by Twila Albrecht
Rod Hollinger-Janzen, executive coordinator of Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM), announced that he plans to retire at the end of next year, December 2020, marking 15 years of leadership at AIMM.
“It has been a great privilege for me to be a part of the leadership team for the AIMM family over the last number of years,” said Hollinger-Janzen. “I’ve experienced great blessing in working with dedicated servant leaders from Africa, Europe and North America. We have been pulling together in the direction of justice, peace and the building up of the church of Jesus Christ. So many times the Spirit gave an idea to one of us, we worked together to refine it, and by God’s grace it came into being. When this international, intercultural AIMM family works together, it becomes a powerful force for blessing, for peace, for the expansion of God’s reign. It is time for new leadership to carry the work to a new level.” Previously this year, Hollinger-Janzen shared his plan to retire with the International Central Council (ICC) of AIMM.
Jean Felix Cimbalanga, Chair of the ICC, recalls many fond memories with Rod in their interactions with the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Congo. “He loves his work and what he’s doing,” said Cimbalanga. “He only goes where the work is needed and he goes without condition. He is a courageous leader, and, as I’ve told him, he is a gift for African churches.”
Doug Klassen, Executive Minister for Mennonite Church Canada and ICC member, also shares fond memories of working with Hollinger-Janzen. Before Doug joined the ICC, his congregation raised funds to put a roof on the Church in Burkina Faso. Without a way to connect directly with the Church in Burkina Faso, Doug was encouraged by Mennonite Church Canada to “call Rod, he’ll figure it out,” said Klassen. Klassen has continued to experience Hollinger-Janzen as a leader that will find a way. “He finds a way to make very diverse political church cultures work together. He finds a way to bring to bring diverse people to the table for conversation, and he finds a way to speak peace into a very tense situation, (and) he finds a way to continue to build the church of Jesus Christ,” said Klassen.
During his tenure, Hollinger Janzen’s leadership has contributed to strengthened relationships between the North American and African countries involved with AIMM. “Rod successfully administered the flow of decision-making authority to include and embrace African partners at a broad level,” said Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Co-Director for Africa and Europe with Mennonite Mission Network and a member of the ICC.
“Rather than Africans being invited to participate in a North American decision-making process, North Americans and others participate in a conversation that takes place in Africa and is majority African,” Wiebe-Johnson said.
Together with the AIMM team and partners, Hollinger-Janzen supports 9 programs, and 6 ongoing partnerships in 7 countries. “He is so determined and very strong, even when he goes through adversity,” said Siaka Traoré, national president of Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso and ICC member. “However, he stands in adversity with love. He is impartial and deals with each of the partners fairly.”
Solomon Bandor, a partner from Sierra Leone said, “Pastor Rod is like a father in terms of leadership; somebody who has love and care for each and every church in partnership with AIMM. He has always been there for our church in Sierra Leone and brings experience to our church regarding administration, finances, transparencies and advocating. We will miss him.” Bandor’s colleague and friend from Sierra Leone, Timothy Koroma, added, “He loves people. He loves the word of God, and there’s nothing he would do without measuring the word of God.”
In 2015, Hollinger-Janzen was ordained at Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind., in order to more strongly connect AIMM’s ministry to his life’s calling. Hollinger-Janzen resides in Goshen, Ind., with his spouse, Lynda, a writer with Mennonite Mission Network. An international search for the organization’s next executive coordinator will begin in December 2019.