Tag Archives: ministry

Greetings from Entebbe

Greetings from the beautiful Imperial Golf View Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda, in sight of Lake Victoria. It is one of the nicest hotels I have experienced in Uganda.

We have a cool, cloudless morning and are looking forward to a sunny day full of wonderful opportunities for ministry.

The team gathered at RDU at 11am Wednesday morning. We first flew to Atlanta where we had a short hour and a half layover and met Nancy, the last member of our 9 member team, a hospital CEO from near Macon. This is her first VIM trip so she is thrilled to be heading to Yei with us.

We left Atlanta later than scheduled amid lightning and thunder, and headed to Amsterdam where we arrived a little more than 8 hours after leaving Atlanta. We were an hour late getting into Amsterdam due to the storm delay in Atlanta, but still had a 4 hour layover before board our next flight.

The KLM flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe was a little under 9 hours, but was mostly smooth and uneventful. We arrive here around 2130, ( which is about 1430 east Coast time). After going through immigration and customs and getting all our bags organized and loaded into the vehicles, we finally got to our hotel around 2230.

Needless to say, no one had any difficulty getting to sleep after over 20 hours of travel.  We all met for breakfast at 0800 this morning and it was a much more relaxed group than when we arrived last night. A hot shower and 6-7 hours sleep makes a big difference.

We are here for only two nights. We leave tomorrow morning on Eagle Air for a short direct flight to Yei.

This is a really solid team. We have a good cross-section of skills and expertise, and all of us seem to fit together well. There is already a lot of laughter and good-natured kidding on top of an understood deep commitment to the work we are her to do.

Please keep the team in your prayers that we might accomplish all that we have the opportunity to do while in South Sudan.

More to come. Stay tuned.

South Sudan’s hunger crisis

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Even though South Sudan’s hunger crisis isn’t making the headlines it is terribly real. Today I am at Lake Junaluska in the mountains of North Carolina having meetings  with United Methodist leaders from the Holston Conference about our common ministry in this embattled country.

Our hope is to partner in our efforts to increase our impact. We all realize that working together accomplishes far more than working alone. In today’s meetings we will explore ways to connect and serve even more of those in need.

saved by faith

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. — Reinhold Niehubr

Reinhold Niebuhr has long been one of my favorite theologians. He was a true religious leader. His intellectual power and capacity to realistically deal with the social issues of his day ranks him among the ablest of philosophers, as well. He was a Christian idealist that demonstrated the essential spirit of Christianity.

Through his early experience as a pastor for thirteen years in Detroit, Niebuhr developed his own interpretation of Christianity. He came to understand that the true meaning of the gospel was in direct conflict with most of the customs and attitudes of contemporary society.

Niebuhr finally reached the conclusion that the church cannot save a person’s soul without addressing the kind of life they live in the world. That’s when the Christian gospel became a social gospel for him.

And what is so compelling for me about Niebuhr is that he fully understood that Christianity could not be allowed to be seen only as vague generalities.

That the ministry is particularly tempted to the self-deceptions which afflict the moral life of Christians today is obvious. If it is dangerous to entertain great moral ideals without attempting to realize them in life, it is even more perilous to proclaim them in abstract terms without bringing them into juxtaposition with the specific social and moral issues of the day.

But, as shown by the opening quote, even Niehubr’s passionate concern for Christianity to have a direct and practical impact of the economic and social issues of his day never displaced his deep and essential religious faith. That’s the power of Christian idealism.

“may I still recognize you”

Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and while nursing them, minister unto you. Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you and say: “Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.” — Mother Teresa

a greater work than raising the dead

“Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.” – Saint John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407) was an important Early Church Father and the Archbishop of Constantinople. He is best known for his preaching and public speaking as well as his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders.

His concern for the poor can be seen in many of his homilies as well as other writings. This is the first of several quotes I will be sharing over the next few days and weeks.

What I like about this audacious statement by the Archbishop is that he unabashedly puts feeding the hungry above one of the greatest miracles of Jesus. Our ministry with the poor is not something to be tacked on to our faith as a “nice religious activity.”

Chrysostom  declares that  feeding the hungry is greater and more powerful than working miracles. Walking along side the poor and hungry has must be an integral part of authentic spirituality.

“well done, thy good and faithful servant”

I just received an email notifying me of the funeral of the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar. Bob was seventy, and lived a life of service. His life and ministry touched thousands. He will be missed.

I first met Bob when he was serving as the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches when he invited me to be on his advisory council. Before serving at the National Council of Churches he had been a congressman, before that a United Methodist pastor. When he died he was serving as the leader of Common Cause.

Knowing Bob was both a privilege and an honor. His faithfulness to the gospel and his fearlessness in speaking the truth to those in power was an inspiration.

After leaving his position as head of the National Council of Churches, Bob wrote The Middle Church, a book that he hoped would “awaken the conscience of the average, ordinary, common folks within the United States to do above-average, extraordinary, and uncommon things to ensure the future for our fragile planet.”  He wanted his book to restore the passion for recovering America’s moral values.

That was Bob. He was a leader. He was as tireless as he was passionate in engaging others in doing the right thing for the right reason. I specifically remember that leadership when we were together as part of a humanitarian delegation to Iraq shortly before the Second Gulf War. His leadership during that trip was a powerful demonstration of of Christian faithfulness in action.

Bob will be mourned and missed by all those his life touched and all those his faithfulness impacted. I am one of those. Rest in peace, my friend.