Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keynote by Rev. Rudy Rasmus

By Julia Kayser

Rev. Rudy Rasmus gave a keynote speech on August 3, 2012, to more than 150 people at the Living Stones for Transformation conference celebrating 60 years of US-2s and 35 years of Mission Interns in Arlington, Virginia. Rev. Rudy is not an alumnus of either of these short-term mission programs with The United Methodist Church; instead, his life is a long-term patchwork of mission to the marginalized. He gave the young adults in mission an insight into what it looks like to continue ministry with the poor beyond a traditional missionary appointment.

Rev. Rasmus was funny and self-deprecating, summarizing his impressive biography by saying, “I’m a hustler for Jesus.” He gave the audience members a collective moment at the beginning of the speech to ask one another about his braided goatee. Once the stand-up comedy routine was over, his sermon was grounded in both Scripture and personal experience. He read from John, chapter 4, about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.

Rev. Rasmus said that everything he knows about Jesus boils down to love. His keynote speech was organized around love as a central theme and a guiding acronym:
  • L is for liberation. “To get where you’re going,” he said, “you’ll have to go through Samaria… and Samaria is everywhere as a need for liberation.” People need to be liberated from anger and from fear.
  • O is for others-focused. In his ministry with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus was focused on her—on liberating her from the social constructs that would have normally kept her away from him. “Imagine what the woman’s internal experience was as classism was deconstructed,” said Rev. Rasmus. We are called to move beyond structures and focus on the other.
  • V is for veracity: “a dogged determination to maintain truth.” Rev. Rasmus argued that we need to embrace our own truths before we can truly share and receive the truths of others.
  • E is for engage. “Engage the community,” Rev. Rasmus encouraged the crowd. Love everyone unconditionally.
Rev. Rasmus also expressed his deep appreciation and admiration for missionaries. “I really believe that this step that you’re taking is the only hope for the church,” he said to the young people who would be commissioned later that night. Hearing Rev. Rasmus speak was an honor. To read more about his incredible work with the poor, visit the website of St. John’s Downtown Church, where he serves as a pastor in Houston, Texas.

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