The guest speaker for the 2012 California-Nevada Annual Conference Session will be the Rev. Rudy Rasmus – who is featured in the November/December 2011 issue of Interpreter, the official ministry magazine of The United Methodist Church. The article, "A Season of Hope; Will We Sing with Mary," examines the concept of finding hope in tragedy, in hunger, and in homelessness during Advent.
"I am often trying to offer a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Don't give up today, don't throw in the towel today, don't kill yourself today, don't walk away today from your family. Don't give up on your dream today because opportunity can possibly come your way tomorrow," shares Rasmus. "When I think about what the expectation of Christ's birth means to those who are a part of this faith, and to see the realization of his life and ours, that whole season of Advent brings into focus the importance of not only waiting, but the importance of believing that it can turn out okay."
In 1992, the Revs. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus, a husband and wife team, co-founded St. John's United Methodist Church in downtown Houston – with nine members. Today, with more than 9,000 members, including 3,000 homeless or formerly homeless individuals, St. John's UMC has transformed the spiritual landscape and the face of poverty in Downtown Houston and is one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country.
Rudy and Juanita Rasmus also co-founded the Bread of Life, Inc. (a not for profit corporation) in December of 1992 and began serving dinner to the homeless in the church sanctuary. Seventeen years later, the church provides 12,000 hot meals monthly and houses hundreds of homeless men and women nightly.
Rasmus is also known as an author, street ethicist, and global humanitarian with a passion for outreach to the world's most impoverished citizens. His book, Touch: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World (Thomas Nelson Publishers) profiles his unique way of faith sharing and radical hospitality. He also contributes monthly to Oprah's O magazine in the "What Do I Do Now?" column, and to Epitome magazine's "Ask Pastor Rudy" column.
Rudy and Juanita Rasmus have been married for 24 years and are parents of two daughters, Morgan and Ryan.
Excerpts from a telephone interview on hope with Interpreter editor Kathy Noble are available online here.