The Monthly Update

April 2005 Update

April 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This Monthly Update will be a bit different from others you have received. In addition to the schedule of annual conference meetings and other information on the United Methodist Church, it contains the testimony of Miss America Tara Holland Christensen. She argues very eloquently for abstinence – a message that we Americans need to hear. The summer issue of Transforming Congregations talks about problems of immorality plaguing our country. This is an issue that goes to the heart of what made us a great nation; if we continue to slide down the slope of moral compromise, our future is threatened. We dare not continue in this direction without addressing the issue. We are a nation of great-hearted people; let us hope that we shall also reclaim our moral base.

I came across something I had read previously. Elaine Ingalls Hogg wrote:

Picking a path through throngs of people, I made my way up the busy city street. My attention was drawn to a man standing in line at a sidewalk hot-dog stand. The leftover hot dogs from lunchtime were selling for half price. The man’s gnarled fingers fumbled with a small plastic bag he had withdrawn from the same broken shoe he had probably used earlier in the day.

Without warning, a man dressed in a business suit stepped into the line and pushed his way in front of the street person. Briskly he held out his money and waved it in front of the the clerk’s face. "How unfair," I thought. Then I heard the businessman say, "He’s mine." The man in the suit pointed toward the homeless man and said, "He’s mine. I’ll pay his bill."

The moment passed quickly, but it left a lasting impression….we are like the man on the sidewalk…unable to pay the debt we owe. But Jesus stepped to the head of the line and said, "They’re mine. I’ll pay their debt." And He paid what we cannot pay.1

It helps to remember that there are people in this world who are incredibly kind and thoughtful – and we need to thank the Lord for the sunshine that they bring into our lives. In the same way, we need to be alert to opportunities for us to reach out to others and help them in some small way, not only to ease their respective paths through life but also as a testimony to Him whom we serve. Our actions provide Christian witnesses to others.

May we ask that you continue to pray for us as we serve the Lord in what He has called us to do?

In His service,


Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

1. The Upper Room, August 8, 2004.

April 2005 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

Let me be nothing, and "Christ be all in all." - John Wesley

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Of Interest. Conferences outside U.S. begin 2005 annual sessions

This year's annual conference gatherings kicked off with the Feb. 15-20 meeting of the Liberia Annual Conference. It will be followed by the March 16-19 meeting of the Central Luzon Philippines Conference and the March 31-April 3 gathering of the Pangasinan Philippines Conference. The regional gatherings in the United States will begin May 13-14 when the Red Bird Missionary Conference convenes in London, Ky. U.S. sessions conclude June 26 with the adjournment of the California-Pacific annual conference, meeting in Redlands, Calif. The last central conference meets Dec. 19 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Between Feb. 15 and Dec. 19, United Methodists worldwide will approve budgets, receive reports from conference boards and agencies, adopt programs of mission and ministry, and pass resolutions. The total global United Methodist membership is 10 million. A bishop will preside over each annual conference session, and 24 global bishops-including 21 in the United States-will lead gatherings for the first time. The church has 122 annual conferences across the world, including 63 in the United States.

U.S. annual conference meeting dates and places are:

North Central Jurisdiction:

Dakotas, June 8-11, Bismarck, N.D.

Detroit, May 20-22, Adrian, Mich.

East Ohio, June 20-23, Lakeside, Ohio

Illinois Great Rivers, June 9-12, Peoria, Ill.

Iowa, June 9-12, Ames, Iowa

Minnesota, May 31-June 3, Saint Cloud, Minn.

North Indiana, June 2-5, West Lafayette, Ind.

Northern Illinois, June 8-11, St. Charles, Ill.

South Indiana, June 9-11, Bloomington, Ind.

West Michigan, June 2-5, Grand Rapids, Mich.

West Ohio, June 12-15, Lakeside, Ohio

Wisconsin, June 12-15, Middleton, Wis.

Northeastern Jurisdiction:

Baltimore-Washington, May 26-29, Baltimore

Central Pennsylvania, June 9-11, Grantham, Pa.

Eastern Pennsylvania, June 15-18, Philadelphia

Greater New Jersey, June 2-4, Valley Forge, Pa.

New England, June 8-11, Wenham, Mass.

New York, June 1-4, Hempstead, N.Y.

North Central New York, June 2-5, Liverpool, N.Y.

Peninsula-Delaware, June 9-12, Princess Anne, Md.

Troy, June 9-12, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

West Virginia, June 9-12, Buckhannon, W.Va.

Western New York, June 10-12, Buffalo, N.Y.

Western Pennsylvania, June 16-19, Grove City, Pa.

Wyoming, June 2-4, Scranton, Pa.

South Central Jurisdiction:

Arkansas, June 12-15, Russellville, Ark.

Central Texas, June 5-8, Fort Worth, Texas

Kansas East, June 1-4, Baldwin City, Kan.

Kansas West, May 25-28, Salina, Kan.

Louisiana, June 5-8, Shreveport, La.

Missouri, June 3-6, Columbia, Mo.

Nebraska, June 8-11, Omaha, Neb.

New Mexico, June 1-4, Las Cruces, N.M.

North Texas, June 5-8, Wichita Falls, Texas

Northwest Texas, June 8-11, Lubbock, Texas

Oklahoma, May 29-June 2, Oklahoma City

Oklahoma Indian Missionary, June 9-12, Antlers, Okla.

Rio Grande, June 3-6, Corpus Christi, Texas

Southwest Texas, June 1-4, Corpus Christi, Texas

Texas, May 29-June 2, The Woodlands, Texas

Southeastern Jurisdiction:

Alabama-West Florida, June 5-8, Mobile, Ala.

Florida, June 2-5, Lakeland, Fla.

Holston, June 12-15, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Kentucky, June 6-9, Lexington, Ky.

Memphis, June 5-8, Memphis, Tenn.

Mississippi, June 5-8, Jackson, Miss.

North Alabama, June 5-7, Birmingham, Ala.

North Carolina, June 8-11, Fayetteville, N.C.

North Georgia, June 14-17, Athens, Ga.

Red Bird Missionary, May 13-14, London, Ky.

South Carolina, May 29-June 1, Spartanburg, S.C.

South Georgia, June 5-8, Macon, Ga.

Tennessee, June 12-14, Brentwood, Tenn.

Virginia, June 12-15, Hampton, Va.

Western North Carolina, June 9-12, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Western Jurisdiction:

Alaska Missionary, May 27-29, Anchorage, Alaska

California-Nevada, June 14-18, Sacramento, Calif.

California-Pacific, June 22-26, Redlands, Calif.

Desert Southwest, June 9-12, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Oregon-Idaho, June 8-11, Salem, Ore.

Pacific Northwest, June 15-18, Tacoma, Wash.

Rocky Mountain, June 15-18, Denver

Yellowstone, June 23-25, Billings, Mont.

Central Conferences (those conferences that are outside of The United States)

[Information on some conferences is unavailable; other conferences have already met.]

Austria Provisional, May 18-22, Graz, Austria

Bicol Philippines Provisional, April 1-3 (location not received)

Bulgaria Provisional, Sept. 14-18, Varna, Bulgaria

Central Luzon Philippines, March 16-19, Tarlac, Philippines

Central Russia, June 30-July 3, Moscow

Czech & Slovak Republics, May 26-29, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Denmark, June 29-July 3, Ronne, Denmark

East Mindanao Philippines Provisional, April 7-10, Davao City, Philippines

East Zimbabwe, Dec. 9-12, Mutare, Zimbabwe

Eastern Angola, (date not listed), Malanje City, Angola

Eastern Russia Provisional, May 26-29, Issyk Kol, Kyrgisia, Russia

Estonia, June 17-19, Tallinn, Estonia

Finland-Finnish Provisional, July 6-10, Helsinki, Finland

Finland-Swedish Provisional, June 8-12, Porvoo, Finland

Germany East, May 25-29, Planitz, Germany

Germany North, April 20-24, Braunschweig, Germany

Germany South, June 9-12, Hofheim/Taunus and Mannheim, Germany

Hungary Provisional, April 26-30, Pecs, Hungary

Liberia, Feb. 15-20, Monrovia, Liberia

Lukoshi, July 17, Mwajinga/Sandoa, Lukoshi

Mindanao Philippines, May 26-29, Kidapawan City, Philippines

Nigeria (date not listed), Jalingo, Nigeria

North Central Philippines, May 26-29, San Antonio, Delfin Albano Isabela, Philippines

Northeast Philippines, May 12-15, Dumabato, Maddela Quirino, Philippines

Northern Philippines, April 21-24, Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines

Northwest Katanga, July 17, Mwajinga/Sandoa

Northwest Russia Provisional, June 23-26, St. Petersburg, Russia

Northwest Mindanao Philippines, April 21-24, Oriental, Philippines

Northwest Philippines, May 19-22, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Norway, June 23-26, Trondheim, Norway

Pangasinan Philippines, March 31-April 3, Anda Central, Anda Pangasinan, Philippines

Poland, June 17-19, Klarysew, Poland

Serbia-Montenegro/Rep. Macedonia, Oct. 26-30, Serbia-Montenegro

South Congo-Zambia, July 10, Mulungwishi

Southern Russia Provisional, June 2-5, Voronezh, Russia

Southwest Katanga, July 10, Mulungwishi

Sweden, May 4-8, Gothenburg, Sweden

Switzerland-France, June 9-12, Basel/St. Chrischona, Switzerland

Ukraine Provisional, June 16-19, Kiev, Ukraine

Visayas Philippines, April 14-17, Leyte, Philippines

West Zimbabwe, Dec. 16-19, Harare, Zimbabwe

Western Angola, Oct. 3-9, Luanda, Angola

- By Linda Green, United Methodist News Service; Nashville {05124}; Feb. 28, 2005.

Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia & Other Life Issues. Vatican Calls for Keeping Schiavo Alive

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican (news - web sites) newspaper on Monday criticized the removal of a feeding tube from a brain-damaged Florida woman, saying nobody can claim the right to decide whether a human being lives or dies.

"Who can, before God and humanity, pretend with impunity to claim such a right?" L'Osservatore Romano said. "Who — and on the basis of which criteria — can establish to whom the 'privilege' to live should be given?"

"Who can judge the dignity and sacredness of the life of a human being, made in the image and likeness of God? Who can decide to pull the plug as if we were talking about a broken or out of order household appliance?" the paper said.

- Alessandra Rizzo, The Associated Press, Mon Mar 21,10:42 AM ET.

While we may have differing views of this situation, we do need to understand what is happening and the long-term implications. First of all, I personally heard a presentation given by her brother and saw a video of her showing her responding to family members, a joke being told, and a balloon being taken into her room (with her eyes following it). The mainstream media is not reporting the truth as it often does in issues such as this. Secondly, what is happening to Terri Schiavo would not be tolerated against a dog nor condemned criminals. Finally, this opens up a "Pandora’s box" of reasons to use for killing "undesirables" in the future. We are on a slippery slope down to a culture of death here. – Allen.

The Good Stuff. United Methodists pour out compassion for victims of tsunami

Compassion washed through Bethesda (Md.) United Methodist Church Jan. 9, as a special concert raised $6,000 for the survivors and victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The church sponsored a "Wave of Compassion" concert, and 100 people from the congregation and community attended. The church has raised more than $12,000 since Jan. 2 to send to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. "The concert gave people a chance to respond, a way to reach out to those in

the face of disaster," said the Rev. Ronald K. Foster. "It was a great event, fun and poignant at the same time. This disaster has touched people very deeply."

Concerts, paper chains, water purification tablets and offerings of prayers and money are just some of the ways United Methodist across the connection are reaching out to the survivors of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Jeanie Leeper wanted fellow members of the Versailles (Mo.) United Methodist Church to take time and think about what it meant for 150,000 people to die in a moment of crashing waves, in a place worlds away from rural Missouri.

Church members left the Jan. 2 worship service with a blank envelope and instructions to place the envelope "on your night stand, your coffee canister, TV remote or any place where you will see it every day and pray about what God wants you to give." The envelopes will be collected each Sunday. "It is very easy for someone to write a check for $10," she said. "But I don't think God is asking us to write a check for $10; I think God is asking us to give from the heart." By placing the blank envelope in a place they will see every day, Leeper hopes church members will listen for what God wants them to contribute. "It’s so easy to drop a small amount of change and think we have done something," she said. "The purpose of the envelope is to get people to pray. If they are praying, even if they can't give a whole lot of money, at least they are praying for the people."

Jeffrey Bignell, a member of Reading (Mich.) United Methodist Church, felt "the moving of the Holy Spirit" calling him to do something. He started a campaign at his church to raise money to buy water-purifying tablets to send to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. As of Jan. 11, the church had raised enough money to buy tablets to purify 12,500 gallons of water. Bignell said he was in the Navy and has "walked among the people in those countries (affected by the earthquake and tsunami)." Bignell and his business partner in Industrial Marketing are paying the shipping costs to send the tablets to Sir Lanka. "God's glory shines through this action," said the Rev. Gayle Berntsen, pastor of Reading United Methodist Church.

Children at Resurrection United Methodist Church in Durham, N.C., are redecorating their day-care center with paper chains representing money they are raising for UMCOR. So far, the children and their families have raised $500 and have enough paper links to cover the hall three times, said Director Heidi Bays. White, purple and blue paper links represent 25 cents, 50 cents and $1. "I should have added another color for $10," Bays said. "Some of the donations have been large, and I am making a lot of links. The children look at the links and comment on how much money they are raising," she said. "On the way home every day, they tell me they are going to bring in more money tomorrow."

At Iowa (La.) United Methodist Church, an offering suggestion from the Rev. David DeWitt has reaped more than $2,000 for UMCOR since Jan. 2. "When the congregation came to the altar for communion, I asked them to consider giving some small donation and leave it on the communion rail for UMCOR," DeWitt said. "To my surprise, with only about 50 people in church, $900 was collected." Before everyone left the building that Sunday, the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, a group of women who make and sell quilts, and the administrative board had added enough to send $1,500. Since then, an additional $200 has been raised, said DeWitt. "Christian kindness makes all the difference in the world. ... As United Methodists, it is a privilege and a joy to express the love of God in a time of crisis."

- Kathy Gilbert; UMNS; Nashville {05026}; Jan. 12, 2005.

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To believers in Christ who walk in this way, there is not condemnation for their past sins. God does not condemn their past. It is as though these past sins had never been, as if a stone were thrown to the bottom of the sea. - John Wesley

Global Outlook

I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures. - John Wesley

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The Good Stuff. Miss America Crowns Purity as Priceless Message

"Hello. I’m Miss America," young Tara said to her seventh-grade classmates as she presented an oral book report. She wore a foil-embossed cardboard crown and held a silk rose. While her classmates took on the personalities of presidents, astronauts and other noble characters, this young girl chose to read and present an autobiography about Cheryl Prewitt, Miss America 1980. "Of course, I knew I wasn’t Miss America, but through reading that book, it really inspired me that God can use even pageant girls. He can use somebody besides a pastor or a missionary," she added.

And so began her journey into the pageant system. However, the aspiring beauty queen did not start competing until the age of 17. Sixteen pageants later, including four tries at the state level over a span of seven years, the young seventh-grader's dream came true as she was crowned Miss America 1997 two weeks prior to her 24th birthday.

The Power of the Crown

Today, Tara Dawn Holland Christensen uses her glory days of pageantry as the backdrop for a spiritually-based message she shares nationwide. "When I was younger and first getting involved in pageants, quite honestly, my motivation was not completely spiritual," Christensen admitted. "But as I went through the system, and as I began to understand the impact and the power of the crown, then the true attraction for me became the voice that goes with the title," she explained. "I knew that I would have the opportunity to be Miss America for that one year, but I would always be a former Miss America who would at least have some sphere of influence and be able to use that title for Christ and hopefully be able to make an impact," Christensen said.

And that is just what Christensen is doing today by speaking to numerous audiences about the importance of abstinence outside marriage. Her nationwide public speaking endeavors began as Miss America when she traveled about 20,000 miles a month making appearances and speaking about literacy. During her travels she realized society's growing interest in abstinence.

The Commitment of a Beauty Queen

At a very young age, Christensen made a commitment to remain sexually pure until marriage. Her commitment stemmed from asking Christ to become Lord and Savior of her life when she was five years old. "I didn't know how to engage in a theological debate, but I knew that I needed Jesus to cleanse me of my sins and to make me pure and clean again," Christensen said. As a natural overflow of her renewed heart, Christensen desired to live a life that was pleasing to God and that included saving herself for her future husband. "God says to be pure and to be abstinent until marriage, and I didn’t want to let Him down," she explained. "It was also important for me not to let down my parents."

While Christensen was young, her parents took the initiative to teach her the biblical standards of sexual purity and did not rely on the youth group or school classroom to do so. "God was my reason for abstaining, but my parents were my motivation," Christensen added.

As soon-to-be first-time parents, Christensen and her husband, Jon, have already decided they will begin teaching their child about the importance of sexual purity from a very young age and encourage other parents to do the same. She believes that the standard is set too low when it comes to premarital sex, and many adults smooth over the problem with the excuse, "They are going to do it anyway."

Therefore, Christensen is working to raise the standard to one of purity.

Christensen's advocacy efforts took full force after she was interviewed by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. The interview was the result of a scathing newspaper article about Christensen's commitment to abstinence and how her fiancé greatly valued her decision. At the time, she and her husband Jon were engaged. He was a former U. S. congressman running for governor of Nebraska. After the couple verbalized their beliefs to the press, a media frenzy erupted.

The Plot of the Enemy

Real abstinence education recognizes that lasting sexual happiness is found within marriage. In contrast, comprehensive sex education programs focus almost completely on contraception and include sexually explicit material, graphic language, homosexual role-playing, erotic movies and hands-on activities. According to a recent study by The Heritage Foundation, "Ninety-one percent of parents want teens to be taught that ‘the best choice is for sexual intercourse to be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment. These qualities are most likely to occur in a faithful marriage.’" Unfortunately, these parental pleas remain muffled as evident from the government’s allocation of funding. The Heritage Foundation reports that "in 2002 alone, the government spent $12 promoting contraception and condom use for every $1 it spent to encourage teens to abstain from sexual activity."

More recently, the pleas of concerned parents and abstinence advocates caught the attention of President Bush who has embraced the issue as a major initiative. According to, the President proposed that $272 million be budgeted for abstinence-until-marriage programs in 2005. Unfortunately the request was not met in its entirety; however, abstinence programs will receive an increase in funding to $170 million (up from $138 million in 2004) for the current government-spending year. This slight increase in funding is justified by a substantial increase in positive effects of abstinence education.

The Goodness of God

For example, sexual activity was lowered 17 percent among girls who participated in the national Best Friends Foundation, a program that teaches abstinence as a part of physical and emotional well-being.

"Be the One" is another abstinence-based program that results in significant attitudinal changes as referred to by its founder Lloyd Groves.

"In 1991, 46 percent of high school students surveyed said they were still virgins," Lloyd said, as reported by Abstinence Clearinghouse in the Boca Raton News. "In 2001, 54 percent said they were virgins. The only thing that has changed on the landscape is abstinence education." In addition, a study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed, "Overall, 53 percent of the decline in pregnancy rates can be attributed to decreased sexual experience ... and 47 percent to improved contraceptive use."

As evident from the statistics, abstinence education is effective, and Christensen is intent on being a vital part of the movement.

The former Miss America’s message encompasses a variety of points that vary depending on the setting but include highlights such as: purity is a calling from God; individual worth is a reason for waiting; and goals and dreams can be achieved. But her favorite aspect to share is that God was her strength when it came to remaining sexually pure until marriage.

The Voice of Virginity

"My prayer is that those who hear me would be somehow reminded of the fact that we can live up to purity, and we can have that kind of a lifestyle," Christensen said. "As much as I believed in abstinence and purity before I was married, it was after I was married and experienced that intimacy with my husband that I just wept for all the people who [willingly] give that gift away to someone prior to their spouse," she explained.

Having personally experienced the impact of sexual purity both before and after marriage, Christensen aims to encourage young people that it is possible to wait. "I was a 26-year-old virgin when we got married," she said.

Although Christensen's romance with her husband unfolded like a fairy tale that involved meeting on Valentine's Day, being proposed to on the South Portico of the White House, and having an intimate Southern wedding, it didn't outweigh her commitment to purity. In fact, during their engagement, Christensen and her husband made a written commitment to one another and to God of what they physically would and would not do prior to their marriage. It was very helpful, especially in the wake of heightened emotions leading up to the wedding.

"Then just from a practical standpoint, my thought was, ‘I’ve waited 26 years. I'm not going to blow it now,’ " Christensen rationalized. But more than that, it was Christensen's desire to please God that sustained her, and it was her virtue that made her a crown unto her husband (Proverbs 12:4).

Rebecca Grace, AgapePress, February 15, 2005. Rebecca Grace, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is staff writer

for AFA Journal, a publication of the American Family Association. This article appeared in the February 2005 issue.


+ Radical homosexual activists who have pushed for same-sex "marriage" rights are discovering they can't have their cake and eat it too. According to news reports, many large companies in Massachusetts -- where homosexual marriage is legal -- are dropping health-care benefits for the "partners" of their unmarried homosexual employees, essentially telling them the only way they can now reap such benefits is if they are married. A spokesman for Baystate Health Systems recently told the Gay Financial Network that "if you're a same-sex domestic partner, you now have the same option heterosexuals have -- so we have to apply the same rules to you." Among the companies making the move are IBM, The New York Times Co., Raytheon, Northeastern, and Boston Medical Center. At the same time, companies such as Nstar Corp. and General Dyamics Corp. have chosen not to extend health benefits to the spouses of their homosexual employees. They say their federally regulated health plans are not bound by Massachusetts' same-sex marriage law.

- AgapePress, January 12, 2005.

+ Case dismissed for Philly 5, but Battle has just Begun: The American Family Association of Pennsylvania is demanding that a judge apologize to members of a Christian group who were arrested during an outreach to homosexuals for comparing the street ministers to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Meanwhile, though acquitted, the Christian activists may be heading back into court. An attorney in Mississippi says the decision by a Philadelphia judge to dismiss all charges against a group of Christians who were arrested for witnessing outside a "gay pride" event shows that free speech does not guarantee that some people won't be offended by what they hear.

More details: - AgapePress, February 22 & 23, 2005.

Iraq. Marine videographer Sean Fairburn, who rode into Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, says Americans are still not getting the straight story about what is going on in that country. Chief Warrant Officer Fairburn says the left-wing media continues to distort what has been a tremendous military accomplishment in Iraq, instead portraying it as a situation in chaos and a lost cause. "That's not the case at all," he says, adding, "There's a tremendous amount of good that's going on every day in Iraq, and it's coming at the hands of the coalition and the Americans and people that are interested in peace for that nation." Fairburn says the objective of the U.S. troops was not to find weapons of mass destruction but to facilitate the collapse of Hussein's regime, and they accomplished that goal, clearing the way for a new infrastructure to be built to support democracy in Iraq. Although the U.S. Marine admits he did observe a handful of protesters who were unhappy about the American troops intervention in Iraq, he says their presence was soon explained to him. He recalls, "Just as we were leaving, I saw a small pocket of about 12 demonstrators holding up signs, and I said to my translator, 'Why are these Iraqis protesting?' And he looked at me and said, 'Those are not Iraqis -- those are Iranians.'" According to Fairburn, U.S. troops continue to assist the Iraqis in rebuilding their country, but many of the more positive stories are simply not being reported by the media.   - AgapePress, February 15, 2005.

Mozambique. Bishop played important role in bringing peace to Mozambique

MAPUTO, Mozambique - The United Methodist bishop of Mozambique Joao S. Machado is a man deeply in love with his people. Elected bishop in 1988 during a bloody civil war, he risked his life for the cause of peace during the early years of his episcopacy. He met with President Joaquim Chissano to plead for peace. "My president, when you come home from work, your kids come running to you and hug you and say, ‘Dad I want meat,’" he says, recounting the meeting. "‘We come here not to tell you how you can give us peace; we are your kids, and we want peace.'" Chissano told Machado and the other religious leaders if they made an effort to talk to the head of the "bandits," then he would be open to a discussion. That task took Machado on a long and dangerous trip that ended with an agreement from rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama to meet with the president. Machado remembers. "I said, ‘Let me begin.’" He opened his Bible and the page that it fell open to was Matthew 5:9: "Blessed [are] the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

He told Dhlakama, "We are here not because the government asked us to be, we are here not because we want to receive something. We are only here because of the millions of people who are suffering. Can you take the first step? If you do that, you will be blessed."

Dhlakama agreed.

After that meeting, Dhlakama asked Machado for a copy of the Bible verse he had read. "I said, no, I can't give you the passage, I want to give you the whole Bible. To this day, that man has my Bible."

- Kathy Gilbert, UMNS; Nashville {05158}; Mar. 16, 2005.

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By holiness I mean not fasting...or bodily austerity, or any other external means of improvement, but the inward temper, to which all these are subservient, a renewal of the soul in the image of God...a complex habit of lowliness, meekness, purity, faith, hope, and the love of God and man.

 - John Wesley