Claudia and Eduardo Maia, missionaries in Chicuque, Mozambique, could have mailed a report documenting their work for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Instead, they used the Internet calling service Skype, which allowed them to share their work in Mozambique via video with those who had gathered for the board’s annual meeting last year.
Board members heard stories of Claudia’s work in the community, promoting public health initiatives like HIV prevention, while actually seeing the African hospital on the screen. They listened to Eduardo share about his missionary service as a physician and surgeon at United Methodist-related Chicuque Hospital.
The video call inspired the board of directors.
Suddenly, the missionaries who seemed so far away felt close and personal to those gathered in the room.
“The response was overwhelming, so we thought this was a unique way to create enthusiasm for world missions,” said Thomas Kemper, the global ministries agency’s top executive, who acknowledged the interest to support the Maias grew in that meeting.
A year later, the board hopes to recreate that same enthusiasm for United Methodists everywhere through an online event called 10-Fold.
The event launches Oct. 10 (10/10/10) and lasts for 10 days. Using Skype technology, downloadable podcasts, streaming videos and online chats, visitors to the website 10-Fold.org will connect directly with missionaries and selected ministry projects supported through The Advance, the designated giving program of The United Methodist Church.
“I hope that it will, in a way, help people feel the world church present in their home church and even in their homes,” Kemper said.
Each day of 10-Fold, visitors to the website will be introduced to a new theme concerning world issues that vary from health-care in Africa to sustainable agriculture around the globe.
The board has selected specific Advance-supported projects to highlight different themes.
“We have very consciously chosen projects that represent the four areas of ministry focus for our denomination, so we have a real variety of projects,” Kemper said. Those areas of focus are combating the diseases of poverty, engaging in ministry with the poor, creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations, and developing principled Christian leaders.
Site visitors have an opportunity to learn about ministry projects related to the daily theme through morning, midday and evening live video webcasts and downloadable fact sheets.
The webcasts will include live commissioning ceremonies for missionaries and cooking demonstrations with sustainable farm-grown ingredients. Missionaries, including the Maias, will have live conversations to tell about their work in the field — in hospitals, planting new congregations and serving their communities.
“It’s a beautiful chance to connect people,” Kemper said.
If visitors are excited about a ministry they have discovered, they can sign up as an advocate for a specific project. Every time they click on a project from Oct. 10 through Oct. 19, different church groups will donate one dollar to the selected project up to $10,000.
Ministry groups, congregations and conferences who have committed to sponsor the clicks each day provide funding for the donations.
“It creates interest; it raises money,” Kemper said. “And the basic idea is to really 10-fold the enthusiasm and support around the world.”
The 10-Fold event begins with a Haiti recovery theme. It features a live streaming of a Haiti-focused worship service of the United Methodist Church of the Village in New York City, a midday conversation with United Methodist Committee on Relief staff stationed in Haiti and an evening conversation with four youth groups around the United States who are assembling school kits that will be sent to Haiti.
The themes that follow include children’s health and wholeness, missionaries in the United States, missionaries around the world, church leader training, church planting worldwide, justice for our neighbors, clean water and sanitation, health care in Africa and sustainable agriculture.
A full schedule is available at 10-Fold.org.
*Rouse, a freelance writer, lives in Nashville, Tenn.