Focusing on the call to mission, United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu of Sierra Leone reminded General Conference 2016 delegates that Christ calls us to dismantle the demons of poverty, injustice, racism, war, disease, hunger “and all forms of inequities in our world.”
The bishop spoke especially of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionaries who go from everywhere … to everywhere. Twenty-nine missionaries were commissioned during the morning worship service.
He shared his story of growing up poor in Africa.
“I know through and through what poverty is. I have slept with it, and I have woken up with it. … Countless times, I went to bed without food.
“As a missionary working in sub-Saharan Africa,” he continued, “I have not only experienced poverty, but for almost 10 years, I had to wrestle with it. Today, as a bishop of the church and working in my own home country, Sierra Leone, I live side by side with poverty and misery.”
Citing the millions of God’s children who struggle to survive every day, he said, “I am totally fed up! I am fed up! We need to engage each other! We need to embrace each other! We need to talk to each other!
“Red and yellow, black and white, poor and rich, haves and have-nots, gay or straight, bisexual or homosexual, polygamists, we all need to engage one another,” the bishop said.
“We need to shake this place,” Yambasu added. “We need to shake our churches. We need to torment God with our prayers and give us sleepless nights until we can look at each other in the face and say, ‘We are brothers and we are sisters.’”Acknowledging that the denomination has invested time and expense as it struggles with sexuality and other issues, the bishop asked one final question.
“How much time have we invested in prayer? We just think we can fix it.” Until we call on God, he said, “we are only fooling ourselves.”
Yambasu concluded with a challenge “to dismantle the demons of all sorts of inequalities in our world. We are called to do so with passion. But even more so, we must do so with compassion. Therefore, go!”
Dunlap-Berg is general church content editor, United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee.