This year I was privileged to attend the General Conference of the United Methodist
Church in Portland, Oregon. On a personal level, it was a great blessing to me
because I was able to meet with friends and colleagues I graduated with at Africa
University, Zimbabwe. More importantly, I was blessed to see part of my family I
have not seen since we separated in 2009. What a joy to meet my sister! When we
met, we both failed to say a word, only tears poured out from our eyes. It was like
the lost children who have reunited for the first time. And then my father too was
concerned, it is like I was lost. Before the delegates from my country left for the USA,
my father asked many of them to make sure that they met me. It was just like the
story of Jacob with his son Joseph. Jacob could not believe that his son was still alive
and in good position in Egypt. Though I talked to my father every time via Skype, it
appeared to me that he did not believe that I was still living. And that is why he
charged my sister to go home with more pictures and maybe that could make him
believe that I was alive. What a moment!
However, what brought me to Portland, OR was not what I have described above. I
went there as one of the interpreters (Swahili-English) to help delegates from Congo,
Tanzania and Kenya. This was not an easy task. We had to follow every detail of the
discussion going on in various committees. For me I was assigned to the committee
called Church and Society. What did I learn in this committee? I was reminded of
many things I learned at Africa University in Church History. Whoever has got time
may read these two books titled Church History, vol. I and II by Justo Gonzales.
Volume one is about the primitive church and volume two talks about the
Now, here is the thing: the Church is almost 2000 years and the way has never been
easy. The Church has a history of division because of some disagreements. To name
just a few, in 1054 we saw the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox
Church going their separate ways. We each value our little piece of the pie and no
one is going to tell us how to do anything differently. In 1517, as if that was not
enough, the church divided again when Martin Luther broke from Catholicism. And
since then, the Reformation paved the way for more divisions through the years.
As we look at the church throughout the ages we see many similarities to the church today.
Is there a way we can avoid division in the United Methodist Church? What would John
Wesley say if he were still alive? It is unfortunate, the United Methodist Church is now more
concerned about the institutional survival than justice. Until when, will we escape the truth?
There is a need for all of us to go back to the soil. By going back to the soil, I mean, we need
to revisit the four sources given by Wesley, namely the Bible, Reason, Tradition and
Experience; and between all these, the Bible is above all. If this is true, it is the Bible that can
do justice in all matters that have the ability to divide us. Not only that but also the Bible can
determine the culture for Christians. Remember Jesus came to show us the way of life and it
is that way we are to follow.
In His Service,