Monday, March 24, 2014
Pastorgraphs: “The World of Miracles at Our Door”
March 24, 2014
Pastorgraphs: “The World of Miracles at Our Door”
It was five years ago I first met a small group of Haitians, religious asylees from the oppression they faced in their homeland. That was a year before the earthquake. They were not only seeking a new home, but a new church home. We connected instantly, and I offered Christ United Methodist as a place for them to worship.
Last night, we shared precious memories of what has happened since then. The Haitian Methodist Church celebrated their Fifth Anniversary. We have experienced both great joys and bitter tears, especially when Christ Church became the hub of Haitian earthquake relief efforts in San Diego.
I dug out my Pastorgraph from March 9, 2009. Here are some excerpts:
“It was last Friday night (March 6, 2009) as I was on my way to the Russian Methodist Convocation that I briefly met with a small congregation of Haitians at Christ Church. Anita had purchased a large box of groceries for Our Brother's Keeper ministry; but when I learned 20 Haitians were staying in one house (and more were on the way), I knew God had other plans for those groceries.
It is not the only time recently I have felt God's direct leadership. In late December, God impressed upon me, "Until you start serving, you will not start growing!"
I could not get an image out of my head. I kept recalling a young Russian pastor who spoke at Annual Conference four years ago. After her speech, she walked down the aisle near me. The Holy Spirit led me to hand her the $300 in conference expense money I had brought with me. I'm not sure who was more surprised by that gesture, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
(God impressed upon me I should reconnect with her and help support her orphans ministry.)
"But Lord," I thought, "I don't remember her name; she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Russian, and I have no idea how to contact her. Plus, I am not even sure they have an orphan ministry." After a prolonged silence, it was as if I heard God say, "Trust me on this one, son, I know what I'm doing. And I want you to help. Beside, aren't you always saying the Methodist Church is 'connectional'? Let me help make the connections."
A few minutes later, I typed "Russia" and "Methodist" in my Google search engine. God must use Google, too, because what I saw was: "Russia World Methodist Initiative - SAN DIEGO - March 5-7, 2009". Coincidence? I think not.
At the Russian Consultation, I learned that several San Diego United Methodist churches have been assisting Russian Methodists for years. Some of our neighbors have gone on missions to Russia. Guess where? Khabarovsk, (the city where the Russian pastor conducts a street orphans ministry)! Surprised? After the goose bumps went away, I remembered the still small voice saying, "I know what I am doing. And I want you to help. Leave the connections to me."
It was all in a night's work, as I was on my way to meet with my new Russian Methodist friends, that I met with the Haitian congregation, seeking food for their bodies and souls. They wanted to form a Methodist Mission within our congregation. Their presence in worship Sunday, and their exciting music thrilled my heart. And I heard again the still small voice, "When you start serving, you will start growing." The Great Commission states "Go ye into all the world..." It seems to me the whole world is coming right to our door at Christ United Methodist Church. The Apostle Paul would be envious.
And, oh yes, her name is Pastor Elena Sokolova. And yes, they sponsor a “street orphans” ministry in Khabarovsk. But of course, God knew that all along. He always does. She doesn't speak English, and I still cannot speak Russian (or Haitian French-Creole), but we have a Great Interpreter making the connections. (A modern day Pentecost!) It's exciting when He lets us in on his mission: whether it is a box of groceries for our new Haitian friends, or food and clothing for some Russian street orphans He wants us to help.” (End excerpts).
That night I had a good excuse to just stay home. After 35 days of radiation treatments following prostate cancer surgery, my doctors warned me about the toll fatigue would present. Wow, were they ever right! But I will be forever grateful God supplied the strength that Friday evening.
Christ UMC was struggling to survive then. That one night in March 2009, when we reached out to Haiti and Russia, was a turning point. Suddenly, there was a “World of Miracles at Our Door”.
Today, Christ Ministry Center is not only home to the growing Haitian Methodist Church and Russian Orphan Ministry, we have been joined by congregations from Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Marshall Islands, Latin America and various ethnic congregations from the USA. Our combined congregations and charities easily touch over 1,000 lives each week.
“When you start serving, you will begin growing.”
Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins
Images: Fifth Anniversary Logo, Haitian Methodist Church of San Diego
From the Quote Garden:
“Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color."
~ Author Unknown ~
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Exodus Cooperative Parish