Saturday, June 28, 2008

From: Michael Christensen
Subject: good news
To: "Copeland Nkhata"
Date: Thursday, 25 June, 2008, 4:32 AM

Hello my friend. I have two pieces of good news of great joy to tell you:

1. I submitted the proposal to UM Global AIDS Fund to help fund our HopeChurch
program. Let's pray that it comes through in a timely manner.

2. We raised $2,000 for your ministry, which I wired to you on Monday. Please
confirm receipt. It is designated as follows:

$1500 to replace the roof on the church
$300 to provide housing for the Banda family that Bob Robinson wrote you about.
$200 for emergency fund to be used at your desecration in behalf of your
orphaned and vulnerable children in your care.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mother Shalom

South Central, Los Angeles, was the neighborhood in the city where Communities of Shalom began in 1992. I met Marx Gutierrez from El Salvador who was there attending High School at the time. He remembers what happened at the corner of Florence and Normandy Streets in South Central, LA, when Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck and beaten while the crowd looked on and the police did nothing; and how the Rodney King beating resulted in a not-guilty verdict for the police and resulted in a major, 3-day uprising in the neighborhood, until the National Guard came in and finally imposed law and order. He can still remember the fires, the bright orange night sky, the mass looting, 45 unsolved killings, the social chaos...And how the United Methodist Churches responded by creating a zone of shalom in 7 neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Today, Marx is a community organizer, and married to Jennifer Gutierrez, Conference Shalom Coordinator in the Calif-Pacific Annual Conference, and Rev. Vilma Cruz now pastors Pico Union Shalom church and community center (and garden).

During California-Pacific Annual Conference session today, I was given a short 'courtesy' time to remind the United Methodist churches where and why shalom began. Here are my notes:

Greetings: “Shabbat shalom!” “Aloha!”
Shalom to you, Bishop… and Shalom from my Bishop, Beverly Shamana, and my Dean, Maxine Clarke Beach...

Shalom is not just a Jewish greeting or a special way to say ‘hello.’ Shalom is a biblical word that means health, healing, harmony, wholeness, peace, welfare and community well-being. As used by Jeremiah:

“Seek the shalom of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the Lord in its behalf, for in it’s shalom, you will find your shalom.” –Jeremiah 29:7

What is Communities of Shalom?

Communities of Shalom is
• a grass-roots, faith-inspired, Methodist-initiated, community development network of shalom sites (also known as “shalom zones”) in the USA and Africa
• Coordinated and equipped with ShalomZoneTraining by Drew University Theological School in collaboration with the General Board of Global Ministries
• Supporting local congregations and communities in working together to raise the quality of life in their immediate neighborhoods, villages and towns
• Focused on health, healing and wholeness—so that all God’s people can experience shalom—shalom in all its fullness.

What's the basic concept?

The basic idea, born in LA, is to create a shalom zone by focusing community organizing and development work in one single block, or 4 square blocks, one square mile, one long country road, or however the community wants to define itself. By taking on small part of the whole, we can transform the world one community at a time.

What are Communities of Shalom doing in the world today?

Nine UMC congregations in the city of Baltimore are working together with local residents, police, civic groups and business folks to help reduce the high murder rate in the city in the name of shalom.
Newark Interfaith Coalition is working together to reduce gang violence
Affordable housing in Richmond
Legal services for illegal immigrants in Dallas
Appalachian poverty in West Virginia
Green Shalom in Scranton
Mobile health clinics ('Shalom Mobiles') in Houston and Ghana
Micro enterprises in Zimbabwe

Shalom is on the loose, and it all began in Los Angeles.

History of shalom:

The Shalom initiative began in Los Angeles, in south central LA, in direct response to the social uprising following the Rodney King verdict in 1992.
Pastor Jim Lawson led the LA contingency as they gave a report to the 1992 General Conference about what was happening in their city. The Order of the Day was set aside for over an hour as delegates listened and tried to discern how best to respond.

Pastor Joseph Sprague drafted a proposal to create a ‘shalom zone’ in Los Angeles. When the vote was taken, support for the resolution and the concept behind it was overwhelming. It is remembered as one of the few times that the General Conference was able to make a bold decision with bipartisan support.

Seven shalom zones were created in LA in 1992 by 13 UM congregations. Among instigators of shalom were Rev. Thomas Hill, Bishop Roy Sano, and Rev. Brandon Cho. By 1995, under Rev. Jim Conn’s leadership, twelve 501 c 3’s were started to do community development work, including: Rakestraw Community Center and PICO Union Shalom (the mother shalom).

The shalom concept caught on nationally: shalom teams trained and equipped to take on just four square blocks in city after city, and systemically work together with representatives from all the sectors of the community for the total well-being of that particular neighborhood…thus transforming the world one community at a time.

Soon, other urban areas, and eventually, rural communities around the country, created shalom sites (for example, there are now 30 sites in South Carolina).

I am in fruitful discussions with Jim Conn, Director of New Ministries, and Jennifer Rodriguez, Director of Urban Ministries, about renewing communities of shalom in the Conference. This is very important to me since the city of Los Angeles is home to the mother shalom site where it all began. So I would ask you to think about it, pray about it, and discern whether you and your church are called to shalom ministry.

Support for Shalom:

As National Director of Communities of Shalom, I am delighted to provide leadership and support to this growing network.

The International Shalom Resource Center at Drew University 1) provides on-going training, technical assistance, and relational support to registered communities of shalom (see website); 2) prepares and places student interns in selected shalom sites; 3) facilitates equipping and networking events and summits; and 4) hosts an online social networking and resource site: and a public website:

ShalomZoneTraining is a trademark product is available to equip local ministry teams in how to help bring about systemic, sustainable change, health and wholeness, asset-based community development, love in action, organizing and multicultural collaboration (and that's how you spell SHALOM).

A Call to Shalom:

Shalom work is not just another church outreach program but a particular model of transformational ministry. Evangelism and social action, relief work and ministries of mercy are important, but it’s not at the heart of shalom.

You’ve heard the conventional wisdom: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach people to fish, and they will eat for a life time.” But what if the lake is polluted? What if the fish have disappeared from the stream? What if there is a monopoly on the fishing business and the people who live near the water cannot access the local assets? What then?

Then, someone needs to mobilize the people to take back the lake!

Giving people fish is relief work. Teaching people to fish is education. Taking control of the lake is the hard, spiritual work of community organizing and community development. Shalom ministry is faith-based community development work over the long term.

Dom Heller Camera, Archbishop of Brazil, used to say: “When I fed hungry people, they called me a saint. When I started asking ‘why are these people hungry?’ they called me a communist.

Shalom ministry addresses systemic issues for community transformation as well as individual well-being: “Seek the shalom of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the Lord in its behalf, for in it’s shalom, you will find your shalom.” –Jeremiah 29:7

Zaferia Shalom Zone Agency in Los Angeles, operated by Wesley United Methodist Church in Long Beach, Calif., has linked Wednesday morning Bible study with its food ministry. People waiting in line for food are invited to engage in Bible study led by the Rev. Cherrye Cunnigan. The Zaferia agency is one of several "Shalom Zones" in the area. In a Shalom community, churches collaborate with local organizations, businesses, institutions and residents to transform the conditions that affect people's lives -- to change negative forces within the community to positive actions for shalom (peace). A UMNS photo by Larry Hygh. Photo number 02-435, Accompanies UMNS #513, 11/12/02

A 92-foot mural titled “A Beacon of Hope” graces an outside wall at the Rakestraw Community Education Center in South Central Los Angeles, one of several Shalom Zones in the area. A Shalom community is a geographic area where churches collaborate with local organizations, businesses, institutions and residents to transform the conditions that affect people’s lives -- to change negative forces within the community to positive actions for shalom (peace). A UMNS photo by Larry Hygh. Photo number 02-438, Accompanies UMNS #513, 11/12/02

For information on how to become a shalom site, or re-activate an historic shalom zone, or to request shalomzone training, visit us at

As my pastor, Cecil Williams, used to say: Shalom/Salaam, Right On/AMEN!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blankets needed for Orphan Care

What follows is a monthly report from Copeland Nkhata, pastor of the Mzuzu UMC congregation and program director of our Orphan Care program in Malawi.

Be sure to read his appeal for blankets for the kids, and his proposal to take the cost out of the food budget in July. If we raise additional funds--approx $600--we can supply blankets for 80+ vulnerable children and the center would not have to use food money.

Unlike here in the USA, its cold at night in July in Malawi. Blankets are needed in the Center. Shipping costs are too high to find blankets here to ship over. We need to wire funds for local purchase of what is needed. Please let me know if you would like to help by emailing me at

Dear Rev Michael,

Thanks for all the help. The Hope Homes and Hope Scholarship Program is growing as you can testify of what you saw on 9th March. We have gratitude for you are making a difference in our community especially among the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).

We wish to ask for your advice over the issue of blankets for the OVC seeing that the cold season afflicts the children in a dreadful way. If it would find approval in you, we suggest that instead of supplying corn in June or July, we may buy blankets for them so as to shield them from the cold Mzuzu weather. Mzuzu is particularly cold and without good coverings one is in a mess. We had one of the best picnics and our children enjoyed both learning and play.


I am 12 years old. My mother passed away in 2002. I am in Grade in 7 and I am part of the UMC Hope Child protection project. I am HIV+ and the condition was very bad when I tested positive in the year 2006. Through the food support I receive from the project, my health has improved and my CD count has gone up. My mass has increased tremendously. My school work is so good. For 3 years now I always get position one at school. I thank God for this help.


I am 9 years old and I attended standard 6. My father abandoned me at birth and I have never seen him. I have been raised by my grandpa. In 2006 my grandfather brought me to UMC Hope Homes programme where I have received food provisions and my health has improved. It has been very helpful for me to obtain food when resources were not otherwise available. I thank God. My school work has been easy through this support and I often score Position one and I am proud to be part of this Programme.


Iam 12 years old. My father and mother passed away when I was one year old. I have been brought up by my grandma. Life has been hard. Food was one of the most critical problems till when UMC Hope Homes started supporting me with food. I thank God for two things: the Hope Homes have bought me food, a blanket and clothes. I really find this programme useful for my life.


I am a young man aged 16 and have duly completed my training in Certificate in Financial Accounting. I am a very opportunity and blessed orphan who having lost my father 10 years ago through HIV/AIDS scourge had little means to go on with school till the UMC Hope Scholarship offered me a place at college for training. I am now very happy and sure that my future will ripen into success. I thank God for connecting me into this opportunity through the church.


I am an orphan aged 12 and lost both parents at birth through HIV/AIDS. I have been reared by my granny. I have been vulnerable all through but in 2007 the UMC Hope Homes started taking care of me. The church has bought me food monthly and last year in June they bought me a blanket to protect me from the cold weather. I feel good and happy for the Lord has visited me with His mercy.





Received 139 000.00
Transport 14 370.00
Communication 2 115.00
Food 75325.00
Picnic 20 000.00
Books 12 920.00
Fees 11 000.00

Stationery- pens 75.00
Medical care 2 350.00
Sundry expenses 800.00
Balance c/d 45.00
Total 139 000.00 139 000.00

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thank you from Copeland

Rev. Copeland Nkhata, Pastor of the Methodist Church in Mzuzu, with his wife, Jane, who with their congregation took in 57 orphans to care for since 2006

I received the following email from Rev. Nkhata this morning, acknowledging receipt of our funds to replace the roof and conveying his deep gratitude. I asked him to borrow a camera and send a photo when he can. Read and rejoice:

Dear Michael,

Very many thanks and truly words cannot suffice to say thank you for such great intervention with funds to let us replace the roof of the church. Be assured that the job is soon done. I will assign Leaster to go down to Blantyre to purchase the tent soon.

Convey to all friends of Malawi Mzuzu circuit that we are glad for they have been used of the Lord to make a difference among the people of Mzuzu. God flourish your hearts for his kingdom.

Love from


For more photos of the Orphan Church in Mzuzu, as well as our March Mission Trip, click on this link to the Photo Album:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

We raised enough to raise the roof !

We raised enough to raise the roof of the orphan church in Malawi!

On May 12, Rev. Copeland NKhata prayed about the sudden loss of the roof to his church. He shared the need with others: "We are still holding together, though a few of our members are excessively shocked. Our services are badly affected, but we have hope that God will always protect his work."

Apparently, God told him to find a friend with a computer and email his friends outside of Africa. The email that reached Sarah Harrington, who passed it on to me, read as follows:

"Sad news: armed robbers have stolen the tent that we had used to roof our small church structure. The roof is now bare, and drizzle or sunshine affects our services. The matter is with the police. Please pray that God would bail us out of this mess."

The 'tent' he was referring to is the relatively expensive, waterproof, roof covering on wood and thatched built church of 150 Methodists (including 57 AIDS orphans) who worship together in a simple sanctuary of wooded planks and a dirt floor with sun or rain streaming in depending on whether it’s the dry or wet season in Malawi.

Rev. Nkhata is pastor of Mzuzu United Methodist Church and Director of the HopeHome program for AIDS orphans in Malawi. He emailed me what had happened in the church where I preached in just 3 months ago, and I agreed to pass the word to friends of Malawi that the church for orphans needed a new, waterproof roof. The original cost to construct and install was $1000. The estimate to replace was $1500.

Eleven friends of Malawi responded with gifts of $15 to $500 in a timely manner, and by Monday a total of $1,815 was received or pledged. I made a deposit to the WorldHope Corps account and wired Copeland $2,000—a little less than his annual church budget!! It will be enough to replace the roof and also provide food for some of the 57 AIDS orphans cared for by the congregation.

That’s how God answers prayer: by inspiring believers in God’s inclusive love and justice to hear the cries of orphans and windows in distress, and to respond with tangible acts of loving kindness to people they have never even met.

And that’s how WorldHope Corps works: by connecting available resources with qualified needs, facilitating specific ways to make a difference in the world.
Thank you for responding. Together, we raised the roof!