Celebrate 2015! Recap
By Ellynne Wiebe
Celebrate 2015! This is My Story, the first national gathering of “boomers” and “builders” hosted by MB Foundation, was held on October 2-4, 2015 in Overland Park KS. The weekend offered challenging messages, classic worship, timely workshops, and plenty of time to renew old friendships and begin new relationships.
“The purpose of the weekend was to provide a safe place for people to celebrate God’s story, consider their own story, and find ways to finish those stories well,” said, Jon Wiebe, President and CEO of MB Foundation.
172 individuals representing 38 congregations traveled from Canada and 10 states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and South Dakota.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Don Argue, a former president of National Association of Evangelicals. Through biblical observations and poignant stories, Dr. Argue told of what God has done and continues to do in the lives of people around the world, including international leaders and personal family members. Dr. Argue shared of the amazing things God is doing around the world in places like China, Korea, India, and sub-Saharan Africa, where people are coming to know Christ in amazing numbers. Through his teachings, Dr. Argue encouraged attenders to continue to be part of God’s story, and to realize that there is still much they can to do tell their story of faith to those around them. Don challenged attendees to watch for the “surprises of Jesus”!
One attender, Kathleen Wieting of Huron SD, shared, “He’s a good teacher. He really inspired you to keep on. As you get older, it helps to hear that.” Edna Janzen, of Independence KS, agreed. “The speaker was right on for us,” she said. Gaylord Goertzen from Hillsboro KS noted, “Don’s message was the highlight of the evening, it really spoke to me. His point about us working in cooperation with God; we cannot do miracles, but we can do our part. That is how it has been in my ministry.”
In keeping with the theme, “This is My Story”, several individuals shared their stories of how God had moved in their lives recently. Don Morris, USMB Executive Director, and his wife, Janna, shared the story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult struggles in their families’ life.
Linda Rous, from Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church, shared the story of starting a ministry called Moccasin Children while in her mid-60’s. She initially resisted God’s call, but then found peace and contentment through obedience. Linda says, “I’ve never experienced anything like serving my Lord and Creator. I get to work with and serve the Living God of the universe!” Linda encouraged attenders to trust God to know their gifts, and be willing to serve him wherever he may lead, even at this stage of life.
Pat Argue, wife of speaker Don Argue, shared her story of significant health issues, leading to major surgery and recovery. Through it all, Mrs. Argue knew that God was touching both her heart and her mind to see her through the challenge.
Another highlight at Celebrate 2015! was worshipping through song. David Martens, Director of Contemporary Christian Music at Tabor College, led a time of singing hymns and choruses with the help of accompanist Jenny Epp. In reflecting on this time, Connie Isaac, of Hillsboro KS stated, “It was like we were a large heavenly choir singing words of deep commitment to our Heavenly Father.”
Four breakout sessions were offered on Saturday morning. Presenters included Larry Nikkel, Wichita KS, who spoke on living life in the fourth quarter; Winnie Bartel, Shafter CA, addressed the faith legacy we can leave to our children and grandchildren; Jon Wiebe, MB Foundation CEO, encouraged workshop attenders to learn to tell their money stories; and David Wiebe, Executive Director of ICOMB, focused on how to see God at work in your life and leave a wonderful legacy.
Friday evening, the musical group, “The Ball Brothers” presented a concert filled with laughter, tight four-part harmony and inspiration. Saturday evening, comedian Kenn Kington had the crowd laughing and crying as he helped them reflect on the humorous, and sobering, aspects of our Story.
Throughout the weekend, attenders had many opportunities to meet new people and renew old friendships. Tim Schmidt, Corn OK, remarked, “It’s been an awesome weekend, meeting new people, visiting and telling our stories. It’s going to be hard to go to work Monday morning!” Others, including John and Caryl Wiebe, saw old friends they hadn’t seen in over 40 years.
According to Connie Isaac of Hillsboro KS, “It was almost 48 hours packed with inspiration and fellowship! Getting together with brothers and sisters from across the U.S. who are walking through our same stage in life made for instant camaraderie as we enjoyed delicious meals together or struck up conversations using our name tags to help us remember people and places.”
“Jon and the MB Foundation staff are to be congratulated. They have done a marvelous job,” said Dr. Argue in expressing his appreciation for MB Foundation’s role in hosting the weekend.
Harold Loewen of Yale SD said, “Thank you (MB Foundation) for using your ministry success and growth to live out your objectives and serve this constituency.”
Celebrate 2015! was brought to a conclusion Sunday morning, with a time of sharing and communion, led by Pastor Dennis Fast of Reedley MB Church. One participant, Esther Wiebe, Hillsboro KS, shared with the group, “As old as I am, the Lord is renewing me from within. Through these meetings, I have relearned that there is much to do, and I pray that the Lord will continue to use me.” Lud Hohm, Yale SD agreed: “No matter how old we are, we have plenty to do.”
In reflecting on their time at Celebrate 2015, Jane Schmidt, Corn OK, shared, “Tim and I have been so blessed by this weekend. We have been enriched greatly and will share our story of the weekend along with intentionally building our personal lives. The communication and organization as well as worship and enrichment has been awesome.”
Gratitude was expressed to the volunteer Advisory Planning Team which consisted of Jack & Laverna Braun (Hillsboro KS), Erwin & Winnie Bartel (Shafter CA), Dale & Eleanor Boese (Salem OR), Bob & Lynette Ewert (Bingham Lake MN), Dean & Loretta Jost (Aurora NE) and Marvin & Tips Just (Reedley CA). Winnie summed up the weekend by saying, “God showed up big time and told HIS STORY anointing us with fresh power!”
“I am blown away by the response from those who attended. We had high hopes for this weekend, but the gratitude and appreciation expressed by those who came, was more than anticipated. We are honored to serve this generation,” says Jon C. Wiebe, President & CEO of MB Foundation.
** Pictures and additional information about the event may be found by visiting www.mbfoundation.com/celebrate2015.