A movement has begun in the Midwest of the U.S. that some have described as a train led by the Holy Spirit. Even though the passengers don’t know the destination, they are eagerly jumping on board.
The train is being called the 2020 Movement. On October 8-11, 2015, thirty-five potential leaders between the ages of nineteen and forty-five gathered together at the Oasis Ranch and Retreat Center in Plevna, Kansas to discern their part. The event involved speakers, music, listening prayer, intercession and group discussions. The goal was to bring out apostolic leaders into local, national and global mission.
“We want to help young people live missionally,” said Bob Pankratz, who is a member of the recently-restructured MB Mission Mobilization Team in the Midwest. “We want a place where that can be explored and encouraged and resourced, because this is what the church is called to do – to help a generation see that there’s no greater calling.”
Speakers shared about what living missionally looks like in their lives. There were missionaries who serve in Thailand, church planters in the U.S., and a couple that facilitates training through a retreat center, where the event took place.
During the time of listening prayer, participants heard God’s voice. Stephen Humber, a former board member of MB Mission who is now serving as a Regional Mobilizer in the Midwest, said that the Holy Spirit became real to participants and it gave them hope, confidence and strength in their faith journey. “God surprised us with how he worked and how much he worked,” he said. “It makes you kind of giddy, and yet there is also a very serious side to the assignments that God has for people.”
One of those assignments required immediate action from nineteen-year-old participant, Kalie Siebert of Hillsboro. During the sessions, as God spoke to the group about the urgency to reap the ripe harvest, Kalie sensed that God was affirming her desire to return to New Zealand.
In the days following the 2020 Movement event, Kalie quit her job, packed her bags and flew to the base in New Zealand where she had trained for a mission trip earlier in the year. The church there had continued to change rapidly, and she was excited to see how she could participate. “I feel this fire in my spirit that is just burning so deeply,” she said. “I have never felt such a peace. I have no fear, no anxiety, and no worries. Just pure peace because I know that my Father has control.”
Another participant, John Jedneak, a senior at Tabor College, received strong affirmation of his desire to become a pastor or leader in ministry. Jeneak described what he experienced during listening prayer: “Jesus walks behind me and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, ‘Why do you fear what I’ve called you to do?’ ”
It was significant for Jedneak because over the past two years, his coaches, mentors and friends had encouraged him to become a pastor. He was often afraid and didn’t think he was equipped for it. “I thought of all the people asking me about being a pastor or in ministry, and it clicked – that’s what I want to do. Now I’m ready to walk through whatever door God has opened for me.”
Other participants received other assignments from God, including challenges to share their faith with peers, to construct houses for the homeless, to start a revival in the local church and to assist Syrian refugees.
Many in attendance felt that this event was just the beginning of God’s train rolling through the region. Earlier in the year, in May 2015, a group of Midwest pastors and leaders met with MB Mission staff to ask God about what he was doing in the Midwest. It became evident that he was at work: more and more young people were participating in short-term mission trips; churches were growing in their communities; and various leaders were hearing prophetic words.
At the gathering in May, God gave the group of leaders a vision to resource and release twenty leaders into local, national and global mission by 2020, and then thirty more by 2030, forty more by 2040, and fifty more by 2050. That’s 140 missional leaders in the next thirty-five years.
“I think there was a general sense that it was kind of God-sized,” Humber said. “Who knows what could happen. You don’t know exactly where you’re going, but you know you’re going together. And you know God is doing a terribly exciting thing.”
They also affirmed that the vision for this new train was bigger than just the Mennonite Brethren denomination and the recent meetings were just a beginning. Pankratz said, “In some ways, I feel we have just begun to taste a move of God’s Spirit.”