9th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/August 7, 2019
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I continue to write to you from Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa. Karen and I are here with our son Ryan, our daughter-in-law Gina, and our granddaughter Rosa. We will begin to make our journey home later this week. It is a good two full days of travel to get home. We are here discovering a new part of the world to us as we assist Gina (Dr. Wilson) in a project she has invested deeply in for several years — teaching nurse midwives on the island. I will return to the office on Wednesday, August 14, and see you in Sunday worship on August 18.
I emailed Pastor Paul early this past Sunday morning, encouraging him with his sermon and the gathering around the Table. I know Sunday, August 4, was a Sunday of hope for all. You can watch here.
Zanzibar, Alibis and Trust
I’m so moved by the compassionate heart of my daughter-in-law Gina Wilson. Inspired by the love of God in Jesus Christ, Gina & Ryan Wilson have disrupted their lives dramatically to bring hope and health to the lives of so many here in Zanzibar. Gina & Ryan, perhaps more than anyone I know, make their one task … going, being with, and making space in their world for God’s presence to be recognized.
This is a witness that works so beautifully in a place that is 95% Muslim. The people recognize the beauty and strength of their lives. It is a power that is not coercive; it does not usurp; there is no antagonism. As Gina & Ryan live in trust and faith here in Zanzibar, it seems that a space is opened where God’s power and presence show up. As they sit with those who do not yet recognize the love of God in Jesus, God is at work to become present to them through the life and witness of Gina & Ryan.
In the past days Dr. Gina Wilson and Ryan have done the following:
- Taken two days to train Master Trainers. Master Trainers are local midwives who will lead future training. The training is focused on preventing and identifying newborns at risk of infection, which is one of the leading causes of newborn deaths.
- Taken two days to join Master Trainers in equipping local midwives on the southern end of the Island of Zanzibar. The Master Trainers led the training while Dr. Wilson served in an advisory capacity.
- Taken two days to join Master Trainers in equipping Nurse Midwives on the northern part of the island.
- Distributed and provided training for resuscitators, suction devices and thermospots provided by the Global Impact Ministry of Matthews United Methodist. WOW! What a gift! Thank you so much!
- Interviewed over 30 mothers about their experience of birth, for ongoing research and data.
- Met with the Minister of Health to begin making plans for future trips to Zanzibar for further training of the Island midwives.
- Worked with Duke University School of Nursing Global Health representative on these projects
Two areas of interest to you may be the teaching style and curriculum. All the training done uses return demonstration and simulation as methods of equipping, which are not typical learning styles done in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most teaching in this part of the world is done in a lecture/didactic style. In addition, the curriculum being used, Essential Care for Every Baby, was developed by the American Academy for Pediatrics specifically for resource-limited environments.
For me, I’ve realized my time in Zanzibar has been a pilgrimage of trust. Trusting in God’s provision. Trusting when I get outside my comfort zone. Trusting when I’m not in charge. But I have learned from Gina and Ryan that trust is not simply what helps you sleep at night as you hand over your worries and concerns to God. Trust is how God is at work to take away my alibis.
When I’m outside of my comfort zone of life in the United States, I’m forced to look squarely at reality around me. But, sometimes it’s just too hard. I look for alibis, for excuses, for pretexts that will allow me to run away, to pretend the problems aren’t here…or that they are for someone else to solve — not necessarily because of selfishness, but because there are no easy answers, because there are no quick fixes, and perhaps I think there are simply no answers. I begin to think that because of society or politics it’s just a waste of time to try. Right? It’s that kind of reasoning that delivers the perfect alibi for immobility and passiveness.
But what does trust say? It certainly doesn’t say that if you try to change something in a broken world around you, success is guaranteed. It says, “You may fail, but you’ve got to try.” Success is not guaranteed, nor is failure. It invites you to risk.
So as I write from Zanzibar, I’m hoping you too will dig deep, pray, and find sources that will increase in you the desire to take such risks. Live under the open sky of God’s infinite possibilities, with your guide of Proverbs 3:4-6: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
One other thing, my friend and church member John Millen reminds me, “In the words of Mark Twain: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Mass Shootings: It Happened Again
Even half way around the world I find out it has happened again on American soil … twice. More mass shootings by white men, one of whom published a manifesto filled with hatred toward immigrants and Latinos. He blamed immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs. He would have never committed such a heinous act if he had known the remarkable, loving, humble, servant-minded families of our Matthews United Methodist CCH community!
But what if in the face of such tragedy, we could be transformed for love? I think so many of us believe:
- White nationalism is evil and must be eradicated.
- Love eclipses hate. It’s the only antidote to fear.
- It really matters when you show up for an opportunity to support racial bridge-building.
- We must have a sense of the shared common good. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
I am praying for the transformation of our nation…for love, for kindness, for the common good.
By all means, let’s pray for all the families devastated by gun violence. But let’s be sure to pray for the transformation of our own hearts as well.
Answering the Call: Introducing Rev. Nicole de Castrique Jones
From time to time, we invite one of our very own to come back to preach for you. These are the women and men who answered God’s call to ministry right here in a community called Matthews United Methodist. In our morning Sanctuary services on Sunday, August 11, we bring home a special one…Rev. Nicole Jones.
Rev. Jones attended Matthews UMC as a child and youth. Born in Charlotte to a Catholic mother from Queens, NY, and a Protestant father from Hendersonville, NC, Nicole got an early taste of the blessing that comes from a cultural collision. She lived in Matthews while attending school in inner-city Charlotte.
While studying at Appalachian State she fell in love with a country boy (husband Stephen) and got an introduction to rural life. After serving as Director of Christian Education at Jefferson UMC in the beautiful mountains of Ashe County, Nicole attended Duke Divinity School as a Rural Fellow, and committed to serve her first few years of ministry in rural NC. Diving into a culture far different from her own upbringing, she has discovered that ‘pitching tent’ in a community is one of the best ways to grow in your understanding of love, neighbors, and potlucks.
Nicole and Stephen now reside in Canton, NC (just west of Asheville) with their four young children, where she’s served as pastor of Morning Star United Methodist Church for the last six years.
Please be sure to give her a warm Matthews United Methodist welcome!
Other Upcoming Dates
I hope you’ll put an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming events:
- Voices of Tank Town on Thursday, August 15, 6 pm, Matthews Public Library, 230 Matthews Station St. The Matthews Heritage Museum will host this program featuring a panel of residents including Harvey Boyd, Kenneth Alexander, and others. They will share their remembrances of growing up in Tank Town. We know Tank Town today as Crestdale, one of the oldest historically black communities in North Carolina. This program is being held in conjunction with the exhibit currently on display at the Matthews Heritage Museum – Tank Town: A Good Place to Live. The program is FREE and open to the public.
- End of Summer/Back-to-School Bash on August 18 – Our morning worship services will feature Summer Brooke and The Mountain Faith Band, and there will be a full concert that evening at 5:30 pm, followed by an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social for everyone. Watch a short video here of this outstanding group of spirited musicians.
- 8th Community Forum on Racial Bridge Building on Tuesday, August 20, at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 7 pm – This is our eighth time to gather together to discuss racial bridge-building in our community. This time we will have the opportunity to discuss these matters as we host the first debate for the mayoral and commissioner candidates for our 2019 election in Matthews. The event will be hosted at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. Click to details here.
- 4th Annual Hug-A-Cop Event on Saturday, August 24, at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 4 pm to 8 pm – This day is so important. I hope you will go by and join our friends at Mt. Moriah and Matthews Presbyterian in this community-building event.
- A Church-Wide Worship Series beginning August 25 – 801South, CCH and our morning Sanctuary worship communities will all be learning this fall from Galatians 5. We are calling our series, The Spirited Life, and the good news is that we have been given a guide for The Spirited Life. In Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia, he gives us a list of qualities called “the fruit of the Holy Spirit.” This list forms the best description anywhere of the character that God wants to produce in you and me. Why? Because with these things at work in our lives they will produce nothing less than a transformed follower of Jesus.
This Sunday (August 11) in Worship
These waning summer days of worship at Matthews United Methodist have been so special. This Sunday, CCH and Pastor Roldan will continue the series Beating an Average Enemy with a message titled Don’t Move Like the Average from Joshua 3:5-11. 801South and Pastor Corey will continue the series Hope in the Darkness. This week we will discover more about the book of Habakkuk and what it says about waiting on God. Deep Worship for Families will explore Life App: Trusting who’s in charge by doing what you’re asked to do as we study Genesis 3:1-24. And in our morning Sanctuary services, we will be sure to welcome Rev. Nicole Jones to Matthews.
Thank you for the incredible privilege that is mine to be one of your pastors. Let’s keep trusting so as to uncover those alibis we all have. By the way, I can think of no place better to help unearth those alibis than the actions of regular gathering for worship.
Trusting God from the bottom
of my heart,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that over the last year, our MUMC Men’s Group gathered together on 27 separate occasions to prepare and serve meals for 3,000 men at Charlotte Rescue Mission, the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Hoskins Park Ministries? Thanks go out to all who have served, and specifically to Rich Buchanan, Dennis Green and Bo Bobrowski for leading these efforts.
Did you know that 46 individuals from Centro Cristiano Hosanna have served in Lumberton to repair homes and support the community after devastating floods? This amazing commitment includes five trips led by our CCH community!