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!
Chile is a long, narrow strip of a country on the western coast of South America; it’s a healthy and happy nation with rich culture, good food, and those funny big-headed statues on Easter Island. For almost two decades, it’s also the place that UMC Missionary John Elmore and his wife Maria have called “home.” A native of Virginia and a member of Forest Lake UMC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, John quit his job in carpentry and dove into missions 20 years ago.
Although John and Maria spent 12 years serving in northern Chile, for the last 6 they have been living and serving in the town of Angol in the southern part of the country. There are two important and worthwhile projects that he is leading, both of which need the prayers and commitment of us here in the SEJ:
El Vergel Agricultural School is a Methodist boarding school that teaches horticulture, farming practices, and animal husbandry, coupled with a Christian-based high school education.
When it opened in 1920, it was the only school of its kind in this area. It provides a free education for the local youth, and is a place where they learn a trade and the teachings of the Christian faith. El Vergel is funded solely on government, donations, and the support of covenant churches and UMVIM teams. The needs here are great, including new heating systems and general upkeep–virtually all things that can be accomplished with some prayer and the helping hands of UMVIM teams. (Read more about El Vergel school by clicking here.
Additionally, Bishop Pedro Grandon has put John in charge of rebuilding Angol Methodist Church. In February of 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake (the 6th strongest ever recorded), hit in the same region where the Elmores serve. The economic toll was estimated to be in the billions, which is small compared the human loss of more than 500. However, the last 5 years have seen incredible resolve of the Chilean people, and this is the last piece of property that needs to be repaired in Angol. John and his partners will be needing lots of UMVIM teams starting next spring, so now is the perfect time to start pulling together your group or congregation!
A quick read through John's blog will reveal his thought-provoking words on the necessity of churches working side-by-side with missionaries as they empower the locals and share the Word. Here at UMVIM, we try to teach our team leaders what it means to be in covenant relationship, but we love how John explains it....from the heart of a missionary.
"If your church is in a covenant relationship with a missionary somewhere around the globe, and all you do is write a check and send in your yearly contribution, then you are only filling one-third of your commitment to those whom you support.
If you are in prayers for your missionary and send your annual check, then you are completing two-thirds of your obligation to him or her.
If every year your church experiences the joy that only serving God's children brings, especially the projects where your missionary is serving and where you have made a financial commitment and a prayerful commitment, then you have and are completing the full missionary relationship covenant."
If you feel called to partner with John and the efforts of the UMC in Chile, please reach out to us and let's start a conversation. UMVIM, SEJ not only acts as the connecting hub between volunteer teams and mission projects, but we also train and equip team leaders on how to make the most of these mission journeys. We look forward to serving you!
Words: Malinda Nichols | Photos: Courtesy of John Elmore