Burkina Faso seminars encourage spiritual renewalBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen Mennonite Mission Network
The Mennonite church in Burkina Faso is small, counting only 315 members, but participation in church events is large.
More than 100 Mennonite women, a third of the national church, had the time of their lives in Orodara during the second week of February.
The Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso (Mennonite Evangelical Church of Burkina Faso) annual women’s seminar combined adult continuing education, business training, spiritual renewal and fun, raising spiritual vitality and increasing the capacity to share the Good News.
At a couples seminar in August, nearly 80 men and women deepened their knowledge about marital relationships, the importance of communication between spouses, mutual forgiveness, child psychology and pedagogy, and resource management.
“This seminar was transformative for the church,” said Rod Hollinger-Janzen, executive coordinator for Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, who was in Burkina for administrative visits in October.
“Two months later, people were still so excited about what had happened when they put into practice what they learned at the seminar, they couldn’t stop talking about it.”
Siaka Traoré, national president of the Burkina Mennonite church, gave examples of Hollinger-Janzen’s observations. In one situation, church leaders were called to intervene in a disagreement between a father and his children.
“After attending the seminar, the father was able to talk to his children himself,” Traoré said. “They resolved the issues threatening to divide the family without outside mediation.”
Claire Traoré, president of the Burkina Faso Mennonite women’s association and wife of Siaka, said husbands and wives were talking together more and making time to pray together.
“Communication with each other and God really reduces problems in the home,” Claire Traoré said.
Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mennonite Mission Network’s director for Africa, said the Mennonite church in Burkina Faso is numerically small and dispersed throughout the country. Members often live side-by-side with Muslims.
“Mennonites in Burkina don’t have many occasions to be together and to support each other,” Wiebe-Johnson said. “The simple act of coming together for face-to-face time is a tremendous encouragement to the growth of the church spiritually and relationally, which will also impact its testimony in a rather harsh spiritual and economic environment.”
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