Encounter with Christ – Reaching Beyond the Boundaries

Date Posted: 10/19/2009

By Brant Mills, Texas Annual Conference Communications

A presentation on October 8 at St. Paul’s UMC brought supporters of the Encounter with Christ ministry together to learn how to help more than 220 million people for whom poverty is a daily reality.


The ministry is a missional initiative of the General Board of Global Ministries, and a permanent fund, which began in 1992 to support a mission partnership with Methodist churches throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.


Encounter documents noted that 30-50% of children in their focus area have mothers lacking a basic, primary school education and that 40% of their youth live in poverty.


Dr. Wilson Boots, a retired missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries, and Director of Mission Interpretation for the group said, “During the last several years, the Encounter with Christ permanent fund has been able to be in partnership in mission in 40 different outreach ministries in 14 countries throughout the region.”


He added that, “The 12 countries the Texas Partners in Mission teams have been involved in have been able to support outreach mission in each of those countries through Encounter.”


“We have, right now - even in this dismal market… $103,000 that will be distributed within the next month through front edge mission projects in a number of additional countries to the 14 that have already been funded,” said Boots. “The witness of teams from your churches that go out is being supported, and it complements the work that is being done through the encounter mission. Over $70,000 has been raised in the Texas Conference for the support of Encounter with Christ permanent fund – so all these 40 projects all over the continent have been supported…I believe profoundly that we are being swept by the Spirit into a great new mission age.”


Priorities of Mission

Encounter’s three mission priorities are evangelism and new church development; ministering to women, children and youth; and comprehensive, community-based health-care.


“Many of the projects have focused on the needs of women,” Boots continued. “The Women’s Division has Encounter with Christ as an approved project for giving to support this outreach ministry.”


Bishop Joel Martinez, interim general secretary for the General Board of Global Ministries, and past president of Global Ministries' board of directors said “the Missional engagement that Encounter with Christ invites us to is an attempt to connect every Christian United Methodist who is interested in mission in Latin America and the Caribbean to have an avenue – a pathway to make a gift that will have permanent long-standing influence in that mission.”


Bishop Martinez spoke of how the mission call is “always a very personal call” and noted that his grandmother’s baptism by a UM circuit rider brought Methodism to his family.


Bishop Janice Riggle Huie noted that all of the other annual conferences in Texas are scheduled to have similar kinds of gatherings. “For the Episcopal areas in the state of Texas… who are so close to the southern border, to take a leadership role in this, is a right and good thing.”


After reading Acts 13:1-3, Bishop Martinez said “I read that text to remind us that we’re all part of the mission community – all called, all being saved, all being sent… Over the long haul we’ve got to have some under-girding of this mission with a permanent fund from which the proceeds will continue to flow… It’s not the only way, but this is one way that will be sustainable and foundational to the future.”


A video about this ministry is available online at http://www.txcumc.org/encountervideo.


Learn more about Encounter with Christ


To help support the ministry, donate to the Permanent Fund #025100, which has a goal of $25 million. Deferred giving is another option, as individuals may include Encounter in their wills and other forms of planned giving.


Gifts can also be made to Advance Special #14729A to sustain the promotional efforts of Encounter, as indicated on the Advance website of the General Board of Global Ministries.


For more information on how your church can be a part of related projects within our annual conference, contact Kathie Mann, director of Partners in Mission, at texaspim@methodists.net.