January marks the possibility of new beginnings. Now, during the first month of a new year, we have a chance to reflect on who we are, what is important to us and discern where the Spirit is leading next.
I enjoy January not only for the sense of new beginnings it provides, but also the occasions embedded in it that reflect our Wesleyan values. We acknowledge the sacredness of human life from conception to final breath on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and we acknowledge the significant contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’m convinced the church was born to be a Kingdom Force, with every follower of Jesus filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a witness. That necessitates valuing every life and recognizing the image of God in every person. The Wesleyan Church seeks to be included by God in that Kingdom Force — multigenerational, multiethnic, multieconomic, women and men, lay and clergy, everywhere to everywhere in the world God loves.
Dr. King is known for his inspiring quotes, many of which have impacted me deeply because of their resonance with biblical truth. The following statements come from “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.:”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
“I have decided to stick to love. … Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.”
“Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love.”
“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”
“In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.”
Our identity is found in our creation in the image of God and is fully realized through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. I love that phrase “buoyancy of hope.” This is evident in our mission statement and in our organizational expressions as The Wesleyan Church. Let me name just a few and highlight their mission:
Every day, in every community, children suffer because their families are in crisis. But there is hope! The local church is uniquely positioned to love, protect and advocate for vulnerable children. As a subsidiary of The Wesleyan Church, Hephzibah62:4 provides coaching, equipping resources and financial support to churches throughout the U.S. and Canada so they can engage effectively with vulnerable children and families, for generational transformation.
Building bridges for a hope-filled future, we want to help every church and every community learn ways to welcome and connect with immigrants and refugees. Immigrant Connection provides church-based, low-cost immigration services in under-resourced communities.
World Hope International (WHI)
Our vision is to provide those in need with opportunity, dignity and hope so they can possess the tools for change in themselves, their family and their community. WHI supports all people regardless of ethnicity, gender, race or religion. WHI uses market-based and community-driven enterprise solutions to empower, protect and build resiliency through innovative, environmentally conscious and transformative projects.
Did you notice how each ministry so quickly identifies hope … a hope that moves to action?
While expressed in a variety of ways, the source of our hope remains singular. Our mission is “Transforming lives, churches and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.”
Hope and holiness have marked the church since its birth on Pentecost and have been embedded in the DNA of The Wesleyan Church since its beginning. We celebrate our identity rooted in Scripture and history, and the possibilities of being unleashed to be the transforming presence of Christ in every ZIP code.
My prayer throughout 2022 will be shaped by the truth of Colossians 1:27-29 (NIV) — that we personally and as a church experience the reality of “… Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That it may be said of us that “… we proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” And that we will join with the Apostle Paul in saying, “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Wayne Schmidt is General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.