United Methodist Volunteers
By: Susan Naslund
One year ago, several of our youth built a new home for a family in Mexico. This past summer, a group of Foothills members repaired hurricane-damaged buildings in Fiji. In October, Jim and Paula Perry will be participating in disaster recovery efforts in Texas following massive flooding there. Certainly, each of these missionaries has been (or will be) a blessing to others in need -- physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Whether you have ever considered going on a mission trip yourself, or if you are just curious about the work being done by United Methodists throughout the world, the California-Pacific Conference website shows the ongoing efforts of the UM Volunteers in Mission.
After checking out that tremendous list of needs, you may be thinking to yourself, “I want to help, too!” because there are so many people who are more than ready to receive the help of generous volunteers. If you are considering being part of a mission team, then you may wish to attend the Western Jurisdiction Disaster Response Academy in March of 2017.
At the academy, you will learn everything from how to “muck” out after a flood to how "to support survivors facing the unique emotional and spiritual challenges that accompany disaster."
Volunteers for early response work must be trained and “badged.” The Cal-Pac Conference also requires completion of the Safe Gatherings online course for all who work with the vulnerable, which includes disaster responders. Becoming ready to go out in service is an important part of being a valuable missionary. (Scholarships are available, so don’t let cost get in the way of being properly prepared.)
Speaking of cost, financial help is always needed for mission team members who are volunteering their time. If you feel called to support Jim and Paula specifically, please write a check payable to Foothills UMC and put "Texas Mission Team" in the memo section. Or, if you want your contribution to help generally, put "UMVIM" in the memo section. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated. Or give online.
Finally, even if you are not able to be physically present on a mission trip now, you can prepare yourself spiritually to offer prayers to those who are travelling to serve, and for the people they will meet on their trip. Make it a regular practice to include our missionaries, and those in need of their help, in your prayers. You can also pray for discernment of whether you, too, should become a trained volunteer who is ready to respond to future needs.
Jim and Paula Perry are prepared volunteers. Surround them in your supplications for safe travels to Texas. May the people in Texas encounter God through Jim and Paula’s acts of service. Amen.