Update from John Calhoun in Kyiv, Ukraine
Update from John Calhoun in Kyiv, Ukraine
Dear friends in Christ,
Greetings and peace to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus! I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed a happy and peaceful summer, and that you have joyously welcomed the new autumn season. As local congregations begin new programs of worship and study, as children return to school for another year of education, I pray God's blessings upon you, your families, and your communities.
It is now about six months since my family and I left Ukraine and relocated to New York, and I took up my new mission assignment as GBGM's Mission Advocate for the Northeastern Jurisdiction. In some ways, the time has passed quickly; my memories from those early days back in the U.S. are now all but a blur. As my new area of responsibility covers ten annual conferences across twelve states, I spent those first weeks frequently on the phone and on email, connecting with pastors, lay leaders, and mission partners across the jurisdiction. It has been a joy becoming acquainted with so many United Methodists--clergy and laity--who are passionate about missions, and who so freely give of their time and energy in support of the missionaries, mission projects, and mission initiatives of the United Methodist Church around the world.
During the summer months, I spent many days out on the road, speaking in front of congregations, district meetings, and annual conference sessions about the incredible work being done by our United Methodist missionaries around the world. The purpose of my visits across the jurisdiction is threefold: to inform congregations about our missionaries in service, and the ministry they perform; to encourage partnerships between U.S. congregations and our missionaries, relationships built on prayer and often including a commitment of financial support; and to help congregations engage in mission service right in their own communities.
Simply put, the stories of our missionaries are profound. Today there are 355 missionaries that have been commissioned and sent by the Board of Global Ministries to witness the love of Christ and serve others in 60 countries around the world. Our missionaries come from nations on every continent, and most serve far from their own homes. For this reason, the motto of the Board of Global Ministries today is, "From Everywhere, to Everywhere."
In their service to others, our missionaries represent the United Methodist Church, and each of us. The mission works they perform reflect our values and beliefs, and are an extension of the ministries in our local communities. As our missionaries care for those injured and left homeless by recent earthquakes in Nepal, or plant new faith communities in Mongolia, or stand in solidarity with Palestinian Christians suffering under occupation, or minister to recent migrants in both the U.S. and Europe, they act on our behalf. They are doing the work we have sent them to do; they are our hands of healing, our hearts of compassion.
And for this reason, many United Methodist congregations take great pride and joy in partnering with our missionaries. There are a variety of ways that local congregations support the ministry of Board of Global Ministries missionaries:
- by entering into a Covenant Relationship, pledging financial and prayerful support for an individual missionary;
- by donating via the Advance program in support of an individual missionary, the missionary community, or a project related to a missionary;
- by encouraging young adult members to learn about Generation Transformation, the Board of Global Ministries' young adult mission service program.
And lastly, I'm thankful to share with you that the ministry of the United Methodist Church in Kyiv, Ukraine, continues to provide humanitarian assistance and spiritual support to many persons who fled the recent violence in eastern Ukraine, including the sizable African student community. Today, thanks to the pastors and lay leaders of the UMC in Kyiv, dozens of African students have not only survived their forced exodus from eastern Ukraine, but are now thriving in their new home of Kyiv. They have resumed their university studies, found suitable accommodations, formed new friendships and relationships, and most importantly, built up their small but growing English-language worship community. Their perseverance in the midst of hardship, and victory over sin and death, are a testimony to the partnership they formed with their United Methodist sisters and brothers in Kyiv. Many of you have supported this partnership in recent years, during the time of my mission service of Ukraine, and your steadfastness of faith has been a source of great strength to the displaced in Kyiv. On their behalf, I offer my genuine thanks.
If you ever have any questions about the ongoing ministry of the United Methodist Church in Kyiv, please be in touch with me at any time. I am always eager to share the stories of the mission ministries of our church, in Ukraine and around the world. For those of you who are within the Northeast Jurisdiction, I would be delighted to visit your church to speak about the work of our UMC Board of Global Ministries worldwide, or assist in any other way to enhance your participation in and commitment to mission service.
May the peace of Christ always be with you!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. John Calhoun
Mission Advocate, Northeastern Jurisdiction
General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
phone: (347) 276-5676
GBGM Advance #13970Z