by Phyllis Pellman Good, Mennonite World Conference
Mennonite World Conference is establishing a Prayer Network, recognizing the importance of prayer in preparation for its global assembly July 21-26 in Harrisburg, Pa.
“We are organizing an event which will bring people together from all over the world,” said Lynn Roth, MWC North America representative. “I believe it can happen only if it is bathed in prayer and is God’s doing.”
The first worry on everyone’s mind is obtaining visas.
“Our main concern is for young people,” he said. “But older persons from some of the countries where the largest Anabaptist churches are located — Ethiopia, Congo and India, for example — may have trouble, too.
“The American government’s concern for security, now more than ever, means that many of our sisters and brothers will likely be denied the possibility of worshiping and fellowshiping in this grand reunion.”
A visa task force is prepared to support registrants going through the visa process.
“We promised to do all in our power to work with U.S. government officials and embassies in those countries where this issue is especially difficult,” he said. “We believe that prayer is essential.”
A second concern is getting North American Anabaptists to see the assembly as a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
“Many of us will probably question whether we can set aside things in our daily lives long enough to travel to and attend the whole five and a half days of PA 2015,” Roth said. “We want to pray for ourselves, that we will learn the gift of hospitality of the heart and be willing to be transformed by the experience of hosting the global church.”
Inspired by Zimbabwe
The idea for a Prayer Network came from the Zimbabwean Brethren in Christ Church, which hosted the MWC assembly in 2003. In Zimbabwe, food and fuel were scarce, the economy was weak and the government unreliable. The Zimbabweans acknowledged all of this, stockpiling food and fuel months in advance. They also prayed.
Zimbabwean BIC member Ethel Sibanda led a Prayer Network. She also rallied people who weren’t attending the assembly but wanted to assure hospitality.
“We have learned from the Zimbabweans,” said Prayer Network coordinator Joanne Dietzel of Strasburg, Pa. “We invite everyone who believes in prayer and the global church to join the Prayer Network.”
All who sign up on the MWC website will receive emails sharing specific needs and giving thanks for blessings.
Jane Hoober Peifer, a member of the Prayer Network planning team, has launched an MWC Prayer Walk in Lancaster.
“ ‘Walking with God’ is the theme for PA 2015, so walking while praying seems like an appropriate discipline to practice,” Peifer said.
She hopes groups of walkers will form across North America and around the world. Ideas for forming an MWC Prayer Walk group will appear on MWC’s Prayer Network page, along with passages of Scripture and prayer requests.