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It was nice to meet you

Jeremy Fretts

Published in "Hoosier United Methodist" October, 1996

Published in "United Methodist Interlink" October, 1996

 "It was nice to meet you," Joel said as he hugged me goodbye. Joel was a fellow tenor I'd met only two days before in choir practice. I still hardly know him, and yet I feel like he's my brother. Strange . . . "Nice to have met you," isn't usually accompanied by a big heartfelt hug. . .

What warranted this uncommon farewell? We were departing Oklahoma City, and the annual Student Forum of the United Methodist Church. What I found there was a taste of heaven, and the future of the United Methodist Church.

Four hundred students from across the U.S. and around the world gathered as students committed to the ministry of Jesus Christ through the United Methodist Church. More exciting than the dynamic speakers, more exciting than the official birth of the "United Methodist Student Movement," was the evidence that God has already been moving. For three days, the OCU campus was filled with people who LIVED, and BELIEVED the Gospel. I was continually amazed as I expected to find someone who was just there for the party, but found only rock-solid, compassionate, scripture-following people my own age. I found that I could walk up to anyone, sit down to a meal with anyone, or sing beside anyone, and, regardless of who they were, find an instant friend and someone who accepted me "just as I am." A new friend and a new blessing in every direction. This was heaven on earth--devout, loving Christians from all walks of life, together for discussion, learning, and worship.

And you should have heard us worship. Four hundred Christians sincere in their desire to worship a living God bring new meaning to the simplest song or the grandest hymn.

Sensitive issues addressed in our legislative session were handled with the compassion we should expect from other Christians. Here were no superficial Christians, but students who are ready to lead an old denomination into a new anointing for a new millennium.

As we, the four hundred, return to our outposts around the U.S., we are obligated to share what we have experienced, and to lead the church into the future. Be forewarned, however, that these sincere new leaders will expect more of our churches. They have experienced jubilant and sincere worship, not bound by time or ritual. They have witnessed the results of the destructive forces of hatred at the Oklahoma City bombing site. They have heard the challenges of bishop, pastors, and peers to take their faith beyond the walls of the church to change the world at all costs. They have explored the cultures and beliefs of other Christians in the U.S. and around the world, and found common ground. They have experienced true, unconditional love for each other. They WILL NOT accept business as usual.

"...Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17) I went to Oklahoma to get some new glasses. My vision is a lot clearer now. And I found out that there are some other folks my age who wear (Godly) glasses, too. We see the world a bit differently. We hug and say, "It was nice to have met you."


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