I have spent Monday through Wednesday in New York City with Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. In some respects this is a lifelong dream fulfilled to spend time in this place with people who devote their career and energy to mission throughout the United States and around the world. The support of long term missionaries, short term missions and teams, missional institutions, young adults in mission, UMCOR & UMVIM, sharing and coordinating stories, and needs, and opportunities... and in so many different ways engaging the United Methodist Church in mission... is awe inspiring!
While here I've met incredibly gifted people who help in this effort that requires so much understanding, discernment, and communication.
I've heard of the trio of United Methodist missionaries returning to Liberia November 6 to support the Liberia UMC response to ebola.
I've seen the GBGM team in action in all sorts of ways that has impact in so many countries and cultures.
I've heard of new missionaries, including one from my home area of Augusta, GA, who are now in Ecuador in training.
I've heard of the United Methodist work in new areas where there are many challenges, and little funding, yet the Good News of Jesus Christ is being shared in word and deed and people are responding in incredible ways.
I've heard of so much more about our global United Methodist mission movement that there isn't enough room to recount it all here!
And I've only been here 3 days.
Today I was particularly interested to hear a report from Vietnam where the UMC is experiencing incredible growth. Three reasons were given why so many people are attracted to the Methodist witness:
1) United Methodists talk about and get involved with social concerns as they express the love of God and Christian faith in action.
2) United Methodists not only allow, but encourage women in leadership, as the Holy Spirit gifts all of us for the work of the Church in mission and ministry.
3) United Methodists are connected to a global church and not just a congregation. No matter how remote or isolated a congregation may seem there is a larger Church that is their Church.
I'm being renewed in my sense of the power of our United Methodist history, doctrine, and polity, and how effective that can be as we work together for the sake of proclaiming the gospel to the whole world. It calls each of us to do our best and to be part of a larger team. That necessarily involves some "give and take." I might need to yield as I give up some control as we conference and come up with the best plan that does all the good possible without doing harm. I must be part of a larger, more diverse team, in order to better navigates languages, customs, and cultures that are likely very foreign to me. This all seems more like the Body of Christ deserving of great wonder and mystery.
It has been quite a 3 day week!
I've felt somewhat like a young child who loves the circus that gets to "go behind the scenes" and see firsthand what happens. I'm glad to report that the magic and excitement is heightened for me after going deeper into the life of our mission agency. I certainly know there are a lot of largely unheralded workers who will have my prayers, support, and encouragement. These mission folk are all becoming more real to me as I match their name with their face with their job in mission. It turns out that God needs all of us to work together to do what we need to do for the Kingdom.
More than ever I'm sold on our United Methodist "connectional" system of mission and ministry. While there is always plenty to work on to be effective and responsive to the current day, and deal with the challenges, it's a solid system that calls for our best teamwork.
These are good days of adventure for Christ in mission. I'm already stronger in my faith, and resolve in the mission of God, because of my involvement in Global Ministries.
I wonder what the fourth day will bring?!