Pastoral Letter from bishop Eduard Khegay and bishop Christian Alsted
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil.1:2)
In a time of turmoil and unrest in Ukraine and other European countries we write to You, the people called Methodists in the Nordic & Baltic and the Eurasia area to encourage You to continually devote yourselves to Christ in prayer for peace and understanding among the peoples of this world.
Many things divide the earth’s population - nationality, culture, language, economy, ethnicity, gender and age, however the kingdom of God has always been a realm that despite of all gathers people together in mutual love in Christian community.
While the political winds are shifting, the church is called to be a fellowship not of this world and yet sent into this world to reflect the self-sacrificing life of Christ. (John 17: 16, 18) This is by no means an easy task, and we continue to be challenged by the ever changing circumstances under which we live, as we seek to interpret and live out what the church should be, a redeemed and redeeming community.
As United Methodists in the Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference we are bound together in a covenant to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Our mission is along with other Christians to be part of Christ’s redeeming and transforming work in people’s lives, in the society and in world, rather than only to be successful and recognized. To “spread scriptural holiness” is to grow together and as Christ followers intentionally influence the society “to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God”. (Micah 6:8)
Jesus said to his followers: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives.” (John 14:27) Trusting in this promise we ask our churches to unite in prayer...
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be comforted as to comfort;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in forgiving that we are forgiven;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May we as the United Methodist Church be such an instrument of peace always reflecting the love of Christ.
Christ is risen; He is risen indeed.
Eduard Khegay Christian Alsted
Bishop of the Eurasia area Bishop of the Nordic and Baltic area
Chabadza! Zimbabwe-Norway Project Pays Off
With a sprightly spring in their steps, Jackson Munatsi, 74, and fellow villager Richard Denhere, 74, entered the freshly painted room. Their faces light up as they narrate how a Zimbabwean tradition has brought joy to their lives. They are seated in the recently completed waiting mothers’ shelter at Denhere Clinic in Chirumhanzu communal area, some 250 kilometers south of the capital, Harare. Designed to serve pregnant women awaiting delivery, the shelter has been furnished with 12 beds and will open its doors when lockers and Upboards for storing the patients’ personal belongings are delivered.
Zimbabwean tradition dictates that farmers going to the field take extra hoes, or mapadza. Neighbors and friends passing the field are to take up a spare hoe and lend a hand to get the work done faster. The practice is known as chabadza. In this communal spirit, the UMC in Norway and Zimbabwe teamed to form the Chabadza Community Development Program. There are now five projects in the Mutasa-Nyanga and Masvingo districts of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.
Juliet Marara, secretary of the Chabadza committee at Denhere clinic said the government started work on the shelter in 1982 but never completed it. “The Health Centre Committee was established to maintain structures at the clinic and every household in the area served by the clinic was levied $0.50 per month to contribute toward maintenance and refurbishment.”
Funds raised by the Health Centre Committee were used to resuscitate the incomplete building. It was while the community was struggling with this work that Chabadza stepped in. “The community had given the local UM pastor, Taurai Kandori, free accommodation at Denhere School, and when he saw the villagers’ development efforts he introduced Chabadza to us,” Marara said.
The UMC provided material for roofing, painting, lockers, 12 beds and attresses for the expectant mothers’ facility and an adjacent kitchen with a total value of $7,000. Denhere, the village headman, was overjoyed by the assistance rendered by the church. “Chabadza found us hard at work, but we could not afford to buy some of the materials required to complete this shelter and kitchen. UMC through Chabadza bought roofing material, paints and furnished the shelter, which is now ready for use.”
The Chirumhanzu villagers are not resting on their laurels. Three other major projects are in the pipeline, according to Marara, “We want to drill a borehole, and the area is currently being surveyed to find a suitable site.
We also wish to build a preschool classroom block and a teacher’s cottage at Denhere Primary School.”
The Chirumhanzu expectant mothers’ shelter is one of three projects that have been completed under the Norway-Zimbabwe partnership, says the Chabadza program director, the Rev. Lloyd Nyarota. “We have successfully completed a water project at Saungweme in Manicaland and built a classroom block at Matombo School in Gutu,” he said. The Chabadza program started in April 2012.
—Eveline Chikwanah, Zimbabwe Area. (Newscope 15. May 2013)
Fund for Mission in Europe – an Opportunity for Learning and Sharing
«Come and see!» This invitation has been extended countless times in the past 2000 years. People of all generations have been so much touched by God’s love that they wanted other people to have this experience as well.
There was, for instance, a boy and a girl in Plzeň (Czech Republic), who did not only persuade their mother to allow them to participate in the program of the «Rainbow-Center» of the UMC but to accompany them to the family summer camp, as well. As oncologist she was regularly faced with very serious and sad life stories. And, like the majority of people in the Czech Republic, she did not try to find the answers to the questions of her life in the church. But then she nevertheless went to the summer camp – and what she heard in many conversations, what she experienced together with her children and what she finally felt in her own heart, changed her life. She had accepted the invitation to come and see – and trusting in Jesus Christ she found peace and hope.
However, sometimes the invitation alone is not enough. Therefore all over Europe individuals and local churches are reaching out in as many various ways as possible in order to let others, through their words and their actions, experience God’s love, hope and peace.
However they may put love into action – what they have in common is a great commitment. But in many cases they also still have to rely on financial support from others. For example from you! Therefore once again a project list of the Fund for Mission in Europe has been prepared, which can be downloaded from http://www.umc-europe.org/home_1_d.php. The Fund for Mission in Europe has been established about 20 years ago as an instrument of solidarity between East and West. In the meantime people from more than a dozen countries in Eastern and Western Europe are contributing towards the joyful reality that the Fund is increasingly becoming what it aims to be: an instrument of truly mutual sharing.
Source: Urs Schweizer, Manager of the Fund for Mission in Europe
We are starting new churches...
We are starting new churches in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania, and Estonia and Latvia are on their way. New exciting ministries are developing reaching out to the community with hope and love through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Watch this video and learn more...