Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{2014 Young People in Mission} The Offering

This year, the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission had the privilege of taking on the administrative role of the Young People in Mission event. Each summer, youth and young adults from across the Southeastern Jurisdiction gather at Lake Junaluska to engage in all aspects of missions.
While we might now be taking the behind-the-scenes lead, this event has been and continues to be youth-led, spearheaded by group of bright young student called the Design Team. When they all met at our offices in Birmingham early this year, they decided to focus on the topic of “justice.” They shaped and formed the entire event with this theme in mind, and set out to find speakers and workshop leaders who carried a specific passion for seeking justice in our world today. (Check out this post to meet the Design Team that made this year such a success!)

Ashley Gish is the Assistant Director of Imagine No Malaria, a denomination-wide campaign aimed at fighting and eliminating this very preventable disease that is rampant in parts of underdeveloped Africa. Ashley led a fantastic workshop where participants could learn about the UMC's comprehensive approach to fighting malaria. She was also an important part of the City of Opportunity, which is a connectional event that brings together representatives of various boards, agencies and mission initiatives within the United Methodist Church to engage participants with many ways that they can put their new-found knowledge into action. 
photos courtesy of Imagine No Malaria

On the Wednesday morning of the event, after UMCOR Deputy General Secretary Rev. Dr. Denise Honeycutt spoke on the topic of Holistic Justice, Ashley had the opportunity to address the young people in the crowd about the role they play in ending this disease. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take up an offering for Imagine No Malaria. To encourage audience participation, the Design Team promised that if they raised $500, then they would all happily receive a pie in the face! UMVIM Executive Director and Young Adult Representative Billy Rainey sweetened the deal even more: if they raised $1000, they would dye their hair any color and rock it out for the rest of the event.
photos courtesy of Ismael Luna and Paulette West
That is how much the 200+ participants raised to provide mosquito nets for beds. To establish basic sanitation practices. To clean up stagnant water and trash heaps where mosquitoes thrive. To educate and train locals. To improve hospitals and healthcare.

photos courtesy of Imagine No Malaria
The future of the mission field rests with this Next Generation. Educating and equipping these young people is one of the most crucial things we can do to ensure the people and causes we must advocate for are not forgotten as time goes on. How amazing to see a group of young people, many of whom do not even hold jobs just yet, donate their resources to such an important cause. We are so grateful for the active and important role Ashley, Imagine No Malaria, UMCOR and the rest of our denomination held at Young People in Mission this year. We hope to see them and YOU in 2015!

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