This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Opinion: A call for dignity and civility

We were reminded this past week about how labels and degrading words can and do bring intense pain to people. Our president made some very egregious and degrading comments about particular countries. People from the countries that were mentioned have been wounded and dismayed.

Don Morris

Having a Congolese granddaughter, these comments have made me particularly sad. The countries mentioned are home to 735,000 Mennonites — by Mennonite World Conference statistics — and figure prominently in the missional history of the Mennonite Brethren. These people are a source of inspiration and praise to God for the ways in which they continue to faithfully follow the example of Jesus as they witness new life in Christ through their lives of ministry, service and sacrifice.

When getting our granddaughter from an orphanage deep in the midst of Kinshasa — as we drove through the city — my heart broke for the Congolese people and the massive poverty we encountered. Their plight is due to a myriad of things beyond their control and from various historical events and negative intervention by other nations.

God loves these people. We should, too. As Christians and the USMB family, we can make a difference. We can provide help and love to those whom God loves. They deserve love, not caustic labels!

To our president and national leaders: Please, please pursue dignity and civility as you discuss and debate — and open your hearts to those who are in need. Allow your eyes to be opened and listen to the cries of these people. Please learn and understand the reasons why their lives and standard of living are so different from ours. We have so much. Let us be those who help rather than those who cause even more pain through heartless words.

To our brothers and sisters from these nations: Please know that the words used by our president do not reflect how the USMB family considers you. We pray for you, love you and are so very thankful for you.

Let us all be encouraged to watch our words, characterizations and labels. This recent episode can be a reminder to us that Jesus has called us to love, respect and help all people.

Don Morris is USMB national director.

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