Just as the First Friday Letter was prepared to “go to press” I received a call from Dr. Eddie Fox informing me of his retirement from World Methodist Evangelism. Eddie’s energy, passion and drive have been an almost electric force within the Council. I’m proud to have served alongside him and learned from him. His service to both the Council and the world by traveling near and far to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ cannot be overstated.
But the winds of change aren’t just blowing within our Methodist and Wesleyan world.
If the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland is a gauge of global expectations in 2014, it seems as if we have reason to be optimistic. This time round, issues usually relegated to the fringes like global inequality and social justice became the main themes of the meeting. It ranked widening income disparity as one of the greatest worldwide risks which needs to be addressed less global security is threatened .
In a fast changing globalized world where structures and values are constantly changing we need new to rediscover a powerful transcending vision towards which the whole human family can embrace as well as new models of responsible and ethical leadership.
As 2013 drew to a close, I had the privilege to preach at the Memorial Service of Nelson Mandela. Any sadness at the passing of this global icon and no doubt greatest transformational leader of this century soon dissipated as I witnessed the “spirit of Madiba” at work on a visit with World Evangelism Director, Dr Eddie Fox and his team to Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. There we experienced the generosity of spirit that characterizes “Ubuntu” (affirmation of the dignity and full humanity of all) the qualities of an African leader. We witnessed the transformational leadership of Governor Godswill Akpabia and his team as they sought to make a qualitative and quantitative difference in the lives of all people in the region. I returned to the WMC headquarters with a new sense of confidence and assurance that responsible leadership in a country, business or organization will thrive when respect, integrity and full participation by all are encouraged.
In January we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King as well as the 66th Anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi two great transformational leaders who understood that change cannot be brought about through coercion or military might but through soft power which is the ability to influence through respect for culture and traditions of others as well as generosity and unconditional love.
As we enter the second month of 2014 I feel as though it is already shaping up to be a year of sweeping change for both our global Methodist and Wesleyan family and the world. I have witnessed the impact and potential of soft power — the ability to attract and persuade through ideals and values. I pray that during this year we will all make a commitment to be servant leaders inspiring, enabling, empowering and equipping all those around us to change the world to become more like God’s design for it.
Your partner in mission and ministry,