By Linda Green
United Methodist News Service
NASHVILLE — Leaning heavily on a walker and smiling brightly, Millie White marveled at the United Methodist men who surrounded her home to work during a hard rain.
White, 75, who lives alone in west Nashville, was the recipient of a hands-on mission opportunity by men attending the July 10-12 National Gathering of United Methodist Men.
More than 1,200 men participated in the event at Belmont University, which included lectures, workshops, seminars, work projects and entertainment. Chicago Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung and other speakers urged the men to make a difference and to engage young people.
Earlier on July 11, a group of those volunteers weeded, painted the porch, pruned trees and performed other tasks for White before heavy downpours forced them to stop working.
“It’s wonderful that these men are here working on my house,” she declared. Their work shows discipleship and “His word for helping and giving,” she added. “We help each other to do what we can for one another.”
Blocking the mice
White, who was in mourning after the death of her dog – which she called “my little baby” – three weeks ago, receives assistance from First United Methodist Church in Franklin and 61st Avenue United Methodist Church in Nashville. “I am so grateful to them because I could never afford to get help,” she said. “It is wonderful that all these people are helping me.”
The two congregations have a joint ministry, “Light in the Nations,” which assists senior citizens. They had already built a ramp for White and purchased and installed a new water heater after discovering she had been heating water on the stove and carrying it to the sink and bathtub.
The Rev. Rich Peck, a member of the Light in the Nations ministry, recalled that while building the ramp, White pulled him aside to ask if a board could be cut and placed under her bedroom door. He asked why she needed the board. “To keep the mice out,” she replied.
United Methodist men also participated in building 30 Personal Energy Transportation vehicles, a hand-cranked motorized device used by people across the world who have lost their legs due to landmines, amputation, disease or injury, said Rob Fleming, PET’s general counsel.
The ministry, which has distributed nearly 17,000 vehicles in more than 75 countries, was created in 1994 by a group of United Methodist men headed by the Rev. Mel West, who wanted to assist those with mobility impairments in underdeveloped countries.
Needing spiritual truth
The 10th National Gathering, organized by the Commission on United Methodist Men, marked the first time the quadrennial event had met at a site other than Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Fewer men attended the Nashville event, but meeting organizers blamed the economy and not the change in venue.
In the opening service, Jung noted that a troubled economy has resulted in a “miasma of discontent and misdirection” in which young people choose “suicide over living, pessimism over faith in God, and temporary enjoyment over the eternal life in Jesus Christ.”
“As a result, tens of millions of un-churched Americans are open to a set of spiritual truths that will free them from the burdens of materialism and the shackles of worldliness,” he said.
He referred to the Book of Revelation’s description of people from all tribes standing before God’s throne.
“We discover that those before the throne are not just from the United States,” he said.
“Some are from Mexico, from Russia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kenya, Columbia, Iraq, Korea and every other nation. Some have not been documented by the nation-state in which they live. It appears that God has failed to recognize the borders we have so carefully drawn.”
The gathering focused on three relationships: God to man, man to man and man to boy.
Patrick Morley, chief executive officer of Man in the Mirror ministries, and the Rev. Kevass Harding, pastor of Dellrose United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan., addressed these relationships under the conference theme of “Focus on the Cross.”