Weeping in Costa Rica

Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy Tennent wrote recently about his vision for the upcoming General Conference of the United Methodist Church. This story is excellent:

The true church is always characterized by prayer and a spirit of repentance.  We have not been faithful to God.  We need His grace in our midst.  I was in Costa Rica in December and had the privilege of preaching at a general conference of all the Methodist pastors, District Superintendents and the bishop (Bishop Palomo).  It was truly inspiring to see all these men and women on their faces before God weeping for the sins of their nation, asking God to have mercy on his church.  I witnessed Bishop Palomo moving from pastor to pastor, praying for them and anointing them for renewed ministry.  I felt like I was in the middle of a movement again – it was the 18th century all over again, but in Costa Rica.

I know that for some folks in our connection the idea of returning to the 18th century is nothing to get excited about. Indeed, we are being encouraged by some of our leaders to set aside any notion of “renewal” or recapturing of something that was lost.

They may be correct. There is certainly nothing about me or my ministry to suggest I am a brilliant strategist for United Methodist renewal. But I do find myself sharing some of Tennent’s enthusiasm for what he saw and experienced in Costa Rica.

8 thoughts on “Weeping in Costa Rica

  1. I always thought prayer and repentance were biblical not just 18th century. I also thought seeking the power of the Holy Spirit was biblical. Silly me.

  2. Yeah, what he said. We need prayer, we need repentance, we need God’s power to renew us, not the latest idea from some church consultant or megachurch pastor. Only God can change the UMC, and please Lord, make it soon.

    1. I agree, although I think God can use consultants and megachurch pastors to do a lot.

  3. As an Asbury alum, I’m so grateful for Dr. Tennent’s wisdom and influence for our school and our denomination. Thanks for posting this, John.

  4. In his two books “Radical” and “Radical Together”, David Platt describes witnessing similar scenes in Asia–he called it the “circle of tears”, because there would be a circular pattern of wet spots on the dirt floor when they were done– along with people are literally putting their lives on the line to spread the Gospel. His description of what it took for him to attend a worship service in the dead of night and what that service consisted of was humbling. And the Asian church leaders’ absolute hunger for understanding the Bible–they were willing to set everything else aside and spend 8-12 hours a day for 10 days to study the Bible with Platt–the leaders initiated it, kept asking for more–puts me to shame. More people in America need to be aware of what is happening with the developing church in other countries.

    1. I have heard a lot of people praise those books. Some day, I need to read them. Thank you for the comment, Betsy.

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