For decades, the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC) and U.S. Conference of MB Churches (USMB) has joined together in ownership and partnership of a global mission agency that is now called Multiply. Multiply has gone by many other names. Names such as Board of Missions and Services (BOMAS), MB Missions and Services International (MBMSI), MB Mission and now Multiply.
On Multiply’s website, the mission statement at the top of the “About” page says it simply: “As the mission agency of the MB church in the U.S. and Canada, our mandate is to help multiply disciples, churches and missional leaders in 68 countries around the world.”
What began as a collective effort to send missionaries to India, now the largest national MB conference in the world, is an effort that now realizes teams and missionaries throughout the world. Many of these mission engagements have resulted in the birth of national conferences that then become a part of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB).
While I won’t report on ICOMB in this article, it’s significant to witness how the number of national MB conferences continues to grow. Thousands upon thousands of people have become followers of Jesus through this mission endeavor. From India, DR Congo, Paraguay, Uruguay, Portugal, Lithuania, Germany, Thailand, Peru and Malawi, the list goes on and includes national conferences in most of the major continents of the world.
Many of us are aware of the recent critical challenges that Multiply has faced. These challenges include a major budget deficit incurred just months into a merger with the C2C church planting network in January 2018. To make a very long and complicated story short, this deficit, along with noteworthy leadership trials, resulted in a demerger in June 2019.
Subsequently, a task force was established to look deeply into Multiply’s culture and problems, ultimately delivering a report to the owner conferences in July 2020. This season was a test for Multiply’s resolve, its ability to withstand major hurdles and for remaining unified for the mission. Although the complete outcome of this test is yet to be seen, it’s apparent that many positive things are now emerging from the morass.
Multiply’s finances are now stable, with reserves having been considerably restored. However, finances are only one part of the puzzle and without a culture shift and new healthy pathways forward, Multiply would still be unstable. Although my involvement in Multiply has limits, my perception and evaluation are that our mission agency is returning to health. Continuing “rehab” is essential, and eagle-eye watch care over the critical changes that are still in process is paramount.
With all of that said, I believe it’s time for our U.S. family to support Multiply as we once did. Trust was broken through the events listed above, and it takes time to trust once more at the same level as we did previously. Some would even say trust was shattered.
But I believe we can justifiably open ourselves back up to trusting once more, building it back slowly as we watch and listen and especially as we fervently pray for our missionaries and the fundamental pieces of the organization that keep things afloat.
Pray for the selection of the next general director. Pray for the global lead team and the executive team. Pray for our missional mobilizers and missionary care personnel. Pray for those in charge of the finances and daily operations. Pray for continuing heightened transparency and accountability.
I’m aware that some individuals and USMB churches began diverting donations previously supplied to Multiply. I get it.
It’s difficult to invest in an agency that has broken our trust. But I want to encourage us to begin investing again in this, our mission agency. Recent stories indicate that much life transformation is happening. THAT’S why we do missions. THAT’S why we give, to help make transformation happen. It’s about people—coming to know Jesus and learning how to be disciples. I’m ready to start trusting and investing in THAT—again.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.