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In the late 18th century many European countries were engaged in violent revolution. England was not one of them. Some historians credit a religious movement in that country with creating a climate that prevented such upheaval.

The Methodist Movement, spearheaded by John Wesley and his brother Charles, had its origins in the academic environment of Oxford. They were joined by a small group of other students in rigid religious rituals. Because of their methodical approach in their devotional and charitable activities they began to be called the “Methodists,” a derisive term.

This small group of people became known as the Holy Club. They rigorously practiced the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and accountability but their religious fervor was not limited to such acts of piety. They regularly visited the prisons and hospitals. They established schools for poor children, offered basic medical care for those who could not afford it, provided housing for poor and elderly widows and their children, and much more.

The long term effect of this movement was due largely to the well-disciplined organizer, John Wesley. To what did he owe his strong faith, persistence, and tolerance?

Much is known about the impact of John’s mother, Susanna Wesley. She has been called the Mother of Methodism. “Her example of faith and religious reverence she set for her children inspired them to become powerful spiritual leaders and to launch the Methodist Movement.” Her constant devotion and strict discipline to the education and spiritual formation of her children certainly impacted John, the 15th of her 19 children.

Adam Hamilton* says, “If John learned about his faith from his mother, he learned how to deal with disagreements from his father and grandfathers.” His grandparents on both sides of his family were dissenters from the established Anglican Church but his parents were committed Anglicans. John “adopted a posture that is often called the via media- a middle way- that found truth on both sides of the theological divide.”

In one sermon that is among John Wesley’s most famous he said, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart? Though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

Hamilton suggests that this spirit of Wesley leads us to “give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume the best in others, not the worst. We speak well of others, not poorly. We treat them as we hope to be treated. We listen more and talk less. We walk in other people’s shoes and try to understand what they believe and why. This does not mean we give up our convictions, but it does mean we test them.” The focus is intended learn what we have in common and to build bridges not walls.

It was this humble, listening, catholic spirit supported by a strong resolve to follow Christ wherever He would lead that transformed the religious practices and daily routines of people across England in the late 18th century. This helped to create a climate where social changes could be accomplished without widespread violence. One does not have to be a Methodist to see the value and to follow the precepts of Wesley but in doing so we just might make a better world.

Jamie Jenkins

*Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press 2014

 

Sam and Susan are folks you might never have known if it was not for two of their children. They lived in a small town and although they both were well educated neither of them were in high profile positions of leadership.

Sam’s career path was certainly not one that many would count successful. He spent over 40 years in a rather non-descript place. Many of the folks he worked with and for did not like him. Some of them even burned his house down- not once but twice. One of his associates had him thrown into jail because he could not immediately pay a debt. This was one of two times he spent in jail due to his poor financial status. Lack of money was a perpetual problem.

It could be easily argued that Susan was more gifted than her husband but there was no attempt to upstage or overshadow him. She gave birth to nineteen children but nine of them died as infants. Her primary role was to focus her attention on her children. She was the primary source of her children’s education and ultimately the prominent force in shaping their lives.

Sam was also a poet but never achieved any real fame or success as a writer. One account suggests that Sam “spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances” on one literary work that “was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship.” In contrast, Susan’s writings were foundational to her children’s education.

Susan devoted several hours every day to her children’s education. She was a commanding presence and a profound influence in their lives. Sam failed to provide financial security for his family but his life was a demonstration of perseverance- holding on when suffering, tragedy and opposition came.

In different ways Sam and Susan profoundly impacted their children. Their influence can be seen especially in two of their boys, John and Charles, the founders of the Methodist Movement that changed the course of history in 18th century England and is a continuing spiritual force in the world today.

Stained glass windows depicting John and Charles Wesley.

Because of the impact of the Wesley brothers, the world knows Samuel and Susanna Wesley. In his book, Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton says that the boys learned a lesson from their father that would be essential to their future work by his example that “when suffering, tragedy, and opposition come, don’t turn away; turn to God. And don’t give up.” As for their mother, Hamilton says: “Susanna Wesley changed the world by shaping the heart and faith of her children and by her wise counsel and persistent prayers and encouragement.”

I suspect that Samuel and Susanna had no idea of the impact they were having on their children. There was no way they could have seen the effect of their teaching and example on their lives. They were just doing what good parents are supposed to do- live before their kids a life of faith and integrity and leave the results to God. The role of parents has never been easy but has always been important- and never more so than today.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

It has been two weeks since I have posted on this blog. I am sure that you have missed it and wondered what has happened to me. Your life has been greatly diminished because you have been deprived of my musings.

If I believed that, I would be in need of serious therapy. The fact is I suspect that you have not even realized that there has been a two week gap in my Thoughts for Thursday postings. And even if you realized it, there has been no detrimental effect because of it.

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Nevertheless, an explanation for why the hiatus. My oldest son Jason, his wife Keiko, and their two children Jamie and Felicia (my only two grandchildren) have been visiting for the past five weeks. In addition, we have also had a revolving door of guests since they arrived. My grandson’s best friend from Korea, a cousin from California, and another cousin from Japan have each spent 10 days – two weeks with us. It has been so much fun and it has occupied most of my thoughts. So, I gave my writing a rest.

By the way, my son’s family is one of many who live something of a nomadic lifestyle. They are a part of a large community of traveling families. They lived in Japan for 13 years but left there in 2013. Since then they have lived in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Spain. They are on their way to Mexico for their next residence. Jason writes a blog about their experiences and has posted over 100 podcast interviews with other traveling families. If you are interested, check out his blog (www.anepiceducation.com).

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. Francis Bacon

I write as a discipline, not because I enjoy it or think that I have anything of major importance to say. World events are not affected by my opinions or advice.  Lives are not drastically altered by my wisdom. I understand that.

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.

E. B. White

Verbal communication has been my primary method of sharing my thoughts. I am occasionally reminded that I can talk a lot without saying very much. Writing helps me to be conscious of choosing the right word(s) and I am more aware of reasonable limits on the length of my communication. Writing helps me discipline myself in that regard. Writing regularly with self-imposed time/space limitations also has value.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
― Mark Twain

These past two weeks I have chosen not to chain myself to the chair in front of the computer to be sure I did not miss a Thursday entry. That, in itself, has been a discipline and a reminder that it is okay if I miss an occasional self-imposed deadline.

So why am I writing today? For one thing, I want those who read what I write to know that I am still alive and well. Secondly, in the midst of everyday life I need to maintain some sense of rhythm and to continue to work on the art of communication.

You can be certain that this latest installment is not because my sense of self-worth or my ego demands it. I understand the warning given by the Apostle Paul: “I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].” (Romans 12:3, Amplified Bible)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Approximately 4 million babies were born in the United States last year. if we knew that in the next five years 800,000 of them would die from one disease, we would stop at nothing until we found the solution to that problem.

The situation described above is the kind of scenario faced by parents in sub-Sahara Africa. 1 of every 5 children born in that part of the world will die before they are five years old. A child dies every 60 seconds from the killer disease of malaria. That is over 1400 children every day who lose their lives to a disease that was virtually eliminated in the United States over 60 years ago- malaria. The World Health Organization estimates that 650,000 people will die this year from malaria, most of them children under the age of five and pregnant women.

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The good news: we know how to stop death and suffering from malaria and great progress has been made. Malaria is 100% preventable and 100% treatable. In 2006 a child died every 30 seconds. That death rate has been cut in half in the past 8 years through the efforts of many people and organizations.

In 2006 the United Methodist Church was invited to partner with several other groups with Nothing But Nets, a highly successful program that distributed insecticide treated bed nets to protect people from being infected with malaria. But more was needed.

INM_logo_(horizontal)So in 2008, building on the success of Nothing But Nets, the United Methodist Church established a more comprehensive approach to fighting malaria: Imagine No Malaria. It continues the important task of net distribution and builds on it, adding treatment, education, and communication to bring about a sustainable victory over malaria in this generation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation generously underwrites all administrative costs of the effort so every dollar given goes directly to this ministry.

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Since 2010 Imagine No Malaria has distributed more than 2.3 million bed nets to protect a family while they sleep at night when the mosquitoes are most active. 11,600 volunteer community health workers have been recruited and trained to deliver those nets and to teach people how to properly use them and to instruct them on other preventive measures.

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Imagine No Malaria also provides affordable and accessible medications to the more than 300 United Methodist hospitals and clinics in 16 countries of sub-Sahara Africa. 13 national health boards have been established to oversee the work and to seek additional funding sources.

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United Methodists across the country have contributed $65 million toward Imagine No Malaria’s goal of $75 million by next year. Now we have an opportunity to join them to reach the goal and save millions of lives.

 

Look what $10 can do through Imagine No Malaria::

  • deliver an insecticide treated bed net to protect a family while they sleep to protect them and to kill mosquitos
  • teach the recipient how to use it properly
  • teach the symptoms of malaria and other means to prevent the disease
  • provide early diagnostic kits as well as accessible and affordable medications

Only $10 to save a life. $100 saves 10 lives. $1000 saves 100 lives.

INM TtEXT TO GIVE

To donate:

  • Text MALARIA NGC to 27722 (be sure to leave a space before NGC) and $10 will automatically be donated.
  • Send a check for any amount to the North Georgia Conference, 4511 Jones Bridge Circle, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 and designate it for Imagine No Malaria.

You can learn more about this effort to eliminate death and suffering from malaria at

http://www.imaginenomalaria.org or http://www.facebook.com/NGCimaginenomalaria or

http://www.facebook.com/imaginenomalaria

We can do more than imagine no malaria. Together we can make it a reality.

Jamie Jenkins