Embrace is an evangelism resource that equips Christ-followers to share their faith with confidence. It combines personal experience and six essential values. Training is Nov. 1-2 in Dexter.
Senior Content Editor
Hope seems in short supply these days in nation, world, and church. Unless you are talking with someone who has a deep and wide perspective on what’s happening with God’s people around the globe.
Such a someone is Dr. Kimberly Reisman. She’s the Director of World Methodist Evangelism, and she’s coming to Michigan next month to lead a faith-sharing experience called Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus.
More about the training later. First, an introduction to Kim, a woman who says with passionate conviction, “My hope is in Jesus Christ.”
World Methodist Evangelism (WME) began in 1971, working under the umbrella of the World Methodist Council “to bring together the over 84 million Wesleyan Christians in over 132 countries.”
Kim explains, “The United Methodist Church is only one church among many different manifestations of the Wesleyan Methodist tradition. World Methodist Evangelism is blessed to be involved in all kinds of wonderful work being done by Methodists of all stripes, all over the world. There is lots of hope!”
She asserts that there are all kinds of reasons to have hope today. “I understand that it can feel like an uncertain time, but we shouldn’t be discouraged,” she says. “God is at work in amazing ways, here in the United States and all over the world.”
She names two aspects of WME’s outreach that are especially hope-filled. “We do a lot of work with young adults worldwide – clergy and laity – to instill a holistic understanding of evangelism,” Kim notes. “It’s hard to miss a sense of hope when you’re working with young people, who see evangelism as an integral part of following Jesus.”
The other important aspect of what WME does, according to Reisman, is “bring the Wesleyan Methodist family together. This is extremely important in places where the church is marginalized or oppressed.” She gives WME’s ministry in Nigeria as an example. “We have been able to facilitate bringing the various churches together — Methodist Church Nigeria, African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ), and United Methodist Church for example — to strengthen their unified witness for Christ in Nigeria.” She continues, “The importance of a unified witness can’t be overstated in an environment where Christians are persecuted or oppressed. The hope that is generated is palpable.”
And Nigeria is but one place where she sees the Holy Spirit moving. “The Holy Spirit is energizing the Methodist movement in dramatic ways in Cuba, in Estonia, in Kyrgyzstan, in Korea, in Brazil, in New Zealand, in the United States. All over!” she states with enthusiasm.
It’s been five years since Dr. Kim Reisman joined World Methodist Evangelism and they have been exciting years. A high point was the release of Embrace, which grew out of her PhD work. “I’ve been teaching it around the world for quite some time now,” she says. “The response has been fantastic. There is such a need for authentic and holistic approaches to evangelism, it’s been really encouraging.”
Embrace: Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus will be hosted at Dexter United Methodist Church November 1-2. Friday’s session runs 6:45pm – 9:00pm (light hors d’oeuvres served); Saturday’s session runs 8:45am – 4:30pm (light breakfast and lunch included). Registration fee includes food and study materials. Early Bird Rate – $39.00; after Oct. 25th – $49.00. To register, please go to http://www.EmbraceDexter.Eventbrite.com.
Kim Reisman will be in Dexter leading the experience. She says she’s seen Embrace change the trajectory on three different levels of life and faith. “First is the personal level – people become more in touch with their own experience of faith, their own story; and more in touch with the way their story intersects with God’s story.” Embrace is not aimed at doctrine or theology but their personal experience and commitments. “So it’s not about having all the answers,” Kim explains. “It’s about a willingness to walk with others as they explore the possibility of faith.”
The second trajectory she names is communal. “People begin to see that the process of showing and sharing the love of Jesus is intertwined with everything else that happens in their congregation – worship, small groups, outreach, mission, everything. And they recognize that following Jesus can’t be done in a vacuum.” Then she adds, “We need each other on this journey.”
A holistic aspect is the third level she mentions. Kim describes it like this. “People realize that evangelism isn’t a one-off thing. It’s a process that involves not just what we preach or communicate verbally – but what we do – how we live – the activity of our lives.” And, most importantly, there’s the involvement of the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit needs space and time to move,” Kim emphasizes. “This third element is probably the thing that has been overlooked the most. Embrace helps people bring all three of those elements together in a fresh and powerful way.”
So, how in the world is it that World Methodist Evangelism is coming to a corner of southeast Michigan?? Dexter UMC’s pastor, the Rev. Matt Hook, has a long-time relationship with WME. Matt and his wife, Leigh, attended a Regional Evangelism Institute in Germany not long after the Berlin Wall went down. He recalls, “To see the young, underground Christians (smuggling Bibles behind the walls of communism) meet the older, above-ground babushkas (elderly grandmas named for the scarves they wear) was something I will treasure my whole life!” Matt attended other evangelism conferences hosted by WME in Germany, Brazil, and Cuba. “I realized,” he says, “there are depths to the Christian faith that we in North American have yet to comprehend.”
Matt has also been deeply involved in WME’s Order of the FLAME, which nurtures young pastors and spouses across Pan-Methodism (UMC, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Nazarene, Free Methodist, United Church of Canada, and Wesleyan Churches). “The FLAME conference has been the most diverse expressions of our faith that I have ever experienced,” Matt says, “and it has enriched my faith-walk and local church leadership immensely.” FLAME stands for “Faithful Leaders As Mission Evangelists.”
As a host pastor for Embrace, Matt hopes the event will be transformational for those who come to Dexter on November 1-2. “I hope that people will realize, as the woman at the well did, that no matter where we’re coming from, God can work in and through us to share the good news of living water, new life, faith, hope, and love to a suffering world.” His goal is that “people will learn humble confidence in sharing – really sharing – the love of Jesus in a way that transforms both their lives and others. There’s truly nothing in the world like it!”
Dr. Kim Reisman will be in Dexter to facilitate that raising up of evangelists in the way of Jesus Christ and John Wesley. “To be an evangelist in the manner of John Wesley is about attending to the whole gospel and the wholeness of salvation,” she reflects. Embrace emphasizes this. She goes on, “We tend to create artificial divisions within the gospel — for instance between personal and social holiness, or between individual salvation and communal salvation. These are artificial distinctions that are not Wesleyan.” Embrace brings things together in a powerful, hope-filled way.
She invites those considering Embrace to understand that, “showing and sharing the love of Jesus has implications for the here and now, and for eternity. God’s salvation is a ‘whole-creation’ salvation, not just an interior, private experience.” Embrace presents humility, clarity, prayer, integrity, worship, and urgency as the essence of authentic evangelism. Reisman concludes, “Such an understanding changes how we share, and I believe moves us closer to being evangelists in the manner of John Wesley.”