Two months after finishing the Institute of Ministry, I started at Hesston College with a January drama class that traveled across the northeastern United States to present Jesus' parables in churches and to spend time in cities going to shows. I was able to see Cats in Chicago, Les Miserables in Philadelphia, and Into the Woods in New York City. We also presented our parables play in a small, Mennonite, African-American church in Washington, DC.
Up to that point we had been in mostly traditional Mennonite churches where the standard was three hymns and a sermon. But the service that morning in Washington, DC, awakened a longing in me. The 10 weeks at the Institute of Ministry had included passionate and expressive worship twice each day. I enjoy hymns, but missed it. This was brought to the forefront as I stood and sang. At first I participated, but then questions flooded my mind. Was I doing the right thing? Was I supposed to be in the Mennonite Church, or should I have taken some of the opportunities I had in charismatic circles?
At the end of a song, the worship leader in the front, a man I had never met before, stopped to give a word from the Lord. To my surprise, it was a specific word for me. He pointed me out, and told me that God had spoken to him and told him that I should be at rest, I was where God wanted me to be. I was very grateful for that word and the way it connected with the needs I had at that time.
One of the great joys for me in the Mennonite Church has been the way I have seen the Holy Spirit continue to move in our midst. I continue to see greater openness in many rural churches of Swiss-German heritage, and have appreciated how I have continued to be led into the gifts of the Spirit by other pastors in the Mennonite Church. Esdras Ferraras, Wesley Furlong, Nancy Lora, Moises Angustia, Sunoko Lin, and the unnamed worship leader in Washington, DC have all impacted my faith in important ways. Thank you to all of you for your faithfulness and continued witness to God's work in your lives.
-John M Troyer