Reading old Newspapers can often be an exciting experience. Especially in small town newspapers many editors were quite blunt and do the point. Sometimes this makes for rather humorous descriptions of the rough and tumble life of early white frontier settlers. Other times, their bluntness cut straight to the heart of an issue, convicting not only the readers of old but those who still gaze upon the articles today. Recently I found such an article.
On May 18, 1888 the Harper Daily Sentinel in Harper, Ks published an op-ed piece about one of the Asian workmen who had left Harper to go back home. While the wording grates on modern sensibilities, especially in the final sentence, the point comes across loud and clear.
1888 also happened to be the year that our church, Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church, was formed. While I would say that the Mennonites have had some significant positive impact on our community, it is also still unfortunate that this article is just as applicable to our community as it was 125 years ago. While the ethnic group in question has changed overtime, the core response of Christians those in our community who are “different” than we are seems to have changed very little.
For that matter it seems as though this article could also be written about our entire denomination. Yes, there is a sweeping change in our understanding of what mission work is and where it happens, but that change has yet to permeate every person in our pews. Perhaps the bright spot is that things really are shifting. With the help of people like Alan and Eleanor Kreider we are re-thinking mission in a post-Christendom world. We are changing the question from “How do we take Jesus to ‘those’ people over there” to “Where is God at work in this world and how can we get involved with that”.
I will continue to hold on to hope that things are changing. In the mean time, however, articles like this continue to convict me that things have not changed enough and that there is still a lot of work to be done.