by Denise Nickel (left), Mennonite Women USA Board representative for Central States Conference. Denise is a member of Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. She is active with the Worship Team, Children’s Ministries, Deacon and Women’s Group. She is secretary to the principal of Goessel Elementary School. She and her husband, Elton have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
In Isaiah we are told that God’s chosen ones became a wild vine because Israel didn’t obey; but God also promised that a few who believed would be preserved. From those remnants would come the choicest of vines—our Savior Jesus Christ. “I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).
I am one of his cherished branches and his fruit of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control will grow within me as I let Christ fill me. It’s not always pleasant to be pruned, but I am developed in character by the pruning, tending, feeding, watering, and nurturing that he has done to me. Because of this process, I am now better prepared to care for others.
I believe that God has called me to be alert to caring for needs around me. I was attending a Garden Show with my sister and our husbands a number of years ago when I approached this verse from Isaiah imprinted in one of the stepping stones: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk with it.” I love it that the verse emphasizes, “Your ears will hear a voice.” I have been commanded to listen to that voice. It may have been that I was trying to be in tune with that verse and listen to what God was calling me to do, or it may have been Rhoda Keener cornering me, or it may have been a combination of the two…in any case, I accepted a position on the Mennonite Women USA Board four years ago and it has been a blessing. Mennonite Women USA is full of caring for others.
I very recently returned from our annual MW USA face-to-face Board Meeting with the
wonderful group of caring ladies. The time spent in worshipping together, assessing ongoing programs, dreaming of new programs and ways in which the Board can function more efficiently reinforced the reasons I am on the Board. It reinforced the strength of the programs and the impact programs such as Sister Care and the International Women’s Scholarship is having. We say farewell to the excellent leadership of Co-Director Ruth Guengerich and anticipate the energy and creativeness of our upcoming Executive Director, Marlene Bogard. Marlene will join the excellent staff and Board members in continuing the mission and vision of MWUSA.
The vine continues, or shall we say: the vine is continuous. It doesn’t break unless it is purposely cut or broken. Because of that, it is a symbol of love and support. Once Christ has finished pruning Mennonite Women USA, the buds and blossoms can and will keep flourishing and bearing fruit.