Archive for July, 2014

header_03I’m presently on my second visit to United Methodist churches in the Philippines.  When I first visited the country just over ten years ago, I got to know one of the oldest UMCs in the country, Knox United Methodist Church located in downtown Manila.

Knox is like a lot of our churches in the states.  It once was a church that the professional class called home.  But times have changed and with them the church has changed and adapted.  How did it do this?  Because it is totally focused on its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!  This means that whenever decisions have to be made, the church places the mission above personal preference.  An example of this is how Knox has intentionally decided to forgo air-conditioning in its sanctuary and instead use that money toward planting churches.

As a result, it has planted over a dozen new United Methodist churches–some located in the Middle East, for example Dubai and Kuwait.  This done by a church that intentionally is serving the poor around its main location.  It is a church that continues to give itself away, and God continues to provide it with all it needs–leaders, funds, and vision.

And last night I was privileged to see just a little of its fruit–a children’s dance troop, made up of local children, many of whom from poor families.  Bright smiles, full of the joy of the Lord!  No problem forgoing air conditioning when you’re looking face-to-face at children who reflect the face of Christ.  Christ gave up everything for us.  What are we and our churches willing to give up for Him?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

 

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IMG_20140520_140635Have you ever wondered how it would feel to evangelize when you’re an introvert, when you’ve spent most of your life as a Christian attending church rather than taking the church to the streets?  The following is an article written by such a person–an amazing person, Steve Mekaru.

Steve is amazing because in many ways he is a typical United Methodist layman, but he’s doing an extraordinary thing.  He’s helping St. Joseph United Methodist Church–his home church–start a “church,” called Kristo’s Hands and Feet, that has has no building and no real programs.  It’s hard to even imagine such a church, isn’t it?  Kristo’s is primarily focused on discipling people through building relationships with them first, and then with Jesus Christ.  And it’s working!  The church now has a number of people who are being discipled in this way, but let’s look back to last year and what it felt like when Steve begin his work…  (Thanks, Steve, for letting us share your story!)

From Introvert to…Evangelist?

July 2012
It’s a hot and sunny day as I head downtown, to the area we’ve chosen to minister in. I’ve just begun my journey with this new ministry and now it’s time to hit the streets and put my faith in action. I’m excited but also a bit scared. OK, I‘m really scared. How will I start conversations? Will anyone want to talk to me? What if they ask questions I can’t answer? Do I talk about Jesus right away?

As I’m driving, the Newsboys song “God’s Not Dead” plays on the radio, providing me with some encouragement. Yes, God is surely alive and He helps us in times like this. When we’re called to do something, He provides what we need. But I feel like Moses did, like I am slow of speech and tongue, not eloquent by any means. I’m usually among the last to speak up in meetings, prefer to go quietly about my business and can go virtually unnoticed in a room full of people. How does an introvert become an evangelist?

No time for fear. I’m in the neighborhood. I park in the Fairfield Elementary and begin to walk. I head south down Fairfield, right by the Lutheran Foundation (where the old Lutheran Hospital used to be) past the beautiful Lutheran park where kids are playing in the fountains. I’m still nervous but at least I’ve started.

My first encounter comes at a gas station, of all places. As I walk by, a man is behind the building washing off some rubber mats. I start the conversation by talking about the weather (how easy is that?) As we talk more, I find out he’s the owner, has had the station for a few years and came to the U.S. from India. I tell him what I can about this new ministry, but it’s hard when there’s no building to point to. Nevertheless, I’ve made a contact and learned a name. It’s a start.

Today I count the man at the gas station as a good friend, and have come to know the people who work for him. He has allowed me to put up flyers to advertise our events and I stop and chat with him whenever I get the chance.

I’m learning that sometimes we need to faithfully place ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable, and do the best we can. And then we do it again and again. Evangelism begins by listening and establishing a relationship. Many conversations come before a conversion.

Perhaps you know someone in need of a conversation. Go ahead. Be an evangelist.

Blessings,

Steve