Learning the aim of AIMM

Executive Minister Doug Klassen reflects on his time in Africa this past fall, with African Inter-Mennonite Mission.



With his picture on my phone, I roamed around the L departure wing of the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport in France. Before long, I walked up to someone who looked pretty close to the picture and said, “Hi, are you Rod Hollinger-Janzen by chance?” “Yes, I am” he replied.

We chatted for a little while and soon after met Steve Wiebe-Johnson of Mennonite Mission Network. Within an hour we were all on a plane to attend the Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission partnership council meetings in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

I had been to Burkina Faso once before, to preach at the wedding of a volunteer with Mennonite Central Committee’s International Volunteer Exchange Program who had attended my church, Foothills Mennonite, in Calgary. That was a celebratory time. Now, with terrorist activity in the Burkina Faso and the fact that government didn’t recommend Canadians enter the country, I was a little worried. But as soon as I was in the partnership council meetings, my worry subsided. I encountered the profound faith and hope of our Mennonite sisters and brothers in West Africa. Terrorist activity, government instability, systemic poverty and food security are just a few of the daily challenges they face, yet they abound in faith and hope for God’s future to be realized all over Africa.

AIMM is a network of church conferences, congregations, groups and individuals who come together as a global family under the lordship of Jesus Christ. The partnership council is an evangelical Anabaptist “family gathering” in which African, North American and European members work together to become an answer to Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Every year, leaders gather to pray together, to share what God is doing in their context and to seek ways that we can mutually support what God is calling us to do together.

I had a lot of questions going into these meetings. I wondered how AIMM relates to Mennonite World Conference. Do they compete? Is AIMM a subgroup of MWC? I learned that while MWC is primarily about global relationships, AIMM is geared to programming.

We spent much time talking about the vision each partner church has for living into its ministry. We talked about how donations from around the world are enhancing the lives of African people. We also discussed how African countries like Burkina Fasowhich have traditionally received mission workers, are now sending them out.

I learned about the profound effect literacy programs have in the lives of people, especially in DR Congo. These programs have grown churches all across that country.  In Burkina Faso, microloans programs are giving a leg-up to young entrepreneurs and farmers who need a little additional help to get started. I also learned about strong and vibrant women’s ministries in DR Congo that have led to women entering ministry and being ordained as pastors.

Mennonite Church Canada has been connected to the Congo for 100 years and we are now at a place where our relationship is mutually beneficial. We are not just equipping believers and churches on the ground there, but they are sharing their lives and their wisdom with us. It was so good to visit with our African brothers and sisters, to learn from them and listen for how Mennonite Church Canada can respond and come alongside the ministries that are already being nurtured.

 As I look ahead to where the Spirit is leading Mennonite Church Canada’s International Witness, I am convinced we are being nudged towards reconciling and growing our relationships with international ministry partners in ways that lead to mutual benefits for everyone involved. May the Spirit guide us as we continue to partner with AIMM and communicate our love and respect for each other.