On a recent flight to Ottawa, I noticed Michaelle Jean, former Governor General of Canada boarding the plane. I had always admired her work. So, after pulling together every last shred of confidence I could find in me, I made my way to her seat mid flight.
After seeking permission from her Aide to speak with her I said; “Madame, I wanted to thank-you for your services as Governor General.” Then quickly handing the two my business card before I get escorted away I continued; “Your tenderness and sensitivity made us proud as Canadians.”
Ms. Jean looked at my card and began thanking me for the good work the Mennonites are doing in Haiti. “Some of your people have even learned how to speak Creole,” she said with deep appreciation. She extended her hand and I respectfully bowed my head in acknowledgement of her comments.
I returned to my seat and realized that this positive encounter was probably a product of the good work done by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Haiti. I was the recipient of their good testimony.
It also made me realize how inseparable we are as an Anabaptist community. Mennonite Church Canada is viewed positively because of the work of MCC. And MCC is dependent on the work of Mennonite Church Canada, our Area Churches and congregations. MCC depends on us to continue to develop disciples of faith who are compelled to live out their witness in such dedicated service to the disadvantaged.
As General Secretary I am fully aware of the corporate identity associated with my role. The General Secretary represents the collective community of Mennonite Church Canada. Because of this, I often receive affirmation that rightly belongs to the collective community. The affirmation is not a result of anything I have done, but is result of a positive experience produced by others.
Each one of us shares in this dynamic. In the communities in which we live each person represents the collective community. Every one of us represents what it means to be a Mennonite Christian. Every interaction reinforces or detracts from a positive impression of Mennonites and broader Christianity. Individual behaviour is almost always associated with the collective community. People experience Mennonites one interaction at a time.
The General Secretary is tasked to represent the collective community at national levels, but in a very practical sense, every individual in Mennonite Church Canada is the General Secretary for their community.
May all of our activity and witness, result in people extending a hand of deep gratitude and bring glory to God.