Dear Partners in Mission,
Greetings in God’s love! As we begin the new year, I want to bring your attention back to the first evangelists of the Christian faith. Some scholars would argue that the shepherds and the Magi who searched for Jesus were the first to discover and share the miracle of the Messiah. Writer Carey Kinsolving, who proclaimed that the wise men were gentiles, said, “Salvation comes through the Jews, but it’s not exclusively for the Jews.”
In the same way, we continue to believe that Christ came into the world for all people everywhere. Our calling continues to be driven by the Gospel proclamation found in Matthew 28:18b-20, NRSV, in which Jesus proclaims, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” All means all, and this commission continues to drive, guide and inspire us to this day.
As the global mission, development and relief agency of The United Methodist Church, we continue to foster and facilitate the work of connecting the church in mission from everywhere to everywhere by equipping, connecting, supporting and enhancing our evangelism ministries throughout the world. One primary means of reaching into new places so that we can reach new people is through our “Mission Initiatives.” Through our collaborative work with the Council of Bishops, Global Ministries works to start new churches that can become new districts or new annual conferences in countries or regions that have little to no Methodist presence. We approach these new opportunities for mission prayerfully and carefully as we discern where God is calling us as people called United Methodist.
It is a challenging and often messy endeavor as we seek to start new churches in countries where Christianity is either nonexistent or restricted. It can be challenging as we seek to enter into communities where we have little understanding of the language, the cultural contexts or the laws. As our general secretary Thomas Kemper often reminds us, “Mission is messy.” And venturing into territories with little to no Christian presence, let alone Methodist presence, can be especially messy. More often than not, it takes a lot of patience and humility to let the Holy Spirit guide us in these unchartered territories.
However, if we are to take the Gospel mandate seriously, we must be faithful and responsive to God’s call upon our lives as The United Methodist Church and dare to go where others have not been. We need to dare to respond to the Holy Spirit and venture across nations and lands to find Jesus and share the good news with everyone we meet. If the wise men and the shepherds could do it, then so must we! What a great gift both to go and discover Christ in new places, while also sharing Christ in new places for new people throughout the world.
Thank you for joining us in the adventures of evangelism and ministry through The United Methodist Church!
With God’s love and grace,
Amy Valdez Barker
Executive Director for Global Mission Connections