Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jesus in China

Check out the PBS Frontline episode with the subtitle "Is Christianity Transforming China?"

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/china_705/

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Guns in Church in GA

Check out this blog from a fellow pastor in Augusta titled "Preacher Get Your Gun." He offers a somewhat humorous view regarding a GA law allowing people to carry guns in church.

http://onthejerichoroad.blogspot.com/2008/08/preacher-get-your-gun.html

Friday, August 29, 2008

12 Years Old & No Parents

Most phone calls, most days, in my work are people begging for money.

On Thursday I heard about a 12 year old boy. His mom just died. He doesn't have a dad. He lives with his uncle now. I don't know the whole story, but I catch enough to feel sick to my stomach and heart broken.

As one might imagine he's depressed with his whole world turned upside down & little to be found that is drawing him back into life. But he loves music, and the school band is the one place where he finds some normalcy. It's the only bright spot in his life these days. So, some of us are getting the word out for prayers for the young man AND for a used trumpet or trombone. If you've got one of those used instruments in a closet, or know someone who does, we know someone who might bring the music to life, and might find life for himself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Augusta State University Wesley Foundation

ASU is a great commuter campus nestled in the heart of Augusta and drawing students from the CSRA (Central Savannah River area) and many students from across Georgia. I've also been amazed at how many students I meet from other states and countries! ASU had around 7500 students last fall. They also made it to the championship round of their division in basketball this last season.

The United Methodist Church sponsors Wesley Foundations on campuses across the U.S. and world. Our ASU WF does things a little differently since we only have one residential dorm. We offer a Tuesday lunch on campus as our weekly big event, offer the Wesley House at the edge of campus as a hospitality house for the students Monday through Friday, offer small groups and recreation, plus the normal state and national options WF students enjoy. Another element we emphasize is local, national, and international community service.

See more information at http://www.trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=379

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Honduras Friends

Rhonda Jackson is originally from the Augusta area, and still has family and friends here. She's been in Honduras for a number of years and still receives support from mission teams in our area. Learn more about her work with children and families in the central Honduras region near Siquatepeque (sounds like "Sa what a pecky").

http://www.destinodelreino.org/ddr/home

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kipuke Family in Togo

Esaho & Beatrice Kipuke are now in Togo in West Africa. For the past few years they were living in Augusta, GA and would go to Togo 4 times a year to oversee the work with an orphanage, with women's vocational training, in a school, and with some villages outside of Kara in the northern part of the country. The medical mission team in June went to the villages they serve. Since early June they have been in Togo and divide their time between work in Lome and Kara region. Learn more at:

http://www.kipukeministries.net/

Monday, August 25, 2008

Missionaries in Ghana

Kirk & Nicole Sims and family are serving in Ghana. Learn more at

http://www.themissionsociety.org/people/sims

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

College Freshmen Today

Have you seen the "Mindset" list this fall? That's the annual listing from Beloit College that reminds us of the worldview of the average college freshman. It's always an eye opening reminder about the world as "they" see it.

http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2012.php

Reciprocal Music Sharing- U.S. & Ivory Coast

There are MANY opportunities to use music in relationship building across the world:

http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/full_article.cfm?articleid=5109

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Thursday in Local Mission

Usually Thursday is a quieter day after a busy Wednesday night supper & associated ministries with the church full of activity for children, youth, and adults. It's typically a pleasant, more meditative day closing out a busy time from Sunday through Wednesday. It's a great day to prepare for weekend and Sunday ministries with a slower pace & a time to catch your breath.

Today was a little different.

9:00 AM - I filled my van with school supplies for an inner city school. I then spent some time with my local missionary friend Marsha and the principal of the elementary school. We talked about community partnerships in after school ministry, summer programs, and enrichment activities.

Returned to church office, took care of some phone calls & e-mail, and wrote letter requesting donations from some local companies to fill a 40 foot container to be sent to Togo next month for the orphanage, school, and Kipuke ministries.

11:30 AM - Arrived at Salvation Army for tour and lunch. Discussed partnership with our church with their existing SA work, as well as sharing ideas about ways to partner as Augusta prepares for a Kroc Center to be established in a neighborhood very close to Trinity on the Hill. The Kroc Center would include something like a community center and a one stop social services complex. I also ate a "free" SA lunch.

1:30 PM - I met for an hour with a college student who is entering her junior year. She is a double major in English and Spanish, and has done Study Abroad in Spain and served on mission trips in two South American countries. She is looking forward to next summer and wants to do a 3 month internship with opportunity for more extensive immersion in Hispanic ministries. Hmm, the possibilities for next summer are already shaping up!?

3:30 PM- One hour meeting with a friend from our church who is interested in establishing Hispanic ministry in our metro Augusta area. She is native to Mexico, married an American a number of years ago, and has called Augusta home for the last few years. I'm currently talking with local United Methodist pastors and churches attempting to build a coalition of people interested in this opportunity. I'll facilitate 5 sessions in September and October as we gather these interested parties around the table and discuss the prospects for development of this over the next year. Plus we'll eat some authentic Hispanic food and listen to music from some Central and South American countries courtesy of Carmen!

The interesting thing is none of these meetings were on my calendar when I stepped in the office Monday morning! It's always a wonder to me the way God can connect us if we are open to new creations and available to listen to one another. Let's see where this breeze of the Spirit takes us...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Arguing With a Hymn, verse 2

Back in May I posted some thoughts on a particular hymn which begs us to change one little word to make it more biblically and practically correct. See http://kudzulife.blogspot.com/2008/05/arguing-with-hymn.html if you missed that.

Well, I was enjoying our August Camp Meeting worship today and it happened again. But with a different hymn!

If you don't know Camp Meeting worship that's a throwback to a time gone by when the U.S. and Protestant churches were experiencing revival. Now it's more a hint at our history than a present reality. We still have the lively music, the evangelistic preaching, and the emphasis even if we are set in nice sanctuaries as opposed to "tents" or outdoor tabernacles. In the old days (in rural and frontier America) this was typically held after the harvest. Everyone would load up their cook stove, their food supplies, and their family on the wagon and travel to the camp meeting site. You can imagine the huge multi county event that would draw folks together who hadn't seen each other in some time. The meetings would typically last a week and have the type preaching, singing, and fellowship which would help people experience a little heaven on earth, and make it easier to make decisions for that destination. In the late 1700's and early 1800's camp meeting was a powerful spiritual event which had many social dimensions as well. The ritualized tradition continues to hold a place of prominence in the social and religious landscape even until this day in some parts of the United States.

Often in contemporary camp meetings or revivals we sing the "old" hymns, the favorites that our grandparents would have enjoyed. One of those revival type songs I've sung many times before got my attention today. Do you know "Lord I Want to Be a Christian?" It's a simple song and tune. The different repeated stanzas words are:

Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.

It's really not a bad revival song. It's simple, it's emotional, & it calls for our personal, heartfelt response.

But it seems incomplete to me.

While that's a great starting place we can't stop with being Christian just in our heart! If we desire our heart and will to be transformed that's an exciting beginning. Yet the real aim is for this to happen in our life. So, on this day of worship I'm once again arguing with an old song in hopes that my life and the Church might truly be transformed.

Here's my contribution as an addition to the verses above. Yet it seems to me I've got to move from heart religion to a faith with is expressed in the world.

Lord, I want to be a Christian in my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my life, in my life.
In my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my life, in my life.

Lord, I want to be more loving in my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my life, in my life.
In my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my life, in my life.

Lord, I want to be more holy in my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my life, in my life.
In my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my life, in my life.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my life, in my life.
In my life, in my life,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my life, in my life.

Now that would have the makings of a revival for the Church and the World!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Encounter with Christ, continued

Many distinctive ministries which match local needs and assist the Church in helping people to hear and experience Good News for today are being developed thanks to partnerships. US churches and mission agencies are better learning to listen and to take the lead of leadership within various countries. Said another way, it's not just a mission leader in NYC making a decision or the US exporting our ideas and approach to Christianity. The funding provided these groups through the end of 2006 was $150,000. Most of the funding for the groups falls in the $4000-8000 range per year! Here's an idea of 2007 projects and locations supported in coalition with Methodists "here and there":

Argentina- Youth: Mission Formation

Bolivia- Indigenous Leaders Training
-Youth Leaders Training

Brazil- Ministries with People of African Descent
-Vocational Training

Bogota, Columbia - Community Group & Radio Workers Training in Conflict Zones

Columbia- Dignifying Quality of Life for Indigenous and African Descendants

Dominican Republic- Growing with Christ: Christian education as a means of evangelization and holistic care for children

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic- Technical/Vocational School Program

Ecuador- Dancing to Live- new families of African and indigenous descent are moving into an area near Quito where the church is establishing ministries to them through the arts and native dance.

Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia- Leadership Development Program through CIEMAL

Guatemala- Transformed to Transform Others- emphasis on mission strategy

Barbados- Church School Curriculum

MCCA Haiti District- support of Delmas Boys Home where 23 boys reside

Leeward Islands- Reaching Others for Christ through Vocational and Educational Training

Mexico- Home for Indigenous Students

Managua, Nicaragua- Good Samaritan Medicine Program

Panama Vieja, Panama- Women's Health Orientation Clinic

Peru- Education and Community Development for Children and Youth

Uruguay-Methodist Institute for Pedagological and Pastoral Studies

Uruguay- Evangelization and Expansions in Artigas

Venezuela- Primary Health Care Based in Community

Go to http://new.gbgm-umc.org/connections/partnerships/encounter/ for more information.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean

I met Wilson Boots and Rex Bevins a couple of years ago in Charlotte NC at a missions event. Wilson had served as a missionary for a number of years and even in retirement was continuing to advocate for partnerships that span the globe. Encounter with Christ is a shared partnership between churches and individuals in the U.S. with projects in Latin American countries. Twenty four programs with street children, evangelistic outreach, new church development, community based primary health care, lay and clergy training, and other ministries are occurring in 14 countries due to the leadership of national Methodists "in country" and the funding assistance of interested churches and individuals in the United States. See http://new.gbgm-umc.org/connections/partnerships/encounter/ for more information about these exceptional ministry partnerships.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Favorite Mission Site That Connects the Work

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission is a great resource to connect interested individuals and churches with location regionally, nationally, and internationally who desire assistance. Check it out:

http://www.umvim.org/

Monday, August 11, 2008

Augusta GA Youth Ministry

I have learned today of:

1 metro Augusta church seeking a part time youth minister...

and of 1 person with youth ministry experience who has just moved here looking for a full time position with a church.

If you want more details contact me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Refurbishing Old Computers for School Children

Here's a great story about a group that refurbishes old computers and puts them in the hands of school children:

http://onlineathens.com/stories/080908/news_2008080900419.shtml

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Atlanta Mission Conference

There's an exceptional mission conference scheduled for early October in metro Atlanta worth your consideration. It's geared toward clergy, laity, and church members and organizations interested in mission. Keynote speakers include Mike Slaughter, John Ed Mathison, and Eddie Fox. A number of missionaries and mission pastors will be leading seminars on practical aspects of mission development. I'm very honored to be one of those seminar leaders. See more at the link below & be sure to register early.

http://www.mceachernumc.org/missionsconference/index.htm

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Catch Up- Togo Revisited

I'm wrapping up some summer work and attempting to shift gears into fall activities. That's tough to do when it's over 100 degrees! But school starts next week and it's about time. Here's some of the "sights and sounds" of Togo from our June medical mission.


video

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Power of Worship to Connect & Renew

Worship this morning was especially moving and renewing. The various elements of the service all worked together to accomplish this. And, of course, the camp meeting approach and sermon emphasis for the month on evangelism had every expecting some excitement. Dan's mike picking up the child hiccuping had the whole house in laughter. The Hatfield family sang and had all of us on the edge of our seats. If you weren't present to experience this the first time catch the August 3 music and more from our 11 AM worship service at http://tothtv.net/.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Muslim-Christian Dialogue

An international gathering of religious leaders recently met in Connecticut to discuss ways to reduce tension between the groups and create more hope. Religious leaders are seeking dialogue and relationships which will move beyond prejudice and the dehumanizing and demonizing rhetoric and actions sometimes fostered by religion. See more about this recent ecumenical dialogue at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0802/p25s14-ussc.html

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nonprofit Medical Clinic

Part of my work finds me involved with community development issues. That has drawn me into the world of nonprofits and the affiliated ministries and partnerships which may emerge when need and opportunity cross paths. So, a few of us are starting a medical clinic group and a community development group. Anyone interested in learning more, sharing your experiences, or helping with funding are welcomed to join the excitement.

Here's an upcoming event for anyone interested in health ministries within a church or for those interested in medical clinic work to meet the needs of the uninsured or underinsured.

http://www.gbophb.org/UserFiles/File/events/emp_min2008.pdf