Mennonite Brethren have their roots in the Anabaptist-Mennonite movement of sixteenth century Europe. This movement sought to recover New Testament Christianity, including an emphasis on church, discipleship, peace-making, and mission, but most of all an emphasis on Jesus Christ of the Scriptures in His fullness.
The Anabaptists were virtually the only Protestant church in the first generation of the Reformation to be missionaries. Thirty-eight Anabaptist congregations were established in the canton of Zurich between 1525 and 1527. A similar number were established in the canton of Bern during this time. In a five-year period some 500 churches were planted. The so-called Martyrs Synod, held in Augsburg in August, 1527, was attended by over sixty Anabaptist leaders. The major concerns of the conference were the unity of believers and the evangelization of Europe and beyond, including Muslim lands. The Synod assigned missionaries to each part of Europe. The Synod became known as the Martyrs Synod because so many of these missionaries lost their lives as a result of their testimony. Some reports are that all but two were killed in five years.
When the Mennonite Brethren Church was organized in southern Russia in 1860, one of the first expressions of individual renewal was the sharing of Christian experience with fellow Mennonites and Russian neighbors. By 1862 several leaders had been called before Russian courts to face charges of attempting to convert Russian laborers. In 1889 the 1,800 member Russian Mennonite Brethren Church sent its first missionary couple to India. The first united efforts in North America came in 1883 when one-third of the love offering from the table fellowship of the conference was designated for foreign missions. Shortly thereafter a regular mission committee was established; this was the beginning of MB Mission. Today a board consisting of up to twelve members selected from the churches of the United States and Canada governs our cross-cultural mission work in 30 countries.
MB Mission was formerly named MBMS International. Prior to that name it was called the Board of Mission and Service (BOMAS).