Lighting the Way for Children
In Tallinn, Estonia, The United Methodist Church calls its ministries with street children "Lighthouse Ministries." The acronym AREGAK, for the UMCOR microcredit loan program in Armenia, means "sun." The name of the Methodist/Lutheran orphanage in Uruguay is "Sunrise House." In Cambodia, the children's ministry is "Light in the Dump Sites." As Kelli Williams, the spiritual life director at Alaska Children's Services, explained to reporter Beryl Goldberg when she lit a candle for worship: "It's the flame of hope that we have to rekindle; make it bum bright so they [the children] may have a brighter future."
"You are the light of the world," Jesus boldly proclaims to crowds of people who have gathered to hear him in Galilee (Matthew 5:14). Not the sun, but you are what lights up the world for people—or plunges them into darkness.
When I became a parent, I slowly realized the awesome responsibility God bestows on parents to raise children in a way that extends the love of Christ to them, filling their lives with light. Is there any task more sacred for a Christian? How can children accept Jesus as the light of the world if they never experience the warmth and brightness of that light? And what of those children who have no parents? Whose responsibility is it to light the way for them? In the churches of Eastern Europe, whose people were told for 50 years that such children were the responsibility of the state, not the church, a call has awakened to seek out and minister to homeless, parentless children.
In this issue, you will read about the darkness that many children face without the protection and love of parents. Although The United Methodist Church does not encourage the sponsorship of individual children in its ministries, it does provide many ways for congregations to become involved in ministries that reach out beyond their sanctuaries into the dark streets to light the way for children. Around the world, the church has embraced Jesus' proclamation to be the light for children. Let your light so shine.
Christie R. House
To Give to the Advance: For United Methodists: Make out the check to your local church and write the Advance name and code number on the check. Give your gift to your church treasurer so that your local church and annual conference can receive Advance credit. Outside UM channels: Make the check payable to "Advance GCFA" with the project name and code number on the check. Send the check to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. To contribute with a credit card, call 1-888-252-6174. All Advance projects are also eligible for Supplementary Gifts through United Methodist Women's giving channels. Supplementary Gifts are given through the UMW treasurer. The Women's Division will honor the designation.
Date posted: Nov 01, 2005