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 theme for this year's Giving Tuesday is #KingdomConnection. Through this, we will tell the stories of United Methodists who have been empowered to Live, Learn, and Love through connecting to mission opportunities throughout the Kingdom of God.
UMVIM is passionate about connecting the emerging generation to a life of mission service! One young adult who has found a #KingdomConnection to serve is Miles Hunt of St. Andrews UMC in Garner, North Carolina. With his church, he has had the chance to serve in Ahuachapan, El Salvador as part of a long-term commitment that the church has taken on. Miles is also familiar with the work of UMVIM, having worked with us on our youth and young adult initiatives in the past.
Tell us about your local church's work in El Salvador.
Miles: For the past 13 years, Saint Andrew's UMC has had a missional partnership with the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en El Salvador and the Salvadoran Mission Project. Our team has two ministry focuses; construction and sewing. The first focus is construction work. Within the construction project, our team works on local home building projects within the area of Ahuachapán. While the focus is often local home construction, our team has worked on various other building projects including schools and churches. The second focus is sewing. Our team started a sewing ministry several years ago. Several dedicated team members teach a one-week sewing intensive attended by Salvadorian citizens from various parts of the country. This course allows the students to learn sewing skills to benefit their family both through material productions as well as economically from the products made and sold at market.
How did you see the locals of El Salvador impacted by the work that your team contributed to?
Miles: The locals benefit from both the construction projects as well as the sewing course. With the construction projects, families gain a home they otherwise could not have obtained. Communities acquire much needed churches and schools where families can gather to worship and where children have a safe place to learn and grow their faith. The sewing course teaches a skill. The learning of this skill can provide both material and economic relief to the sewing students family. While these two missions provide benefits to the people of El Salvador, it is imperative to note, we the missionaries are also impacted and learn from the faith and dedication of the El Salvadorian people themselves. As missionaries, in addition to working to complete a specific task, we must always be vigilant to what people can teach us about our faith.
From your experience, how would you explain the value of United Methodist mission work to someone who had never been on a trip like this?
Miles: We as Christians, and United Methodists, are obligated to serve others. Jesus even says "whatever is done to the least of these, you did for me.". As a United Methodist, one focus of our ministry as a global church is to engage in ministry with the poor. We are called, both as Christians, and United Methodists, to be in ministry to, and with, the marginalized, the least of these. Having the opportunity to serve is a life changing experience. If you have the chance to do mission work, at home or abroad, short-term or long-term, take it. Your life will be changed. Mission work leads to several things of value: 1) it deepens your personal faith; 2) it builds relationships; 3) a difference is made.