June consultation on Vietnam: Redefining Christian mission

April 01, 2014

There are few terms whose meanings have changed as quickly and radically as “Christian mission.”

Decades ago, the term was closely associated with “foreign mission,” and those who committed to it were and still are heroes in the churches that sent them. These church mission teams did good work—so good, in fact, that they helped train multiple generations of teachers, pastors, doctors, and others so that these leaders were equipped to serve people in their home countries. Localization is key to effectiveness. Those who partner in mission endeavors these days are learning to serve the indigenous leaders who are now in charge.

We still need to stand in solidarity with them. As we are all aware, the need for health care, education, sustainable agriculture, and church development—and a whole host of other things in the developing world—is still there. Those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are to heed his call to heal a broken world (Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 25:31-40). This plays out in many ways, but I want to highlight one and ask you to prayerfully consider becoming involved.

Pastors Ut and Karen To left Vietnam as boat people back in the ’70s. Thanks to some generous United Methodists, they received a college and seminary education and served churches in Michigan. About 10 years ago, they felt the call to return to their homeland and be our mission coordinators there. They have been developing house churches, orphanages, and other ministries ever since.

We are bringing Ut and Karen to Richfield United Methodist Church June 20-22 so that they can share about their work and future hopes and dreams. Along with Bishop Ough and representatives from the General Board of Global Ministries and several other annual conferences, we will listen to their needs and then explore ways to partner with them.  

We as a Minnesota Annual Conference will expand our efforts in Southeast Asia in the coming years, and this is one of the first steps in making that happen. It will be an exciting consultation. I hope you will be able to attend. We’d like churches from across the conference to join us.

Save the date and watch for more information and registration details on the Minnesota Conference website and in upcoming MN Connect e-newsletters. Contact Gail Johnson (612-230-6125 or gail.johnson@minnesotaumc.org) or me (612-230-6129 or lyndy.zabel@minnesotaumc.org) if you have questions or would like to learn more.

Lyndy Zabel is director of missional impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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