Extravagant Generosity and New Churches

As of Monday our Conference offering for Glen Lake is $39,379.   This is a remarkable response of extravagant generosity far exceeding our goal of $23,000.  In addition those at Conference also responded with great generosity in lunch giving to spring storms relief through UMCOR across the United States (including our own Conference).  I am proud to be the bishop of such a wonderfully generous Area. When I came to the Central Texas Conference, we were already known for our extravagant generosity in a number of other ways including (but not limited to) Imagine No More Malaria (through Nothing But Nets), the Central Conference Pension Initiative, Wings of the Morning, Central Texas Conference Youth Mission (CTCYM), and Volunteers in Mission (VIM).  If you haven’t already read the headline article on the CTC website entitled “Your Generosity Recognized by the ‘Advance,’” I urge you to do so!  Glen Lake Camp and Retreat Center is a wonderful part of our local outreach both to our own children, youth and adults as well as to others who do not know Christ. Recently I heard of a way that one of those initiatives – Imagine No Malaria – intersects with evangelistically sharing the gospel. Bishop Tom Bickerton from the Western Pennsylvania Conference passed on the following: The story really relates to our mission work in Sierra Leone.  “After we did our country-wide distribution of insecticide treated bed nets (approx. 4 million), Bishop John Yambasu had a visit from 15 tribal chiefs (basically they are mayors of villages – when they authenticate something it gets top priority and gets done).  Those chiefs, some of whom are Muslim, said to John, ‘We would like for you to start United Methodist Churches in our villages.’  When John inquired about their desire, the response was, ‘You have proven to us that you want to take care of our people’s bodies.  We would like for you to come and take care of their souls.’  What a wonderful intersection for our two areas of focus!!”  The two areas of focus which Bishop Bickerton references are Stamping Out Killer Diseases (Imagine No Malaria) and New Places for New People (new church development).  Through our extravagant generosity in supporting Imagine No Malaria we are spreading the gospel of Christ as Lord and Savior.  The Central Texas Conference (with the United Methodist Church as a whole) is truly engaged in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!