West Ohio Conference rides the crest of the missional wave

By Melissa Hinnen, Special Contributor…

“God has got to be super happy,” Bishop Bruce Ough emotionally declared after a miracle offering at the West Ohio Annual Conference. By the close of the June 10-13 meeting in Lakeside, Ohio, the conference had raised more than $1 million for the Wings of the Morning aviation ministry.

That exceeded the goal of raising $500,000 “following the lead of our missional partner in Africa, the North Katanga Conference, to purchase a Cessna Caravan plane,” as Bishop Ough wrote in a pre-conference letter.

“To raise over $1 million through an annual conference miracle offering is astounding. No one in their right mind would have predicted that. We thought our $500,000 goal was audacious,” said the Rev. Dee Stickley-Miner, who leads the Conference’s connection mission and justice office.

Missionary pilot Gaston Ntambo taxis the Wings of the Morning plane off the dirt runway in Kamina, Democratic Republic of the Congo. UMN FILE PHOTO BY MIKE DUBOSE

“What we experienced, however, was the Biblical truth that nothing is impossible with God,” she said. “We participated in a current-day miracle–one of extravagant love and generosity that is not possible except through the power of God’s spirit.”

Responding to the miracle offering, Thomas Kemper, the top executive at the General Board of Global Ministries, said: “The West Ohio Conference goes beyond financial giving. They develop sustainable and personal partnerships in the four corners of the world—creatively connecting with Global Ministries as a resource to facilitate mission.”

Mr. Kemper spoke at the gathering and thanked conference members for their missional spirit. He presented them with an award from The Advance for the highest financial contribution in the United Methodist Church. For five of the last six years, the Conference has led the denomination in designated giving, supporting ministries around the world.

“The Cessna Caravan [made] possible through your extravagant generosity will literally allow medicine, doctors, nurses, malaria nets, Bibles, and evangelists to go to villages in the Congo where the roads do not go,” Bishop Ough said at the conference.

With the density of rainforests, scarcity of resources, and lack of infrastructure, aviation is the only means of accessing hundreds of remote villages. Gaston Ntambo, one of three missionary pilots in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), expressed the importance of aviation ministry.

“Every medical flight has a life-saving moment,” he said. “But at the same time, it also has a spiritual saving moment. You are never the same once you have flown on Wings of the Morning.”

In his message to the Conference, Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, who leads the North Katanga episcopal area, thanked the West Ohio Conference for the offering: “Every pregnant woman will not have to be afraid to give birth because of Wings of the Morning. Any village can call for Gaston to come and bring them to get healthcare. It is a blessing for Gaston and a blessing for all of North Katanga. It is a blessing to all of us.”

Following the Conference, Mr. Ntambo said in a letter: “You have just opened the biggest door for mission work and for a country, maybe even countries, to come to know and seek the face of our Lord Jesus, and thank-you is not the word I am looking for. It is not enough!”

To support the North Katanga Wings of the Morning, please make a donation to UMCOR Advance #08597A.

Ms. Hinnen is the information officer for the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

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