Canadian Mennonite
Volume 11, No. 01
January 8, 2007


Testifying with God’s gifts to us

One of our pastors, Hugo Neufeld, wrote a book published just a few months ago called The North End Lives. It’s full of short stories from Hugo and Doreen’s three decades at Welcome Inn, an MC Eastern Canada congregation in inner-city Hamilton. I’d like to share one with you as a way of introducing one of this magazine’s focus areas for 2007.

The Neufelds got a call one evening from Pam and Jason, asking them to come over. Jason was near retirement, and had been laid off from his long-term factory job a few years before. Pam worked a variety of part-time, minimum wage jobs in the fast food industry. They had little to get by on and didn’t yet have pension and old age security cheques arriving.

The mysterious news was soon revealed. “Guess what?” Pam said. “We’ve received some inheritance money—$4,000! When the money arrived, we both immediately told ourselves, ‘Now we have something to give to the centre.’” That something was handed to Hugo and Doreen: an envelope with 13 $100 bills inside. The Neufelds protested that this was too much, almost a third of the badly needed money, much more than 10 percent. But that was their wish.

Hugo Neufeld recalled research he had carried out for a university class, in which he asked 10 people living on social assistance how things would change for them if they had an annual income of $50,000. Six out of 10 immediately talked about contributing to others, he reported. As one person put it, “I’d just help a lot of other people. I’d be able to help my church, my family and my friends.”

What Jason and Pam were doing, Neufeld wrote, “was claiming that original goodness, that initial inheritance, that comes from being designed in God’s image. I wondered what we could do with all that we inherit from our Creator if we were to take full ownership of that ‘estate.’”

As Christians, we are a called-out people, living by a different set of values and principles than the world teaches. One of the very important ways we do that is through the constant decisions each of us makes on what we do with our money: from daily spending to retirement investments to where our earthly resources go after we die. As Mike Strathdee writes in InConversation, money decisions affect our daily lives in deep ways. Our dollars often have longer arms than we do. “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are,” says James Frick.

I hope a series of articles we’ll be bringing you this year (starting with the examples of Herb and Shirley Schultz in UpClose) will help us live more faithfully in this area.

I also want to let you know about some of the other topics we are working on for 2007: growing leaders through Mennonite education; female spirituality; “high church” Mennonites; further reflections from Jack Suderman’s church visits; faith and the global economy; the church’s response to climate change; food and agriculture (following up on the 2002 “Peace with the Land” conference); peacemaking (from domestic violence to elder abuse to Afghanistan); the role of sport and church teams in church life; and how we connect our faith with our health and our body image.

I’d like to thank our Editorial Advisory Group for helping shape our editorial calendar and invite your suggestions for stories or people you think would be good to interview in connection with these ideas or others you have. Plus, we’ll continue to cover our church life together as it unfolds.

Blessings to all of you as we go together with God into 2007.

—Tim Miller Dyck

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