How did Kanaan centers abroad come about?
It was in 1963 when Mother Basilea was spending some weeks of prayer on Mt.Sinai. She saw The Ten Commandments in a new light – not as a list of prohibitions but as guidelines from God’s loving will and as signposts to a life of peace and joy.
A fire now burned in her heart to proclaim them, not just in our own neighbourhood but all over the world, casting them as lifelines to every nation and continent and breaking every barrier of language and confession. We began to pray for the nations as God laid them on our hearts. And so sisters were ready to go when some years later requests for a Kanaan centre began to arrive from other countries. Some of us even went to a land we had been praying for.
Offshoots in distant lands...
… make wonderful opportunities for building bridges. Through the Holocaust we Germans carry an enormous burden of guilt towards the Jews, so our first ministry abroad was to Israel and to God’s Chosen people where sisters have served without charge since 1957, mostly among Holocaust survivors who suffered so much during the Nazi years. Other Kanaan centres followed, often in the face of considerable obstacles, in Europe, USA and Canada, South America, South East Asia, Africa and Australia.
Every Kanaan centre – some have only two sisters – has gone its own way of faith as newcomers in a strange land where they were often unknown. Early beginnings were often tough but experiencing God’s provision for every need was an unforgettable school for the sisters who were mostly very young. Their testimonies would fill the pages of new books of “Realities”.
Young women in other countries also felt called to enter our community. Some of them later returned to serve in their homelands while elsewhere friends of our community took it on themselves to distribute our literature.
Many books and pamphlets are now available in more than 60 languages while many thousands of leaflets and bookmarks in almost 100 languages find their way to far-flung corners of the world. Where and how people come across them is sometimes astonishing: while out walking, in churches, doctors’ waiting rooms, as a message of comfort in a cemetery, occasionally even picked up from the pavement. Many are the instances when just one of these bookmarks has turned around a life. "Words for the Heart'' have a tendency to reach right into the heart.
''God's comfort discovered between the pages of a Japanese hymn book''
A theologian in Finland and former missionary to Japan visited her beloved mission country where she had spent 22 years. She writes:
“Such a miracle happened on my trip. During the final week, I received really bad news from home. Everything around me seemed veiled by a dark shadow…On my last Sunday, I went to the well-known church of Nishi-Akashi that I had attended almost every Sunday during the 4½ years I had worked as a theologian.I took a bible and hymn book from the shelf, sat down in my old place and looked up the first hymn.
A slip of paper fell out of the hymn book. It was one of the short texts
the Sisters of Mary distribute all over the world. But to my
astonishment, this particular text was in Finish! How did a Finish
bookmark end up in a hymn book in Japan? Only God knows…
And what was the text? “God, your father, is greater than everything and
can take care of all your troubles. Trust Him and you will experience
I stared at the words and saw clearly that it was Jesus Himself who was saying them to me on this Sunday morning when it seemed that my world had collapsed around me. The Saviour wanted to reassure me that He is greater than every tragedy in this world. He is holding on to the reigns…
Jesus promised to help me in all of my troubles, all of them. He is with me in every pain and sorrow. I can trust Him in every situation. Now this wonderful text hangs in the window of my study.
Perhaps Jesus is saying these same words to you in your pain...''
Mailis Janatuinen, 01 July 2020
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