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The MCA Communiqué
July 20, 2022

In this issue

Our E3 Prayer and Prayer Updates
Urgent: Musicians needed for Gathering!
God has kept me alive for a purpose -- Doreen and Hugo Neufeld
Virtual We Declare now FREE!

And more from MC Canada, International Witness, our schools and Common Word. 
MCA Calendar
July 29 - August 1  We Declare: Gathering 2022, Edmonton
July 31 - August 4   Amplify: Youth Gathering, Camp Valaqua

E3 = MCA             Year 3  Christ in the World

Our E3 Prayer
Keep me from competing for your love, Lord, for in you, we all win.

For our Prayers
Pray for the staff of Mennonite Church Canada, the staff of Mennonite Church Alberta, and the many volunteers who have been planning and working toward Gathering 2022. Pray for health, energy, and continued enthusiasm as we experience being God's church together again!

Pray for the staff, volunteers and campers at Camp Valaqua as they begin another season of children's camps. Pray for health, safety,  and a sense of God's spirit under the tall, tall trees. 



Due to illness and thus a late cancellation, the worship committee for Gathering 2022 is searching for a drummer and a bass guitarist. If you or someone you know would like to play at Gathering 2022, email Suzanne Gross, suzannegross@netscape.net  or call/text (780) 700-4667.

God has kept me alive for a purpose

“Pray for me – If God wants to use me here, or if God wants to take me home.”
 
It’s November 10, 2021. These are the last words Paul Phomsouvanh’s wife, Vila, hears as Paul slips into a world of unconsciousness that will last for more than 40 days and 40 nights. Vila’s life slips into a world of severe testing of her strong steady faith. This is Paul’s last memory before waking up on Christmas Day.      
                                                                                  
“There’s no chance! There’s no medication that can help him,” are the doctor’s chilling words. For weeks the medical profession’s best resources have been used in an effort to save Paul’s life. Where is the hope in such a tragic progression of events?

Just over two weeks earlier, on October 24, 2021, Hugo is the worship leader at Trinity Mennonite Church, De Winton, Alberta (South Calgary). In the service Paul shares his excitement about the online Bible studies he has begun, with up to 150 people participating. These are Lao and Thai friends living in their home countries, plus many scattered around the world: Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, United States. Vila, supplements with online studies especially for women. For years this couple, who make Trinity Mennonite Church their home, travelled back to Thailand and Laos to work in what they call discipleship ministry, often relying primarily on their own financial resources.

One can only imagine the heart-wrenching time this is for Vila, who herself contracts a much lighter case of COVID during this time. Unable to communicate with her husband, who now remembers nothing of this comatose-time, her deep faith in God does not falter. “God, I won’t give up on you! Show me your grace!” she cries in her pain.

 The doctors soon present her with the bad news: “Paul has a severe case of COVID, together with the additional life-threatening complications of pneumonia and E Coli. His body is beginning to shut down.” They show her the X-Rays: “See his lungs, they are all blackened. Other crucial organs are damaged too. It’s only the ventilator that is keeping him alive. Even if he would survive, he would not be able to walk, his brain, his kidneys, his heart, and his liver would not be able to function.” All the doctors and the medical staff are courteous and professional. Yes, they will give her time to make the decision to take him off life-support.

Vila, in shock, but empowered, takes a picture of Paul and sends it to family and acquaintances, including her Laotian and Thai friends all over the world. As we view the photo of Paul’s pale and colourless face, showing not a hint of vitality, we can hardly keep ourselves from being overcome by a sense of hopelessness. People from all over the world are praying for a miracle. Eight thousand see the disheartening photo: there is a strong movement toward fervent prayer.

A few days later the doctors again lay out the reality. “Do you love him? How can you allow him to keep on suffering?” one doctor urges. Vila reminds the medical staff, “But the whole world is praying for a miracle! God will act!” Pastor Will Loewen from Trinity, who has been walking very closely with Vila through this crisis, supports Vila by cautioning the doctors to give her more time. They comply.

Vila is resigned to God’s will. Later she explains: “It’s like 2 sides of a coin. On the one hand, does God want to use Paul to continue his witness for God’s glory? On the other side, if God wants to take him home, it’s okay with me. I want to let people know that both sides of the coin are for God’s glory. “We can’t put God in a box. God is sovereign.”

For the 3rd time Vila is called in for consultation. The doctors try to convince her, “Your family doesn’t understand. Do you not see how he is suffering?” Again they ask Vila to give permission to remove life support. Villa’s witness is strong: “If God wants to take him, God will do it. If he wants to perform a miracle he will also do it. It’s up to God to decide; not humans. Villa prays, “You are sovereign Lord, show them a miracle.”

And the miracle begins to unfold: We are at church the day after Christmas when one of our Laotian friends, excitedly whispers to us, “Paul opened his eyes yesterday, just a wee bit.” We are skeptical, “What does this mean, if anything?” The next day the message is, “He moved his head.” With no visible signs of life for weeks, something is unquestionably happening.

The doctors are cautious: “There definitely is some serious organ damage.”  Vila’s faith remains strong: “If God is going to raise him up, God will do it in such a way that he can carry on his mission. Why would God raise him up for nothing?”

By the 3rd day staff are able to get him into a wheelchair and push him down the hall. He still cannot speak, eat, or drink. Everything has to be relearned. Gentle physiotherapy begins immediately. In one week he starts walking; in three weeks he is home. Tests show his lungs and liver are miraculously healing. Doctors call him “the miracle man.” At church we hear weekly progress reports until we finally meet God’s miracle man in person. We celebrate and give thanks to God.

Recently Paul has returned from what was to be a 2-week road trip, a “missionary journey” to BC to share his miraculous recovery. Interest in his story grows. It turns into a 4-week trip. He shares, “My spirit already went up when I was still in the coma. I heard the voice of God say, ‘My child, you have a lot of work to do!’” Vila adds, “I’m so happy! I could just jump up and down!” Paul and Vila strongly agree: regardless of what humans can do, the true power is in God’s hands. God is Sovereign!”
 
Doreen and Hugo Neufeld in conversation with Paul and Vila Phomsouvanh,
at their home in Okotoks, Alberta (just south of Calgary), July 6, 2022.
To share this story 



Virtual We Declare registration is now free!
Register now to take part in Gathering 2022, July 29 to Aug. 1! 

Due to a generous donor, registration for Virtual We Declare: what we have seen and heard is now free.
Register now to take part in our livestreamed worship sessions, participate in online workshops and connect online with both in-person and online Gathering 2022 participants: www.mennonitechurch.ca/gathering2022.  

Those who have already paid will be contacted regarding a refund. 

 

Gathering 2022 Report Book is now available 

Whether you’re a delegate or not, the Gathering 2022 Report Book gives an expansive view of who we are as a nationwide community of faith. Don’t miss out on reports from our nationwide ministries, organizational partners and what delegates will be discussing together about where we’re headed. Available now through CommonWord: https://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/82/25677



Mennonite Church Canada shares worship services again this summer 

Waterloo North Mennonite Church shares their worship service with us for this Sunday, July 24. The text is Exodus 17:1-7. The theme is “Come to the Water: Searching," from Leader magazine. The text is about Moses striking the rock and how water came out for the desperate Hebrews in the wilderness. This service will livestream at 10:00am EDT. Available at www.mennonitechurch.ca/worshipservices.

Summer Camp has begun!





Campers are (always) HUNGRY
and the Camp kitchen
nee
ds your help!
1-2 kitchen volunteers are still needed for next week.

Volunteer for a day, or two, or the whole week.
Bring a friend!

As they say, many hands make light work. Add your hands to Rudy's hands!

Contact Jon at (403) 637-2510 or director@campvalaqua.com


Hey! Change is a-coming to MCA’s Interfaith/Intercultural ministries!


A seed that was first planted and harvested in North Edmonton is about to be scattered across the province.

How will it bloom in your church and community?

Do you have a gift or a passion to help tend it? 



Watch for an official announcement
of a new position July 27!

 
Attending one of our post-secondary schools in fall 2022? Or, know a student who is?

An MCA Student Bursary helps covering tuition costs and shows our young adults that they are valued in our faith community.

Applications close JULY 31. Deadline firm!



Did you attend Bible School or Bible College and appreciate all that you learned there? Consider donating so that a young adult today can benefit from a similar experience!
Click to DONATE.
As with E3 Years One and Two, the E3 Reference group has created worship resources for Year Three for our MCA congregations.


NEW! Worship service options, Commitment Cards, and Bucket Lists,  posters and even a sermon are now available for download on our website. 

We celebrate those in our community gifted with the skills to create worship material to be used to bring our E3 vision to life.

All E3 Resources found HERE. 

.     

Summer Reading List 

Recommended titles for the lawn chair, hammock or beach blanket! - https://www.commonword.ca/go/3034  

  







Eco-spiritual resources 

Worship outlines and spiritual practices set outside in/with creation by Wendy Janzen, pastor at Burning Bush Forest Church in Kitchener, Ont., and Eco-Minister at MCEC – https://www.commonword.ca/go/3077


Visio Divina project 

  • Our Visio Divina Project is a collection of “scripture-photos” for personal and congregational use.  Print them, sit with them, distribute them.  Or project these images in your congregation’s worship.   

  • Please also consider contributing “scripture-photos” of your own. We will soon be posting materials from Linda Thiessen-Belch and Len Rempel, in addition to Ruth Boehm who inspired the collection.   

  • Please see the Guide, written by Ruth Boehm, for more information on how to use these materials and how to contribute your own – https://www.commonword.ca/go/2969.  Submissions can be made via this electronic form – https://www.commonword.ca/go/3032.  The Collection can be viewed here – https://www.commonword.ca/go/2970.   

Cheaper by the Dozen 

Bring CommonWord’s loan library to your congregation!  Receive 12 different titles for an extended loan period (6 weeks).  Circulate among congregational members before returning.  A free way to encourage reading and enhance your own library!  For more details see https://www.commonword.ca/go/2253.   


New from Mennonite Church Canada 

Walking Together: Intercultural Stories of Love and Acceptance by Edith and Neill von Gunten. Covering almost fifty years of peace and reconciliation work--from the Black-led civil rights struggles of the 1960s to decades-old relationships with Indigenous peoples on both sides of  

Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba--these stories draw similarities between familiar biblical concepts and Anishinaabe seven “A Way of Life Teachings.” Includes a study guide. 

Book Launch will be held in person and by livestream on Thursday, September 29, 7:00 PM (Central). 

Buy or borrow the book - https://www.commonword.ca/go/2987

Have a story to tell?  Feedback on the MCA Communiqué?
Email communications@mcab.ca
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