Sharing the Living Water of the Gospel

By Rev. Lee Ann Dunlap*

The day in Rio Bravo, Mexico was hot, and we were sweltering even in the shade at the elementary school. But the mother and her little ones waited patiently in the cement courtyard for their turn to see our medical mission team that she hoped would help her family. Though not a mom myself, I could recognize the distress of the infant screaming in her arms as she tried to comfort it.  Too hot for a baby, even I knew, but what could be done? Our devotional that morning had challenged us to look for miracles, and right then I was praying for one.

Mother, children waiting in the heat

After a moment I approached the mother, and with a feeble attempt at Spanish and hand motions I asked her permission to put the baby’s blanket over its head while I soaked it using my water bottle.  I wasn’t expecting it to help much, but that’s all I could come up with.  To my great surprise the baby quieted almost instantly, turned to suckle and went to sleep.  So maybe we weren’t walking on water, but I needed no interpreter to translate the look of relief and gratitude on Mama’s face.

I turned my attention back to our work and they turned theirs back to their waiting.  But it wasn’t long before a shy, sweet-faced little girl approached me.  Her words came faster and more numerous than my brain could translate, but I caught enough to understand her plea: “tiene” and “agua”.  Do I have (or could she have) water.    We’d had an Igloo cooler of It somewhere, provided for the team at lunch, but where it was, and how much water there was, I had no clue; and we were still too busy for me to go searching.

Ok.  So in our culture it is frowned upon to drink from the cup of a total stranger, or expect a stranger to drink from your water bottle.  But it’s not like these folks carry Dixie cups with them everywhere.  Still, the day was hot, and she was thirsty, and it just wasn’t in me to deny her when there sat beside me a half-filled water bottle still chilled from the morning.  Good protocol or not, with a shrug I handed it to her and went on with the task at hand.  She promptly took it to share with her siblings, and, to my surprise, she returned minutes later to give it back.  It wasn’t empty.  Thirsty as they were, they’d left most of it for me.

“No, no”, I said, handing it back.  “Es por tu.”  Did I say that right?  I must have – she skipped away with it.

Young girl having fune with hoola-hoop in the parkThat challenge met, the flood gates opened.  One after another the children (who had earlier been rather wary of me) came forward.  “Agua?  Agua?” They asked.  Into my head popped Jesus’ words about giving a cup of cold water to “the least of these,” — and what happens to those who don’t.  But what could I do? No agua, and now not even a bottle!  Ok, Lord.  This one’s on you.  Miracle needed – or at least a good plan.

Fortunately our stream of clients had slowed to a trickle so I had some time to think.  Our team leader, Chad, was loading some things into the van when I approached.  There in back was the Igloo cooler – not water, but tea, along with a half dozen Styrofoam cups.  That would do. “Better to empty it here than haul it back,” I suggested.  He lugged it back to the courtyard for me and soon we were set to go.

As you might surmise, I now faced a new challenge.  We had more “te” and more thirsty people than we had cups. With the help of my Kindle Spanish medical dictionary, I learned the Spanish word for cup – “vaso” (think “vase” or “vessel”).   So now when the thirsty little niños approached, I coaxed them to talk to me, even though I knew what they wanted.  “Te?” they would ask, one after another.

“Si, pero necessita un vaso.  No tengo nada,” I’d reply.  (“Yes, but you need a cup; I have none”)

The day was hot and they were thirsty.  Somehow, despite my faulty grammar, they understood. They shared their cups and the tea with one another in a way I doubt many Americans would. Thirst satisfied, problem solved; I moved on to the next challenge without much thought.

It was only much later as I lay in bed that I began to fully consider what had happened that day.  How frustrated I felt that those little ones, (and the adults too for that matter) were genuinely thirsty in the mid-day heat, and I knew we had that big cooler nearly filled with what they needed; yet we had no “vasos” – no cups – with which to share the life-restoring liquid. That gap had tormented me.

Although I tried to fall asleep my thoughts returned to Jesus and the Women at the Well (John 4).  On that day it was Jesus who thirsted in the heat of the day.  It was he, the Son of God, who pleaded, “Give me a drink.”  She, a woman and a Samaritan, was also thirsty – for so much more than she knew – for “living water” – for connection with one who would love her authentically.  Jesus offered, but she did not grasp at first.

“Sir, you have no vessel with which to draw.”  Indeed he did not – no cup with which the water could be shared.  Her words evoked from me a stream of tears.  In my mind’s eye I saw again those thirsty children and the adults who waited with them in hope we could provide something – medicine, vitamins, something to ease the pain in their lives, to know someone cares.  A thousand other faces came to mind – not just Mexican children, but those in my own community and nation;  Teens on the television screen pleading for a stop to school shootings, victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking begging to be rescued,  alcoholics, and addicts desperately eyeing their next “fix.”  The faces flooded my imagination and I wept.  I wept because I know where the water can be found that will cool their thirst and heal their wounds.  I cried because I knew my ache was also his.

“Where are the “vasos?“ I asked; or he asked me, I know not which.  How can the water be shared without a cup? We in the Church know where the water can be found, so why do so many around us perish with thirst?  Where are the vessels?

I thought again of the Woman at the Well.  In the end it was she who ran to tell the village about the stranger who had changed her life.  Because of her they came to him, listened to him, and invited him to stay until they came to believe.  She, herself, became the vessel that he needed, the means of sharing Life, just as maybe that day I had been; and maybe this day, you are, too.

Who are the thirsty people around you?  We live surrounded by a multitude wasting away because no one has shared with them the Living Water of the Gospel.  Jesus is the Fountain of Living Water – those who thirst for him are many, will you be the cup he needs?

*Rev. Lee Ann Dunlap is in her 5th year serving as pastor to McConnelsville Grace, McKendree, and Pisgah UMCs in the Southern Hills District.

JULY 16, 2018

Missions

UMC Conferences Come Together to Offer Help – and Hope – in Puerto Rico
Forty members of our joint mission team from the East Ohio Conference and the Western Pennsylvania Conference spent the last week of June in Patillas, Puerto Rico, on the southeast coast of the island just west of where Hurricane Maria hit land in September 2017.  People there are still recovering from the physical and emotional toll left behind in the wake of the deadly hurricane. Article …

matthew laferty headshotMissionary to Share Stories of His Ministry
The Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving as pastor of the English Speaking United Methodist Church (ESUMC) in Vienna, Austria, returns to his native East Ohio Conference home for a presentation at The Epworth Center.

The Monday, July 30 event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner and fellowship followed by Laferty sharing about his life as a missionary in Russia and Austria.  A love offering will be collected during the meal.  The evening will conclude by 8:00 p.m. with an update on local missions in our own backyard.

For more information, send an e-mail to Epworth Center Director Deaconess Sherri Buehl or call the Center at (740) 484-4705.

Western Pennsylvania Conference Offers 2-day Preaching Seminar
Join preachers from across the North and Southeast Methodist connection on September 24-25 for a time of proclaimation, inspiration and fellowship. They will preach and teach based upon the following topics:

  • Preach: for Vision
  • Preach: for Millenials
  • Preach: for Ethnic & Cultural Social Justice
  • Preach: for Transformation
  • Preach: for Revival

Registration is now open and several slots are still available. Hotel rooms at a discount are located directly across the lot from the venue. For more details and to register use this link.

Scholarships

MTSO logo, Graduation cap with diploma and booksMTSO Makes Incredible Tuition Offer
Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), and its generous donors, offers every qualified applicant who pursues United Methodist candidacy an opportunity to earn a Master’s degree with no out-of-pocket tuition expenses.

This commitment is extended to every qualified prospective student who pursues United Methodist candidacy as an elder or deacon and applies to a Master’s degree program by Aug. 1, 2018, for the 2018-19 academic year.

MTSO financial aid experts will assist each applicant in locating and applying for scholarships, and if those sources don’t cover an applicant’s full tuition, MTSO and its donors will make up the difference!

Interested prospective students are invited to contact an MTSO admissions counselor at (800) 333-6876 or admissions@mtso.edu by Aug. 1 to learn more.

Communications

Social Media Webinars
The United Methodist Communications Public Information Team is hosting a webinar, Live Q&A: Social Media for Churches, July 26 (noon CT) to support local churches as they strive to embrace social media and its uses for outreach and ministry. The webinar is free and appropriate for users at all experience levels; the events will feature experts answering questions and sharing information about strategies, tips, best practices and more. Need more details? Email PressCenter@UMCom.org.

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Bi-weekly Resources
In the July 16 issue we address:  Jesus models loving respect, openness to all perspectives, honoring the sacred everywhere, loving-kindness takes time, understand your hunger and balancing your energy.

  • A Way Forward: Jesus and St. Francis Model Loving Respect for All
  • God, Gender, Sex and Marriage
  • Making Everyday Spaces Sacred
  • Why Loving-Kindness Takes Time
  • 30 Reasons Why You Are Always Hungry
  • Audio: Guided Meditation for Balancing Your Energy
  •  Listings of our Spiritual Directors

Contact Us
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or if you would like to receive e-mail alerts when new resources have been posted, please contact Howard Humphress at hkhumphress@gmail.com or use our quick contact form.

Media Center

The Media Center recently acquired the following resources:

To reserve these or other resources, call the Media Center at (800) 831-3972 x 139 or send an e-mail to sarnold@eocumc.com. Browse the resource catalog at www.rqmweb.com/eocumc

Message in the Movies

Message in the Movies banner (colorful film strip

RBG Every so often a really good film is attached to a bland title. Such is the case for RBG, a terrific documentary that tells the story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85 years old and still going strong.

Credit Union

Member Traveling
Are you traveling this summer? If so, don’t forget to let your Credit Union know! Before traveling, notify one of our member service representatives at The United Methodist Financial Credit Union. That way, you don’t run into any issues using your debit or credit cards!

Shared Branching
The United Methodist Financial Credit Union partners with over 330 different credit unions nationwide to provide our members with more options to do your personal banking. Since we partner with all of these other credit unions, you can go to any of their locations and walk in to make a deposit to or withdraw from your United Methodist Financial Credit Union account!

All you need is this:

  • Know your account number
  • Have your government-issued photo ID ready
  • Enter your zip code into the Co-op Shared Branch locator to find a participating branch near you

Events: July 16 – July 29

Click to view East Ohio Conference Calendar.

To submit your event to the East Ohio calendar use this form.
(The East Ohio Conference only accepts East Ohio United Methodist local church, conference and general UM events for listing on the conference calendar.)

Classifieds

Details of listings may be found here. 

Positions Available

  • Choir Director/Accompanist, Millersburg UMC
  • Director of Adult and Carol Choirs, Faith UMC, North Canton
  • Worship Arts Coordinator, Faith UMC, North Canton
  • Full-Time Youth Minister and Ministry Assistant, First UMC of Ravenna
  • Interns, Kent UMC
  • District Administrative Assistant, Tuscarawas District of the East Ohio Conference
  • Executive Secretary to the Bishop, East Ohio Conference Area Center
  • Administrative Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries, East Ohio Conference Area Center
  • Organist/Pianist/Accompanist, Wooster UMC
  • Choir Director, Christ UMC, Cleveland westside
  • Organist, UMC of Kent
  • Children/Teen Program Director, Canton Calvary Mission

To submit a classified ad please email sue@eocumc.com

To Subscribe

Subscribe to E-news and all East Ohio Conference news updates, Enter your email address in the “Follow News via Email” widget on the right sidebar.

Information from this E-News may be copied and used in your local church.

The next scheduled edition of the E-News is Monday, July 30, 2018.  Deadline for submission is Wednesday, July 25.

UMC Conferences Come Together to Offer Help – and Hope – in Puerto Rico

By Rick Wolcott*

“All of you are a gift from God because your presence here lets us know we are not alone,” Methodist Church of Puerto Rico Bishop Hector Ortiz told the 40 members of our joint mission team from the East Ohio Conference and the Western Pennsylvania Conference.

We spent the last week of June in Patillas, Puerto Rico, on the southeast coast of the island just west of where Hurricane Maria hit land in September 2017.  People there are still recovering from the physical and emotional toll left behind in the wake of the deadly hurricane.

Bishops Cynthia Moore-Koikoi (Western PA) and Tracy S. Malone (East Ohio) responded to the report Ortiz gave to the Council of Bishops in November 2017, updating them on the condition of the island territory of the United States.

“As I was sitting there, I was moved with compassion and I said immediately in that moment, ‘I must go.’  I felt that God was calling me to be part of the recovery effort in Puerto Rico,” Malone said.

“We looked at each other and immediately had a connection and both of us knew that we had to come to Puerto Rico,” Moore-Koikoi added.  “It has been a wonderful experience.  We have seen God move in so many ways!”

The two bishops invited clergy and laity to join them on the joint mission team that brought together two conferences from two different United Methodist Church jurisdictions for one cause – to help the people of Puerto Rico.

“Love.  Family.  Connection.”

Those are just a few of the responses offered by team members when asked to share one word that describes why they accepted the bishops’ invitation.

“People who are coming here can hear our story then return home and let others know that ‘there’s loving people there who need help,’” said Nidtza Ivette Padilla Martinez, volunteers coordinator for the Puerto Rico Conference.

Teams from The United Methodist Church were easily identifiable in towns across the island because of the blue shirts provided by the Puerto Rico Conference.  On the back of the shirts were these words:

Voluntario

“Haz todo el bien que puedas por todos los medios que puedas …  “ Juan Wesley

Which translates as:

Volunteer

“Do all the good you can with everything you can …  “ John Wesley

Each member of the team lived out Wesley’s call.  We were one of nearly 60 groups from The United Methodist Church that have assisted in Puerto Rico since the island opened to outside mission teams in January – and the first group that included bishops.  During the week we worked on six homes and the mission center that hosted the group.

“Caring.  Hope.  Duty.”

One bunkhouse at the mission center hosted the women while the other housed the men.  Meetings, devotions and meals were held in a large common area.   Our home-cooked meals were provided by members of the United Methodist Women of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico.  We learned that following Hurricane Maria, the women served more than 5,000 meals to people who had nowhere to go.

UMW President Alicia Reyes told the group, “We do everything and try anything to make people comfortable.”

Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva and Homeowner Junito
Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva and Homeowner Junito

Ten months after the hurricane, Pastor Isabelino Rivera Silva of Iglesia Metodista Unida, where we worshipped during our stay, continues to remind the congregation that they are not alone as they work to rebuild their lives.

“If you have faith in the Lord, anything is possible because you have faith in the Lord,” he preached.

The message applies to each of us.

“Justice.  Faithfulness.  Serving.”

When asked what he would say to people reading this article, Luis Acosta, a college student from Guayama, Puerto Rico who assisted the EOC-WPC team said:

“I want you to have this amazing experience of giving hope to those who lost everything.  I encourage you to get involved – and it doesn’t have to be in Puerto Rico.  You can help out in your community, in your church, in other states.  There are many, many people in need.”

Individuals and groups interested in serving on mission teams in Puerto Rico should fill out this Google document and send an e-mail to Jason Frazer, who is the Puerto Rico volunteer coordinator on the mainland for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.