By Bishop Jonathan Holston
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”—Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
In January, I was privileged to travel with a delegation of 41 persons from South Carolina to Africa University in the city of Mutare, Zimbabwe.
One of our visits was to the Old Mutare Mission Hospital. Led by our General Board of Global Ministries missionary Dr. Tendai Manyeza, we were able to observe this wonderful ministry to women and children.
As we walked around and through the hospital complex, the distinct cries of grief and joy could be heard simultaneously. In one room, a mother held her deceased child and cried out in the agonizing pain of grief. In another room, a mother cried out with joy as her child was born. At that moment, we all remembered that the call of discipleship is to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.” We simply shared a prayer of hope in the midst of despair and grace in the joy of life.
Likewise, there is another clarion call to prayer. In preparation for the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, all 131 United Methodist Conferences from around the world are participating in a 131-day prayer vigil leading up to the May 10-20 gathering in Portland, Oregon.
The South Carolina Annual Conference will be participating in this Prayer Vigil on Feb. 18. Each South Carolina United Methodist is invited to commit to a time of prayer and intercession on this day.
United Methodists in South Carolina are asked to stand in unity with other United Methodist believers and congregations as we pray for:
- The leadership of the General Conference as they finish organizing the work that is to take place May 10-20;
- The delegates coming from around the world to worship, pray, consider legislation, fellowship and praise God for all that is accomplished while they gather;
- The bishops who faithfully preside and attend the gatherings;
- The boards, agencies, translators, volunteers and guests who work tirelessly attending to details, as well as
- The city of Portland, Oregon, which hosts the 2016 General Conference in providing a wonderful experience for all who attend.
It is in these moments that we are asked to “pray diligently. Stay alert, with (our) eyes wide open in gratitude.”
Please join me Feb. 18 in a day of prayer for the ministry of the 2016 General Conference.