In Samara, Russia, Michael watched a grandmother and her grandson carry a suitcase together as they boarded a train. Michael had an epiphany: If these two family members of such different ages and abilities could carry such a heavy weight, which neither could lift alone, perhaps the church family too could carry one another's weight.
"None of us can carry our luggage alone, but together we can," said Michael Airgood, who will be commissioned as one of ten new missionaries in a service celebrated on the evening of October 11, 2011.
Michael, 24, seems surprised that he has been so many places, working as a mission volunteer and now realizing his dream (since the age of 12) of becoming a General Board of Global Ministries missionary of The United Methodist Church.
As a volunteer, Michael went to Russia, the Ukraine, and Mongolia. The highlight of these mission travels was working for two months alongside Global Ministries missionary Helen Sheperd and the mission team at the United Methodist Mongolian mission site, which ministers to the spiritual, physical, and intellectual health of individuals in the community through support network, including a health clinic, Sunday school, and a church.
Michael chose Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, because he had heard the mission team there was effective at addressing the four areas of focus of The United Methodist Church: improving health, alleviating poverty, creating new churches, and empowering leaders.
He offers advice to volunteers who may want to serve internationally: "You have to listen and you have to treat it as an educational opportunity.... You can't just try and insert yourself and show them how you do things. But it's a learning experience."
Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Michael is proud of his roots, his experience as a mission volunteer, and is looking forward to his upcoming assignment--church planting and youth ministry development in L'viv in the Ukraine.
Michael has discovered that carrying bags and caring for one another are part of mission service and that mission is a "50/50 partnership with a focus on self-sufficiency."
- View a two-minute video of Michael explaining his call to missionary service from the age of 12.
- Join in prayer and celebration as ten new missionaries, including Michael Airgood, are commissioned (October 11, 2011, 7:00 p.m. ET) as missionaries.
- Read Michael's biography.