For a week this past May, three churches in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference had the opportunity to receive Rev. Raquel Balbuena and Rev. Maria Calixto to speak to their congregations.  These young pastors graduated from the Juan Wesley Methodist Seminary in Monterrey, Mexico back in 2004 and some of their scholarship aid came from individuals and churches in Arizona. Although Rev. Calixto has traveled to the Desert Southwest annual Conference before, this was Rev. Balbuena’s first time to visit.

What a blessing to have these women meet and speak with people from the congregations of Dayspring UMC in Tempe, White Mountain UMC in Show Low and Cross Roads UMC in Phoenix.  The enthusiasm for Christ and Evangelism, which these two young pastors shared, was a testimony of faith and commitment for all of us who had the opportunity to hear them share about their ministries in Mexico.  Praise God for their lives and ministry.

Terry and Muriel Henderson.


May  2009  –  NOW  THAT’S  WHAT  I  CALL  MISSION !

An article written by Rev. Michael Higgs, pastor of White Mountain UMC, that was in the June issue of Mountaintop Moments.

When we were all much younger and foolish-er, Dianna and I served on a summer camp staff at Mingus Mountain.  Terry Henderson was also part of that camp staff. I honestly don’t remember whether Muriel was or not.  In the succeeding years our paths rarely crossed.  But I saw Terry’s name periodically as he and Muriel developed the “Give Ye Them To Eat” ministry that addresses physical, social, economic, and spiritual needs of people all over Mexico.

We’ve enjoyed reconnecting with the Hendersons through White Mountain United Methodist Church.  It was exciting to hear them share their story at the Wednesday night dinner program.  This church has been a solid supporter of their ministry.  Best of all was the chance to meet and hear from Rev. Raquel Balbuena and Rev. Mary Calixto.  These two women are ordained pastors in the Methodist Church of Mexico.  Terry and Muriel and GYTTE have been major influences in their lives.

Rev. Mary and Rev. Raquel represent GYTTE’s greatest achievement—changed lives.  Hundreds of people come to the mission center each year for a wide variety of training opportunities.  They come on behalf of their church or their village, to learn and then go home to teach and to share. Their time at GYTTE changes them.  They leave with new skills, new knowledge, new attitudes, and a new desire to share their faith and their learning, and new confidence that they can make a difference in their communities.

Now that’s what I call Mission!  Changed lives that change lives that change still more lives.  “Mission” comes from a Latin word that means, “to send.”  Missionaries are “sent” people—sent to finish what Jesus started; sent to let every person on the planet know “God’s kingdom is here.  Change your life and believe the Message!”  (Mark 1:15)  The United Methodist Church sends people like Terry and Muriel Henderson all over the world.  Annual conferences like ours send pastors to their appointments.  Our nearly 40,000 congregations send disciples like you and me out the door into the world at the end of worship each week.  All of us in our own way share the same mission:  “God’s kingdom is here.  Change your life and believe the Message.”

“Missionary” is an identity, not a location.  Mission happens whenever anyone, anywhere, is “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  It’s the same mission wherever our Risen Lord sends us---Mexico, China, or Show Low, Arizona.  Mission happens wherever we help someone see and claim God’s vision for his or her life.  Mission happens wherever we offer help, hope, healing, and wholeness in the name of Jesus.  Mission happens wherever we announce the startling news that God has a new way for us to live together in the world. 

Rev. Raquel and Rev. Mary remind us that changed lives are the best measure of our missionary effectiveness. How are you doing, fellow missionaries?  How is our missionary outpost called WMUMC doing?  How can we do even better?
A Thought—We’ve supported GYTTE every way but actually taking a team to do some meaningful work at the mission and to learn and physically express our solidarity in Christ.  Is it time for that to happen?

In Christ,
Rev. Michael Higgs
Pastor of White Mountain UMC