Who is surprised by Mennonites in service?

Hi Joel,

In August, Vanity Fair profiled City of Hope, an organization with Mennonite ties, in its Hall of Fame series, which focuses on good people doing good work around the world.

Regina Chacha, at the Mountain Mission School, in Grundy, Virginia, with visiting students from City of Hope.

Above, Regina Chacha sits surrounded by her City of Hope students. They are together in Mission Mountain, Virginia, where City of Hope is headquartered, on a visit. Founder John Chacha died in an auto accident a few years ago while in the field. Photo credit to Mark Schäfer for this image, which appeared in the August issue of Vanity Fair. 

City of Hope runs an orphanage, a primary school, and a medical center in Ntagacha, Tanzania, located in an area that faces chronic poverty and high crime. It has been honored by Tanzania’s president and recognized with the Mwenge (Freedom Torch). It is the effort of John Chacha, who left Ntagacha to earn his degree in the United States, then returned to serve the people of his hometown, and his Canadian wife, Regina Horst Chacha.

Vanity Fair‘s story begins like this:

What are the odds that, in 1982, a young Canadian-American woman named Regina Horst and a young man from Tanzania named John Chacha would cross paths at Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia? What are the odds that they would get married? What are the odds that they would establish a school and medical center in a poor, remote, sometimes violent corner of Africa? What are the odds that this effort, under the rubric of the couple’s Teamwork Ministries, would take root?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a love story. And I think missionary couples have a special place in God’s heart. BUT I imagine that many of our readers responded to Vanity Fair’s series of questions with, Like, 100%. 

Like, what are the chances that a Canadian woman and a Tanzanian man would meet at a Mennonite college? Since the global home of Anabaptism is in Africa and South and Latin America, the chances are pretty good. At tiny Hesston College, approximately 10% of students are international students. And, yes, many of them will marry American (and Canadian) Mennonites they meet there.

What are the odds that they’ll choose to serve in Africa? Pretty good, actually. Mennonite Missions Network is currently supporting people serving in Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, the DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. I bet you can list half a dozen people you know who have served in Africa.

What are the odds that the Chachas’ efforts would have been successful? A large portion of international relief and mission efforts fail (or worse, cause significant harm)–but certainly some succeed. Real difference can be made.

This seems to surprise Vanity Fair. But I bet it doesn’t surprise our readers.



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