I don’t know if you heard about what happened this past weekend…
I’m not talking about the news of more violence and elections in Sudan or Al Qaeda or what’s happening with congress and wall street or even the demonstrations in Okinawa. I’m talking about the change the world events that the Rethink Church team in the United Methodist Church have encouraged around the world. As part of an effort to take the church to the people and to not only seek God’s guidance, but going in His guidance to help others and show that we are Christians by our love, United Methodist Churches and ministries have been encouraged to live Church out loud this weekend.
This weekend at the Asian Rural Institute we were in the four walls of the church, but we were celebrating a new beginning and being challenged to go out after that celebration to be the church for the many people that await the words of the gospel and the helping hand of a neighbor.
A pastor from the Philipines, Lester preached to us how the church in the Philipines was being the church outside of the walls. Drawing from the gospel of John chapter 10, He told us that after the prayer rallies and ceremonial worship services that going out and being good shepherds, not simply hired hands, was what being the church was about.
That is exactly what the Asian Rural Institute seeks to do in its training program. We train servant leaders that, following the example of Jesus, go out to serve the people in their communities, usually people who are poor and longing for justice and love. We seek to instill in particpants that the love of God is for all people, and that it is not enough to only pray but that we can live in a way that allows our blessings to overflow and be shared with those who lack. We seek to instill a spirit that does not help, but through education and love empowers communities to become self sustaining, so that they can reach their God-given potential, which Evil in our world so often prevents. Finally we seek to live in a community that can be an example for their own communities, where we can speak honestly as men and women of diverse cultures, faiths and traditions, languages, and ages and yet work at celebrating this diversity as gift, and learning how we can live in peace with our diversity.
As I think about it, I see that the ARI community in and of itself is living as the church could live all around the world and maybe as Jesus meant us to live.
If we believe that with God all things are possible, shouldn’t this change the world?