Tag Archives: Global News

Asylum Seekers, Migrants, and Displaced People: Salvation Army Hosting Global Interactive Summit

“That experience is like a brand between my shoulder blades.”

Salvation Army Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Pho described his trauma as an asylum seeker from Vietnam in vivid terms during the first session of the Global Interactive Summit on Refugees and Displaced Peoples, hosted by the International Social Justice Commission of the Salvation Army. Today he is the National Director for Multicultural Ministries in the Salvation Army in Australia.

Throughout the day (or night, depending on your global location) today, Monday, 29 January, and tomorrow, Tuesday, 30 January, you can view the summit on Facebook on The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission page, where sessions are live-streamed.

The purpose of the virtual gathering is, “to mobilize people of faith to engage with one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our age – refugees and displaced people. The focus of the summit will celebrate what has been achieved and reflect on lessons learned to guide future action.”

Other profound speakers joined the summit via video chat from locations like Hong Kong and London while the Director of the Salvation Army Social Justice Commission, Lt. Col. Dean Pallant, chaired the virtual gathering from New York City. Viewers included people from locations like Australia, North America, and the refugee hot spot, the Greek island of Lesbos.

Session One particularly revolved around the topic of “The Theology of Migration and Reception,” with a blend of theological, pragmatic, and personal insights from contributors like Dr. Laurelle Smith who works with U.N. committees and NGOs; Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Pho mentioned above; the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, author and vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London; Dr. Russell Rook, partner with Good Faith Partnerships; and Lieutenant-Colonel Wendy Swan, who works in Hong Kong and Macau and recently completed her Ph.D. on a theology of protest.

Continuing 90-minute sessions are available to view live on the Facebook page today, 29 January, and tomorrow, 30 January. Topics include, “Reflecting on Experience,” “Working with Governments, Other Faith Groups, and NGOs in Refugee and Migration Situations,” “Camp and Community Based Responses,” “Church Based Responses,” and “Tackling Critical Issues.”

Sessions from the global interactive summit will also be archived and made available for viewing later.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Global Methodists in a New Year

January is coming to a close, and whether you’ve endured sweltering heat in Australia or frigid winds in North America, the days have bridged us from Epiphany a few short weeks ago to Lent on the horizon mid-February.

Have you sensed God stirring up something new in your heart? Are you alert and watchful for what God is orchestrating in this new season? Are you able to place the past year where it belongs – in the past – and look with rash hope for the new things God is making in your midst?

Let’s take a few moments to check in on each other as we wait for the Holy Spirit to show us the next steps to take into this new season.

Recently WME Executive Director Dr. Kimberly Reisman and Development Director Bonnie Hollabaugh returned from a trip to India. Read more about her experience of the Taj Mahal here.

Nominations for the World Methodist Peace Award can be made here. Follow the link to learn more about nomination criteria and about recent recipients.

In December, the CME Church celebrated its 147th anniversary with a Founder’s Day Celebration.

The World Methodist Council is searching for a part-time Donor Development Officer to collaborate with leaders in meeting the goals of the “Achieving the Vision” Endowment Fund.

On January 21st, the Korean Church of Atlanta held a special community prayer service for peace on the Korean peninsula.

As you sift through your local activities and the global news, as you invest in ministry and note current events, what is the Holy Spirit stirring up in your heart during this season? How will you join the heart of God as God nudges your attention: “See, I am making all things new…”?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Around the World in 60 Seconds Fall 2017

With many branches of the Wesleyan Methodist family tree stretching around the globe, we hope to keep you connected to ongoing activities, celebrations, and challenges that about 80 million of our sisters and brothers from about 80 Methodist denominations are encountering. 

*In Great Britain, the Methodist Church has issued congratulations to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, on its receiving the Nobel Peace prize. Vice President of the Methodist Conference Jill Baker stated,  

This recognition of the important work of ICAN with the Nobel Peace prize could not be more appropriate. Through this campaign, peace activists, lawyers, city mayors, faith leaders, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and many others are speaking with one voice. The message is clear: there can be no moral or legal justification for threatening whole populations with devastating and indiscriminate nuclear weapons. 

*As just one sample of the devastation in the Caribbean. The Wesleyan Church reports on the scale of damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria on Wesleyan churches and educational institutions in Puerto Rico. According to this report, the communities most affected are Aguas Buenas, Dorado, Humacao, Levittown, and Vega Alta.

*The Methodist Church in Brazil has been probing the responsibility of the church towards refugees. Learn more about Pastor Roberto Lugon as “he shared the experience of welcoming a Syrian family in the Methodist Church in Carlos Prates, Belo Horizonte.” 

*The World Methodist Council has published a statement expressing grave concern at the persecution of Rohingya people in Myanmar. It reads, in part,  

We condemn the violence, persecution and human rights abuses of the Rohingya by Rakhine Buddhists and government personnel, and we appeal to State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to stop the abuse and to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected. We call on the United Nations, Amnesty International and other agencies to assist in halting the atrocities against Rohingya’s Muslims and to provide relief for those who fled the violence. 

We call upon the World Methodist family and all persons of good will to pray for these people who have not been given the dignity of a home and citizenship, and we pray for an end to these abuses of human rights. 

*Recently Church of the Nazarene members living in refugee camps took up collections to aid the relief of those in Sierra Leone suffering the effects of devastating mudslides. “Church members in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa, where there is severe famine, sold their maize allocation so they could donate to help survivors in Sierra Leone.” 

*The Korean Methodist Church is marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with a special exhibition, “The Reformation and the Bible.”  

These snapshots are a brief glimpse of just a few dynamics among Wesleyan Methodists around our world.  



Tragedy, Community, and Action

There have always been difficulties around the world. Lately, however, it seems that we cannot turn on the news without seeing some new disaster: in Texas, in Sierra Leone, in Florida, in Bangladesh, in Caribbean islands like Dominica, in Mexico, in Puerto Rico. Floods, mudslides, and earthquakes leave our friends and neighbors homeless, missing loved ones, without electricity, running water, or working ATM’s. Parents are grieving the loss of children, neighbors stare at piles of rubble that used to be houses lining their streets, and in some places, mold – mold everywhere.

Faith sharing extends beyond humanitarian disaster relief, but it does include humanitarian disaster relief. Showing up to drag soaked furniture to the curb, or distribute bottled water, or hold a weeping mother – in all these actions we are the hands and feet of Christ serving hurting people.

Most recently, Puerto Rico is reeling from hurricane damage; yet that does not negate the pain of casualties from the earthquake in Mexico City. And the loss in Mexico City does not negate the pain of those suffering in Houston. And the devastation in Houston does not negate the tragedy in Sierra Leone. This continues around the globe.

The Wesleyan Methodist tradition is one that puts actions with intentions. Ours has always been an active expression of Christian faith, whether John Wesley was publishing pamphlets on basic health and hygiene, or whether Methodists were campaigning against child labor and teaching children to read, or whether Methodist women were working together for women’s right to vote.

What are your stories of receiving help and giving assistance? In what ways has the Body of Christ shown up when the flood waters rose in your life?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Five Things I Learned at the End of the Earth

Original Image has been removed to avoid copyright infringement.

We often hear exciting things about evangelism and the spreading of the gospel in Africa or other places in the Global South or East. For those of us in the secularized Global North and West, it can seem discouraging. And yet, people are being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit everywhere – even in places where the culture is highly secular and the church is small.  

New Zealand is one of those places. 

I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand last month. Richard Waugh, our Regional Secretary for the Pacific region, says New Zealand is the place Jesus is talking about when he says his followers will be his witnesses “…to the ends of the earth.” That rings so true! New Zealand is literally at the end of the earth – the last inhabitable landmass to be settled by human beings, only about a 1,000 years ago. 

New Zealand was also the furthest ripple of the Wesleyan revival when in 1823 Rev. Samuel Leigh set up only the second Christian mission of any kind in the country. Our Wesleyan family has been present ever since – first as Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, United Free Methodists, and Bible Christians. Now the John Wesley family of churches present in New Zealand includes The Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, the Methodist Church of New Zealand, the Church of the Nazarene, the Chinese Methodist Church of New Zealand, Korean Methodist churches, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga churches, Samoan Methodist Conference churches, Tongan Wesleyan Methodist churches, and Evangelical Samoan Wesleyan Methodist churches. 

What a diverse family! All laboring on behalf of Jesus Christ in one of the most highly secularized countries in the world. 

And New Zealand is definitely secular and diverse. Currently the top 19 most non-religious countries in the world are all non-English speaking countries – think North Korea, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. But the 20th most non-religious country – and the first English-speaking one – is New Zealand. In 2013, 41.9% of the population said they were “non-religious.” In the United Kingdom it’s 37.9% and in Canada it’s 23.9%. The United States is well below that. New Zealand is also culturally diverse, especially its largest city, Auckland. In 2016, Auckland, with a population of 1.5 million, had the fourth largest foreign-born population (39%), which makes it more diverse than Sydney in Australia, Los Angeles in California, London in England, or New York City in New York. The only cities that are more culturally diverse are Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Brussels in Belgium, and Toronto in Canada.  

So what can we learn about evangelism from the small but growing Wesleyan family in New Zealand?  

Quite a lot: 

1) When 41.9% of the population are self-proclaimed non-religious people, the mission field is huge! Couple that with the diverse presence of migrants, many of whom bring a strong commitment to Christian faith with them, and you have a dynamic environment ripe for the work of the Holy Spirit. 

2) The gospel is always a countercultural movement. When there is little to distinguish people of faith from those who claim to be non-religious, the gospel becomes a mere shadow of itself. There are a wide range of norms, moral commitments, and social and political understandings in every culture in the world. Some of these are consistent with the gospel and others are not. The growing churches in New Zealand have recognized that if, as we follow Jesus in our daily lives, in our communal life together, and in our engagement of the community around us, others are not able to see a uniquely different way of being in the world, our evangelism will always fall flat, or we will not evangelize at all. 

3) Cultural diversity requires new expressions of church and a commitment to church planting. The gospel is spread not as often by leading congregations toward their own growth, but by leading congregations to multiply themselves, birthing new congregations and fresh experiences of church. 

4) Evangelism is a “long obedience in the same direction.” We must walk with people for a long time if they are to come into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. This is true in secularized environments like New Zealand but equally true in other environments as well. If we don’t care enough about people to walk with them as they journey through life, then we likely are not as committed to sharing our faith as we think we are. 

And finally, 

5) We must begin to take third-culture people seriously. In many places in the world, there are people who have their feet in more than one culture: the children of migrants who are growing up in a “new” culture, but whose family is steeped in their culture of origin; minorities who live in both the culture unique to their ethnic group and the dominant culture of their environment. Young people all over the world are often third-culture people – living in a culture of globalization and technology, while at the same time navigating the “old world” norms of their elders. These third-culture people are also multilingual. Whether it be the subtler differences of the language of youth or a particular ethnic group, or the more obvious differences of a completely separate language like English, Swahili, Portuguese, or Samoan, these people are able to speak multiple languages because of their presence in multiple cultures. 

This is of particular importance for evangelism, not simply for communication, even though that is paramount, but for leadership. The kingdom of God needs third-culture leaders – those who understand the importance of building bridges from one culture to another, who understand what it means to be in between worlds, whether those worlds be cultural, generational, economic, or linguistic. 

Our brothers and sisters at the ends of the earth have discovered some important insights about evangelism. I dare say they are not unique to New Zealand, but are applicable to many other parts of the world as well. 

Our mission field is great, no matter where we live. If we are willing – in all parts of the world – to walk with people, caring for them while we follow Jesus in tangible ways that can be seen and experienced; to risk multiplication, birthing new churches and ministries beyond our own congregation; and if we are willing to invest our time and energy in mentoring leaders to be bridge-builders into the lives of others, space will be created for the movement of the Holy Spirit and people will be transformed everywhere





Keep Up with World Methodist Evangelism

Earlier this week I wrote about recent joys and sorrows happening in Wesleyan Methodism around the globe. 

To keep up to date on prayer requests, global events, creative mission, and moves of the Spirit in a variety of countries and denominations, you can also connect with us in a variety of ways. 

Opportunities, news, articles, and updates also appear on our World Methodist Evangelism Facebook page and our Wesleyan Accent Facebook page. 

Follow us on Twitter for a global perspective of life in the worldwide church. 

Check out Wesleyan Accent, our hub for practical and theological resources like articles, sermons, interviews, and book reviews generated with Wesleyan Methodist laypeople, clergy, and academics in mind. 

And note that registration is open for our global young leaders’ Metanoia conference next May in Costa Rica! We are excited about the compelling lineup of international speakers who are confirmed to join us. 

It’s such a privilege to join with brothers and sisters around the world in prayer and in celebration. Our global family stretches from Costa Rica to New Zealand, from India to Ireland, from Peru to Korea, from South Africa to Canada.  

Come see what God is doing! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Around the World in 60 Seconds

While events in the United States have dominated the North American news cycle, every day Methodists around the world encounter all kinds of opportunities and difficulties. 

You may remember the idea to pray around the globe as part of your regular prayer routine. Let’s join together to offer gratitude and intercession for our Wesleyan Methodist family around the world as we review recent happenings. John Wesley famously said, “the world is my parish,” but we know that our God created our universe and holds the earth and, yes, sun and moon in loving, all-powerful hands. 

*President of the World Methodist Council Rev. J.C. Park has called for renewed prayers for peace on the Korean peninsula. He directs churches towards a prayer for North and South Korea. 

*The Methodist Church in Singapore is celebrating 26 years of mission through its Methodist Mission Society, which it initiated in 1991. As you can read in, “Amidst Change, A Mission Unchanged,”  

As the first home-grown missionary sending agency, MMS is required to “work with local churches as its partners to promote the service opportunities and needs of mission fields selected by the Society.” 

Over the last 25 years, MMS’ objectives have been achieved in part through committed and able leadership, both in the Home Office and the mission fields. Partnership with our local churches has also contributed significantly to MMS’ integrated approach in church planting and community development. 

*The Church of the Nazarene celebrates the story of a Syrian refugee who found Christ through a church in Beirut. “Naseef’s family decided to send him to Lebanon to save his life. He moved into a house with other refugee friends near the Beirut Church of the Nazarene.” 

*Dr Olubunmi Olayisade, Africa Partnership Coordinator for the Connexional Team of the Methodist Church in Britain, has issued a response to the tragic calamity that recently unfolded near Freetown, Sierra Leone, where mudslides have devastated the region and claimed many lives. Along with other organizations, the Methodist Church in Britain is making it easy for donations to be made in response to the crisis. 

It was with great shock and sympathy that we watched the destruction of homes, properties and lives of the flood victims on the news yesterday. We heard the sad news that over 300 deaths were reported and over 2000 people were rendered homeless on the first day. It is certain that the death toll will rise. 

We therefore join our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone in mourning the deaths of community members and friends in Freetown. We pray for prompt response in getting humanitarian support to the flood victims to avert further deaths and hardship. 

*The Methodist-related Iglesia Evangélica Española, or Evangelical Church of Spain, issued a response to the deadly terror attacks in Barcelona, saying in part: “The pain and the horror assail us…We stand in solidarity with the families and with the city of Barcelona and we pray that barbarism will not also take away our principles of solidarity and respect. We think of the many places in Europe and beyond European borders…where this kind of gratuitous and ruthless violence is suffered and we think of broken families.” 

*The National Sunday School Department of the Methodist Church in Brazil is launching studies for children inspired by Katharina Von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this autumn. 

This is a brief panorama of the joys and sorrows of Wesleyan Methodists around the globe. I encourage you today to pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ as we let our light shine in the darkness. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Looking Forward

World Methodist Evangelism represents millions of Wesleyan Methodists from a variety of denominations around the world. We exist under the umbrella of the World Methodist Council, a body that links people together through a variety of ways.

Last fall we had the pleasure of gathering together with Wesleyan Methodists from all around the globe to worship, learn, connect, and encourage. There is nothing like the World Methodist Conference. It is a truly humbling experience.

In March, World Methodist Council leadership visited Sweden, where they both conducted business and began to sketch out plans for the next World Methodist Conference to be held in that northern European country in 2021. It’s become difficult in some ways to guess what the world may look like in five years. What we do know, however, is that since the mid-1700’s, the Wesleyan Methodist family of the Christian faith has grown and flourished in varied soil all around world. We also know that the God who brought us here will continue to guide and direct us.

What might God do between now and 2021? Will you join us in praying for the global family of Wesleyan Methodists between now and then? Do you have the ongoing courage and energy to look forward? We pray that God ignites in you a passion for Kingdom work that cannot be extinguished.

Praying Around the Globe

Sometimes access to instant global news can be overwhelming. Before even all of the facts are known, stories are disseminated, reacted to, and assessed. There is a great deal that could make our hearts anxious – if we let it.

This week, I suggest picturing a globe when you pray. If you have one in your home, pick it up, spin it. The good news is that there is no place on the face of the earth where we can hide from the presence of God.

Now move the globe, and look at it from different angles. Are you tempted to start from the place you call home? Spin it a little and picture life from one of the other chunks of earth. Look at Asia and Australia, Antarctica and Africa, Europe, South America and North America. On at least six of those seven continents – I can’t speak for Antarctica – there are not only Christian fellowships gathering and worshiping, there are Wesleyan Methodist Christian fellowships.

When you pray, start anywhere on the globe. Spin it and stop it with your finger randomly if you want. Pray for our sisters and brothers in the faith wherever you start. And continue around the globe. Let your eyes wander to places you’ve never heard of, or cities you can’t pronounce. Ask God to be at work in those places. When you’ve prayed around the world, turn the globe so you can see your home region. Picture a map being zoomed in around your house or flat, and pray for God to be at work in your neighborhood, your street, your home.

And then, wherever you are, look up – towards your ceiling, towards the sky, and pray for God to be at work in the International Space Station orbiting over earth, astronauts looking down at our nighttime city lights – because after all, not all humans live on earth now! As John Wesley said, “the world [cosmos?] is my parish.”

Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. – Psalm 139:7-12

On the Road: Witness in Central Asia

Reflections from my travel journal:

The other day I preached. The church was packed to overflowing – so many kids and young people! It was Communion Sunday, which is a time when they allow young adults to practice preaching. Three young women preached before I ever got up! One on persistence in prayer even when we don’t receive what we are asking for, one on the danger of sin, and one on the church as a temple for God. The woman who preached on prayer became a Christian a few years ago. She began praying for her husband to accept Christ but ultimately he told her to choose between him and “her God.” When she chose God, he left her and their two sons to fend for themselves.

Many people here are nominal Orthodox in the same way that many Christians in the US are nominal. It’s more of a cultural thing. This nation is also about 80% Muslim – there are over 2,000 mosques – and Saudi Arabia is funding the building of new mosques. Interestingly, there are a number of nominal Muslims – which may be why the Saudis are so keen. For Protestant Christians, local churches must register with the state. A group cannot be considered a registered church unless you have at least 200 members. If you are not registered, you cannot legally gather for worship. Evangelism by churches in the other category is prohibited: they are not allowed to invite people to church or have foreign visitors for religious purposes.

Today we baptized a young man who is 24 years old. He and two other young men (19 and 21 years old) came to the seminar with their pastor Igor (who is also pretty young!). The man who was baptized oversees the education section of the community center in his town.

Seminar participants are so committed to faith and evangelism. Inspiring! If you want to be Christian here you have to be incredibly committed.  Several of the young adults are attending the seminar with their pastor.