Send in the Missionaries!
By Hillary Taylor
Hillary Taylor is a young adult missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries serving with Branches, the social justice and economic empowerment ministry of the South East District of the Florida Annual Conference.
At the beginning of this week, something out of the ordinary happened at work.
In the late afternoon, Nicolette, not her real name, came into the main office in North Miami. She asked for permission to enter one of our buildings because something bad had happened to her there a long time ago—she was seeking reconciliation with her past.
As she started to cry, our administrative assistant, Yaneyry, whisked Nicolette away from the lobby and into the conference room. Yaneyry asked my supervisor for assistance. My supervisor immediately said, “This sounds like a job for our missionaries!” Yaneyry found fellow missionary Anna Gill and me and explained the situation to us.
A long time ago, the Branches building had been a church building. Nicolette shared that as a child at that church, someone had abused her. The details of her experience were sparse, but traumatic. Because of this, Nicolette moved far away from the area. However, because of the nature of her job, she finds herself working in our North Miami community a lot. Doing work in our area was causing Nicolette so much anxiety and grief, that she felt the need to confront her fears and past to get the healing she needed.
No Ghosts of Old
Anna and I explained to Nicolette that we didn’t know much about the history of our building but what we could say was that our building is now a safe place for youth, children, families and anyone who needed help; that Branches helps people financially, as well as developmentally, and that Branches is giving love to people who feel as though they have no love or even deserve it.
Anna and Brent (the executive director of Branches) helped lead a tour of the campus for Nicolette and her mother. They showed them that the building was not haunted by the ghosts of old. Rather, it had a new lease on life. The visit seemed to be a positive experience for them, and we’re hoping the visit has brought more healing and closure to the hurt that happened so long ago.
More than Volunteer Workers
This incident brought me back to reality of why Branches is here, and why I’m so thankful to be a missionary working here. I’ll admit, sometimes the brutality of social service work can make one lose focus; feel under-appreciated, or even victimized by the work itself. With all the transitions, commutes, difficult cases, and events that have happened the last few weeks, I’ve sometimes lost perspective on the wider impact my work as a missionary is having on Miami, Dade County, and even within Branches itself.
My fellow mission fellows and I are more than volunteer workers with a stipend, we are real, live missionaries. And because we are, people trust us.
Anna, Elizabeth Fink, and my job at Branches isn’t just about helping with car loans, or filing benefits applications, or downloading credit reports, or giving any other form of financial education. Our jobs aren’t even just about seeing needs and filling them.
Our jobs are about being present for both the joy and sorrow surrounding our organization and our clients.
Our jobs are about connecting the church to our mission, showing them the work God is always doing in the world (or in their own back yard).
Our jobs are about alleviating human suffering and casting out the bonds of oppression from where they lie.
Our jobs are about inspiring and guiding people to seek justice, freedom, and peace in whatever situation.
Our jobs are about reinforcing the truth that there is redemption after wrong-doing, serenity after suffering, and resurrection after death.
Most of all, our jobs are about sharing the love of God with everyone we encounter, especially those hurt by the church and in need of re-connection to compassion.
Hillary Taylor, missionary at Branches, proud to be reporting for duty!
Generation Transformation is an initiative of Global Ministries to increase opportunities for young adults to engage in mission throughout the connection. This includes supporting mission service within The United Methodist Church and Global Ministries’ flagship programs for young adults. These Global Ministries programs include: Global Mission Fellows (2 year mission service – formerly known as Mission Intern and US-2); Global Justice Volunteers (10 week mission service), and Individual Volunteers (flexible mission service from two months to two years).
Find out about how you or a young adult can join the movement by applying now! Go to www.umcmission.org/gmfellows to learn more.