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Fifty Years, Fifty Stories
The Mennonite Mission in Somalia, 1953-2003

Omar Eby

Foreword by John A. Lapp
and Reflections by
John Paul Lederach

Summary: Fifty Years, Fifty Stories is a narrative history of the Mennonite Mission in Somalia, 1953-2003. Narrated through both text and photos, in coffee-table format, is the interplay between two worldviews: of the Islamic host culture and of its Christian missionary guests. The book's understated vignettes reveal the challenge the Mennonite Mission presented to Somali culture and religion and the cost of restraint, commitment, and personal sacrifice on the part of missionaries and believers

Comment: "The story of the church’s witness is always embedded in a context. In Somalia this context is as intense as the hot desert winds. . . .What becomes apparent in this account is the singularity of bearing witness. Whatever . . . the original intent, circumstances soon made all mission activities subservient to this one purpose. Tensions with local Islamic enthusiasts and opportunistic political leaders came to a climax in the ultimate witness—the martyrdom of Merlin Grove, and the later martyrdom of some Somalis. Bearing witness for some missionaries included public rebuff while others were forced to leave the country. Programs were under constant public scrutiny. . . .

“The understated vignettes of this graceful book show the manner of witness that will increasingly characterize the work of the church in the twenty-first century: long-term commitment rather than short-term expectations; careful listening to local voices; respectful inter-religious relationships; programs and strategies which respond to changing situations; a commitment to peace building amidst disorder and hostility; and rediscovering the authenticating character of martyrdom, the last word in bearing witness.”
—John A. Lapp, Coordinator of the Global Mennonite History Project for Mennonite World Conference, in the Foreword

“Fifty years of the Mennonite Mission in Somalia captured in the subtle colors of a master artist—impressionistic, evocative, revelatory. Eby has sketched the story of a mission, a nation, and a people in suggestive vignettes that combine carefully selected detail with a keen view of the whole. Two peoples, worlds apart, meet in transformative friendship.”
—Richard Showalter, President, Eastern Mennonite Missions

“We are convinced . . . divine intervention . . . brought Mennonites and Somalis together, and allowed them to live together with respect and mutual appreciation as religious people from very different theological backgrounds.”
—Mark and Chantal Logan, from the Afterword

Quote: "Often I felt as did J. B. Phillips at work on his paraphrase of the New Testament. In Ring of Truth, his testimony of that experience, he writes: ‘Although I did my utmost to preserve an emotional detachment, I found again and again that the material under my hands was strangely alive." The materials under my hands were letters, diaries, journals, feature articles, official reports written by missionaries of every profession and psychic disposition, a delightful confluence of characters joined in one mission: to make the way of Jesus the Messiah known among the Somali peoples."
—Omar Eby, in the Preface

Market: Pastors and church leaders; mission workers; missiologists and students of mission; anyone open to a gripping account of the tragedies and joys of Mennonite mission activity in Somalia.

Shelving: History—Anabaptist, Mennonite, of service organizations; Missiology, mission, missionaries; Pacifism, nonresistance; Anabaptists; Mennonites. BISAC: History, Religion. RTM: 431 History/World; 690 Religion/Ethics

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House (the new name of Pandora Press U.S.)
DreamSeeker Books
Copublisher: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA
Publication date: May 2003, copies available now
Pages: 140
Format: 70 x 7" trade paper, coffee-table format with photos
Prices: $14.95 US, $20.95 Can.
ISBN: 1-931038-17-1

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Copyright 2003 by Cascadia Publishing House