In Luke 25, Jesus tells of his return to this world. The scripture reads:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, "Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink: I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me."
Then those who are righteous will reply to Him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked, and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" Then the King will reply to them, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” – Luke 25:31-40
I find it amazing – as I visit among our 900 congregations – that many of you ask the same question asked by the righteous man: “Lord, when did we see you?” Often, you will perform acts of kindness or demonstrate that your heart has been “strangely warmed” without even being aware of it. Maybe you think that what you do is so small, it won’t be noticed, not even by God.
Yet, I see so many signs in Holston Conference of what Bishop Robert Schnase has labeled “extravagant generosity.”
What have I seen? Dinners for high school graduates ... Vacation bible school on Native American reservations ... Outreach ministries to the formerly incarcerated ... Rebuilding of homes destroyed by Katrina along the Gulf coast ... Evangelistic efforts in India ... Ministries with inner-city youth ... Well-digging in south Sudan ... Collecting money for the Holston Home for Children ... College scholarships for high school graduates ... Food pantries ... Angel Food Ministries ...
Churches left open so hikers can stop in to rest and refresh ... School kits for Zimbabwe and Liberia … Community gardens for the needy ... Scouting ministries ... Mother’s day out ministries ... Adult day-care facilities ... Building ramps for the physically challenged ... Ecumenical revivals ... Mentoring for at-risk children ... Ministries to the homeless … and all of these are a drop in the bucket compared to activities going on in our local churches.
Our conference mission offerings and the Hands-on Mission Project get a lot of coverage – and rightly so – but the work of our local churches is an extension of our ministry together.
It would be interesting to discover just all that our local churches are doing to extend the love of Jesus Christ outside the church walls. Please send me information on the mission activities your church sponsors – including mission trips inside and outside of Holston or the U.S.; missions directed outside your church membership; monies given to individuals, groups, or ministries outside your church; projects pursued with other churches or with coalitions or groups outside your church. (I don’t want to know how much money is given.)
Send this information to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Bishop’s Mission Request” in the subject line. I look forward to reading how God is using the people of Holston Conference to minister to the “least of these.”