hope a beautiful and comfortable place for the new Ukrainian refugees who are now living there.

With several rooms spread over more than 250 square metres of living space, the House of Hope is able to comfortably accommodate 40 refugees, the vast majority of whom are women and children. The house offers bedrooms with proper beds and bedding, a good number of bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room, as well as a common area/living room. In the area outside, there is even a playground for the children.

In addition to housing refugees, the team makes trips from Romania across the border into Ukraine with food and hygiene supplies. All the food and supplies are handed over to partners on the ground where help is most needed. They are primarily two local churches which are acting as distribution centres for the community around them.

GIVE NOW

CBM’s immediate and near-term goals are to reach as many people as possible and relieve the needs of those suffering. More projects are already being planned to sustain and scale these efforts. We will remain committed to this work and will not waver in doing all we can to empower these local churches to live out the gospel in full during this time of crisis.

These are the days that future generations will know as history. In the uncertainty of this time, we must continue to live and be a witness to God’s loving embrace for the wounded and the weary. Please keep praying for peace and the shared work that we are empowered to do through your generosity.

Laura serves alongside the Africa team, contributing to CBM’s overall ministry in the areas of family ministries, social support for vulnerable children, gender equity and empowering women.

For the past two years, Laura worked as a project officer with African Christian Church and Schools, our local partner in Kenya. In this position, she worked in the areas of Children’s education support and scholarships, and she provided support for CBM’s SENT trips when teams visited projects in the area. Previously, she worked with CBM under our Africa subsidiary Wordeed Inc.

Laura holds a graduate diploma in Community Development and Social Work and is in the process of completing a post-graduate diploma in Sociology and Social Work. She has also completed certificate courses in Gender and Human Rights, Gender-Based Violence, Entrepreneurship and Business Creation, Community Leadership Training and the Formation and Functions of Self-Help Groups.
Laura lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her husband and children. She loves to travel and spend quality time with her family. Her favourite food is pilau (spiced rice) and biryani.

INTERVIEW

Q: How did you navigate the decision to work for CBM as Global Field Staff?

My decision to work for CBM came about because of my experience working with CBM previously. Working with Aaron and Erica Kenny, former Field Staff in Africa, helped me understand how Integral Mission works and how word and deed go hand in hand in spreading the gospel. This experience also allowed me to grow in my love of Christ and helped me develop my love of working with people of diverse cultures and origins. CBM also encourages working closely with one another and being mindful of each other’s welfare: socially, spiritually, physically and mentally.

Q: What is one thing God has been revealing to you through your work?

Over the past couple of months, God has been revealing to me the need to set right my relationships; with those around me, those close to me, in my family, my neighbourhood, my church and those I work closely with. God has constantly been reminding me that charity begins at home. I am also learning that I should strive to make those around me feel important, worthy, loved, and appreciated. Through my work in Kenya, I have worked with Muslim communities as well as Christian/ Kenyan communities. This has taught me to appreciate the diversity in our cultures, religion, and demographic differences and appreciate all that each person brings to the table. This is a holistic mindset in terms of appreciating each other’s religion and culture and how we work well together in making our communities thrive.

Watch Now

Watch an introductory video of Laura Muema. 

Prayer Points

Pray for good working relationships with the different Church Partners that we have across Africa and beyond.

Pray that God will provide me with leadership, protection, and guidance as I work with SENT teams in the future.

Pray that God will continue to protect and bless my spouse and children as we support each other in the work that God leads us to do.

  Learn More about Laura Muema

Are you interested in joining CBM as Global Field Staff?

Are there other people you know who might?

If you are passionate about how God’s love transforms people’s lives, and want to join our team, contact Member Care: membercare@cbmin.org OR call 905.821.3533. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you.

For more details, visit cbmin.org/job-opportunities

If you are like me, you sometimes need to just make words up, combining two or more common words. They might look a bit strange, but they somehow just seem to fit together rather nicely. So here is one:

adventure: an unusual and exciting experience or activity.

venture: an uncertain or daring journey or undertaking.

Venn diagram: common elements of the sets being represented by the areas of overlap among the circles.

=VENNTURE 

Before I explain what this word means, let me take you on an “advennture” to Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, to witness one of the most innovative ministries I have ever encountered. The Kale Heywet Church, with 10,000 churches and 10 million members is Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denomination. Pastor Yoseph Bekele was a youth pastor and owned several businesses. In 2017, Yoseph was appointed to be the Director of business and discipleship for the Kale Heywet Church. When he started, Yoseph shared that businesspeople were considered “sinful people” in his context. There was no understanding of a Christian or biblical perspective on work. His challenge was to help the church membership to understand whole-life discipleship, including worship and work as critical for Ethiopian Christians.

In three years, Yoseph and his team of trainers have reached nine of the eleven regions of Ethiopia with the message of faith and work. His teams of trainers help pastors and church leaders understand the call of the local church to equip all of God’s people for the work of the ministry from Monday to Saturday. They believe that every church should have a workplace ministry, just as they have a youth and women’s ministry. 

As part of the training, everyone learns the three Great Directives. The Great Commission’s (Matt. 28:18-20) outcome is proclamation.  Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, beginning in Jerusalem and reaching the whole world.  The Great Commandment’s (Mark 12:30-31) outcome is relational.  Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is about loving God whole-heartedly and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  But the outcomes of the Great Commitment (Gen. 2:5), which are to fill the earth and steward it, are economic and ecological.  

Today, God is raising up a movement of Christians in Ethiopia who see all of life as an opportunity to live out their calling of discipleship – at home, at school, and at work.  

Our travels could take us to other far-reaching corners of the globe, where we could meet passionate Christ-followers who are demonstrating that faith and work are not separate boxes in life but converge together in acts of faithful service. In the Philippines and China, India, South Sudan, Lebanon, Bolivia, Cuba and throughout Latin America, these folks are a living testimony that church on Sunday (typically) is actually a place where God’s people can be equipped and enabled to be salt and light in the world for the other six days of the week.

So back to my word VENNTURE:

Many of our readers know what a Venn diagram is: two-overlapping shapes that demonstrate the logical relationship between two or more sets of ideas. It was named after a British mathematician, John Venn, in 1880, who was trying to help people understand how seemingly opposing concepts can actually be closely linked together. So a simple version could look like this:

Now hold that thought for a minute and let’s share what God has been showing us here at CBM.  For many years, we have seen the phenomenal impact that ‘ordinary church-goers’ were having on helping shape local communities, often through their daily work. They were teachers and health-care workers,  government employees, tradespeople, truckers and farmers, business-people, merchants, and day-labourers. They understood that God had called them to live out their faith in and through their work. And they innately knew that they were Christ’s disciples in the marketplace.  

But conversely, too often the church-leaders, usually pastors and evangelists, were sending a confusing message that God’s work was what was being done in the church; singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, being a deacon, serving on a committee, or sometimes, just being a means of generating income for what they understood to be God’s work (i.e., in the church).  These people felt like they were second-class citizens in the kingdom, sometimes denigrated for choosing what was labelled as ‘secular work’ vs the spiritual work of the church.

With our partners around the world, we are developing a whole new focus, called VENNTURE, which seeks to help show the marvelous convergence of faith and work. As our new VENNTURE logo shows, we see that discipleship is the great integrator, the very heart of life as God’s people. It is where faith meets work and equips people with useful resources to live out their faith every single day of the week.

Our strategy is quite straightforward:  

1. FORMATION: Through teaching, training, coaching and mentoring, we will help equip the whole people of God to participate in God’s work and to bring about transformation.

2. CREATION: Vennture works within a partner network and in a spirit of mutuality, to assist in the creation of transformational businesses that lead to human flourishing and provide meaningful work for individuals.

3. MOBILIZATION: Vennture is building networks in order to mobilize God’s people to see their work as mission and accept their role to help heal a broken world through it.

In the next issue of CBM Responding, we will unwrap our FORMATION pillar and fill you in on how this is developing internationally and in Canada, as well as share opportunities for you to grow in your understanding of faith and work theology and the practice of whole-life discipleship.

In the coming months, you will be able to learn more about VENNTURE. We have a website, social media feeds, articles, courses, and sermon resources underway. We are excited to launch this important new work on behalf of CBM and our partners locally and around the world.

Our Website & Social Media

Our website will be a rich source of information on our partners, projects, and ministry staff. Be sure also to like our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram, and connect with us on LinkedIn for important updates throughout the week.

Email

Our monthly e-newsletter IN THE LOOP will provide you with curated content that will expand your knowledge and reshape your ideas of faith and work. More details and links for the resources will arrive in your inbox in the coming weeks so sign up!

Image of Build Your Own Sunday Logo

This service resource package will help you unpack a theology of faith and work, and help you understand how you can join God’s mission and live out your faith, seven days a week.

Save the Date:
Sunday, September 4, 2022

As we look towards Canada’s second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, CBM wants to offer resources, articles, songs and the space to reflect as we prepare our hearts and minds for a time of listening and lament on September 30, 2022.

A few years ago, CBM was blessed to have Cheryl Bear join our team as an Indigenous Relations Specialist. During her time with CBM, she helped us curate and produce the print magazine, Walking Together in a Good Way. We are pleased to announce that this resource is now available online. It features articles, stories and songs from Cheryl Bear, Terry LeBlanc, Mark Buchanan, Steve Bell and Danny Zacharias. We hope you will take the time to sit with these resources and take up the invitation to mend relationships.

Resources

National Day for Truth and Reconcilation

Our denominational family will gather for a national online service of Remembrance and Reflection. Together as a family of faith, we will listen and lament as we face the past. We will also renew our commitments to our brighter, shared future.

Join us as we seek to walk together in a good way with Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

For more details visit:

cbmin.org/nationalday/

Food. We all need it – yet around 768 million people in the world experience hunger. At the start of the year, CBM invited Canadian Baptists to feed the hungry through a matching grant opportunity. We asked for you to join us in giving hope to the hungry in places like South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and Lebanon.

Through your generosity, just under $125,000 was raised to feed the most vulnerable in Jesus’ name, and to offer opportunities for people to thrive, not just survive. 

Your financial assistance is already at work through our partners. Here are three stories of the impact you make when your respond to our appeals for support.

In the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CBM is working in the South Kivu Province. The goals of this project include increased soil fertility, an increased number of farmers with access to high quality seeds, cuttings and improved seedlings, increased food production and consumption, and an increased percentage of farmers with access to loans and the food market. 

Through this project, participants were trained on conservation agriculture practices such as soil protection through mulching and planting trees to protect the environment. Village Savings and Loan Associations were created, and farmers were able to buy animals for breeding, consumption, and generating manure. Farmers also learned about the advantages of kitchen gardening, along with growing techniques, and how to sell extra produce in the markets. 

Farmers like Mrs. Namwezi learned about the value of planting high-yielding crops. After receiving training, she uprooted her eucalyptus and sugarcane plants and planted vegetables such as tomatoes and cabbages and began growing them using the techniques she learned. She also joined the local village savings and loans group and is saving one dollar each week. After a year of saving, she was able to buy two pigs. She said, “I am so happy to be a part of this project because now I have a home garden and am eating two healthy and nutritional meals each day. The VSLA program has been a great help for me and with the money I am saving, I plan on upgrading my house.” 

“It is real, true and easy.” These are the words from Keziah Wangui, a project beneficiary farmer in KENYA who was asked about her views towards Conservation Agriculture Technology. “All it requires is the farmer’s commitment and the zeal to do it,” she said. 

Keziah, who is 56 years old, says that she has been farming for many years using conventional methods. Many seasons, she got very little or no harvest at all. “After working the land all season, the results were very frustrating.” This was the routine experience of farmers in the community. ACC&S identified that food security was a major problem in the area due to low crop yields, unreliable rainfall, poor farming practices, limited accessibility to certified seeds and declining soil fertility.

When Keziah was invited to attend the conservation agriculture workshops held by ACC&S, she started a trial on her land using the new techniques. “I started with ¼ an acre and now I have extended it to a whole acre.” 

As Keziah confirms, she has seen the benefits that soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and crop mixing have provided on her land. She says that covering the soil has benefitted in moisture retention and has increased the soil fertility while preventing soil erosion. Crop mixing and association has increased production, diversity and the nutritional value in her family. 

The food security project has provided a solution to the issue of food insecurity which has been a regular problem in the community. With a smile, Keziah shared that the economic status of her family has improved through the sale of surplus produce, and the money has greatly assisted in paying secondary school fees for her daughter. She added that she is saving for her daughter’s college fees as well. “This project brought a lot of hope to my family. May God bless the ACC&S.” 

LEBANON is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and hosts the highest number of refugees per capita. Lebanon continues to face multiple converging crises—severe financial instability, COVID-19, and the lingering impact of the August 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion—all of which have come on top of the Syrian refugee crisis and have contributed to high levels of food insecurity across the country. Since 2019, Lebanon’s economic crisis—considered by the World Bank as one of the worst global economic crises in the past 150 years—has resulted in massive unemployment, inflation, loss of purchasing power, and increased hunger. In July 2021, UNICEF estimated that 50 percent of the Lebanese population was living below the poverty line due to the country’s worsening economic crisis. According to the UN World Food Program, 9 in 10 Syrians in Lebanon are living in extreme poverty.

The Ukrainian crisis has already resulted in an increase in food prices across Lebanon. As of April 2022, the crisis had led to a 91% increase in the price of sunflower oil, a 70% increase in the price of sugar, and a 46% increase in the price of bread.

CBM, through our membership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is working with our on-the-ground partner MERATH to provide monthly food baskets for Syrian refugees living in Zahle. Refugees in the region continue to struggle to provide for their families, with many households eating less frequent meals, buying cheaper quality food items, skipping meals, and borrowing money and food from local shops. Often, parents are forced to withdraw their children from school and allow them to work outside the home.

Wafah is a 45-year-old mother who fled the war in Syria and has been living in Lebanon for more than five years. Four of her children attend the nearby school run by the local church. Each month, Wafah receives a food box from the church, along with diapers and other essential supplies. “Most Syrian refugees would prefer to feed their children and go without food themselves. I do this sometimes too. Every refugee here has had to make that decision and do what they can to feed their kids. I thank every organization and family that is trying to help. Without this ministry, we would go hungry, as the box has all I need to cook our food. My little baby needs milk and diapers and the church supplies this.”

Hunger and food security continue to be a widescale, growing global issue. CBM remains committed to fighting hunger for the long haul. Our long-standing membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of the very impactful relationships assisting us in this fight. As the prophet Isaiah declares, we honour God by “loosening the chains of injustice, sharing our food with the hungry, providing the poor with shelter, and clothing the naked.” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)

World Food Day is October 16!

Click the button below for church resources and opportunities to advocate for the hungry.

Resources

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2022-08-11T11:19:46-04:00

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