Many missionaries work in contexts that can be difficult for North Americans to understand. Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Winnipeg, Man., recently helped to address this reality by hosting a meal for World Renew field staff Zachary and Robin Entz and about 180 guests. During the event, attendees enjoyed a West African dinner and learned about life in that region, the Fulani people, and how World Renew is involved there.
“The most-asked question in past (visits to North America) has been, ‘What is a typical day like?’ followed by, ‘What food do you eat?’” Robin said. “Most churches invite us to speak for five or 10 minutes—not enough to fully engage with what people are most interested in.”
To meet this need, the Entz family set up a collection of West African artifacts in Covenant CRC’s Fellowship Hall. They also provided stories and interactive games to give attendees an idea of what life is like for the Fulani, a people group that has been particularly affected by ongoing conflict in West Africa. For dinner, attendees were treated to West African entrees: jollof rice and beef sauce served with bissap (hibiscus) juice.
“We heard from the Entzes about the conflict and how they are working to bring peace and the gospel amidst that,” said David VanderWindt, a donor relations manager for World Renew who attended the event. “They passionately want to be a part of what God is doing, even if that means significant struggles and potential safety concerns.”
One initiative that the Entzes talked about involves community library boxes that allow people to pursue education even when World Renew staff can’t visit due to the conflict. In fact, their work in recent years has involved a lot of peacebuilding and justice, or “PB&J.”
Zachary used the analogy of a PB&J sandwich to explain his work to the event attendees. Bread is like the provision of basic needs: World Renew has built wells and provided emergency relief supplies. The peanut butter is like glue that holds society together: World Renew’s translation of key documents into local languages has helped spread truth to community members. The jam is for justice: World Renew has helped with mediation between Fulani herders and other farmer groups over land disputes.
Ray VanderZaag is a professor at Canadian Mennonite University and a former World Renew field staffer. He appreciated the event "because it included interactive, hands-on learning opportunities that were appropriate for diverse age groups, was church/community oriented, and had a fun way of raising financial support.”
Through admission fees, a freewill offering, and a silent auction, the event raised a total of $7,100.