Monday, November 13, 2017

#KingdomConnection: UMVIM Team 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!

One of UMVIM's most important functions is training individuals to lead mission teams of their own. This training is available for congregants and clergy alike! One person whose service has benefited from UMVIM Team Leader Training is Rev. Amanda Gordon of the Mississippi Annual Conference! Read below to check out how UMVIM has helped her find a #KingdomConnection to training and mission opportunity. 

How has your Team Leader training helped strengthen the mission work of your teams?

Sunday Worship in El Salvador

Amanda: Prior to Team Leader Training, I had not taken into consideration the imporantance of intentional spiritual preparation for the team.  It's easy for pre-trip meetings to focus on logistics of the trips and fundraising with a prayer likely being the only spiritual aspect of the meeting.  Since going through Team Leader Training, I have used the UMVIM resource, "Preparing for the Journey," and pre-trip meetings are about half logistics and half Bible Study.  I have had numerous team members share how important they feel these pre-trip meetings are for spiritual preparation and team building.  These times also allow for lots of conversation around focusing on building relationships while on the trip as opposed to "getting the job done" which is something that UMVIM stresses.  I think the mission work is strengthened because my teams have an idea of the bigger picture of why we are doing what we are doing.

How has the connection of the United Methodist church helped your efforts in mission?

Volunteers Outside a Methodist Church in El Salvador That They Helped Build
Amanda: For the last four years, I have had the privilege of leading a district-wide UMVIM trip to El Salvador to work with Salvadoran Misssion Projects (SMP), a ministry of the Evangelical Methodist Church of El Salvador.  When I was exploring possible mission trip opportunities for a district-wide trip, I contacted Paulette West who was Executive Director of UMVIM SEJ at the time.  She suggested a few places and shared some helpful information.  Without that initial connection, I may have never become familiar with SMP.  My teams and I also appreciate knowing that we are working with a ministry where the work is ongoing all year; we go and serve alongside the Evangelical Methodist Church in El Salvador for a week, but the clergy and laity who live there are working to grow disciples year round.  And, while we only serve for that week, we pray for them and they pray for us while we are apart; it's hard to put into words, but you really can "feel" a connection!  

Ultimately, I am thankful that when working with an UMVIM approved ministry, you are working with a ministry that is Methodist in doctrine and practice.  I addressed El Salvador above, but I have also led domestic and other international UMVIM trips.  As a United Methodist Pastor, it is very important to me that any mission trips taken by our church are under the umbrella of UMVIM.

Share a brief story about the impact of teams that you have led onto the mission field.

Mission Trip to North Dakota led by Rev. Gordon

Amanda: I have had the tremendous blessing of leading some people on their first international mission trip and some people on their first mission trip ever.  I have seen countless people's eyes opened to the fact that God and the church is bigger than they had originally realized; sometimes it takes getting away from home to see this.  To me the biggest impact has been seeing people go on a mission trip and then come home more aware of the ways they can serve locally.  In my local church, the folks who have gone on mission trips are now more involved in local missions and Bible Studies and service to the local church than they had been prior to the trip.  Their hearts also seem more open to reaching out and welcoming all people into the body of Christ. 

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