Monday, November 20, 2017

#KingdomConnection: International Leaders

Giving Tuesday 2017 is on November 28th, and we hope that you will partner with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Southeastern Jurisdiction to promote, encourage and enable people to exemplify "Christian Love in Action" through short-term mission service both at home and around the world! Please give generously by clicking here!

UMVIM's #KingdomConnection is purposed to connect the local church to on-going projects around the world. Projects are sustained by individuals who have answered the call to serve long-term internationally. One of these people is Brian Dubberly, the VIM Coordinator in El Salvador. Dubberly works with Salvadoran Mission Projects (SMP), a mission site that receives many UMVIM teams every year. Dubberly attests to the impact that UMVIM teams, and specifically their trained leadership, have on the work of the Methodist Church in El Salvador. Read below for more!

What work does your ministry do and how do UMVIM teams assist with that work?

Brian:  I serve as the VIM coordinator for the all of the Methodist churches in El Salvador. The programs that UMVIM teams help with are church construction, home building, medical and dental work, children's Bible school and a food bag/home visit ministry. These ministries are our focus, but we are open to other ideas as long as the team has a plan and it falls in lines with the church's goals and visions. We have had teams do targeted Bible studies for women and girls, Sewing classes, swimming lessons, and a variety of other forms of service. The Methodist church here also has a school with grades Kindergarten-6th grade and we plan on expanding a new grade each year.  In the last four years, enrollment has grown from 18 students the first year to just over 250 students this year.  Sometimes, UMVIM teams will help in English class or visit a short while to play with the children.

What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM?

Brian: The big difference I notice with trained leaders is a sense of awareness that makes for productive mission work. Trained leaders seem to notice, without me mentioning it, when team members are struggling with group life, or when there needs to be a change in what the group is doing. That realize when it is appropriate to help or when it's best to just stand back and allow things to happen. There are almost always a lot of chiefs and very few Indians in groups that do not have a trained team leader.  Having a trained team leader typically leads to everyone having a better experience with less stress all around.

Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers!

Brian:  All UMVIM teams make some sort of impact on the people, communities and the church in which they are serving.  We try hard to have a ministry that is a give and take on both sides, thus cultivating open arms and not open hands.  While teams come here to work and serve in El Salvador it is also important that they stay open to the idea to being served. The people here are willing to give as well as being served.  We are all brothers and sisters of a loving God and one family in Christ, so it only makes sense that we work for a common goal. 

An example that comes to mind is a group that came a couple years ago to build a home for a family.  This was a family that had a small piece of property, but no resources to build. They had just recently been evicted from a family home.  The four of them were living in a shack made of bamboo and heavy black plastic.  When a team arrived to build this particular home, I think they were pleasantly surprised to find the family work right beside them, digging, sifting sand, and tying rebar.  In addition to literally being in the trenches with the group, the family would supply everyone with a mid-morning snack of fresh fruit and juice.  As is the custom, at around 2 in the afternoon the family would prepare coffee and sweet bread.  This was a way of not only creating a time of fellowship, it was a way in which the family could serve those who came so far to serve them.  While on the first day it may have been a little uncomfortable, by the end of the week everyone in the group was looking forward to being served by the family. For us that is mission, sharing the love of Christ through our deeds and actions. It's not just believing the gospel, it's living it out. Sometimes that means letting our guard down to allow the Master to wash our feet. 

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