News In Brief
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service
"While I was kidnapped, you were in captivity here praying for me until my release. Because of your tears and prayers, the Lord has brought me back," the Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim told worshipers in the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 13. Lunkim, publications coordinator for the Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide in northeast India, was captured Jan. 16, 2006, by a group of rebels called the Kuki Liberation Army. He was released in mid-March. Lunkim, 87, said when he became downhearted during his captivity, he read Psalm 27.
The Nothing But Nets campaign is receiving a $3 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria in Africa. The challenge grant was announced Jan. 4, as representatives of Nothing But Nets prepared to kick off the campaign with an event at the National Basketball Association store in New York City. The people of The United Methodist Church, the United Nations Foundation, NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated and other partners are working to raise donations for bed nets. The grant will match those contributions dollar for dollar up to $3 million.
Singing "nza mu ranza" from an African praise song, an advisory council of United Methodist bishops, pastors, agency executives and lay leaders demonstrated their support for a global health initiative by spontaneously placing $868 on a conference podium. Singing in unison, they responded to a challenge to save lives issued by Bishop Thomas Bickerton during the Global Health Initiative Dialogue Dec. 18-19 at the National Press Club in Washington. Sixty United Methodist leaders and health experts met to raise awareness of global health issues and to mobilize United Methodists for action. "Nza mu ranza" is the beginning of a song in the Xitswa language of Mozambique that means, "I worship Christ. There is no one like Him."
Retiring to Port Charlotte, Fla., after Army careers, Paul and Linda Lawrence were looking for a place to "fit in" at their church. They found it by repairing bicycles for children, the homeless and others struggling without transportation. Now, the Lawrences spend four hours a day, five days a week repairing bicycles at Edgewater United Methodist Church. Some of the bikes are donated, but most are abandoned and given to the church by area police departments. The couple took over the ministry three years ago with the help of another church member, Lawrence Lee, who used to work in a bicycle shop and is homeless. The three refurbished more than 700 bicycles in 2006 - a record number for the outreach.
Encouraged by a pastor who faced a health crisis, members of Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss., are sweating their way to fitness. The Rev. Joe May encouraged church members to join him in losing weight, working out and eating healthier foods. Concerned about his diabetes, May started walking five miles a day and went on a diet, losing 46 pounds between June and October alone. After he challenged church members to get off the couch, some 180 people signed a covenant to join the fitness campaign. The church began sponsoring aerobics and karate classes, with members weighing in at each session to track their weight loss.
"Malaria kills. Send a net. Save a life." That's the message on the back of a new T-shirt for the Nothing But Nets campaign, an effort aimed at preventing malaria-related deaths in Africa. The sale of each $20 shirt will also result in the purchase of an insecticide-treated bed net that will be distributed to a family in Africa. One net can protect a family of four from disease-carrying mosquito bites for up to four years. Details are available at https://secure.umcom.org/store/Dept.asp?Cat%5FID=219&web%5Fname=Nothing+But+Nets. For more information on Nothing But Nets, go to www.NothingButNets.net or www.umc.org.
Two United Methodist publications are getting a fresh look with the new year. United Methodist Communications has redesigned Interpreter magazine, which focuses on informing members and clergy about the ministries of the general church and promoting involvement in them. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has redesigned Devo'zine, its devotional lifestyle magazine for teens. For information online, go to www.Interpretermagazine.org or http://www.upperroom.org/devozine.
The Rev. Allen Hunt, senior minister at Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., and host of a popular radio talk show on religion, will preach a series of four sermons starting Jan. 14 on "Day 1," a nationally broadcast radio program also accessible by podcast at www.Day1.net. Each of the weekly programs includes a sermon preached by Hunt and a five-minute interview with him by the program's executive producer, Peter Wallace. Each sermon will focus on one of four promises -- God loves you, God forgives you, God will never leave you nor forsake you, and God will prepare a place for you. The series continues Jan. 21, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.
Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith by Henry H. Knight III and F. Douglas Powe Jr. has been published by Discipleship Resources. The book was written to help readers reconnect with a Wesleyan understanding of evangelism. Knight and Powe describe evangelism or sharing faith as a means of grace that reflects profoundly upon those who share the good news as well as on those who receive it.
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