By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (June 16, 2014) — It made perfect sense to Covenant missionaries Fabio Muniz and Johnna Hayward-Muniz to have their daughter dedicated in what quite likely was the first ever such service at Covenant Offices.
“We had been talking about doing a dedication in Florida (where they currently live) on Sophia’s first birthday party in a couple weeks,” Johnna said. “We started thinking of people to invite and then who to lead it. We have a good community in Florida but no one we really consider our pastor.”
Then halfway into a two-week meeting for Covenant missionaries who were preparing to go out on assignment, Johnna suggested to Fabio they dedicate Sopha at the offices a few days later. Johnna’s parents could travel to Chicago, and Fabio’s, who live in Brazil, could watch the service online.
“It made sense because Covenant World Mission has been a huge part of my life ever since I went to Japan with the Covenant in 1999,” Johnna said. “I worked in CWM from 2003 to 2005. My ordination was one of the first to go through with CWM standing in as a conference. With so many people in the Covenant Offices having surrounded me during challenges and joys, this is my family.”
She added, “It’s also important to Fabio as an individual and to our story as a couple. (Missionary) Rob Reed mentored him when he planted a church in Barcelona with Nate Finch. It was while Fabio was in Spain and I was in Belgium that we met and began a deep friendship.”
Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission, had performed the couple’s wedding and was available to lead the dedication service. “It was absolutely wonderful having him. He stood by us as we were getting to know each other, counseling and pastoring us along the way. It only made sense that he would also be the person to dedicate our daughter to the Lord and pray with and for us, for wisdom and grace for the journey,” Johnna said.
Both Johnna and Fabio have long had strong missionary connections. “My father was a missionary kid who was born in India and raised in South Africa,” Johnna said. “In addition to living in Japan, I worked with a Congolese church in Belgium. Fabio is Brazilian and has lived in Canada and Spain.”
Attending the service were people gathered from around the world, as well as those preparing to be sent out into it—they represented the global community of the church, said Johnna, who will be serving in Japan with Fabio.
“They understand our love for other cultures and languages. They understand the profound privilege and sacrifice it is to live in another country and allow the people there to become part of you, forever touching your life and transforming you.”
She added, “There were also people in the room who understand what it means to be a missionary kid. Their prayers for Sophia were especially meaningful.”
As for Sophia, she already has birth certificates from Brazil, Spain, and the United States.
A video of the service can be seen on the couple’s blog.