church tradition,” Zehr said. In an era in which MDS is trying to build its volunteer base, Zehr insists we shouldn’t look at “nones” as a problem to solve. “The vision at MDS is that we strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those affected by disasters. MDS is uniquely positioned.” In its simplest form, he added, Jesus is the center of our faith. “We all agree: helping people who cannot recover

Sydney, Cape Breton


Repaired home, new mattresses in Cape Breton Repair the roof, replace the second- floor ceiling and walls, new floor due to mold. That was the job given to MDS volunteers at Brianna Fraser’s house in Sydney, Cape Breton. But volunteers who were working at the single mother’s house in June noticed something else: The mattresses in the children’s bedrooms were musty and old and needed replacing. That wasn’t on the job card, so they took it into their own hands by raising the funds among themselves to get new mattresses for Anthony and John Michael. “It’s another amazing MDS story,” said Peter Thiessen, who served as Project Director in May. “Jesus loved children, and so do we. Volunteers were just reflecting Jesus when they provided new mattresses.”

on their own get back into safe housing is a very Jesus-y act.”

Spending a week volunteering for MDS means working hard, getting sweaty, giving of yourself, and switching gears. “We also offer a way to participate in reducing inequity and injustice while working at climate mitigation practices—like building bridges that don’t sweep away when the crick rises,” he said. “We offer a place where differences are left at the door for the sake of the mission.” It’s the theology of the hammer. “I hope that we are all building bridges into our community,” said Zehr. “We need people willing to serve who are also willing to invite ‘nones’ to join them.” “First, listen to the stories of others and, then, when invited, tell your own,” Zehr recommended. “We need to listen deeply.”

Camp Palisades, Idaho

Youth group leader Kevin Miller said serving with MDS brought the group even closer. “One thing I always enjoy about mission trips and being with the youth is the bond and closeness it creates with a group, when they spend time and have fun working together,” he said. Camp Palisades is a ministry of First Mennonite Church in Aberdeen, Idaho. Gary Krehbiel, a member of the church who serves on its campground committee, said the youth group has been a real blessing. “It seems like our congregation is all getting a little bit older and we can only do so much,” he said. As he visited the camp to see the progress, he added, “I could not stop smiling. I don’t remember the last time it looked so nice.” Michele WhiteEagle, who is serving as project director of the MDS Family Program, expressed how incredible she thinks the young volunteers are. “They’ve volunteered with excitement and adventure,” she said. “Now not only MDS families but families from the church and from the community will be able to experience the camp as well.”


In an era of “nones,” what can MDS offer? In a seminar at MennoCon


(Mennonite Church USA convention) in July, MDS Volunteer Development Coordinator, Terry Zehr, explained what this might mean. “It has become clear that a higher percentage of the population, when polled, checked off the box ‘none’ for religious affiliation,” he said. “People are leaving the church,” especially young people. “Many of these young people come from a long, deep generational

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