My time at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon was a valuable opportunity to spread the word about Stop Hunger Now’s mission to end hunger. This conference of the global church only meets once every four years, with delegates elected by peers to represent them. That means they are faithful to the assigned committee and plenary times, that is, pretty much all day every day. In addition to the delegates, the event drew several thousand visitors as well.
In my life-long season as a United Methodist, I had more access to more people from more places at that conference than ever before.That extended well beyond the official display area, including connecting with people like this:
- Bishop John Innis of Liberia and Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone are both old friends of Stop Hunger Now’s founding visionary Ray Buchanan. Both were extremely excited to share the power of the relationship with Stop Hunger Now in their homelands.
- A friend, Rev. Rosanna Panizo, is now academic dean and teaching at the Methodist Theological Seminary in Lima, Peru. She generously introduced me, with translation, to her bishop, the Rev. Samuel Aguilar Curi. It was a joy to begin to connect the seminary and the church in Peru with Manny Espinoza, Executive Director of Stop Hunger Now Peru.
As there are Methodist churches in each of our affiliate countries, I was also able to make long-distance introductions to some of those affiliate executive directors, including Saira Khan of Southern Africa, Jomar Fleras of the Philippines and Dola Mohapatra of India.
Alongside the international experience were the stories of the many who already relate to Stop Hunger Now. I was able to get to know a small boy from Zimbabwe. As we parted he said, “I love your message!”–referring to our banner that boldly states “Together we can end hunger.”
I learned perhaps more than I shared, coming home with a number of promising potential partnerships with groups ranging from transportation for people who can’t walk to shoes that grow as children do. Most significantly, there emerged a way forward with the United Methodist initiative on global health. In such a place one hears a lot about “empowerment” and “sustainability” and “impact,” terms that resonate strongly with life at Stop Hunger Now.