Bishop John Yambasu was truly one of the great bishops of The United Methodist Church. I will forever be inspired and encouraged by his strong faith and eternal optimism. In recent years no one sought to preserve the unity of The UMC as much as he did.
The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace was first born in his prayerful spirit. He did not want to see The UMC divided but acknowledged that God might be leading us in new ways. His vision for unity was grounded in relationship above all, believing that we could bless one another forth rather than destroy one another and The UMC on the way, and yet remain in loving relationship.
One of my favorite memories of Bishop Yambasu’s ministry is lodged in the years when as a denomination we fought mightily against Malaria. He learned that a community in his episcopal area had a high level of deaths due to Malaria but no United Methodist Church. In his love for all God’s children, and in spite of there being no United Methodist presence, he committed to going there with the services of The UMC. A Muslim community, he reached out to its religious leader, shared with him that The UMC was working to eliminate Malaria, and asked for his permission to bring the resources and help of The UMC to his community. Permission was granted and the support and partnership of the Muslim community was also extended.
This community became a model community in addressing Malaria through Bishop Yambasu’s willingness to share resources and his ability to build bridges with people of other living faiths.
Some time later the Muslim religious leader called upon Bishop Yambasu and said to him that because of the goodness he and his people had experienced through the work of United Methodists, he wanted to invite Bishop Yambasu to establish a United Methodist congregation in the community. Bishop Yambasu’s loving spirit, his humility and transparency and his never-ending desire to serve in a suffering world for its transformation in the name of Jesus will continue to bless us all for generations to come.
Let us continue to learn how to be faithful disciples of Christ from our beloved brother and bishop, John Yambasu. And let us pray for his spouse Millicent and their children – Rebecca, Adima, John, Emmanuel and Elizabeth. May God’s comfort and strength be with them and all of us who knew and loved Bishop Yambasu.
click here to read the Council of Bishops press release