Monday, January 30, 2012

Missionary Mary Zigbuo Remembers Generosity

The generosity of Ms. Gborr, left, was praised by
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right. 
(photo courtesy of United Methodist Church of Liberia)

I REMEMBER….2004, looking out the window of a makeshift administration office at Ganta United Methodist Hospital where we served as General Board of Global Ministries missionaries in rural northeastern Liberia. My husband, Herbert, and I watched her walking from a distance.  

It was the year after the town of Ganta was devastated by civil unrest. People were slowly returning to rebuild their lives. The elderly lady was closer to the office now. Slow, intentional steps. She looked really poor. Her clothing was clean, but ragged. She wore slippers. Like so many who were returning after months of hiding in the “bush” from hostile rebel forces, she appeared thin…..malnourished.

She sat down on the bench near the office door. We continued to watch her and Herbert and I surmised, “Surely, she is one of the town’s residents seeking food or building supplies assistance from the hospital...” With the hospital’s funds and resources almost depleted, there was nothing to offer this woman in need. Herbert and I had recently joined the local United Methodist Church’s Gompa District-led community volunteer effort that was cleaning the trash out of the buildings and off the grounds. The need was just overwhelming, stressful, and pitiful!  

“My name is Yei Gborr,” she said in the local Mano language. “I thank you people for coming to work with us.” She reached in her ragged clothing and pulled out a wad of Liberian Dollars. One thousand Liberian dollars (equivalent to $20.00 US dollars) was hard to come by in those desperate days.

Ma Gborr placed the money on the desk and told us she was led by the Holy Spirit to give all she had to the revitalization of the hospital. This 82-year-old lady earned a living by selling sweet potato leaves (potato greens) in the local market. Surely, the Lord sent her our way that day! In the midst of chaos and hopelessness, her calm spirit inspired everyone. Today Ganta Mission’s services have grown and developed far beyond its pre-civil war status.

Our Lord can and does use people from all walks of life to fulfill this perfect plan. As we anticipate the coming of the Savior of the World, I reflect on Christ’s humble birth. From all outward appearances, Jesus was born into poverty. Yet, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive the richness of God's grace. Ma Gborr’s selfless act reminds me of Immanuel, God with us!

Today, I am humbled to continue my service as a missionary assigned to yet another United Methodist Church-led ministry that addresses poverty. Anson County Circles of Hope encourage a Christ-like model of building relationships across class and race lines. A Circle is made up of a family living on a low-income and two or more allies from the middle class. They meet once or twice monthly to work toward the family’s plan to move out of poverty. Weekly meetings bring the families and community volunteers and allies together through sharing a meal and engaging in discussions about poverty and developing community-driven plans to address poverty.

For more information on Anson County Circles of Hope, see Circles of Hope, Anson County. For more information on the General Board of Global Ministries’ efforts to address poverty, see Ministry With page.

United Methodist Missionary Mary Zigbuo worked at
Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Liberia
with her husband, Herbert Zigbuo, retired missionary.
Mary now serves in North Carolina creating Circles of Hope.
(photo courtesy of Global Ministries' communication)
After working in Liberia, Missionary Mary Zigbuo now works in Anson County, North Carolina, with people who are overcoming poverty. 

To learn more about her ministry, go to: Mary Zigbuo's biography.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Making Disciples to Transform the World

For the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18 to 25. 


Loving God,
                You call us, your people, to love.
                Grant us courage to love our neighbors
as fully as we love ourselves.
Living Christ,
                You call us to follow you,
                Serving the least of these, our sisters and brothers,
                                They are blessed, we are graced.
Sending Spirit,
                You call us to mission, locally and globally.
                Send us forth, as a sign of your presence
In kairos and spaces, here and now.

Triune God, you call us to unity.
                Inspire us to reconcile and be reconciled,
                Discerning your will in our lives,
                                United in love and service.                              


Voice 1
Believing in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ,
Following Jesus’ call to love and discipleship,
We, the church, are commissioned to be earth’s salt and light.

All:    Let our lights shine, let our saltiness preserve love’s essence.

JustinUlmer of Sevenapples Christian Art
donated the image to represent
this year's theme for the Week of Prayer.
Voice 2
Making disciples to transform the world?
What a daunting task, or is it the Spirit’s work in and through us?
Christ, have mercy.

All:   Lord Jesus, teach us to pray, teach us to lead, teach us to disciple.

Voice 3
Transforming the world requires right relationships,
Integrated and wholistic mission for kindom building,
Justice-making, and evangelism.

All:   Comforting Spirit, heal and renew your creation
Cosmic Christ, dwell in us as we pitch tent in your presence
Glory and thanks. Halleluiah! Amen.


Written by Rev. Elizabeth S. Tapia, Ph.D., director of mission theology, mission & evangelism at the General Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Church. 

Learn more about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Greymoor Ecumenical or the World Council of Churches.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Am Human Relations Day

Brennen D. Boose, poet and youth coordinator at Hamburg First United Methodist Church in Hamburg, Arkansas, became empowered through the JustUs Youth network, a community of young community developers, supported through Human Relations Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Brennen D. Boose)

You'll need it for this one,
Lets take a trip,
Please excuse the minor dips,
You see I only have 500 words to get you there and back.

Imagine God's grace, oh the beauty,
Being placed on a young man's face,
Golden child, no that's not the case,
Speeding through life at a lethargic pace,
Searching for relevancy he finds it in the most obvious place,
The church.

A program empowering youth in the technical skills of video production,
Managed to uncover a business mind, 
Coupled with a technical talent of rare kind,
And yet its greatest accomplishment was the discovery of a place inside a church,
The United Methodist Church
A new way of worship, 
Different from his own, 
He struggles to understand its purpose,
Yet, he rests assured whatever God has for him it will be worth it.

Now imagine a shy little guy,
Standing in front of a crowd of gazing eyes,
Stomach curling and twirling, still his spirit is at an unusual high,
God speaks through him, Breathing life into a room
Not one eye dry, 
Yes, the young, the old at the altar they lie,
God controls his being, out of body, he stands by,
In awe and amazement, he became a leader in worship,
Harambee, bringing it all together,
All the things he heard from his mother,
Exposure to the side of himself that was better,
A freedom in worship, no burdens, light as a feather.

The discovery a place where its was JustUs Youth,
Ahhh relevancy, 
He begins to expose others to his truth,
In himself he realizes everyone should have these opportunities,
From state to state he travels the nation,
Shining light on the power of his disgruntled generation,
Empowering youth to work in compilation,
Instead of revolting and stirring up more strife and hatred,
Training and being trained in the intricacies of Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Yet he still searches for purpose,
Not satisfied with who he was, 
He embarks on a journey, a path that would make anyone nervous,
Self exploration.

What starts out as an eight-week journey away from home,
Turns into a two-year voyage… alone,
Out into the deep he is thrown,
No life jacket, it's time to swim on his own,
Engulfed by the water he thinks there's no place like home,
He feels God's love and as He whispers, you're never alone,
Changes in his members,
Erase what he remembers,
Of a young man that he knew in June, It's now December,
Such a short timespan but God has given him time to expand,
Now he teaches youth to Break Free from the expectations and limitations,
Put on them by man's hands.

Such a wonderful story,
All to our Father for His Glory,
He looked down on earth and found one young man to be worthy,
I promise I have done nothing to deserve it,
And the praise and honor all goes to Him, I would never pervert it,
Please realize I am but a small pawn,
In His amazing plan and purpose.
That we all can be a part of on this day,
by the way, Thank You for your generosity in the past and on today.
Know that I, Brennen D. Boose, am the image which your gifts portray.


Brennen is a leader in the JustUs Youth and the Community Developers movement, a part of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Human Relations Sunday funds this movement. This Sunday is a special opportunity for United Methodists to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day weekend through giving to Human Relations Sunday. Learn more about the Community Developers program and Human Relations Day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Traveling Five Hours by Bicycle to Seminary

Revs. Jay and Grace Choi, missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries, are with their sons. What follows is a story from Jay about his work at the Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Grace works with the Harris Memorial College with the Community Health Program. (photo courtesy of Grace Choi)

Knowing how local pastors do their ministries and study under hard circumstances challenges me more.

Pastor Honeylet Limos is serving in a small congregation in a mountainous area. One time, he came all the way to attend class riding his bicycle. It meant that he had to ride the bicycle for five hours from the mountain to the school. The reason was simply because he had no money to pay for the public transportation which was 300 pesos (six dollars) for the round trip bus. What he receives from his church assignment monthly is 500 pesos (ten dollars).

The members of the church are poor farmers who cannot afford give their pastors more than that. As many other rural churches do, the members share in kinds like rice and other food with the pastors. But when there is no more money, the workers fall into trouble like traveling with bicycle.

By God’s grace, a Korean missionary provided Pastor Limos a scholarship for the study. The life of a seminary student serving God’s people in such a condition echoes like a prophetic message to the churches that tend to depend on money and power in doing God’s mission.

Missionary Grace Choi distributes deworming medicine. Because the children had difficulty swallowing pills, a group sent chewable tablets so the medicine was far easier for the children to take. (Photo courtesy of Grace Choi)

Read the missionary bio of Grace Choi or Jay Choi to learn more about their mission and ministry.