MCC lets storytellers take center stage

MCC lets storytellers take center stage
Dave Mast

Longtime MCC missionaries Dan and Jeanne Jantzi were part of the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale "Storytellers" show on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. The new format mixed stories of MCC and other interesting tales with live music.

                        

The Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale & Auction figured it was time to share the stories of what Mennonite Central Committee has done globally over the decades and thus created a storytelling format as part of the 99th annual auction held at the Wooster Fairgrounds Aug. 2-3.

Dan Jantzi helped to create the new format in hopes it would generate interest for a wider group of people while at the same time keeping it centralized to the fairgrounds, making it easier and more accessible.

“We have done speakers before, and we have done music before, but we had one group down in the coliseum and kind of all over the place, so this year we wanted to do something more to not only entertain, but to educate more about what MCC does while keeping everything centrally located,” he said.

Little did Jantzi know he and his wife Jeanne would be stepping in due to an unforeseen circumstance when the Congelse Choir from Akron, one of the performance groups along with Sweet Spirit, a local quartet of women and Swiss Shuffle, had to cancel at the last second.

The Jantzis joined MCC alumni Marlin Yoder and Marcus Yoder, executive director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center, under the big tent in a series MCC titled "The Storytellers.”

Each of the speakers shared stories connecting MCC with their experiences or simply stories that were pertinent to the causes shared by the many MCC facets.

“We believe in sharing God’s love with others, and through these storytellers we have a chance to learn more about that,” emcee Steve Steiner said while introducing the storytellers.

The Jantzis were coming off nearly three decades of service with MCC overseas in Thailand, the Philippines and other areas.

They shared about their time serving in Indonesia, feeling these types of stories about what MCC is doing are critical to pass along to the many people who support the organization.

“We wanted to share what MCC’s works overseas have done over time,” Jantzi said. “We hear all of these little slices, but we want to get more in-depth in connecting some of these slices.”

Marcus Yoder has been telling stories for a long time, honing his skills by learning how to share his passion for history. When asked to share at this year’s event, he jumped at the chance. He shared a young girl’s story and how history and the present intersect.

“History is meaningless unless it intersects with our culture today,” Marcus Yoder said. “It’s important to share these stories in ways that are interesting and connect with people. MCC has so many stories to share, and I love what they are doing. They take the body out into the world to share God’s love.”

Marlin Yoder has been heavily involved with MCC for decades. His stories are countless, and he said everyone involved with the organization has a story to share because they have committed to supporting the efforts through many different avenues, from building water systems to supplying food, canning meat, volunteering at thrift shops and more.

“Stories bring us together,” Marlin Yoder said. “Over 99 years we have created a reservoir of stories that can be told or retold. The sharing of these stories gives us an opportunity to practice sharing our faith.”

He encouraged people to visit the website at www.mcc.org/stories to read a number of stories that have blossomed out of what MCC has done.

Marlin Yoder said his passion for storytelling and for MCC developed in the 1950s when as a youngster he heard about mission stories from people who were returning from Europe who helped rebuild following World War II.

“Those people who shared became my heroes, and later I decided to go to Bolivia during the Vietnam War and serve through MCC,” Marlin Yoder said.

That experience led him to Honduras, then Mexico and later his time with MCC Great Lakes.

He shared about how MCC works, taking people back to Bolivia decades ago when MCC went from small village to small village sharing the gospel and working in whatever area was needed.

Now in its 99th year, MCC is on the cusp of celebrating a monumental landmark next year, which is why they felt it was good to begin sharing some of the ways the organization has touched the lives of many people on the global level.

Sarah Geiser, church relations associate for Ohio MCC Great Lakes, said the Ohio MCC auction and gathering was one that has become a huge part of MCC’s fundraising efforts.

She said part of their effort is to find ways to introduce MCC to young people including children. She said it is never too early to tell children about the important role MCC plays in the world and in communities in bringing people together.

“The goal is to gets kids interested and knowledgeable about what MCC is and hopefully to get them passionate about it so they become the next generation of those who give to MCC,” Geiser said.

While there were plenty of games and things to do for the kids, the adult portion of the weekend was geared toward giving and informing.

With three different auctions taking place, an artisan’s market, volleyball and cornhole tournaments, a huge book sale, and the My Coins Count program, there were multiple ways for people to get involved and give over the weekend.

“Community support is so crucial to our effort, and we have such a wonderful group of volunteers here for this weekend who make it possible,” Geiser said. “Many hands make for light work, and we have a lot of helping hands, many of whom have been involved with this event for a long time.”

For more information or to get involved with MCC or with the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale, visit www.ohiomccreliefsale.org or www.mcc.org.


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