Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
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Vision and Courage Continue
Nicholas Kristof, a regular columnist for the New York Times, had a lengthy opening praise (July 13) for the popular book, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. On the New York Times Bestseller List for 74 weeks, this is a story of an army veteran who discovers the yearning for learning by the poor in Pakistan and begins to build schools. He says, "Schools are a much more effective bang for the buck than missiles or chasing some Taliban around the country."
As I listened to the people of the Iowa Minnesota District of The Wesleyan Church tell of the churches and schools they had built in Pakistan, as well as sending District Superintendent Ronald McClung to do pastoral training on seven different occasions, it occurred to me they could have written the book. All of these activities began in the late '90s. Today there are hundreds of children in the church/schools as well as new churches planted. No, one does not connect Iowa and Pakistan as similar cultures, but the "culture of Jesus" makes the connection.
The district conference was held in Charles City, Iowa. We found that we could not eat at McDonalds due to the recent flooding—it was closed and will be for months. Suddenly, the results of the floods we all saw on TV became reality. Talking with the folks from Cedar Rapids, it became evident they were only beginning to grasp the extensive damage and long-term results.
World Hope set up a center at the Cedar Valley Community Church in Waterloo, Iowa. Pastor Eric Sloter was thrilled with the teams that have been there to assist in the clean-up. He said, "We have been able to connect with people as never before." The latest information on this may be found at the World Hope Web site - www.worldhope.org.
First Wesleyan Church in Charles City, Iowa, is involved in "Compassion by Design" and the congregation has taken on new life. Pastor Dennis Bachman exclaimed, "We are getting into the community and discovering many things. First of all, we were stunned to know there was a connection from Chicago to Charles City with gangs." As a result of findings in their surveys, they are beginning work with kids after school, and they are being welcomed by the city. Opening their arms to diversity, the people of the church are catching a vision for their small city.
A couple from Minneapolis shared with me their work with University professors in Minneapolis. While she is giving the piano lessons to the children, her husband engages the waiting parents in Bible studies. Many of these families are from other countries and religions other than Christianity.
Hoover Wesleyan Church, Walker, Iowa, received an award for numerical growth as well as giving. This rural church just celebrated 142 years of serving the community. I was deeply moved to see this church still vibrant and bringing people to Jesus.
The community where the Capital Park Wesleyan Church of Salem, Oregon (Northwest District) is located had been known for years as "Felony Flats." Why? Because many people of the community were families of prisoners or people who had been in prison. The church constructed a Community Center several years ago. They knew that the neighborhood was changing; the congregation was firm in their commitment to the change. Under the leadership of Pastor Jerry Sloan they have stayed true to the vision by providing GED classes, after-school programs, teen activities in the evening, Food Bank, etc. Crime has decreased by 30 percent. They have a full-time staff and God continues to supply the funds. Recently the neighborhood association changed the name of the community from "Felony Flats" to "Capital Park." Someone from the congregation recently said, "If Jesus were to start a church, He would start it right here."
In Seattle, Washington, Jason Rhoads is planting a new church in an upscale neighborhood. The church is sharing yard space for "pea patch" gardens to be planted by families in a nearby condo development. They have developed a co-op with 20+ pre-school parents for a variety of energy and money-saving projects. Journey Church, Seattle, was recently named as the official church for their neighborhood association.
Mountain View Wesleyan Church, Aumsville, Oregon, has a ministry called "I Serve." They recently did physical improvements on the public elementary school in town. The city was grateful and stunned. They have a goal of 50 salvations and baptisms in the next 12 months.
Himmelright Memorial Wesleyan Church, Clarkston, Washington, has had a very successful program with Celebrate Recovery and is now training other churches and groups.
St. Johns Wesleyan Church, Portland, Oregon, is targeting the families with their "Family Works! ministries" This ministry includes a food bank, Family Gym Night, tutoring classes, soccer clinic, and ESL.
Thank you for sharing in the journey. There is still more to come next week.
- The Blessing of Presence
- Called to Reconciliation in All Forms
- Fire at Midnight in Los Angeles
- What Else but Joy...Is Strength?
- Looking for Light in the Darkness
- Creative Generosity
- Mustard Seed Living
- God's Math
- Interlude to Africa
- Creativity of the Holy Spirit
- Vision and Courage Continue
- More Vision and Courage
- Vision and Courage