The blessing of Abraham’s children

A theology of service

Mission Focus 19:4 (December 1991): 52-55.

In January 1986 Samuel Escobar, an evangelical leader from South America, was guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Mennonite Central Committee, the main North American Mennonite agency for relief, development and global education. After listening to a lengthy discussion of how MCC workers witness to their faith, and whether MCC should make church planting an explicit part of its program, Escobar expressed surprise. After all, he said, observers from other churches often looked to Mennonites as a model of “integrating word and deed.”

The Mennonite record of committing human and financial resources to various forms of “service” draws envy from many church administrators in both evangelical and ecumenical circles. Yet our theology of service is not always in step with our engagement in the world’s situations of poverty, crisis, war, and human need.

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