Saturday, November 16, 2019

Missionary from Bangladesh to Cambodia

Carrying a bag on his shoulder, a little boy walks across a garbage dump. Every so often he stoops to pick something up—anything that his family could sell. The few pennies he earns this way are essential to their survival.

Compassion for children like him brought Clara Biswas from her home country of Bangladesh to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to serve as a missionary.

Through a local ministry, she helps more than 600 children in public schools with classes in music, computer science and art. Facilitating medical care and better nutrition meets immediate needs, while scholarships and vocational training prepare them to escape poverty. And weekly Sunday school classes bring joy into the children’s lives with Bible stories, songs and crafts.

“It is joyful to watch the faces of happy children as they go to places they had never gone before,” Clara says.

For vulnerable yet resilient communities, supporting United Methodist missionaries like Clara is one way to put your love into action.


So grateful that we have a partnership with our own missionary and, through the General Board of Global Ministries, are connected with folks like Clara all over the world!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mission Central God Moments



Throughout November and December, we will be featuring the staff members at Mission Central who will share what they do and a little about their work. This week, we sat down with Margi Bradley, Mission Central’s receptionist. She started at Mission Central six years ago and is a vital member of this team. In addition to serving as receptionist/administrative assistant, Margi manages the medical program here at Mission Central.

Margi, why do you work at Mission Central?

My story is special because I was unemployed and looking for a rewarding job where I could be of help to others. After applying many places and going for interviews at jobs that would have no satisfaction, I went to a staffing agency. From there, I went for an interview at Mission Central. The same day that I got the call that I was hired at Mission Central was the same day that my unemployment ran out. I feel that some guardian angel was looking out for me, and I was called to do this job. This is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I take pride in trying to help as many people that I can that call or come through our doors.

What is your favorite “God Moment?"

I have experienced so many “God Moments” in the past six years that I have worked here. One that sticks in my mind is a father who had two twin sons. Both had physical disabilities so he was looking for very small walkers for them. I told him that I had never seen any walkers that were that small. I tried to take a standard walker and reduce the legs on it, but it was still too large for them. 

I took his name and number and told him I would call him if any came in, but I knew it was going to be impossible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Life Design 4: Detour



3 Nov 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying, setting the table (or Psalm 37.1-11)
Children, 2 Kings 4.1-7 (widow and the jars of oil)
Message, Mark 8.22-26 (healing in two stages)

Our fall discipleship theme is “life design” and I just finished a wonderful book, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Designing Your Life: How to Lead a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. One of the things they point out is that the design process is never over. You keep designing and redesigning. Part of that is in response to the environment, which changes around you. Part of that is treating each design as an experiment that you evaluate. Part of that is that we change in unexpected ways. And part of that is what we talked about in our first week, Disruption, and will talk about this week, Detour. In between, we discussed Dance of Delight and Dare to Dream. In the coming two weeks we have Discern and then Decide, with a celebration luncheon on Nov 17.

How many of you have experience with a detour, literal or metaphorical, in the past year? How many of you forgot the bridge was out until you drove too far and had to turn around? How many times? Detour. It is a part of life, and because it is a part of life, it is part of designing our life.
       This week, Suzanne was driving back across the USA with her daughter. Interstate 80 was closed due to a snowstorm. Tractor trailers were pulled over in every parking area to ride out the storm. They kept going, following their GPS on side roads and a gravel road, and – for forty miles – behind a snowplow. On Thursday night this week, Tammy and Mary were roasting eleven turkeys to prepare for the turkey dinner. Then the power went out in the storm. All the turkeys migrated to Tammy’s house and they tested the limits of the generator to support ten roasters and the oven. Detours. Part of life. And, if we are willing to reframe them, an opportunity, maybe even an adventure.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How Great Is Our God

Church-trained African chief leads the HIV/AIDS fight

Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty speaks during an HIV-AIDS dialogue in Harare, Zimbabwe. The chief has been a leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country by raising awareness with men and boys. Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.
Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty speaks during an HIV-AIDS dialogue in Harare, Zimbabwe. The chief has been a leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country by raising awareness with men and boys. Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.

By the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
Oct. 24, 2019 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UM News)

Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty is a Zimbabwean leader in raising awareness with men and boys in the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

The chief is a rare mix of theologian and a custodian of African cultural and traditional values and norms.

The training The United Methodist Church invested in Marinda — or Chief Chiwara — is paying off, said Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa. 

“He is very much involved in advocating for self-care in terms of HIV and AIDS, and this is a tremendous contribution from a traditional leader and a theologian like him.” 

Chief Chiwara was among the attendees of the “High Level Dialogue with Traditional and Religious Leaders” event co-hosted by UNAIDS and Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender at Cresta Lodge in Harare. 

The National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief facilitated the meeting.

The workshop, attended by 65 men, was intended to improve advocacy for HIV-related services, support achievement of globally agreed-upon fast-track goals and improve HIV outcomes for men, boys, women and adolescent girls.

“If we close the gap among males, we will reduce the infections happening in women,” said Dr. Angela Mushavi, of the National Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission organization and pediatric HIV coordinator with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, who emphasized the need for men and boys to get tested early. 

The rest of the story ...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Life Design 3: Dare to Dream



2019 Discipleship series
19-20 Oct 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying, Psalm 56, selections
Children, Esther 4
Message, Matthew 25.14-30
Mission Moment, Panama City Church giving to Bermuda

Me and Caleb and the Mongol Derby (won this year by Bob Long, a 70 year old man from Idaho), what I could do in 20 years
       Then, I asked myself, so – if it isn’t preparing for the Mongol Derby – what am I going to do with the next twenty years of my life, assuming I continue to have good health? What audacious adventure? What grand goal? What holy purpose?

These are the kinds of questions we approach in the work of life design. We got started with Disruption, because often the unexpected and unwanted disruption is what opens us to entirely new paths and, sometimes, to finding God in all the mess. Last week we looked at the Dance of Delight which often takes place in the midst of Disruption, “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Today, Dare to Dream. Then we have Detour, Discern, and Decide.

Church Conference Message




Our District Superintendent, Larry Leland, shares with us at church conference.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Congo Church and street children

Zacky Kabunga, president of United Methodist Men in Goma, Congo, counsels a group of children who live on the streets in South Kivu. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.
Zacky Kabunga, president of United Methodist Men in Goma, Congo, counsels a group of children who live on the streets in South Kivu. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

By Philippe Kituka Lolonga
Sept. 30, 2019 | BUKAVU, Congo (UM News)

There are nearly 3,000 children and youth living on the streets in South Kivu. The United Methodist Church in Congo is working to build relationships — through evangelism, counseling and other support — to help some of them find a better path.
 
“Men of God are called to help these categories of people because it is part of the mission of the church,” said the Rev. Clement Kingombe, pastor of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu, who has been working with the youth for two years.
 
Oftentimes, the young people gather around places that sell alcohol and they cause trouble in the streets, he said.

Mbilizi Bonane, president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, said it has become a real problem. “There are street kids criss-crossing and bothering us from day to day. They smoke along the way and take strong alcoholic beverages,” she said.

Luc Lukwangomo, head of the Office of Child Protection in the Provincial Division of Social and Humanitarian Affairs in South Kivu, said there are many root causes for the increase in “street children.”
 
Family poverty, divorce, drugs, a lack of education and armed conflicts in villages are some of the factors that lead young people to live alone on the streets, he said.
 
Most of these children are runaways ranging in age from 12 to 16 years old, Lukwangomo said, noting that South Kivu alone has 2,976 children who are in difficult situations and find themselves at different sites in the city and its surroundings.

The rest of the story...