Missions taught 'from Asia for Asia'By Jewel Showalter Eastern Mennonite Missions
SEMARANG and JEPARA, Indonesia — Designed to build “cross-cultural mission foundations from Asia and for Asia,” the first Asian World Missions Institute met Feb. 3-18, hosted by Mennonite churches.
Despite delays and uncertainties from severe regional flooding, WMI drew 35 participants from six nations and instructors from four. Planners Yesaya Abdi, chair of PIPKA, the mission arm of the Muria Synod of Indonesia, and Glenn Kauffman, representative to Asia for Eastern Mennonite Missions, anchored the event, which met in three locations in central Java.
Richard Showalter, president of EMM, who taught history and strategies of mission, noted that participants forged deep relationships with each other and committed to walking together into the future as a community in mission.
“Our organizations are many,” said one, “but we are one body in mission.”
Showalter said the presence of the Holy Spirit was so palpable at the end of one session that no one wanted to leave for the usual break. The group gathered to pray that hundreds of missionaries would be commissioned from Indonesia to other parts of the world.
Participants traveled to Solo with David W. Shenk, global consultant with EMM, to witness the launching of the Indonesian translation of a book Shenk co-authored, A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue; to participate in a Muslim/Christian dialogue; and visit the local base camp of Hizbullah, a traditionally militant jihadist movement.
“It was a landmark event, highlighted with a Filipino bishop and a Hizbullah leader embracing each other and committing to mutual prayer for world peace,” Showalter said. “The bishop, who was a WMI student, said, ‘Until this event I had never before eaten with a Muslim.’ ”
The Asian WMI was loosely modeled on the annual three-week WMI sponsored by EMM as a prerequisite for all its long-term workers, but there were significant differences.
In contrast to the U.S. program, the Asian institute was multicultural and multilingual. Twenty-three of the 35 participants came from Indonesia, representing two Indonesian Anabaptist conferences. The twelve international participants hailed from Honduras, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Malaysia. Five of the participants were already focused on cross-cultural witness in China.
“There is a new vision and commitment growing for cross-cultural mission from Asia to Asia, and also from Asia to other parts of the world,” Kauffman said.
Some of the participants in the WMI are already deeply involved in cross-cultural mission, and others are on the way. It was especially exciting to have two participants all the way from Honduras – who are headed to China.”
Comment on the article Missions taught 'from Asia for Asia'
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.