February 2015:

It is more blessed to give

Friends,

May the grace and peace of our risen Lord be with you. I pray 2015 will be filled with God’s many blessings and joy throughout the year.

This month the Cabinet will begin making appointments of pastors to churches. I think this responsibility is one of the most important tasks given to the bishop and Cabinet. The appointment of pastors makes a profound impact on the churches, itsmembers, clergy and their families. The Cabinet has been attempting to be more open and to rely even more on the guidance of the Holy Spirit who leads our churches today.

To prepare myself for this important work, my practice has been to schedule a personal retreat time before the February Cabinet meeting. This year I am planning to do this again. Many of our DSs will join me in preparing for this task by participating in a period of prayer and thoughtful discernment. I will be deeply grateful if you will support our task with your prayers.

I will continue to work to spread the culture of prayer to our churches. We will have a 2015 Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer on March 21 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. The Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey of the West Ohio Conference has been invited to be our speaker for this convocation. She will speak about “Breakthrough Prayer.”

Also we have set May 24 as the date for a conference-wide day of prayer for the renewal and revival of our churches. I want you to mark these days on your calendar.

I cannot express thanks enough to the many churches who have joined the Covenant for Spiritual Disciplines. I am also extremely grateful for the many sisters and brothers who made a commitment to dedicate one hour daily to their spiritual disciplines. Yourprayers are the foundation for our new future, and I believe your prayers will make a difference in our churches and in the world. I deeply appreciate your commitment to prayer, and I encourage you to continue to pray until we see the revival and renewal that God will send to our churches.

The theme for the Advocate this month is short-term mission work. I thank God that the Virginia Conference has been strong in short-term missions. Many churches are taking part in this, and many people in many parts of the world have been touched byour mission efforts. Many houses have been built, and many people have experienced God’s love through our short-term mission work.

But one of the most important fruits of our short-term mission work is that we too experience God’s love and blessings. We not only help people in need, but also we are helped by them. We truly experience what our Lord said: “It is more blessed to give than toreceive.”

I still remember a person’s story who experienced God’s transforming grace through a short-term mission trip. After he retired from work and moved to a suburban area of Washington, D.C., he started coming to the church I served. At first, he was notsupportive of short-term mission work. He used to say that he could not understand the reasons for going to foreign countries for short-term mission work when there are so many needs in the Washington, D.C., area. One year a friend invited him to joina mission trip to Mexico. He joined the team, but his purpose was different. He wanted to uncover the flaws of short-term mission projects and then propose that the church change its short-term mission programs. When he arrived at the mission site, he wasgiven the task of washing the hair of the people who were the recipients of a hair dressing service. One day his heart was touched by the love of God. He could not control the tears streaming from his eyes and he felt God’s love in his heart.

That mission trip changed his life. He became a strong supporter of short-term mission work and took part in many mission trips. He went on to serve as a mid-term lay missionary when the church started a building project on a mission site in Mexico. The seeds of mission work he planted are now growing and bearing much fruit in Mexico.

In our mission work, we think we help people in need, but in many cases we are helped by the people living in the mission field. When we share, God blesses us in many ways. As your Bishop, I commend all of you who are engaged in mission work andpray the Lord will continue to use you and the Virginia Conference for God’s Kingdom.

With sincere appreciation,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

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