Speakers share doubts from their settings, journeys

Walking in doubt and conviction in second Assembly plenary

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA – Three speakers, one each from Kenya, Canada and Ethiopia, shared stories of doubt in their local contexts at Assembly 16’s morning worship 22 July 2015.

“We are learning, in this wonderful global family, that this is the best way to deepen our convictions: listening to God’s word in and from different life settings,” said Tom Yoder Neufeld of Canada, a pastor, author and recently retired Bible professor.

MWC Faith and Life Commission member Rebecca Osiro said, “By doubting, we come to the question, and by seeking, we arrive upon the truth.”

However, doubt is not healthy when it causes divisions.


In her morning sermon, Rebecca Osiro of Kenya argued that doubt can promote strong conviction. Photo by Jon Carlson

“Through MWC, we have a forum to fellowship,” said Osiro, pastor of Eastleigh Fellowship Centre, in Kenya. “It is not a time for us to be critical of or distance ourselves from one another.”

The church itself can be a cause of doubt, Yoder Neufeld said.

“The church will test our faith. After all, you and I are in it,” he said. “But the church is also God’s gift of us walking together.”

And God walks with us. “That is where our hopes and convictions are anchored,” Yoder Neufeld said.

Walking with doubt and convictions is the story of Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle’s faith life. She is a church youth leader in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and serves on MWC’s Young Anabaptists committee.

Learning about colonization in college, Gelagle struggled with the question: “Is my faith an imposition of colonizers, or is it the truth?”

But in the midst of these experiences, Jesus is a glimpse of hope that is beyond culture, religion and our understanding of faith, she said.

“As we strengthen our faith, doubt will sharpen our convictions,” she said.

Kelli Yoder is assistant editor at the Mennonite World Review. She is part of the Meetinghouse team of editors reporting on the plenary sessions at Assembly 16.