Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jamie & Lisa Williams: Educating and Empowering the People of Belize

In 2015, we will be highlighting UMC missionaries who have been commissioned from the Southeastern Jurisdiction to serve around the world. Many of these missionaries accept volunteers to help with the important and necessary ministries they have established or are in partnership with. Contact UMVIM, SEJ for more information on how to serve!

Meet Lisa and Jamie Williams of the Kentucky Conference. Their story began as college freshman, when they knew on their first date that they were called to be in international mission service together. Their vision was cultivated over the years by prayer, dreaming, and preparation, and they are now serving in Belize as commissioned United Methodist missionaries.

The Williams began serving as short-term UMVIM team leaders while Jamie was serving as an elder in the Kentucky Conference. When their youngest child went to college, they became Individual Volunteers through UMVIM for a year and a half. "We appreciate the care of Mrs. Paulette West and Mrs. Una Jones, along with many others, who made sure we had successful training and ministry. It helped us to discern our calling into what became a full-time mission appointment with Global Ministries," recalls Lisa.

Jamie, or "PJ" as the kids call him, (short for Pastor Jamie), is the "presbyter" of the Corozal Methodist Circuit. He has three churches, and serves as chaplain for two primary schools with more than 700 children in attendance! His hope and prayer is to train new clergy and lay preachers within the Corozal Circuit, as there are very few new people coming into the ministry in Belize.Lisa is a veterinarian by trade, but staying true to her call to missions, she is now the UMVIM Team Coordinator for Belize. Her role is to work with and get to know the needs of the locals, and then place teams into the types of service where they can be best utilized. She also meets with local village children to have Sunday School on Saturday mornings, and facilitates a weekly women's Bible Study.

Education for All
The Williams' biggest project, which began in the spring of 2012, is the building of a new high school in the capital city of Belmopan. Belize has a very young population, yet only enough schools to accommodate about half of its youth.
The Belmopan Methodist High School has received over 40 UMVIM teams since breaking ground, and half of the project is already completed. There are 180 freshman and sophomores in attendance at this time! The student body will expand each year as the building continues in the construction process, eventually encompassing all senior high grade levels. 

"Worth Every Hard Moment"
The Williams are constantly faced with a lack of resources, and understandably, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. "The joy of seeing children being educated and learn about Jesus, watching UMVIM teams make a real difference and observing their experiences, along with parishioners so happy to receive even the smallest token of pastoral care...it makes the uncertainties of mission service worth every hard moment," say the Williams. 

Will You Answer the Call?
Do you feel called to lead an UMVIM team to Belize to serve alongside the Williams? They have many congregations and schools that need resources, workers, and people to love them! You can learn more about the Williams by visiting their website and blog, where you will also find information on how to connect with them in UMVIM service.

To learn more about what it means to be involved in healthy, covenant relationships with long-term efforts, please reach out to our office. UMVIM, SEJ harnesses the strong connectional nature of the United Methodist Church, connects teams to sustainable mission opportunities, provides in-depth leader training, and offers supplemental health insurance to short-term missioners.

Photos: Courtesy of Jamie and Lisa Williams

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why We Train Short-Term Mission Team Leaders

Every day, UMVIM helps to expand the work of missionaries across the world. Have you considered being part of a trained UMVIM team, or have you been praying about how to empower our ministry that exists to empower you? Read on to learn more about why we connect and equip the dozens of short-term volunteers who depart each week to serve with UMC missionaries and their vital ministries across the country and the world.

Before the devastation of the Ebola crisis, missionaries Nancy and Kip Robinson were serving the people of Sierra Leone. Nancy trained pastors, evangelists and lay leaders, while Kip oversaw the numerous building efforts of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, including wells, schools, and hospitals. Though stateside for the time being, the Robinsons will return to Sierra Leone, where people will need medical professionals, teachers will need salaries, and the children orphaned by Ebola will need families. Can you provide funds to help train team leaders to serve alongside the Robinsons?

UMVIM Teams Help Missionaries With Crucial Repairs and Rebuilds 
In Chile, missionary John Elmore works at the El Vergel Agricultural School, a Methodist boarding school that teaches horticulture and animal husbandry to the local youth. Thanks to UMVIM teams, John will be able to install new heating systems and accomplish general upkeep. Additionally, John is in charge of rebuilding Angol Methodist Church, which was badly damaged in a 2010 earthquake that devastated this beautiful country. Can your church send a team to help repair the school and the church?

In Panama, with the assistance of two nurses who shared their knowledge of community-based health, missionary Rhett Thompson was able to implement a curriculum that has trained more than two dozen indigenous Ngabe about key public health practices such as first aid, sanitation, disease prevention and sexual and reproductive health. Many of the graduates from this program, in turn, teach these essential skills in their own communities. What can you share to help keep public health education in Panama moving forward? 

These are just four missionaries who have dedicated their lives to UMC ministries across the world, and we are proud to have UMVIM teams serving alongside them. Want one more suggestion for contributing? Sign up for UMVIM Team Leader Training so that you are ready to go. The needs are there. Please help the ministry of UMVIM and the communities we serve.
With your gift to support UMVIM, SEJ, you empower thousands of volunteers and help to transform lives through God's love and grace.   

Please consider generously giving to Advance #901875 by clicking here, or mailing a check to 100 Centerview Drive, Suite 210, Birmingham, AL 35216.

Thank you for the continued prayers and support that keep our ministry strong.

Grace and peace,

Paulette West
Executive Director