Saturday, October 27, 2007

Opening Gateway, Part Two

It rained all afternoon in Yaounde, forcing us to move our Friday evening program at Gateway UMC indoors. This was only a problem when we realized there was no power … Fortunately, there is a generator in the office, and we were able to get it going.

Simeon had asked me to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on the subject, “Who are United Methodists?”

In the end, thirteen brave souls showed up to hear me tell the story of John Wesley and the people called Methodists.

(No, that’s not a huge number, but YOU schedule a program called, “Who are United Methodists?” at your church, and count how many show up!! Am I right?)

The crowd was actually quite interested in the stories of Wesley, the revivals, and what the United Methodist Church believes. The PowerPoint was full of pictures of eighteenth-century England, as well as contemporary Methodist churches and some of the wide-ranging activities of our boards and agencies. I also talked about the vision of Gateway UMC, and introduced Simeon as the pastor.

The questions at the end indicated that people were actually listening, and quite interested!. One man stood up and said he’d never heard of United Methodists, but was ready to join the church, and wanted to be in the choir!

There were questions about what the name “Methodist” means, about our practice of baptism, and the differences between Methodism and Pentecostalism.

I find myself in situations like these often in Cameroon. I’m constantly defining, explaining – and even, defending – Methodism.

And in these situations, I stick to the basics -- Methodism is an evangelical movement with a simple mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ. And Methodists are nothing but disciples of Christ who are seeking to put their love and faith into action.