District Missionary Rev. Luke Rhyee: Ministry in Midst of COVID-19

Happy souls in Chusiajcaba who enjoyed the meal.  However, currently our meal serving ministry has been suspended. Yesterday was raining in the land of Guatemala. Since last November we have not had any rain drops, which made the trees and plants wither and dry. However, the rain yesterday will refresh all the trees and plants into vivid green color. The anticipation of this alone gives me a joy in my heart.

As of this writing, TV broadcastings announce that there are more than a million people who have gotten infected globally by Covid 19, and the death toll has surpassed 60,000. The circumstance of the US is not different. The US already has 260,000 infected patients and more than 6,000 have passed away. Up until now the situation in Guatemala seems okay. Since the first Covid 19 patient in Guatemala was diagnosed, which was on March 19, Guatemala has had 50 confirmed cases and one death. One of these fifty patients came from Xela, where our mission center is located. Our Bethesda staffs are doing well. Our medical school scholarship students as well as middle school scholarship students are fine. So are our friends in Chuisajcaba.

Currently, the Guatemalan government is doing her best to moderate the transmission of Covid 19. The government ordered a “Stay at home” policy.  It forced all non-essential businesses to close. Public transportation has been suspended. The border was shut down, including the airports. A curfew was instilled from 4 pm to 4 am and has been effective.

Our ministries are also affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Our meal serving ministry, which had served 300 children each with three meals a week, has been suspended. Our mobile clinic ministry in remote areas has been suspended also. Bethesda clinic has reduced the office hours and is attending to emergency patients with minimal staffs. In our medical outpatient department, we attend to 10 percent of patients with Covid 19 compared to the number of patients without Covid 19. In our dental department, we don’t have any patients. With regard to the scholarship programs, we keep sending the scholarships to the students.

(Our mobile clinic ministry has been suspended due to Covid 19 pandemic. In the picture, Dr. Mitch Grunsky from Trinity UMC, Sumter SC attended a patient in praying.)

So far, the Guatemalan government has done a good job in slowing down the spreading of Covid 19. However, in my viewpoint, the worst has not yet come. Until now, most of Covid 19 patients came from a high class which could afford to travel to Spain or Italy. They have resources to keep themselves in quarantine or keep social distancing order.

However, if Covid 19 spreads to the people in the low class, which is the majority of the Guatemalans, we will have a different story. The outcome would be devastating. In Guatemala there are many poor communities where they don’t have water, which is essential for personal hygiene, such as washing their hands. Nor are they in a place where they can practice social distancing. In many poverty-stricken communities, many families share one small room for their entire family. Many of them have more than 10 family members.  It is simply not possible for them to keep a safe distance from others. Also, it is the beginning moments of government regulation when people try to comply. However, if this shut down keeps going for the next several weeks, Guatemalans will be in a place where they have to decide how to die. Die from Covid 19 or from starvation. I hope this kind of situation shall not come. But it would be at the end of April or early May when Covid 19 would spread massively to the low class.

Bethesda has prepared everything possible to help the community. We accumulated a stockpile of the protection gear, such as masks, gloves, goggles, isolation gowns, intubation tubes, etc. In our plan, we wanted to purchase Covid 19 exam kits so that we may help the community directly. However, we noticed that our staffs are not ready to engage directly. This is why we changed the plan to help the community indirectly. We will help the hospitals and public health centers by sharing our resources. We will send food to the medical staffs at the hospitals. Also, we will provide food to the families in Chuisajcaba where we have a meal serving ministry as well as to the families in need close to Bethesda.

I know the circumstances of Covid 19 in the US as well as in South Korea are not good. I feel sorry to add another sad story of Guatemala to all of you. However, the impact of Covid 19 to a poor country such as Guatemala would be different than the impact to the US or to S. Korea. For to these people, it is the matter of survival of their families. For they don’t have any social or governmental safety net or savings in their bank account. Most of the families in Chuisajcaba, where we have a meal serving ministry, eat corn as their main food. For corn is the cheapest ingredient with which they can barely manage their families to not starve. Without and even before Covid 19, some of them could not manage. They often might skip a meal a day. Right now, the corn price has shot up three or four times higher than normal. This is a simple death sentence to these poor families.

Please lift these poor brothers in Guatemala in your prayers. Pray for the staffs at Bethesda. Pray that Bethesda can keep saving the people in Guatemala. Pray that we can see these bright smiles of our children very soon. Pray for those who are in pain as well as those who are mourning. Also, pray for all of us who may come closer to the Lord in the midst of Covid 19 pandemic so that the earth can restore her vivid life in the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Luke Rhyee

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:48

To get more information; 



To support the mission;

Payable to Healing Guatemala

P.O. Box 1835

Duluth, GA 30096

한국: 하나은행




A Simple Mission to Do From Home

Below is an opportunity from Rev. Kathy James, Director of Church Relations, Epworth


In this time of uncertainty, I wanted to share with you an opportunity to assist an invisible group of folks in our communities.  Kinship Caregivers are family members raising their family member’s children.  Think of grandparents raising grandchildren and using up their retirement savings to do so.  Think of Sara and Joe, with 3 kids of their own, raising Joe’s sister’s 2 kids as well.  At Epworth we have learned of some kinship care needs in Richland County, many of which can be addressed by an Amazon order from your home.  Below are the needs:

Disinfectant wipes and spray

Baby wipes





Toilet Paper

Paper Towels

Gas Cards

Address for shipping or drop off:

4 Northfield Court, Columbia, SC 29229

Thank you for receiving this need and for responding to it as you are able.  Also, I look forward to working with your church to develop a foster care ministry and/or a ministry with parents in your community.  Now, when everything is still, is a time for dreaming and planning.  Let me know how I can help!


Kathy James, Director of Church Relations

Epworth Children’s Home


(803) 256-7394, ext. 200

Appointment-making Week: A Mystery and a Myth

It’s that time of year again, when the Bishop and Cabinet immerse themselves day and night in the appointment-making process.   We will be at Myrtle Beach March 2-6, but we won’t be dipping our toes in the ocean.   We will be praying, discussing, discerning, and studying pastor profiles and church profiles.  It is a team effort, and the entire Cabinet votes on EVERY appointment.   There are many factors that impact our work:  spouses who can’t move because of a job;  families want good schools for their children;  clergy couples;  40+ retirements;  not enough clergy being ordained;  churches wanting young creative pastors (with 25 years of experience); churches needing to lower salaries;  several clergy leaving pastoral ministry.   Some pastors who didn’t ask for a move, may be “plucked up.”  That’s happened to me twice in my ministry, and its a little stressful!  You get the picture.  This is an arduous process.   It’s like putting together a puzzle, but all the pieces don’t quite fit exactly to make a perfect picture.

With all its challenges, its is who we are as Christians and as Methodists.  Jesus was an itinerant minister.  He rarely stayed in one place very long, but instead traveled to small towns, the wilderness, by the Sea of Galilee, into Jerusalem, and even into Samaria.   He was not confined to one “congregation” but instead went about the countryside, seeking lost sheep.   The apostles followed Jesus’ example, and Paul journeyed across the Mediterranean, sharing good news.  Our founder, John Wesley said

“…I should myself preach even my congregation ‘asleep’ were I to stay in one place an entire year.”

“No one whom I ever yet knew has all the talents which are needful for beginning, continuing, and perfecting the work of grace in a whole congregation.”

There are all kinds of rumors, myth and mystery about appointment-making week.  Let me assure you we are not just throwing darts on a dart board.   We are very prayerful, careful and hopeful that we are matching the gifts of pastors to the needs of churches.   We covet your prayers as we enter into this season.   Despite our imperfect system, we serve a perfect God, who will take all our efforts, and make ministry happen.   Pastors come and pastors go.   Let us remember the words of Paul, an itinerant preacher.   I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth1 Corinthians 3:6-7




News from District Missionaries Rev. Luke Rhyee and Sara Flores

Here’s an update on our District Missionaries, Rev. Luke Rhyee in Guatemala, and Sara Flores in Ecuador.   Find out how you can be involved in their international mission work!

Missionary Update:  Rev. Luke Rhyee, M.D.

By David Anderson

I am writing this article because I have had the privilege to travel on a mission trip to Guatemala. This trip was in the spring of 2018 and quite frankly has changed my life. I will never think of the issues that face a person living in this country in the same light.

We left Columbia on a flight to Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX. After a long layover and a four-hour flight to Guatemala, we arrived about 8:00 pm. Then we boarded the van for a five-hour drive to Quetzaltenango where the Bethesda Medical Clinic is located. After a short first night we were amazed to see how this facility has served the people located in this town which we now call Xela. We identified work around the clinic that needed to be done and planned our week. We worked around the clinic on our first day and got to see in action what a great need for Medical and Dental services were in the city. This emphasized the needs that were identified in the last article about the scholarship programs for the Medical and Dental Students.

The next day we loaded up the van with dental chairs and equipment and went to Nahuala. We held a Vacation Bible School for over a hundred students while the Dental and Medical Staff held clinics and served countless persons. The children in the Dental Clinics were the ones with the greatest need. This really brought home the need to train potential caregivers in Guatemala to serve some of these people.

On the way to Nahuala we passed through a village and I saw a young girl with a baby strapped to her back. When I looked at that young girl, I saw the face of my granddaughter who is nine years of age. The two are  approximately the same stature and size.  I asked Dr. Luke if this young girl was caring for a sibling and he said, “no, that was probably her child”. Girls who finish Elementary School are usually then married to produce more children who can work to support the family. This is one of the main problems in underdeveloped countries. There is little value seen in continuing with further education (especially for girls). So, when Healing Guatemala can identify the families that are receptive to continuing their children’s education to serve others, we need to contribute to ensure that resources are available to help these people learn to help themselves. Please consider this effort while planning your mission work for the future.

In addition to we did there are many other ministries, such as providing equipment for the disabled and those with special needs. A group in the United States sent wheelchairs, crutches, canes, etc. which were directed to those in desperate need. Living with a disability is difficult in the US. It is even harder in Guatemala. There are barely any facilities for the disabled and social infrastructure for the disabled is almost nil. To make matters worse, most of them are so poor that they cannot afford to buy basic equipment for the disabled. This could only meet a small portion of the need. The disabled live as the marginalized and are almost always discriminated against in Guatemala which makes them doubt that God may have forgotten them.

In future columns I will share some of our other experiences like the Vacation Bible Schools, the feeding of the homeless who live in and around the garbage dump in Xela, and the work around the clinic which included helping build the third floor and upgrade wiring for a new X-ray machine.

Dr. Luke is a missionary designated as a mission special of the Columbia District.   To support this missionary and this ministry, make funds payable to:  Healing Guatemala, P.O. Box 1835, Duluth, GA 30096.

To discover more of his work, go to: www.healingguatemala.org or find Healing Guatemala  on facebook.


Missionary Update:  Sara Flores

The following is a winter greeting from Sara Flores and her husband Dakin Cook

Dear Partners in Mission,

Greetings from Ecuador in the name of the Lord! We would like to express our deep gratitude for your support of God’s mission in Ecuador this year through your prayers, financial support and visits with our local congregations. Your support in these critical areas of our church make it possible for us to carry out important programs together in partnership. We give thanks to God for your love in Christ, and we give thanks for the lives and ministry of the pastoral team and leaders in Ecuador.

Most of our congregations and especially the new mission initiatives of the Methodist Church in Ecuador (EUMCE) are emerging ministries whose main participants are children. We give thanks because God is calling us to work with children and families in need. It is a blessing that 8 local churches now have important After School Programs serving children and teenagers, offering programs focused on the development of faith, education, health and nutrition. Our goal is to support, strengthen and expand these wonderful ministries.

We are thankful to God because you are willing to be part of God’s mission in Ecuador. We appreciate your prayers and support through offerings and gifts. We thank God that every year we feel closer to our Methodist Churches in the region and in the world, we are not alone, we can count on and be part of the unity of the Church, the Body of Christ. And we greatly appreciate your partnership in mission this year and hope that you will continue to pray and work with us.

Please consider supporting our priority project this year – the purchase of land for our children’s ministry in El Prado. This project was started in 2012 by Sara and volunteers in the Church on a former dairy farm that had been confiscated by the government some 25 years ago. The farm has been divided up into small plots for each of the families that had worked the farm over the years – just enough land for 3 or 4 milk cows to pasture and a spot for a home, many of which were built in the old milking barns. We were invited into the community by a family with Methodist connections in the US and started working with the children on Saturday afternoons with Christian education, activities and a small snack with some 30 children in a small room loaned to the project by a local family. Currently, the program rents a large space with 4 classrooms, a kitchen and dining area and serves over 120 children on Saturdays providing a full lunch, Christian education, help with school studies, health education and physical activities. The project has grown and now needs its own permanent space to ensure the future of the program. The project has raised and saved funds to purchase land over the years but still needs some $15,000 in additional funds to be able to purchase an adequately sized lot to build on.

May God bless your lives and ministries, Sara Flores and Dakin Cook

Sara is a United Methodist Missionary, sent on our behalf by the General Board of Global Ministries, to help to establish the Methodist ethos of ‘abundant grace’ in Ecuador.    The Columbia District through the District Connectional Ministries has established a covenant relationship with Sara.   If you would like to join in supporting Sara you may do so by making contributions to the SC UM Conference Treasurers Office.   Mark your contribution as “CO MISSIONARY”.

Staff-Parish Relations Committee Training, Feb. 2, 2020

We are inviting the ENTIRE SPRC and ALL Pastors. 

SPRC & Pastor Training, February 2, 2020, 3:00pm, Mt. Hebron UMC , Christian Life Center, 3050 Leaphart Road, West Columbia.

The following topics will be included.   You can also sign up at the training to receive sample personnel policies, discipline forms, performance reviews, safe sanctuary policies, leave forms, job descriptions, etc.

  1.  Opening Session – Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson, D.S.  – General Duties of SPRC  – Local Church Sexual Harassment Policy and On-line SPRC Library Resources
  2.  Break-out Groups based on Staff Size (see below)
  • Chris Carver, Human Resources Director, Mt. Horeb UMC  – “Best Practices for SPRC in the Large Church”  (25 + employees)
  • Rev. Matt Yon, Executive Pastor, Covenant UMC– “Best Practices for SPRC in the Mid-size Church”  (6-24 employees)
  • Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson – “Best Practices for the SPRC in the Small Church” (5 or less employees)

REGISTER AT THIS LINK – Either the pastor or SPRC Chair can register all persons.   Please enter their names and complete the form at this link: https://forms.gle/n6VZVkDhYZ5PxqZcA

Leadership Training, Jan 12, 2020

Excellence-in-Leadership imageColumbia District  

Excellence in Ministry Training Sunday, January 12, 2020  

Washington Street United Methodist Church   

Opening Session: 3:00pm                                          Workshops: 3:30-5:00pm


*You will attend only one workshop.   You are encouraged to bring several staff and church leaders.

  • How to Reach New People:  Practical Evangelism” – Rev. Martin Quick, Associate Pastor, Journey UMC
  • Taking Care of God’s Money– Beth Westbury, Conference Treasurer
  •  “Taking Care of Business:  Trustees” –  Kay Crowe, Conference Chancellor
  • “Congregational Care” – Rev. Faye Stephens, Minister of Congregational Care, Mt. Horeb UMC
  •  “Resolving Conflict in the Church” –  Rev. Millie Nelson Smith, Congregational Specialist for Columbia and Hartsville and African American Church
  • “How to Start and Grow an Endowment Ministry” – Douglas D. Himes, Ph.D. President, Douglas Himes Associates LLC
  • “Think outside the Box: Creative Worship” – Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson, D.S. 
  • “A Mission Miscellany: A little of this and a little of that from an Outreach Perspective” – Rev. Gary D. Phillips, Salem UM
  • “Advocacy for Justice”  – MORE Justice Leaders, Rev. Connie Barnes, Rev. Smoke Kanipe, Rev. Joel Jones
  • “Epworth Local Church Representative: Be the Face and Voice” – Sherry Mims, Associate Dir. of Church Relations and Assistant to the President; Lisa Livingston Fusco, Senior Director of Development 
  • “Strengthening Youth Ministry” – Chris Lynch, Congregational Specialist, Rock Hill and Spartanburg and Ministry with Young People
  • “Strengthening Ministry with Children and Families” – Rev. Taylor Pafford, Minister of Children, Youth & Families, Washington Street UMC 
  • “Discipleship in the 21st Century Church” – Rev. Dr. Christopher Greene 

Click here to register;  (deadline, January 6, 2020)


District Refugee Children’s Summer Program Needs Your Help

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

A few years ago, the Columbia District Connectional Ministries Team launched a summer enrichment program for  refugee children in our community.    This summer, Hand y Mano, the 2019 Refugee Children’s Summer Program will be hosted at Grace United Methodist Church, 410 Harbison Blvd. Columbia, SC. Monday, August 5th through Friday, August 9th,  8:45 to 12:45.  We need volunteers who enjoy children and no experience is necessary.  Must be Safe Sanctuary trained.  Come and have fun!  Contact Martha Thompson at 315-7811 for more information

Mt. Horeb UMC makes list of Top 25 Fastest Growing UMCs

Congratulations to Mt. Horeb UMC, Lexington, for making the list of fastest growing large United Methodist Churches in 2019.   A passion to reach new people is primary at Mt. Horeb.   The pastors, staff and lay leadership are committed to evangelism, sharing the story of Jesus, offering ministries that reach the community, serving the needy, and teaching, preaching and sharing the love of God.


Midlands Gives for Killingsworth

* welcomes those who have been abandoned,
* loves those who have been shunned,
* accepts those who have been rejected,
* befriends and encourages those who have been shamed,
* does not judge those who have wandered off as prodigal daughters, and
* offers the love of Christ to those who don’t know when they sing ‘Jesus Loves Me,’
that it means them, too.

What will we do with money raised on Midlands Gives Day?

Support and enhance the ongoing program of Killingsworth to give our residents the best possible opportunities to achieve their goals of becoming responsible independent whole and holy adults.