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Let Your Light Shine

Inelda González; President of United Methodist Women. October 2011.

Report of President Inelda González to the Women’s Division board of directors

 

“You and I were made to give light—to put our lives to work, to apply our patience in difficult trying situations—to let our light shine,” said Ms. Inelda González, president of United Methodist Women. “We have a responsibility to be personally and intimately involved. We have no excuse, no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs.”

Ms. González addressed the board of directors, guests and staff on Monday, October 10, 2011 during the annual board meeting of the Women’s Division in New York City. In her speech Ms. Gonzalez challenged each one to live true to our calling and be the “difference makers.” “Jesus did not say ‘Go and do whatever you think is best.’ No, Jesus gave us an assignment to go and make a difference,” she pointed out.

Ms. González affirmed the dedication and the work of United Methodist Women through the years that has impacted the lives of women, children and youth around the world. “Although the organization’s name has changed many times, United Methodist Women has truly made a difference in many lives,” she reflected.

The calling to participate in God’s mission is to each one of us. “God uses people like us. People like you and me,” Ms. González emphasized. She gave examples of people of the Bible, who were not always highly qualified or influential and yet accomplished the work of God. “God has often selected the unlikely people of this world to be his special difference makers.” Can we respond with faith, hope and love in action?

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

The complete text of Ms. González’s speech appears below:

How often do you brighten up the lives of others with special acts of kindness? How often do you look for opportunities to touch lives? You don’t have to be perfect, rich, highly educated, in good health or exceptionally intelligent. Regardless of who you are, where you live, where you were born or how often you have failed at doing something, you still can make a difference. Why should we as United Methodist Women bother making a difference? Because our world depends on it. Our world would never survive if people did not help one another. We need each other to survive. Where would this be without good Samaritans? What would have happened to the robbed, beaten and half-dead man if the Good Samaritan hadn’t stopped to help? Who would help the poor, the sick, the poor in spirit and those afflicted throughout the world? Without compassionate people, the world would disintegrate into chaos.

Jesus never told his audience how the Good Samaritan felt when he left the inn and continued on his journey. I am sure that he felt fulfilled because he had done something useful and good for his fellow man. Isn’t that what United Methodist Women do? When were you first moved to do for others? I will always remember the faithful Christian women in Boston in 1869 when the Lord called them to action and they made a difference in the lives of women in India and in Korea. The dedicated women in Boston had a major impact around the world for women and girls in general.

The dedication of those women is still alive and has prospered. The number of women organized for missions began to grow by leaps and bounds. The women used creative ways to raise funds to support those in critical need. When we help others, we help ourselves. A deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment floods into our lives when we take the time and energy to do something worthwhile for others--even if it’s just to lend them a hand. God expects this from us. There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.

What kind of people does God use to be difference makers? Most of the people who made a difference in the Bible were not well known. They were not all that talented. Most of them didn’t seem to be qualified for the work that God gave them. Mary was a simple peasant girl who pleased God and became the mother of the Messiah. Rehab was used by God even though she had worked as a prostitute. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to go into the world and make disciples. To me, Jesus meant for us to go out and make a difference in the lives of women, children and youth. He didn’t say, “Go and do whatever you think is best.” No, Jesus gave us an assignment. “Go and make a difference.”   Yet, God doesn’t always use people who are wise or influential. He has often selected the unlikely people of this world to be his special difference makers. So, who do you know of that was or is a difference maker?

Although the organization’s name has changed many times, the United Methodist Women has truly made a difference in many lives. Throughout the years, the community centers our predecessors began in many communities have impacted the lives of many women, children and youth. Many of you sitting here and others before you have provided a variety of services to the poor, the lost and those in need. Whatever their needs were, they were never turned away.

God uses people like us. Like you and me. When women were not yet allowed to be ordained, deaconesses were trained and served in areas where there was need. Deaconesses, home missioners and home missionaries continue playing a very important role in the lives of many people in all walks of life.

These acts of mercy do not stress our time, money or strength. They are simple acts freely given and freely received. We are led to make a difference with one person at a time. This type of service is not to say that it is without cost to us. The call to each of us is the call to become personally involved in the lives of those who are hurting and to touch them with our lives. 

A friend told me a story that I will never forget. It was about cleaning out an old desk drawer and finding an old flashlight. The flashlight wouldn’t work. The batteries were badly corroded. He realized he had put the flashlight in a warm and comfortable spot, but it wasn’t intended to be warm and comfortable. It was intended to give light. It’s the same with us. We weren’t created to be warm, safe and comfortable. You and I were made to be turned on--to put our lives to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations--to let our light shine. We have a responsibility to be personally and intimately involved. We have no excuse, no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or to our government.

In a world full of great problems, we might think that our personal service is not very meaningful. Can our service really make a difference? We may not always receive the pats on the back, or the thanks as we serve those in need, but those acts do not go unnoticed and they do bring blessings to us and to those whom we serve.
To live that way that God calls us to is not an easy task. When we live with the attitude that every act of kindness is a direct service to Christ, we will be rewarded by him. We will find sufficient energy and drive to meet the needs that come our way. We need to offer our hands to those in need. We must look for ways to help others. Let’s allow Jesus to make a difference in our lives.

Let us not quit. Let us not tire. Let us keep our PURPOSE before us always.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, wrote a challenging poem for all Methodists, but this poem truly describes the work United Methodist Women members do with women, children and youth here and abroad.

For the closing, I would like for all of us to repeat this poem and etch it upon our hearts.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Last Updated: 04/10/2014
 
 

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