The object of the classic game Connect 4 is to be the first player to connect four tokens in a line while preventing your opponent from doing the same. Players take turns dropping colored tokens into a suspended grid seven columns wide and six rows high. The disks fall straight down, filling the lowest available space within the column. It may look easy, but this is not simple stuff. Calculations show there are about 2 trillion moves that you can make on a Connect 4 rack to get four in a row.
Essays and news stories in this issue encourage us to connect with the global Christian church, specifically with Mennonite Brethren brothers and sisters living in one of 20 countries around the world and with immi-grants, many of them Christians, who have moved to the United States and are our neighbors.
Connecting cross-culturally isn’t always easy, and one of our goals in this issue is to do more than encourage connection and relationship. Experts, writers and panelists suggest specific things we can do to connect with the global Mennonite Brethren family and with newcomers to the U.S., including immigrants from DR Congo.
An experienced Connect 4 competitor knows the key to winning is to be the first player and to concentrate your play in the middle column. If you manage these two things, you can win every time. How do we “win” at connecting across cultures? By prioritizing relationships, say USMB leaders interviewed in this issue.
“For the Congolese, and probably with immigrants in general, the currency is relationships,” says Rick Eshbaugh, chair of the USMB Congolese Task Force. “They desperately need that connecting person to the culture that they can trust and ask questions.”
Bob Davis, ICOMB U.S. advocate, says something similar when talk-ing about connecting Mennonite Brethren national conferences. Partnerships tend to be task-oriented and short-term, Davis says, and end when the task has been completed. “Relationships are deeper and longer and more substantial than just the accomplishment of a task,” Davis says.
I hope you will be moved to act by what you read in this issue about the immigrant experience in general and specific opportunities for connecting with Congolese pastors and congregations. Contact USMB about supporting a Congolese pastor who is attending USMB Gathering 2022 or donate to the CORD program.
Does your community include immigrants? Step out of your comfort zone and connect with a newcomer. If your city is home to a college, find ways to connect with international students. You may not have 2 trillion options for connecting, but there are many ways you can connect with one of the 50.6 million people living in the United States and born in another country.
Connie Faber joined the magazine staff in 1994 and assumed the duties of editor in 2004. She has won awards from the Evangelical Press Association for her writing and editing. Faber is the co-author of Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, one son, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and one grandson. They are members of Ebenfeld MB Church in Hillsboro, Kansas.