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Missio Dei 2016 discusses “Refugees and the Mission of God”
by Isabella Selk
A long-standing tradition running for over 30 years, Missio Dei is a two day missions conference that takes place annually at Providence in February. Organized by students, staff, and faculty, the event is an important cultural occurrence for the Providence community.
The focus of the conference this year was “Refugees and the Mission of God”. Attendees were treated to presentations from a keynote speaker, workshops, an ethnic meal, and worship—all focused around the current refugee crisis.
Much of the two days was coordinated by Providence student Cody Turnbull and his Global Missions Committee. Turnbull explains that the topic of refugees is so prevalent in the world today that the committee decided it would be a great opportunity to discuss current events and the role that Christians play.
“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), this point in history is significant,” explains Turnbull. “There are double the amount of refugees worldwide in this refugee crisis than there were 10 years ago. The topic of refugees is at the forefront of many people’s minds, and we thought we could take the opportunity as Christians to talk about what this means.”
There were also a number of missions organizations present over the course of the two days, conversing with the community about various missions opportunities.
The conference kicked off on Thursday evening, with an ethnic meal followed by worship and prayer. Meal participants were split into five different “countries”, with a sixth group being displaced Syrian refugees, who needed to fill out paperwork before being assigned to one of the five countries in order to eat.
Friday morning the activities began with a presentation from a keynote speaker followed by three workshops that cycled throughout the morning as well as the afternoon, so attendees could attend more than one. The workshops and presentations were also open to the public.
This year’s keynote speaker was Brian Dyck, the Canada Migration and Resettlement Coordinator at MCC Canada. Previously, he was the Refugee Assistance Program Coordinator at the MCC Manitoba office. His work focuses on helping churches think about refugee sponsorship and issues surrounding forced displacement. The focus of the first keynote session was on scripture verses pertaining to refugees; the second session was the Christian response to refugees.
Workshops throughout the day included speakers Howard Moore, from Greater European Missions, Dallas Hiebert of Frontier Missions, and Eric Rempel, who has walked alongside a number of refugee families in Steinbach and shared how diverse the stories of refugee families can be.
“As a whole, I’m very pleased with the success of the events this year,” says Dr. Daryl Climenhaga, Associate Professor of Global Studies at Providence. “When all of the missions agencies work together to lift up the cause of missions, more people are on board with it overall and those who attend may make the commitment in the future to do missions work in some capacity. When there is interest in the Providence community, I see it as a success.”
The two-day conference concluded with an ethnic marketplace, where students, staff, and faculty could showcase their cultures for others to experience.
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