Our cloud of witnesses

EDITORIAL: Who is watching us run our race of faith?

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Photo: Rob Daly, Getty Images

This issue (Nov/Dec 2023) celebrates the faith of those who have gone before us. The opening feature article looks at Hebrews 11, which says in verses 1-2, “What then is faith? It is what gives assurance to our hopes; it is what gives us conviction about things we can’t see. It is what the men and women of old were famous for” (KNT).

The profiles following the opening article highlight Anabaptists and Mennonite Brethren who are famous for their faith—men and women whose courage and wisdom can inspire and encourage us. Thanks to the MB Historical Commission for permission to reprint four

Profiles in Mennonite Faith as part of this collection of biographies. Full versions of these profiles are on the MB Historical Commission website (https://mbhistory.org/profiles/). Profiles in Mennonite Faith is a series of biographies about Anabaptists and Mennonites who, in various ways, exemplify Christian faithfulness. The biographies are published semiannually and distributed free of charge to MB congregations.

Reading through the list of heroes in Hebrews 11 provides a helpful context to the familiar words of Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

I have one experience running a race in front of a crowd. It was a predict race during Tabor College homecoming and I came away with a prize. Winners were the runners who finished the race in the time they predicted, so I didn’t have to be fast to win. I just needed to stick with my pace. The race concluded with participants running into the football stadium and across the finish line, and what fun it was to hear family, friends and even strangers cheering us on.

Who is included in the “great cloud of witnesses” watching you and I run our race of faith? I think of this cloud as all followers of Jesus beginning with those we read about in the Old Testament and continuing through all of history. It’s a huge crowd, numbering thousands.

But it’s also a personal cloud comprised of people here in the United States and around the world who are rooted in our Mennonite Brethren family tree. Men and women who lived out their belief and faith in our God, including the men and women featured in this issue and the 70 others highlighted in Profiles in Mennonite Faith.

Our cloud of witnesses is also comprised of people in our own families, as the BodyLife stories about the Kliewer sisters and the Schultz family demonstrate. It’s parents and grandparents and previous generations shouting their encouragement from the stands, urging us to devote ourselves to running our race with perseverance, free of the sins that hold us back. As you read the articles in this issue, I invite you to reflect on the people who have shaped your faith story and to give thanks for their example.

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