Rev. Dr. Laishi Bwalya: Why I Chose to be a UMC
I am a senior pastor of LIVING WORD, in Kitwe, Zambia. I am a clergy member of the Southern Congo/Zambia Episcopal area. I am former District Superintendent of Samaria in Lubumbashi (D.R. Congo). I am actually the chairperson of the Board of Ordained Ministry in the Zambia Conference.
It is important to point out that The United Methodist Church is first and foremost MY Church because this is the only church in which I was born, raised, grew up and I am still serving. In other words, I share my deep love for the United Methodist Church.
Both my parents were members of the United Methodist Church. My father served as lay leader at both local and district levels; while my mother served as chairlady in the United Methodist Women fellowship.
At my tender age, my parents used to go with me to church every Sunday and left in the safe hands of the Sunday school teacher. It was in such an atmosphere of a Sunday school pupil that I learned for the first time to read (in that period of time, there was no pre-schools as our modern children enjoy today). I learned, as well, to memorize bible verses, to sing new songs of praise and adoration. That was the beginning and foundation my long journey of faith in the United Methodist Church.
As I grew up, I realized that God’s transforming power is found in the United Methodist Church. My uncle who called himself “son of hell” was well known in all our area as a drunkard, a very difficult man to rely on. Our local evangelists tried, by all means, to convince him to attend the Easter revival during the Holy week. That was a turning point of his life. He accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and gave his life to Him.
Yes! God’s transforming power has moved my uncle! He is no longer a “son of hell” but a child of God. God’s transforming power has changed him from a drunkard to be a witness of God. God’s presence and power is to be found in the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church is an open door to everybody regardless of his/her condition, or his/her status. The church strives to make disciple for the transformation of the world. I have witnessed this with the life changing of my uncle and I have decided to serve God and be also a disciple maker.
As a student at the theological training, I enjoyed the Wesleyan theology, especially on our distinctive heritage as United Methodists which emphasize upon practical divinity, the implementation of genuine Christianity in the lives of believers.
It can be argued that the distinctive shape of the Wesleyan theological heritage can be discovered in the area that point out the creating, redeeming and sanctifying activity of God.
What strike me in the Wesleyan theology is that the outreach of the church is grounded from the working of the Holy Spirit. As United Methodists, we respond to that working trough a connectional polity based upon mutual responsiveness and accountability.
The rationale behind my choice to belong to the United Methodist Church can be summarized as follows:
1) The United Methodist Church is an inclusive church: the door is open to each and everyone regardless his/her age as was my personal experience as a Sunday school pupil.
2) The transforming power of God is found in the United Methodist Church. I witnessed lives changing of many people, especially my own uncle.
3) The doctrine of the United Methodist Church is biblically grounded, especially in the church vision of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Really, I am proud to belong to the United Methodist Church, the church where everybody is somebody regardless of the status, race, or origins.
The Rev. Dr. Laishi Bwalya, a senior pastor of LIVING WORD, in Kitwe, Zambia, is a clergy member of the Southern Congo/Zambia Episcopal area. He is a former District Superintendent of Samaria in Lubumbashi (D.R. Congo). He is a spiritual coordinator at Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation (Kitwe, Zambia) and lecturer at Copperbelt and North Western University.