Photo 1: Prior to speaking to the men, Hanke asked them to tell him about their lives and ministries. “Similar to men in the US, many men in Mozambique are absent from church,” said Hanke. “The UMM were very interested in how to engage men in the ministries of the church, even if they don’t come for worship.”
Photo 2: Gil Hanke (left) expresses his appreciation to James Humbane who translated his speech into Portuguese and helped coordinate the trip.
MAPUTO, Mozambique––Gilbert C. Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, met February 7 with 60 leaders of UM Men in Mozambique.
“My message to the men of Mozambique is the same for all the men of this great United Methodist Church,” said Hanke. “We need to always grow in Christ. We should be closer to Him today than last week. I hope you are closer to Christ tonight than you were this morning.”
Hanke said that when he asks some men if they are growing in Christ, they begin, “When I was a little boy…”
“I want them to say, ‘Let me tell you what Christ did for me yesterday,’” said Hanke. “Is your Christ a history lesson, or today’s news?”
Hanke was in Mozambique for a meeting of the Connectional Table. On Sunday, the assembly split into small groups and attended worship services in neighboring churches.
“The service I attended was nearly three hours long, and the sermon was presented and translated by two pastors who trained together at Africa University,” said Hanke. “They were amazing, and would be a blessing at any annual conference or similar gathering.”
On Sunday afternoon there was a special welcome celebration at their hotel.
“Many of the men from the previous day were there,” said Hanke. “Near the end of this event the men came up to sing two songs and they insisted I join them. They presented me with a hat and the horn of an antelope which could be used as a musical horn.” The men told him the horn is to “call men to Christ.”
Following the Connectional Table meeting, Hanke and other group members visited secondary schools, hospitals, a public health center, churches, the Cambine Theological School, the Hanhane Women’s Shelter, and retired Bishop Machado.
Gary Henderson, a UM Communications staffer who works with Imagine No Malaria, accompanied the group, and members saw many examples of that significant ministry. “The UMC appears to be a leader in public health,” said Hanke. He also visited mission sites that have been reviewed and supported by his brother, the Rev. Jay Hanke, a retired pastor in the Virginia Conference.
“There is a large issue of domestic violence in this country,” said Hanke. “An entire wing of a hospital is dedicated to victims of domestic violence.
“In this culture, when someone dies, someone must be blamed. There are no ‘natural’ deaths. In a large majority of cases the blame goes to women; the wife is blamed if the husband dies; the mother if a child dies. That is why there is a center of women who have been abandoned.”
Return to Maputo
“On our return to Maputo, Simon Nhari, president of UMM, and James Humbane, translator, came to the hotel Sunday morning to thank me again for coming and make sure I had traveled well,” Hanke reported.
Following the visit, Humbane sent an e-mail, saying, “Your visit to Mozambique has been so meaningful to the church, and particularly to our men's group. You have lit the candle for us, so we will keep it burning to shine for others.”