Israel 2016 – Part 11
March 20, 2016

More about the conference Christ at the Checkpoint 4, with its sub-title “The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism.”

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a relief, service, community development and peace agency of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches, has an office in East Jerusalem, so the MCC staff sponsored a luncheon for all Mennonite and Brethren in Christ persons attending the conference.

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Then on the day after the conference I went to the MCC Jerusalem Office, which rents a few rooms from the Lutheran World Federation Building.

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From the veranda you look south along the Mount of Olives and see the tower of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension. There are also several other ascension churches along the ridge.

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And when you look southwest, you see the Dome of the Rock in the Old City.

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Anna Johnson, from Iowa, the Connecting Peoples Coordinator, met with me and explained the work of MCC Jerusalem.

The office began in 1949 as a response to the refugee crisis that followed the establishment of the State of Israel. Now the office works with 16 partner groups, providing grants for work in agriculture and water. Water supply is a crucial need in the West Bank. Sadly, sometimes the government of Israel opposes the efforts to restore a good water supply to Palestinians.

Increasingly, MCC works with advocacy for justice, for instance, advocating in Washington, D.C., for conditional financial aid to Israel. At the present the US gives almost $5 billion a year to Israel with no conditions, so the money may go to projects that do not foster justice and reconciliation with Palestinian people.

Discipleship Group
April 17, 2013

Global worker Steve Newcomer says that one of the gratifying parts of his ministry is the discipleship group he leads every Sunday afternoon for about 25 pastors and lay leaders, some of them Brethren in Christ and others from a variety of other churches. The group meets at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) center in Beira (Mozambique).

The approach of the group is to do direct study of the Bible, especially inductive study, a method in which you let the Bible speak for itself instead of imposing your own assumptions on the text. You ask questions such as who, what, how and why? You study the original intent of the author and the meaning for the first listeners or readers. Then, at last, you consider how this might apply to us today, and what God is saying to us through this Scripture.

I went with Steve to the group on Sunday evening, April 14. This week there were 17 participants, 15 men and two women.

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On the wall of the MCC meeting room is an unusual item. A descriptive paper explains: This saxophone was created from former weapons by artisans in the Turning Weapons into Ploughshares Program (TAE in Portuguese). This program is coordinated by the Christian Council of Mozambique, which is MCC Mozambique’s longest-running partnership. MCC encourages the message of peace and hope which is central to TAE’s vision.

The Brethren in Christ Church is a member of MCC.

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In my Mozambique blogs I have often spoken about missionaries Steve and Chris Newcomer. At last I got a photo of them.

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The city of Beira is on the Indian Ocean, so I conclude with these beach scenes. Our churches hold baptisms at the beach. And Steve enjoys exploring the sand bar at low tide (the last photo above).

Thanks for following us around Mozambique.