Tuesday, April 29, 2008

So Glad To Be a United Methodist

I know this is out of order, but I just have to write about today here at General Conference. At 3:55pm, they closed all the doors of the conference hall. Police presence has been felt all day, along with bomb sniffing dogs because security needed to be tight.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of the Republic of Liberia, addressed the General Conference. And the tone for her address was set when we learned from her bishop in Liberia that she was a "daughter of the United Methodist Church". She attended a Methodist school in Liberia as a child and graduated from a Methodist college. She was one of the leaders of the reform movement and the first woman elected in a democratic election process in Africa.

She was incredible. She spoke with passion about the way that Liberia is beginning to put itself back together after years of corruption and strife. And she spoke about the way the church was working with places such as Liberia to offer hope to even more people. I urge you to check out her address at the General Conference website (www.gc2008.umc.org).

As flawed and as failing as the church is, I fell in love with it all over again. This church reaches worldwide and it is passionately spreading the good news in word and deed. It is offering hope to so many people who have very little to hope for.

Unemployment in Liberia is down from 90% to only 65% (!!!!). Poverty is still something that they're working on as about 75% of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Many of them live on less than $1 a day. But whereas there used to be a lot of fear and suspicion of the government, now their reforms and generous actions to help others are beginning to have effect and the light in children's eyes are beginning to come back to life. They don't shy away when her convoy comes to town.

What an incredible moment--to share that with all these people. In that moment, the disagreements (which will resume tonight) and the hard choices we think we're facing just melted away and anything was possible.

So that's my unattainable prayer--one that only God can answer and only through God can an answer come--that through the love of Christ in the United Methodist Church that anything might be possible and the world might truly be transformed.


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