Transformed by the Wesleyan Movement: Global Mission Connections
By Mande Muyombo*
Mande Muyombo, Dr. Richard Letshu, Celestin Lohalo Malamba (DS, Kindu
South) and Bishop Unda Gabriel Yemba, at the Salama UMC, in Kindu, East
Congo area, listening and discussing congregational development and
church planting with pastors. PHOTO: CHRISTIE R. HOUSE
The Church experiences and engages in God’s mission as it pours itself out for others, ready to cross every boundary to call for true human dignity among all peoples, especially among those regarded as the least of God’s children, all the while making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
—Theology of Mission: The Church as a Community of Servanthood in Mission section
I grew up as a child standing at the periphery, in a very violent and poor context, but also in a context that was ravaged by diseases, such as malaria, and other health issues, including child and maternal mortality. It was a context that did not have significant infrastructure for education. I was born in Kambove, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and my father was a typist for a mining company. He brought home less than $200 a month. On this subsistence income lived my mother and father and 16 children.
I consider myself an example of the work of The United Methodist Church through the General Board of Global Ministries. I am a beneficiary and a witness to this agency that brought hope to my community—introducing specific programs that addressed the four focus areas of the church: gathering disciples for Jesus Christ; building strong local congregations; addressing the endemic health issues that caused so much suffering; and providing education that formed strong young leaders for the church. The missionaries who came to teach, preach, and work as doctors and nurses in the small clinics that tended to our health, the Advance projects that helped to build churches and schools and agricultural programs, and the grants and scholarships that provided precious opportunities for education and training—made possible by many people we had never met; these are the blessings of God. As someone living in poverty, I experienced a transformation through the work of Global Ministries, but I was also transformed by God through the power of connectionalism.
I am very proud to be Congolese and from the Kamina area. This is a place where you wake up as Methodist, you eat as Methodist, you drink as Methodist, and you go to bed as Methodist. I am an eyewitness of what United Methodists are capable of doing in mission when we come together. As a youth I started dreaming of one day joining Global Ministries in order to give back, not only to my community, but to communities all across the world. And today, this is my calling and my vocation, especially going into new geographical areas and planting seeds in the Wesleyan tradition through the Mission Initiatives program.
Finding myself here at Global Ministries, I give of myself as part of the agency that connects the church in its mission efforts. I now understand that I have always been part of a strong connectional church, my whole life. Yet, I always remember my roots in Kamina, where there could not be life without the United Methodists. My family’s story is one of transformation through the Holy Spirit. Even though I now live and work in the United States, I am still part of that Kamina community. I don’t feel disconnected from my homeland, and I understand the lives of many in other communities throughout the world who are struggling with issues of poverty, health, and food insecurity, and that is why I feel compelled to continue to be part of this transforming moment.
Something to Give
But this story cannot only be about the blessings of receiving. The United Methodist Church and Global Ministries have also come to recognize that, regardless of poverty or any other factors, all communities have assets and resources to bring to the communal table. Through Global Ministries, for instance, many other regions have learned about the riches of my community.
The CHAD team in Cambodia: (front row) Him Daneth, Sok Sophal, and Yi
Chamreoun; (back row) Leng Thy, Kennedy O. Cruz, missionary and team
leader, and Sotico Pagulayan III. PHOTO: KENNEDY O. CRUZ
My community is very strong in hospitality and in gardening or low-scale farming. It has a strong sense of being in community—in sharing our joys and our pains together. It is also very strong in mutuality and evangelism. And, regardless of the situation, we still believe that God will see us through; there is a tomorrow. These are some of the values that I cherish. Our congregations have a strong cultural identity and vibrant worship. This richness is part of what I have to share with other regions around the world.
I think Global Ministries’ theology of mission is a resource that we have shared with the church in very practical ways. One paragraph states: God’s Holy Spirit calls the Church into being for mission….The Church experiences and engages in God’s mission as it pours itself out for others, ready to cross every boundary to call for true human dignity among all peoples, especially among those regarded as the least of God’s children, all the while making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
Wherever I go in the world, whether in Africa, Europe, the United States, Latin America, or Asia, the hospitality with which Global Ministries engages communities and the programmatic content of its work, regardless of the issues faced in any particular region, truly affirm John Wesley’s sentiment that “the world is my parish.” We are part of a strong connection that reminds us that through Christ’s incarnation, Christ is present everywhere. Christ is already present with the sick, the poor, the marginalized, and those who suffer. And in different contexts, suffering may take different forms, such as being rejected or bullied, or isolated. The strength of being surrounded by a strong cloud of witnesses within this connectional system motivates me to participate in God’s mission with a sense of responsibility, but also with a sense of belonging. It is not ministry for, but ministry with, and from within.
God’s Work of Transformation
I approach my work with a sense of humility, open to new ways of engaging in mission as the Holy Spirit directs, and listening for God’s voice through our partners around the world—whose voices include not only United Methodists but also ecumenical partners, especially when it comes to the greater global challenges, such as global migration or other issues of human rights.
Mande Muyombo (left) assists pastors of the East Congo Episcopal area
at the Kitumaini UMC in Kindu as they prepare for the dedication of the
new East Congo episcopal offices.Photo by Christie R. House
As part of my work, I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to see the mission initiative there, meet with our missionaries, and visit some projects. I was humbled by the work that our missionaries and their local partners are doing in Cambodia. Programs like Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD, Advance #14916A) are transforming Cambodian communities. I was humbled and impressed by the local community members who, you could see, felt part of a bigger movement and have taken ownership of the programs. Another powerful thing about the mission in Cambodia is that our missionaries come from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, as well as from Cambodia. They work together as our missionary community there, truly mission “from everywhere to everywhere.”
On a visit to one of the CHAD projects in Cambodia, I was out with a couple of missionaries meeting and talking with community members. I noticed a woman whose skin was darker than her neighbors’. She stood up and said, “I’m so happy because I see somebody who has skin like mine who has come to visit us.” Another transforming moment—just for somebody in Cambodia with black skin to see another person, a church official, if you will, who looked like her. She gave me a big hug and accompanied me until we had to go. She could see that she was part of a larger, connected community, and God alone knows how the Holy Spirit might be moving in that community as a result.
We are all in this together. The more we engage in mission, the more we are transformed, and God’s work of transformation is constant. But integral to this process is the notion of kenosis, or self-emptying. We receive in order that we may give—and initially, it is not about who is higher or who is lower on the social or professional ladder—we experience God’s grace and then we are all called to experience the next step by giving ourselves and that grace to one another.
Global Mission Connections
The Global Mission Connections unit, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, brings together programmatic work from around the world. Three regional offices are planned to forge closer connections with people and programs in specific regions. The Latin America regional office has already been established in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the early part of 2017, a second regional office will open in Seoul, Korea. Preparations to open a third office on the continent of Africa are also underway. Mission Initiatives are currently active in Cameroon, Senegal, the Central African Republic, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
A home fellowship group blesses children in Astana, the capital of
Kazakhstan. Missionary E. Kim is with them, serving the Global
Ministries’ mission initiative there. PHOTO: ÜLLAS TANKLER
In the United States, some of the racial or ethnic national plans are part of the Global Mission Connections unit: the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry; the Asian American Language Ministry; the Korean Ministry Plan; and the Pacific-Islander National Plan. In addition, we have a Native American ministries office and a staff member working in the area of human rights as a liaison with the United Nations. The Community Developers ministry is also part of this unit’s work.
The world of the Global Mission Connections unit often takes us to communities in difficult contexts. Whether we need to be present with our brothers and sisters who are living in conflict zones, or in places where the words “missionary and mission” are not accepted, we follow God’s call. We will face challenges, but we continue to stand in solidarity, even with many whom we cannot reach yet. Knowing that the Holy Spirit is already present, even in the most difficult places, we are assured that God is paving the way for us to join the saints with whom God is already working.
The Rev. Dr. Mande Muyombo* serves as executive director of Global Ministries’ new Global Mission Connections unit. Originally from North Katanga, DRC, he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Africa University in Zimbabwe as a Global Ministries scholar, and a Master in Theology and doctorate from St. Paul Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He served as president and director of Kamina Methodist University in the DRC before joining Global Ministries as a staff member in 2013.
Copyright New World Outlook magazine, Winter 2017 issue. Used by permission. Email the New World Outlook editor for more information.
For More Information on the Ministries of Global Mission Connections
Mission Initiatives: www.umcmission.org/mi
National Plans: www.umcmission.org/Connect-with-us/National-Plans