July ushers in a month of lion-centered storytelling for our Sunday School and 2nd Sunday. Our main story for July will be Daniel and the Lions. When you come to Sunday worship you will see two big lions decorating our chancel, these were painted by the families at Messy Church!
July is the season, too, of new pastors being appointed all over the country. I am honored and blessed to be reappointed by the bishop to continue to serve the people of Camas United Methodist Church! We are doing so much good here and I am so very glad.
For this next year we can expect to continue to explore what it means to be a people of strong faith. Daniel, though a stranger and ‘outsider’ in Babylon, grew to a position of importance, came to be loved and respected, and, in a testament to his faithfulness, survived a night in a pit with hungry lions by the intersession of God. Can you imagine having a faith that strong?
I am always working to strengthen my faith. There is nothing in my life as good as God. It is my hope that by my life I can contribute to the work that makes this world a better place according to God’s plan for all of us. I know that you, too, seek this in your own lives. Daniel is an ancient model for us, but we, too, are all exemplars in our own way here and now. What kind of example will we set? How will we live the call to a life of service, humility and trust in God.
I have stepped out to serve in a new way. This Annual Conference I was inspired by the testimony of Rev. Heather Sparkman (Rochester UMC) and Rev. Jon Short (Vancouver First UMC) as they talked about Jamaa Letu, the orphanage in Congo sponsored by our conference. We heard also from a young woman who is the first college graduate from Jamaa Letu! This accomplished young woman speaks 5 languages and earned a degree in health sciences. Our conference provides much of the needed funding for care of these children as they grow, and supports them as well in essential secondary education.
When Jamaa Letu was first founded, 116 churches in our conference pitched in to help. Today, only 76 do that. We can be glad that Camas United Methodist Church is one of those 76, contributing each year with our Change for Change coin drive, a drive we finished up in June. But the drop off in local church support overall has caused a drop off in needed funding. As a result, Jamaa Letu is no longer running at capacity. There is room at the orphanage for at least 15 more children but there is no funding to support them.
I could not let that stand. “What you do to the least of these, you do to me” Jesus says. Congo has been decimated by war, poverty, and disease. Many children end up as orphans. We cannot let beds sit idle when we all have so much. I stepped up and pledged to provide support.
Today I received the name and age of the child I will be helping as he grows up. When I saw his face and read his name I wept. His name is Leon! In a month where we will be telling the story of Daniel, that this child’s name is Leon is too much coincidence for me to accept. This child is being cared for by the Holy Spirit.
Leon is 6 years old. He was born at the border of Zambia and Congo and was orphaned when Malaria took his mother. How glad I am in this moment that I contributed to Imagine No Malaria efforts by the United Methodist Church! Though this effort did not save Leon’s mother, it will save countless others.
Please join me in prayer for Leon and Jamaa Letu and our own Camas United Methodist Church for this new year ahead. I am honored to be in a place where my contribution matters. For no one is too near, too small or too far away to have the love and care of God.