Thursday, November 16, 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 Glenn Glover, a congregant at Auburn UMC in Auburn, AL! He has led multiple teams from his local congregation to Nicaragua.  Read below to check out how UMVIM has helped him find a #KingdomConnection to training and mission opportunity. Also, learn about his experiences with a student led team from the Auburn University Wesley Foundation!

1)  How has your team leader training impacted your mission work throughout the years?

Glenn: The Team Leader Training has made many positive impacts on my work and hopefully the mission experience of those on teams that I have led. Training provides many guidelines regarding logistics and how to develop a team to the point that their work is effective. The Training has encouraged me to be much more open minded and less ethnocentric, especially when I’m in the mission field. It reminds me that I am there to support the ministry with which I am serving. I am there to do what THEY need done and not what WE want to do. Too often, we go with an expectation of what we think constitutes a successful trip. I’ve learned from the UMVIM training to be open-minded and to support whatever those in the local community think is best. They have their reasons, and they know more than we do about what needs to be done. The UMVIM Team Leader training helps you recognize these truths.

2) What brought you to working with the Auburn Wesley Foundation’s Tanzania team?

Missioners From Auburn University's Wesley Foundation Teaching English
Glenn: David Goolsby (Auburn Wesley Foundation Director) has the philosophy that Wesley mission teams should be student led to build leadership skills and empower a new generation of missioners. These teams are theirs, not his. 

David was scheduled to go on the Tanzania trip, but had heart surgery one month before the trip.  Patricia Stevenson, Auburn Wesley’s Administrative Director, called me while David was on the operating table to ask if I could accompany the team as an experienced missioner.  I met with the team of students and immediately knew I would go with them if they would accept me!  Since it was their team, it was their decision if I joined the team.  I served as more of a guide, and not as a leader. I was there as support, giving suggestions and stepping in if significant situations arose. They were a GREAT team and had great leadership, though, that needed little help!

3) Where did you see God work through your team’s work?

Glenn: I saw God working daily through this team!  We worked in two communities in the country teaching how to build rocket stoves, bible school education, and laying block for a new church building, among other things. When we arrived in Tarime, we worked with a church whose building was essentially a pole shed made from salvaged materials. However, there was an influx of “street kids” who had left or been kicked out of their homes for various reasons and had come to Tarime, homeless, with no support, and little prospect for work.  Mwita, one of the leaders at the church, recognized a need and an opportunity as these young people began sleeping in the church building soon after it was built. The church started a ministry with these young people that focused on developing their faith, vocational skills, leadership, and other vital aspects of life.

When our team arrived, the students were asked to work with these young people by teaching them English! Thankfully we had brought several pages of Swahili-English word translation! The students did not hesitate. They developed a curriculum on the spot and jumped right in with 12-15 young men! During the English classes and other times, they got the chance to talk with these kids about their lives, their pasts, the opportunities ahead of them, and also had the chance to talk about faith! There were constant “God moments”, and this unexpected opportunity to serve and build relationships with kids in the area was one that we will always remember.

4)  From your perspective, what would you say the importance of global mission work is for the United Methodist Church?

Glenn: The physical aspects of global mission work are vital, whether it be medical, Bible school, disaster response, and all other important ministries. However, I think the most important ministry is the “ministry of presence.” I don’t know how many times I have been somewhere where people would come and hug you, shake your hand and simply say “Thank you for coming!” Missions truly is about making impacts that are both tangible and relational. Serving side by side with brothers and sisters across the world is important to both them and us. We laugh with them, cry with them, support them, and let each other know that we are important to each other and important to God. To me, the most important aspects of mission ministry in the UMC is support and love. 

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