Some people may wonder what it means to be a missionary, and
go to different places that are completely foreign to you. Also,
when you go to these places, will the people even accept your
religion or will your religious beliefs put you in danger?
In Garden Valley Collegiate there is a teacher by the name
of John Pankratz who has had to ask himself those same questions.
When Pankratz and his family were in Africa, they had the
chance to see various animals; for example lions, cheetahs, wildebeests,
giraffes, hippos, rhinos and crocodiles. On one occasion he said
his neighbour had an elephant in his garden. That would be quite
But why did Pankratz go to Africa anyway? Well, he was a missionary
with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee), and wanted to go to a
different culture for three years, to teach at a teacher training
Everyone knows that Africa is certainly not a peaceful place
to live. When Pankratz went, it was during a war, and they had
to have military protection. His family got arrested quite frequently
for very minor offenses.
Like anyone going to a different country, Pankratz had concerns
about his children's education and how they would do when they
got back to Canada.
Africa has a unique culture. When someone dies they take their
dishes, put them on the grave, puncture them so that evil spirits
won't come back and eat all the people's cutlery, dishes and
haunt them they strongly believe in witch doctors.
I asked if the people knew about the Bible and Jesus, and
Pankratz said that they did and that they were gung ho on religion.
But when it came to sickness, they always went to a witch doctor.
Pankratz's whole family is involved in the mission field.
He strongly believes that with this type of thing the whole family
should get involved. His advice to people who want to get involved
in missions is to just do it and don't ask too many questions.
Despite all of the strange and sometimes scary experiences,
Pankratz still wants to go back. He says, "As soon as things
work out we plan to go back to Africa."