By Liza Kittle
The purpose of Renew has always been two-fold. On one hand, this organization has engaged in a twenty-year spiritual battle for the integrity of the gospel, the historic tenets of Methodism, and the need for Christ-centered women’s ministry within our denomination. But just as importantly, we have been engaged in ministries of love, hope, and healing to the lost and broken.
In his devotional book This Day with the Master, Dennis Kinlaw writes about how Paul’s letter to the Philippians gives a wonderful example of “the attitude Christians ought to have toward those to whom they minister.” This book reveals Paul’s passionate and tender love for others—the love of a father, brother, and friend—even in the midst of great personal suffering. Paul writes, “I thank God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4). Just thinking of the Philippians brings an indescribable joy and sense of gratitude to Paul due to their kinship in Christ. This bond results in a supernatural ability to love each other. Paul also says, “It is right that I should think this way about you, because I carry you in my heart” (Philippians 1:7). The intimacy of his relationship with Jesus manifested in his relationship with those he was called to serve. Kinlaw challenges the reader to ask, “Are you loving like Paul did? Are you carrying the people God has given you in your heart?”
God has given Renew an opportunity in ministry that I believe has produced this joyful and grateful spirit of love and kinship in Christ. Last summer, a young pastor from Uganda emailed me inquiring about resources for a women’s conference he was holding at his church. As we began to correspond with one another, I was struck not only by his great knowledge of the Bible, but also by his tremendous heart for the women and families of those he served. His name is Paul Mabonga and the church he planted is the Magamamba Healing Centre, located in Iganga, Uganda, East Africa.
Like many local pastors in Uganda, Paul completed a one-year course of study through a ministry of the Nazarene Church, a church with early roots in the Methodist holiness movement. Pastors are equipped through a network of regional training centers, which enable them to be trained locally for Christian ministry. Against incredible monetary and physical constraints, the Lord has blessed this young congregation with fruitfulness and joy. They worship in a room rented from a local school, with a few plastic chairs and a dirt floor. They hold women and youth conferences and all-night prayer vigils, praising God with songs of joy and thanksgiving. The members of Paul’s church have heard the Word preached, accepted the gospel offered, and experienced lives transformed.
I believe this young pastor Paul shares many characteristics with the great apostle Paul—passionately devoted to Jesus Christ and to the souls of the Ugandan people. As Paul’s letter to the Philippians explains, he “carries them in his heart.”
Paul Mabonga also carries Renew in his heart. His family and congregation have “adopted” Renew and pray for this ministry. We are their “spiritual moms” and their love for us in emails Paul writes can be felt across the many miles between us. At the end of each email, Paul always closes with a blessing and a thanksgiving. He asks God to bless Renew abundantly and to expand our borders, and Paul thanks Renew for loving him and his church and “carrying them in our hearts.”
Our partnership with this young church in Uganda is just one of the exciting areas of ministry God is developing for the Renew Network. Initial plans are beginning for a national leadership conference to be held in 2011 where women from all across our denomination will be able to come together for praise and worship, biblical teaching, and leadership training. There is much on the horizon as God enables and equips Renew to “expand our borders.” Please join us as a member of the Renew Network and experience the love, joy, and gratitude made possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ and service to his kingdom. Let’s “carry each other’s hearts” in ministry together.
Liza Kittle is the President of the Renew Network (www.renewnetwork.org), P.O. Box 16055, Augusta, GA 30919; telephone: 706-364-0166.