In July, Malawi and missionaries Rev. Teddy and Sylvia Crum were the featured in a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Southeastern Jurisdiction (UMVIM, SEJ) Update. The Crums are from the North Alabama Conference. They began serving in Malawi this summer. Below is the UMVIM Update. It is reposted here with permission.
Teddy, Sylvia and Lily Crum are missionaries of the General Board of Global Ministries from the North Alabama Conference. In mid-2011, they became the first United Methodist missionaries in Malawi. Teddy and Sylvia will be assisting with administrative and ministry issues arising in this area of rapid church expansion.
Below is a blog post written by Teddy:
"Bacon or Eggs?"
"A common concern of folks like ourselves who are working in any sort of support role where we partner with local leadership to develop a capacity for continued growth is, how do we do so without creating a dependency upon having us be here permanently. I recently had a conversation with a friend who is supporting the work of the Church here in Malawi, and we got around to this topic. We discussed a number of things, always coming back to the questions, "How does what we are doing not get in the way? And, how do we promote significant buy-in of local leadership?"
Our questions, and most of our thoughts, were and are based mainly in ignorance. At the same time, we were contemplating how to advocate Malawians having "skin in the game," these same Malawians have built up the United Methodist Church to have 150 congregations and preaching points, and somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 members. While we contemplated what we might "put in," our Malawian friends have already put everything on the table.
It's cold in Malawi right now. On a recent trip to a rural village, one of the volunteers in mission teams was accompanied by a young man who is a student who is currently on holiday from Africa University (a UMC institution in Zimbabwe). This young man was serving as the groups' interpreter. The group attended worship, and at one point, was greeted by a crowd of young children. A member of the group shared with me that she noticed a boy who was wearing a shirt that had more holes in it that it had connecting bits. A little while later she looked around and noticed that their interpreter had taken off his sweater and put it on the boy. It was a small and simple act, made a bit less small by knowing the sweater was likely one of only two that the young man had...and it really is pretty cold right now. The young man's thinking was clear, this boy is cold. He could have over-thought the situation and decided that if he gave the boy his sweater, the same boy might expect another sweater from him at a later point. But instead, he acted in a moment out of love. It's not something that I, as an outsider, could have done in the same way. But it's an important reminder of those faithful ones who don't have much, giving their all. Especially as we feel like those rich ones who just wanted to give something noisily out of our wealth.
Issues of dependence and support are important ones. As a Christian, I recognize that I am dependent upon God's grace. In this case, dependence is something to be advocated. Dependence upon God is what we're after, not dependence upon myself or some other person. All of this makes me think about the analogy of bacon and eggs. When it comes to putting "skin in the game," the pig is all in. When it comes to the chicken, she puts an egg. The Malawians are all in...they've built the Church to be what is is right now with minimal support from the outside (financial or otherwise). Our outside conversations feel a little bit like trying to decide whether we should offer one egg or two.
I am constantly humbled by the generosity and grace of my new friends in Malawi. I know that I have a lot of learning to do before very much of what I am seeing and feeling makes much sense. I am hopeful for opportunities to learn from these friends in ways that enrich both their lives and my own. Most of all, I'm grateful that it's not up to me to work everything out, though I expect God will use some of what all of us bring to the table in order to make the difference God is after."
*The UMVIM, SEJ Executive Director, Paulette West, interviewed Teddy, Sylvia and Lily before they flew to Malawi.
Please enjoy their story and the opportunities that they will have along with the cuteness of Lily during the video. Also, many apologies for the video ending abruptly: the Flip Camera's batteries don't always last the longest. In the interview, both Teddy and Sylvia mention the Mission Intern program-- if you are interested,email the UMVIM, SEJ office for more information!
*To read their blog, please click here.
Both Sylvia and Teddy post regularly. They include stories and pictures of not only the work that is being done, but also the relationships that are being nurtured and updates on Lily.
*To view their facebook page, login to facebook and search for Sylvia Crum Malawi UMC.
Also, please pray for the leadership of the Malawi United Methodist Church. Twenty-nine new congregations were created in 2009 and 2010. Malawi became a United Methodist missionary conference in 2008 and is a mission initiative of Global Ministries.
The UMVIM, SEJ is looking into ways that we can partner with the United Methodist Church in Malawi and the Crum's in the near future. They are excited about mission opportunities for Volunteers in Mission groups. If you would like more information, please email the UMVIM, SEJ office and they will get you connected!
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission