Global Justice Volunteer Training in the Philippines
From Global Justice Volunteers to Individual Volunteers
by Holley Hooks and Rashid Hughes
Discerning a Life in Service
by Holley Hooks
All my life, I have felt a pull toward helping others. I studied anthropology and public health, and after graduating with my master’s degree, I really wanted to put my skills to use in an international setting. I applied to the Global Justice Volunteers (GJV) program because I felt it would be a great place to learn about social justice issues in our world. During my placement at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, I learned a great deal about what “mission” means to The United Methodist Church. I found that I really loved the emphasis on serving with rather than for others. I also appreciated the value that is placed on experiencing God through cultural lenses that differ from our own.
For my two-month GJV placement, I spent my first month engaging in different communities in Manila. Activities included visits to poor urban areas and universities, lectures on human trafficking, and interactions with political prisoners. For the second month, I joined the typhoon relief effort in Tacloban and the surrounding areas. Here, I got a chance to fully immerse in a community and share my public health skills with people. It was in Tacloban that I was introduced to the water, sanitation, and hygiene program of Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). I knew that God had more plans for me. At the end of my service as a GJV, NCA made it possible for me to extend my stay in Tacloban as an Individual Volunteer. With NCA, I helped create and implement a hygiene promotion campaign in several communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan. In total, I served for four months in the Philippines. My experiences helped to shape who I am today by exposing me to different worldviews and helping me to determine who I want to become as I officially enter adulthood. My glimpse into the world of humanitarian aid confirmed my passion for pursuing a career with nonprofit development organizations.
Although I am back in my home country, the United States, I am still engaged in mission service. I participate in the Florida Conference’s Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM) program in Jacksonville, Florida. Here, I assist with the mission outreach of Avondale United Methodist Church and the Wesley Foundation’s Campus to City initiative on human trafficking, “They Matter.” I continue to work in mission because it fulfills me in a way that I don’t think would happen with a typical office job. I love to interact with people, and no two days are the same. Although financial uncertainties and skepticism from friends and family can be draining, it’s worth it, and I trust these concerns will have a way of taking care of themselves. My dream is to give back to the global community that has given so much to me.
Holley Hooks, from Huntsville, Alabama, and Jacksonville, Florida, served as a Global Justice Volunteer in 2014. She worked in the Philippines in Manila and Tacloban City with the National Council of Churches of the Philippines and Norwegian Church Aid.
Mission is Life
by Rashid Hughes
Mission is rich in meaning. It has no limits, no absolute methods; yet in today’s world and in my life, it is very necessary. For me, mission is much more than the sending of a person or a group of people to another place to provide various services to others. Mission is life. It is not a part of life, it is life. It is the outward demonstration of one’s inner recognition that every facet of one’s experience is directly connected to another’s experience. We express this recognition by making ourselves available to share with, understand, and grow with others.
In the summer of 2014, I had the privilege of serving as a Global Justice Volunteer in the Philippines along with several other mission-minded volunteers. Although this was not my first mission involvement, the experience definitely propelled me to further explore my passion for mission. Primarily, my time in the Philippines provided me with the space and exposure needed to gain a fresh, unconditioned perspective of the depth of what mission is “for me.” I left the Philippines knowing that mission cannot be reduced to a particular creed, geographic location, or group of people. Mission is every day, wherever one is.
Currently, I am serving as an Individual Volunteer missionary in Seoul, South Korea, with the Kwang Hyun Methodist Church. My responsibilities here range from teaching English to working with music students and preaching. It was not my intention to begin another mission project so soon after returning home from the Philippines, but I can see more clearly now that God has provided me with this opportunity to learn and grow. I am thankful for what God has provided, because I now know that mission is not something for me to bring to others, but it is about seeing everyone as yourself and seeing everywhere as your home, daily. It is my hope that I will continue to have opportunities to embrace and share the Spirit of mission in my life, so that the compassion of God is realized everywhere my foot treads.
Rashid Mandela Hughes served in Manila, Philippines, as a Global Justice Volunteer and currently serves in Seoul, South Korea, as an Individual Volunteer missionary. He received his Master of Divinity degree from the Howard University School of Divinity in 2014.
This article was originally published in the July-August 2015 issue of New World Outlook magazine.
Holly Hooks on assignment in the Philippines for Global Justice Volunteers. Photo: Courtesy Holly Hooks
Rashid Hughes visits homes in the Philippines as a Global Justice Volunteer. Photo: Courtesy Rashid Hughes