WME’s 50th Anniversary!
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Rob Haynes 0:10
Welcome to World Methodist Evangelism’s Real Faith Real World podcast where we connect the faith within us with the world around us. At World Methodist Evangelism, we desire for Christ’s followers and the global Wesleyan family to become agents of transformation by sharing the gospel to the power of the Holy Spirit. This is accomplished through training, gathering and resourcing as we fulfill our mission to equip and encourage Christ followers around the world to share their faith in the context of today’s realities. My name is Rob Haynes of World Methodist Evangelism. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. And thank you to the folks at Christ Church Global in Memphis, Tennessee, for sponsoring this podcast. We’d love for you to rate and subscribe; let others know what you think about this podcast and help us get the word out to others as well. We also welcome your comments. Write to us at email@example.com. Today I’m joined by Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism, Kim Reisman. Welcome, Kim. Hey, Rob. Happy New Year. Hope you had a wonderful holiday.
Kim Reisman 1:20
I did. I’m ready to start the New Year.
Rob Haynes 1:24
And speaking of the New Year, it’s a big birthday for World Methodist Evangelism.
Kim Reisman 1:29
It is. It is our 50th anniversary year and we’re really excited.
Rob Haynes 1:35
It is really exciting. There’s a lot of great things going on. I’m looking forward to talking about those with you so that everyone can know about that. But you know, I’ve found that World Methodist Evangelism unfortunately, is the best kept secret in Methodism. Give us kind of a brief; how did it get started? And kind of a recap of the last 50 years and very briefly, 100 words or less?
Kim Reisman 2:02
Yes, very briefly. Well, I do agree with you, I think World Evangelism is one of the best kept secrets of Methodism. But basically, in 1971, the World Methodist Council decided to launch World Evangelism. The World Methodist Council is an association of all the different churches, all the different denominations that have a Wesleyan background that can find their historical roots in the movement of John Wesley. So it’s like the United Nations of the Methodist world, so to speak. The World Methodist Council in 1971 determined that there really needed to be some significant emphasis on reaching others for Jesus, showing and sharing the love of Jesus so they created World Methodist Evangelism. And over the course of time, a lot of things have obviously changed, but our mission: to be able to equip people to be able to share their faith has remained unchanged from the beginning. How we do that has changed, but the mission has been the same, to equip the worldwide Wesleyan family to reach other people on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Rob Haynes 3:29
Well, one of the things that I love about World Methodist Evangelism is that we have been able through our history, and prayerfully, now and going forward to grasp the cultural moment.
Kim Reisman 3:42
Oh, absolutely. That’s a great way to put it: grasping the cultural moment. Those cultural moments over time really crystallized World Evangelism’s work. In the very, very beginning, it was a fledgling organization with mostly volunteer staff. In the late 1980s, Dr. Eddie Fox came on board as the Executive Director, though he was called the World Director at that point in time. At the end of the 1980s, around 1989 that was right at the same time that the Berlin Wall was falling and the Soviet Union was beginning the process of all the different countries becoming independent. So at that point in time, you know, prior to the fall of the wall, all of Eastern Europe and the Soviet nations were pretty oppressed and Christianity was not allowed, everyone had to go underground. But with the fall of the wall and the dismantling of the Soviet Union, all of a sudden Christians could worship in public and they could be public about their faith. New churches started to spring up everywhere, fledgling churches. Well, World Evangelism, because we bring the entire Wesleyan family together, we were perfectly positioned to be able to bring people together around the task of church planting, and nurturing and encouraging those brand new Christians. They had previously been a mostly atheistic culture and they were hearing about Jesus for the first time. So that was one of the first major ways in which we kind of grasped the cultural moment and brought the entire family together around the task of planting churches and bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ, and bringing the family around, together around that work.
Rob Haynes 6:01
And World Evangelism continues to embrace the cultural moment. We’ve had several things over those 50 years, not just the Iron Curtain falling, but other sorts of things. And wow, are we in a unique cultural moment today?
Kim Reisman 6:15
Indeed. You know we’ve done all kinds of things in that regard. I mean, almost all of the ministries that we’ve created over time have come out of this need, again, of the cultural moment we’ve created. One of the things that we’ve done, that we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary this year also, is the Order of the Flame. That’s a community, a real ethnically diverse community, that joins together each year for nurture and support and equipping; it is young clergy and their spouses. That came out, again, out of the need for training and equipping and evangelism, enabling young pastors to recognize the importance of evangelism early on in their ministries. And also the need to bring the family together, across ethnic boundaries, across geographic boundaries, and again, across the boundaries of denominations. So that met a really unique need at that time and continues to meet a very, very strong need for connection and for reconciliation and for relationship building.
Rob Haynes 7:37
And one of the things that I’m really excited to talk about and share with our listeners today is all the great things we have going on in this 50th anniversary year. One of which is that 25th reunion of the Order of the Flame. Alumni, anyone who has been to Order of the Flame in the past are welcome to come and that will be October the fourth. Usually Order of the Flame is in March, but considering all that’s going on, we’ve moved it to October the fourth and it will be at St. Simons Island. If you are someone who has attended Order of the Flame in the past, we would love for you to come any year, but particularly this year for that 25th reunion. You can see all that on our website and registration, information, everything is there on the website. We would love to have a strong showing of everyone way across the Wesleyan Methodist family. Not only is the 25th reunion of Order of the Flame but also the Faith-Sharing New Testament as well.
Kim Reisman 8:37
That’s right, that’s another one that grew out of the need, again, to have a very basic resource that people could use to be able to share their faith. So the Faith-Sharing New Testament has the New Testament and the Psalms. But in the front part of the New Testament, there is a set of questions and answers, very basic questions about Christian faith, with very simple straightforward answers. And then the answers are also accompanied by Scripture passages that can help you root the answers in the Scriptures. It’s a great tool to begin the relationships with people who are exploring Christian faith, to walk through those questions and answers with them because when people are new to the faith there’s always a lot of questions or when people are exploring faith there’s always a lot of questions. This is just a simple entryway for good conversation and learning. Then in the back section are guidelines for helping you share your faith. The principles and values, the importance of prayer and the importance of humility, and things of that nature, drawing to a large extent on the understanding of reaching out on behalf of Jesus Christ. So there’s a lot of wonderful information in the Faith-Sharing New Testament. And in honor of its 25th anniversary, and in honor of our 50th anniversary, we’re releasing a 50th anniversary edition of the Faith-Sharing New Testament and I’m really excited about that. It’s been translated into over 40 different languages. We’re really excited about the impact that has had and the impact this next edition is going to have in the future.
Rob Haynes 10:52
Yeah, and I challenge people frequently with the Faith-Sharing New Testament, because it’s pocket sized, it’s the kind of thing you can carry around with you. I tell people take one of these, put it in your desk, in your car, in your purse, or wherever, and keep it with you. It’s something that you can look at and study those questions about those basic understandings of Christian faith and also how to lead someone to Christ. It’s also something that you can hand to somebody who may be a new Christian or exploring faith that you can put in their hands as a way to help them. They’re very inexpensive. We have copies in English and in Spanish on our website that you can buy. And then we really look forward to that 50th anniversary edition to come out later, in 2021.
Kim Reisman 11:40
Rob Haynes 11:42
Well, one of the things that I really appreciate that we do at World Evangelism is embrace our global context so much. There was a thing called ICYC that a few years ago was renamed Metanoia meaning transformation. We’re looking forward to a new Metanoia again. Recently, we had one a few years ago in Costa Rica in 2018. And now we’re going to host another Metanoia in Sweden — kind of catch our listeners up on some of the plans for that in 2021 and 2022.
Kim Reisman 12:22
Metanoia is a great experience for young adults
Rob Haynes 12:27
And you are a long time alum of Metanoia.
Kim Reisman 12:31
Right, I am a long time alum. ICYC stands for, well it’s actually ICYCE and it stands for International Christian Youth Conferences on Evangelism. We renamed that Metanoia in 2018, primarily because we wanted to emphasize the focus of transformation, which is what we’re really all about, enabling young adults to experience Christ in a transformative way in their lives. And to connect their faith with the larger world, whether that’s through a call to ministry or just simply through their vocations, whether they’re nurses or teachers, or doctors or lawyers, whatever they are, to make those strong connections between their vocation and their faith in Jesus Christ. It started back in 1980 and we’ve had 11 different ICYCs in the years, or Metanoia’s now, in the years since and as you said, the most recent was in Costa Rica in 2018. In 2022 we will gather in Sweden. So this year, 2021, is going to be a big year of building up momentum for that. We’re going to be having some virtual gatherings around various topics in anticipation of gathering in person in Sweden in August of 2022. Metanoia is for young adults ages 18 to 35. One of the transformative things that happened to me in my life was that I really experienced God moving in the world and in my life in a way I had never encountered before because I was able to, for the first time, meet people from South Africa and people from Brazil and young adults from all over the world. That just dramatically changed my outlook and how I perceive the world and how I perceive God’s movement in the world and it made a huge difference. So that’s the kind of thing that we hope to provide an environment for the Holy Spirit to move so that young adults can encounter others, from other parts of the world, gain a new perspective about God, about their own faith, and about the world in which they live in.
Rob Haynes 15:10
Yeah, I’m so excited. Metanoia is a truly unique experience, to gather 100 to 125 people at that stage and age and station in life, from 25 countries or so, six continents will be represented there, we fully expect as it has been in the past. And to see what God is doing all across those different contexts. It’s more than a summer camp, it’s more than a retreat, it’s more than a worship time, it’s more than a study time. It’s just really hard to describe. You can imagine when you put all of those elements together, what God does in the midst of it, and I’m truly excited about all that that will be. And so as we get ready for that, in those virtual realms, as we get ready for the 2022 event, I would encourage our listeners to pray for that as people are selected for that.
Kim Reisman 16:06
And the other element of that is, it brings people together that might not otherwise be able to be there. One of the big things that World Evangelism does is raise money for scholarships so that young adults can go. I would encourage you to: A. if you’re a young adult, come to Metanoia. and B. if you’re a church that is committed to the spiritual development of young adults, send some of the young adults from your own church and sponsor scholarships for young adults from other parts of the world to come. The only way we’re able to make it happen is through the generosity of folks who are committed to the faith development of young adults.
Rob Haynes 16:57
Absolutely. And speaking of faith development, we’ve got a lot of exciting things going on, in terms of the cultural moment, the globalization, and we’re still feeling the effects of COVID-19 and will for some time. And we, like many others, have realized that we need to engage teaching, learning, discipleship, evangelism, in some new ways. We continue the work of international seminars that we’ve done in the past and we were invited to teach alongside local leadership in the areas of evangelism and discipleship. We’re getting ready for some of those and re-engaging that, it’s not just in person, but also virtual as well. And one of the key pieces of that teaching is Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus. And that’s your work.
Kim Reisman 17:52
Yeah, that is my work. Yeah. Embrace is kind of the linchpin at this stage in terms of our understanding of how we approach evangelism at World Methodist Evangelism. Embrace is more than simply a how-to listing kind of thing about doing evangelism and more of the opportunity to deepen your own faith so that you’re able to share it with much more competence, and in a more natural and authentic way. But it’s also about a kind of the stance that we hold as we engage others with the Gospel. It’s really about our attitudes and fostering certain essential values that are crucial to relating to other people in love, and with compassion, so that they really are able to hear the Good News of the Gospel. We focus on six essential values: humility, clarity, prayer, integrity, worship and urgency, in order for people to understand the way that they relate to others, and the importance of how they engage the world. So that’s a part of a lot of the things that we do at our international seminars. It will be a part of Metanoia . It’s part of the Order of the Flame. But it’s not the only thing, there’s a lot of showing and sharing the love of Jesus that is so contextual. And so it’s so important to be able to understand the unique situation that we find ourselves in, the cultural realities that we’re facing at any given moment, in any different place in the world. And so Embrace is one piece of that whole entire approach to to evangelism.
Rob Haynes 19:59
Sure. And one of the the things I love about World Methodist Evangelism is that it is a catalyst for a way for others to engage with what they’ve been doing. So my work and writing and teaching is in mission. And, of course, evangelism. But those are two parts of that, yours more strongly in evangelism. But we have recognized that others in their own context, are being used by God, to teach and share and lead others. So it’s very exciting to think about, not only do we do this internationally, but domestically in the United States and other parts of the world, where we can come alongside others and I’ve heard people say that, “I’ve been really trying to reach out to these other Wesleyan denominations in our area, but we haven’t been able to make it work, but when World Methodist Evangelism came to town, we were all able to work together, and come together for some teaching, some training, and some resourcing of people in our community.” And that’s always very exciting.
Kim Reisman 21:02
To me, that’s one of the most important things that we really do, is that we bring people together. And you’re absolutely right. There are a lot of times when different churches in the Methodist Wesleyan family can exist in the same community and never engage each other. But the reality is, each of us, as individuals, and each of us as churches, brings a unique perspective to the Gospel and to sharing the Gospel and to working on behalf of Jesus Christ, whether it’s serving or in works of mercy, or any of the different ministries we do. We are stronger and our witnesses stronger, when we can do things together, when we can recognize our connections and that doesn’t mean we have to be exactly the same. It does mean that there’s great value in coming together and World Evangelism is able to do that in a unique way that isn’t found in very many other organizations, and really does tap into the strengths of all the different churches so that the impact is multiplied.
Rob Haynes 22:18
Yeah. And I want to bring something back to what we said in the beginning, as well, as we talked about all of these. World Methodist Evangelism is supported by the generosity of individuals and churches and others who believe in the work that we’re doing. We received no funding from the Council or anything like that. We have a wonderful collaborative relationship but in order to make the ministry work, the funding has to come from individuals and churches. And so all of these things that we’ve talked about only happen when when people give generously.
Kim Reisman 22:51
That’s absolutely true. Because even though we were birthed out of the Council, and our relationship with the Council is extremely strong, it’s a missional relationship. It’s a collegial type of relationship and so we don’t receive any funding, specifically from the Council, and we don’t receive any funding from the actual denominations. So in that sense, we are autonomous, but at the same time we bring everyone together; we’re like a connection point. Our work is only possible, because of the generous donors that we have, individuals and local churches who decide that they want to make us part of their outreach and of their mission and they support us in that way.
Rob Haynes 23:45
Well, absolutely. And 2021 also brings a shiny new website for World Methodist Evangelism. We encourage people if they want to learn more about any of these, if or if you want to donate, you can visit us at WorldMethodist.org. There you can write to us, you can learn more about how to register for these, or how to purchase a copy of the Faith-Sharing New Testament or Embrace or others as well. We wanted to take this first episode of 2021 to let folks know about some of the exciting things going on this year. Is there anything else that you want to talk about as we look forward to the next 50 years that God will do through World Methodist Evangelism?
Kim Reisman 24:33
Oh my goodness, there’s all kinds of things that I believe God is going to be doing and one of the exciting things about being a part of World Methodist Evangelism is that God is really working all over the world and in dramatic ways, in subtle ways, but always in exciting ways. We kind of get a front row seat to that which is just really, really wonderful. I’m excited about what God’s going to do in the aftermath, hopefully, of COVID-19, since we’re in the beginning of 2021, all of that is still somewhat unfolding, but hopefully moving in the right direction. So much of our work in the past has been solely focused on in-person gatherings, but as difficult as the as the COVID crisis was, it’s given us the opportunity to expand as so many other organizations have to expand into the digital realm. And so I’m excited about the way God is going to use that, our ability to, to create training events, and gatherings, across geographical boundaries, and even across language boundaries. We have the technology to be able to do simultaneous translations so that doesn’t minimize our work, or provide us with a hurdle of any kind. So that’s an exciting thing. We’re going to be able to bring people together in ways that we had not been able to in the past simply because of that digital component. It certainly won’t replace the in-person gathering because there’s, something extremely valuable about being able to actually be together, face to face and in-person. It will enable us to augment that and expand that in ways that I know God is going to bless and make fruitful. And so I’m really looking forward to that; I don’t know what exactly what it’s going to look like at any given time because God has always got surprises, but I’m excited and I’m confident that it’s going to be a really neat thing.
Rob Haynes 26:45
Absolutely. We invite you, the listener, to join right alongside us in that journey as we go together to what God is doing. Well, Kim, what a joy to hear some of your excitement in history about World Methodist Evangelism and also looking forward to what will happen in 2021. Thanks again for tuning in to this episode of World Methodist Evangelism’s Real Faith Real World. I’m Rob Haynes and we invite you to connect with us on social media. You can find all the links there in today’s show notes. Visit our website: WorldMethodist.org where you can provide feedback on this episode or anything else about the podcast. We also would encourage you to rate and subscribe on wherever you find your podcast. Thanks again to Christ Church Global for sponsoring this episode and thank you for listening.
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