Earlier this year we wrote about Erika, Andriy, Ira and Valya attending the Russian Initiative in San Diego, CA. The General Board of Global Missions (GBGM – our mission board) has a vested interest in Russia, including countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union. The conference held in San Diego was to allow representatives from Russia, Ukraine, etc. to share with representatives from GBGM and other American churches about the establishment of the United Methodist Churches and the effect it is having on their individual lives and surrounding communities.
While at this conference Erika, Andriy, Ira and Valya met a lot of people, shared some great experiences and formed some relationships that they wanted to share with their church body back in Lviv. However, except for some pictures and stories it was hard to think of a way. Then, Elise, a young women from a church in Georgia contacted our students. She said that her Sunday School class was beginning a new study this summer using some new curriculum they had received from GBGM. It is titled Young People Reviving Hope: Mission Education & Leadership Development Journal. She invited our students to join in on the study using Skype.
For those of you reading this that are not familiar with Skype, it is one of those modern day innovations that makes communication between countries so much easier. It’s a computer download that works like a telephone between computers and can also include a camera so you can see who you are talking with. Elise invited our students to meet with them during their Sunday School hour, which is 5pm Lviv time. Of course, doing anything across the world needs some adjustment time. Our first week there was Skype confusion, the second week there was attendance confusion. But this third week I think we are all finally on the same page and are ready to begin.
The curriculum begins with a discussion of the youth conference held in Brazil that talked about ‘Wesleyan Identity and Social Responsibility Leadership Development Seminar.’ The study beings with Youth in Mission including ‘The Role of Youth Leadership Today’ and ‘Youth: Faith for Change.’ The second study is titled Wesleyan Identity: Holiness in Heart and In Life including ‘The Three Rises in Methodism,’ ‘Wesleyan Heritage: The Power of the People,’ and ‘The World Is My Parish.’ I am very excited about our students being introduced to John Wesley and his life teachings and theology.
And of course, talking with Americans via the internet is a great Sunday afternoon activity for university students. The Isle of Hope United Methodist Church in Savannah, GA has found out how to have a true relationship with an overseas missional church plant that is both inviting, informative and non-threatening to all parties involved. The technology of today allows these relationships to not only exist, but foster each other’s knowledge and growth in Christ.