Mozambique: Taking Initiative
The new Mozambique Initiative coordinator may look a little familiar. He was on the front page of the Missouri Conference newspaper a decade ago, when he gave the Conference Council on Youth Ministries Report at Annual Conference Session. He was back on the front page a year later, as one of eight youth who had participated in a mission trip to Mozambique.
Stevenson isn’t a youth anymore. With a degree in political science and a Masters in Public Administration, Stevenson has been working for the University of Missouri in healthcare legislative policy and federal relations.
Although he had one foot in higher education and the other in the political side of the federal government, Stevenson remained grounded in the church. Post-high school, Stevenson was active in the Wesley Foundation at Missouri UMC in Columbia. That became his home church after he completed his first degree.
During this time he was an active part of a process through the Center for Pastoral Excellence, in which he helped advise several campus ministries in the Conference regarding their effectiveness.
On his first trip to Mozambique, when he was president of CCYM, the youth spent time digging a ditch for a security fence at Chicuque Rural Hospital.
“I knew I was going back to Mozambique, I just didn’t know when,” Stevenson said.
It ended up being in 2012, after completing his college, Stevenson and his wife Brittney joined a group from Missouri UMC.
At this time Stevenson was president of the Mozambique Orphanage Fund. He spent a small amount of time there in 2012, but needed to go back. He did so last August, with a group of 14 people that included Missouri leaders in the orphanage fund, as well as board members from other states. “We had people from all over the country in our group,” Stevenson said.
Several times in Stevenson’s life people had asked him to consider his call to ministry, and he always said he felt he would serve in his own way as a lay person. When Carol Kreamer resigned from the Mozambique Initiative coordinator position in 2012, he didn’t think he was ready for the post quite yet, but he told his wife that the next time the position came open, he would apply.
Last summer during Annual Conference session, three different people asked Stevenson about considering his call to ministry. A couple of weeks later, Mozambique Initiative Coordinator Sarah Bollinger announced her resignation. The next month Stevenson was enrolled in the candidacy summit to further explore his call to ministry.
“I didn’t know if I would be hired for this position yet, but I was moving toward deepening my ministry,” Stevenson said.
He is currently still considering becoming a licensed local pastor, and is also looking at seminaries, considering pursuing ordination on the Deacon tract. Stevenson worked at the University of Missouri until October 9 as a healthcare lobbyist.
The first thing on the to-do list for Stephenson is getting to know more churches around the Missouri Conference. He’ll be highlighting the new curriculum that just debuted at Annual Conference.
“This curriculum is a phenomenal way to get to know the people and culture of Mozambique,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson and his wife have been foster parents for seven children, and are currently in a long-term fostering relationship with Alex, age 16.
Brittney is an occupational therapist at the Thompson Center in Columbia.
Since 1998, the Missouri Annual Conference and the Igreja Metodista Unida Em Mozambique have partnered together to holistically transform people and their communities toward the image of Christ. Three key ministry areas help focus that work: transforming the body, transforming the heart and mind and transforming the community.
“The Mozambique Initiative is a fruitful and innovative ministry that reflects a new type of connectionalism sustained by direct personal relationships, congregational contact, and frequent communication with little superstructure or centralization,” explained Bishop Robert Schnase.
“Visionary leadership for this ministry is vital and I look forward to seeing how Craig carries this partnership, together with Ezequiel Marcos Nhantumbo our MI representative in Maputo, into the future.”
Visit www.mzinitiative.com for more information