“Missionaries are the ligaments that provide the connections that draw other people and other parts of the church together,” said the Rev. Skip Hodges, who currently serves in Bolivia as the Church Liaison with the Methodist Church in Bolivia. Skip is just one of the missionaries to give a testimony about his mission work at The Advance display area in the exhibit hall of General Conference 2012 in Tampa.
“The Methodist Church in Bolivia has eight health posts supported by US churches in areas where there would otherwise be no healthcare,” continued Hodges. “Literally, people walk two hours to get to our health posts, and very often, it’s another eight-hour walk to the next source of any kind of medical help.” Hodges said the Methodist Church in Bolivia staffs each clinic with a nurse, available full-time and for emergencies, who speaks both the local indigenous language and Spanish.
On Wednesday, April 25, Church and Community Worker Donna Pewo described her work with the Clinton Indian Church and Community Center in Clinton, Oklahoma. “The center focuses on children and youth and we strive to empower and encourage the children to fulfill their potential and to dream of a future with hope. Because of the rich cultural background that the children come from, and by rethinking the church’s concept of mission, we trust that life and freedom in Jesus Christ will shine through in all the work that we do. Through the power of forgiveness, we can undo past damage inflicted by the church on the Native American people of this area, and begin a positive relationship between the church and the community.”
Four Congolese missionaries who have built up the United Methodist Church in Tanzania for the last 20 years spoke to passers-by on Tuesday. One listener asked the Rev. Mutwale Ntamba Wa Mushidi what it was like to go into a village to “evangelize” when you didn’t know anyone. “Well,” he said, “it is very difficult, but first you need to speak their language—in some areas, Swahili, for instance. You come into the village and you let them know you are a pastor, and they may be curious.” Recent church starts of the Tanzanian UMC are in two Maasai villages in Morogoro, under the direction of the other missionary pastor, The Rev. Umba Kalangwa . There are also congregations in two refugee camps along the DR Congo and Burundi borders.
Kabaka Alphonsine and Ngoy Kalangwa serve in Tanzania with their husbands. Alphonsine is director of Women’s Activities and Training for the Tanzanian church and the church’s preschool in Dar es Salaam. Ngoy Kalangwa is the coordinator of United Methodist schools. She helped to establish preschools in rural areas such as Morogoro, where until recently there had been no school. She is also the director of the Suzannah Wesley Training & Health Center in Morogoro, which provides two three-month training terms a year in tie-dying and sewing skills for unemployed and disadvantaged women and girls.
Christie R. House is the editor ofNew World Outlook,a mission periodical of the General Board of Global Ministries.