Dispatch from El Salvador

My beautiful Wisconsin siblings, Greetings from El Salvador!  I am here with the cabinet to visit our own Jorge Mayorga’s homeland and to share in a mission trip and relationship building journey.  We bring the love of Christ from Wisconsin to be blessed in return by God’s love in El Salvador.

I am amazed by the leadership and hospitality of Bishop Juan de Dios.  I am also impressed by the missionaries here. We had a wonderful time in Ahuachapán painting a school and getting to know the residents of the area.  We toured churches and ministries, visited Ataco, then journeyed to Entre Nubes for worship and a luncheon.  In addition to more painting, we participated in a food distribution project, and we are preparing for two days of Bible School.

A highlight of this trip was our day in San Salvador at Jose Simeon Cañas Central American University, the Romero Museum and Cathedral, and a glorious visit with Father Jon Sobrino.  If you are not familiar with Fr. Sobrino’s work, I encourage you to read him, especially his book, Christ the Liberator: A View from the Victims.  The Methodist Church in El Salvador is expanding with a strong engagement with the poor and the violent through the churches, schools, and clinics.  Poverty is everywhere, but the ministry of the church is making a vital impact.  And in a society where gangs and violence are very common, but reconciliation and restoration is happening through the Methodist Church.

My humble wish for every Wisconsin United Methodist would be to make a trip such as this.  Our cabinet paid their own ways to engage in this amazing intercultural experience.  This offers such a helpful and necessary perspective on the many things we take for granted in our own daily lives.  In a very different setting, in places where there is great need, there is also great joy and bountiful spirit.  We will all be better people, and better leaders, for our time together here.

Jorge has done a good job showing us his home country.  It is a beautiful land with many challenges (just as we have at home) but we are hopeful and filled with God’s Spirit as we meet people and get to know a place very different in many ways than our own, but with many similarities in our desires and dreams.  This has been a gift – as is often the case with mission projects, we leave thinking we are going to bless others while the fact is that we receive the greater blessing.

As I spend time in personal reflection, I remember my dear friend, mentor, and colleague Bishop Mike Coyner.  His sudden passing on January 8 stunned and saddened me.  He has been such a gift to the denomination and to our North Central Jurisdiction.  He will be truly missed.  A very nice view of his ministry can be read here: https://um-insight.net/in-the-church/finance-and-administration/bishop-michael-j-coyner-dies/

Im and I will attend his funeral this Saturday, representing Wisconsin and sharing all your good thoughts and prayers for Bishop Coyner’s family.

I pray for all of you, brothers, sisters, and siblings.  Our church faces many challenges.  Our church experiences many hurts.  Our church looks to the uncertain future and struggles to live in faith more than fear.  But I trust in the Lord.  I trust in our Savior.  I trust in the God who says to Jesus and who says to all of us, “You are my beloved, my child. With you I am well pleased.”  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung

Author

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Hee-Soo Jung

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).