Twenty-Five Young Missionaries Share Their Experiences
By Ivy Couch*
Twenty-Five United Methodist Global Mission Fellows wrapped up two years of service in a public accounting of what they learned in assignments ranging from Russia to South Africa, the Philippines to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A celebration took place May 18, 2017 at the Atlanta headquarters for Global Ministries. Attending were family, friends, and agency staff.
Global Mission Fellows at their End-Term Event. PHOTO: CYNTHIA MACK
When asked what they had learned as missionaries, the young people from twenty countries cited experiences with refugees, human trafficking, cultural diversity, the impact of HIV/AIDS on communities, environmental justice, poverty, the role of women in food production, and what is means to connect and walk with people of many climates and societies, among others.
Global Mission Fellows is a Generation Transformation program of Global Ministries. Young adults between the ages of twenty and thirty devote two years to justice ministries in communities different from their own. The twenty-five from the 2015-17 class present in Atlanta were from twenty countries. Another nine in the class were unable to obtain visas to enter the United States to participate in this end-term event.
The program opened with the fellows dancing and clapping as they sang, “We are marching in the light of God.” Then, through skit, poem, spoken word, and song, they recounted their individual journeys, which led them to further discovery and self-awareness and into deeper realms of the harsh realities and surprising joys they encountered.
A Global Mission Fellow speaking on his experience. PHOTO: CYNTHIA MACK
One fellow named Shandirai from Zimbabwe spoke of how he came to understand that differences in languages and culture are not barriers, but pathways. Several told of life-changing encounters with refugees and migrants, while another spoke of how everyone should stand in solidarity with them all over the world.
Especially inspiring were the songs the Global Mission Fellows sang together -- melodies that seemed to remind listeners of the need to come together and why Christians do the work they do -- to bring about transformative change and achieve harmony out of discord.
Watch highlights from the Global Mission Fellow 2017 End-Term Event. VIDEO: JENNIFER SILVER
Later, in a question and answer period, the fellows were asked how their experiences had changed them. One young woman seemed to speak for the group: “I am no longer looking for ways to help people, but rather ways to work ‘with’ people.”
The highly diverse Global Mission Fellows international track is open to young adults throughout the world. After their two years, the fellows go back to their home context, often going in new directions because of their mission service.
Of the twenty-five, eleven will go to work with projects involving integration within their home countries, five will train the next incoming class, and three will work to raise awareness of the program, while others will pursue graduate work. The nine fellows who could not be present for visa reasons will culminate their service in Manila, Philippines, the following week.
*Ivy Couch is the Program Area liaison for Global Mission Connections