A Moment for Mission
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on for the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:13b-14, NRSV
In his formative years, Johnny Henry Llerena Zegarra enjoyed listening to instrumental music and reading Latin American novels and stories. “I grew up in Peru, in a strong Roman Catholic … family,” he said, “but when I was 17 years old, I had my experience of ‘warmed heart’ at a Methodist church in Peru.
“After that, my vision of life changed tremendously, and my interest was directed toward the books of the Bible, theology and social sciences. I always enjoyed participating in church activities. I felt God’s call for pastoral ministry.”
That call motivated Zegarra to come to the United States in 2017 to pursue a master of divinity degree at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.
“The United Methodist Church welcomed me as soon as I arrived in this country,” he recalled. “Church leaders have given me their continuous support and have welcomed me as a local pastor in an Anglo-speaking congregation. The United Methodist Church has given me guidance and support for my cultural adjustment.”
Today is World Communion Sunday. Historically, this churchwide Special Sunday is celebrated with an offering on the first Sunday in October.
“World Communion Sunday,” Zegarra said, “is working for the present and future of The United Methodist Church. Gifts to the offering support current and future leaders with a strong biblical and theological background.”
Thank you for supporting current and future church leaders like Zegarra on World Communion Sunday!
Loving God, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, we press on for the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Generous God, you have given so much to us, and we have offered back such small amounts in return. We have often served you as part-time followers, giving a fraction of our time and resources to your mission and an overwhelming share to our own indulgences. We strive to do better, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – pressing on to the goal of serving Christ with all our being. In his name, we pray. Amen. (Philippians 3:4b-14)
From United Methodist Men: God, Are You there? Injustice, pain, chaos, and fear are heavy today. Echoes of Your passion and love are seen. But Your voice is hard to hear in the noise. I do believe, please help me believe more. Please help me see more. Please help me hear and listen more. While I will never fully understand, help me understand more. Love more, care more, be more. More like You. Let Your love reign. Let the injustice of Your death break our hearts and heal our land. Let the injustice in our house be broken by Your will and grace. Let us listen and hear You. Change us to be Yours alone. Thank You for being there, God. Amen. -Steven Scheid, Springfield, Tenn.
Johnny Henry Llerena Zegarra is a student at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. In 2018, his wife and two daughters traveled from Peru to join him in the United States. “The congregation where I minister,” he said, “welcomed me and my family with much appreciation and respect.”
Being the sole breadwinner for his family proved challenging, but the staff at Duke encouraged Zegarra to apply for the World Communion Sunday scholarship. “The scholarship is a relief for my family budget,” he said, “because the health insurance that I pay for my family is very expensive. Now I can fulfill my ministry and my studies without worrying much about that payment.”
After Zegarra graduates with a master of divinity degree, he dreams of serving a diverse congregation. “I hope to create new partnerships that link our congregation with the community and support the most vulnerable populations,” he explained.
Truly, your World Communion Sunday gifts make a difference. Thank you!
—Adapted from “World Communion Sunday Supports Strong Future Leaders” by Elsie Cunningham. Used by permission.