Today’s post is by Una Jones, the Director of the Mission Volunteer Office at Global Ministries. It is part of a series about short-term mission in The United Methodist Church.
UMVIM short term mission has expanded over the years to engage individuals seeking to serve beyond the 8- or 10-day mission volunteer. This is the story of long term mission volunteers.
This program originated in the SEJ UMVIM office, way back in the early 1990s. The program eventually was centralized sometime in 2000 within the Mission Volunteer office (MVO) at Global Ministries (GM).
The first consultants who managed the program were, Rev. Walter & Betty Whitehurst. They wrote an amazing book, Following God’s Call: Individual Volunteers in Mission, known as a “kaleidoscope” of stories capturing individuals, couples, and families who engagement in God’s mission around the world. Following the Whitehursts, there were numerous consultants, but since 2010 the MVO staff continues to manage the entire program with the support of the five UMVIM jurisdiction offices.
This program expanded again by changing its name to Mission Volunteers (MVs), recognizing individuals, but also couples, who apply to serve. The age range is 18 years and up.
The program evolved into a detailed structure and specific protocols similar to what is expected from GM global missionaries. However, the biggest difference between MVs and GM global missionaries is that volunteers fund themselves, and GM funds all global missionaries. But at the end of the day, they are all missionaries.
The MVO screens and prepares all MVs to serve. Here are some of the protocols:
• Online application (For any assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
• Virtual interview
• Placement opportunities
All participates accepted into the program are expected prior to the training to read two books and review the MV Handbook. Here are the titles of the two books:
• A Mission Journey, A Handbook for Volunteers, developed by the MVO. This book is used both for short-team and for long-term volunteers. This book is also recommended to local churches to use as a Bible study or book study.
• Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Servanthood, serving the World in Christlike Humility. The same book is required reading for all GM missionaries.
MVs are trained to be engage in accompaniment mission with partners by sharing their support and expertise. More importantly, volunteers are inspired to work “with” and not “for” partners. As the saying goes, “all missionaries should work themselves out of a job”. It is vital to bring about sustainability and equality by recognizing local gifts and talents. Therefore, service time can range from a minimum of 2 months to as long a year or more. Also, service times can be repeated at the same placement, or MVs can explore new placement opportunities.
The MVO works very closely with other units/departments at GM, e.g. Global Mission Connections, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Global Health to cultivate placements that meet the criteria of sharing their ministry needs but even more importantly, in seeking partners to strengthen mission relationships.
The MVO provides four trainings per year and approximately 60 MVs are trained. However, we place at least 100 MV per year because so many MVs return serve again. These training are also open to UMVIM or Disaster Response leaders, who become great advocates of the program.
Upcoming Training Dates:
February 5 – 8th, 2020
Seashore United Methodist Assembly
1410 Leggett Drive
Biloxi, MS 39530
Nearest airport – Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT)
April 22 – 25th, 2020
Lake Williamson Christian Center
17280 Lakeside Drive
Carlinville, IL 62626
Nearest airport – St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
September 2 – 5th, 2020
Episcopal Church Center of Utah
75 South 200 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Nearest airport – Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
December 2 – 5th, 2020
Nazareth Retreat Center
1814 Egyptian Way
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
Nearest airport – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Finally, the MVO launched an eleven-part MV video series, narrating a synopsis of the program and the varied components of the training. Every two weeks, since August 31, 2019, a set of 3 videos have been released. This will continue until all 11 videos are completed. If you missed it, be assured it will be repeated, and by the end of November 2019, all 11 videos will be available at any time.
Web link: http://missionvolunteers.org