In Focus: Missionaries
As the executive director of Missionary Service at Global Ministries, I work with more than 350 missionaries serving in 65 countries and am often reminded of the legacy of faith.
I have inherited such a legacy from my own spiritual ancestors: my parents who are dedicated and committed to serving God through prayer, worship, gifts, service and witness; my grandparents who offered themselves sacrificially to serve God and others; and the missionaries who crossed many boundaries to plant and nurture the seeds of faith in Korea almost a century ago. The missionaries who responded to God’s call to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NRSV) planted seeds, resulted in the fruits of my family’s faith. I am thankful for the church that supported such missional efforts.
The mission of God endures today as The United Methodist Church continues to send and support missionaries from everywhere to everywhere. Although the passion and commitment of faithful Christians responding to God’s call to mission has not changed throughout history, the face of missionaries in the 21st century has changed to reflect the diversity of The United Methodist Church and the world.
This year, we commissioned 68 young adults from 24 countries who will serve in 33 countries as Global Mission Fellows, a two-year mission service opportunity. In addition, 15 new missionaries and their families were commissioned to serve in long-term mission placements. This new class of missionaries represents nine countries going to serve in seven countries.
Missionaries serve as agents of God’s transformation. They do not go and fix problems on behalf of others—they go to be in ministry with the local community. They go to learn, listen and serve as witnesses of God’s transforming grace and power. United Methodist missionaries are engaged in a variety of ministries as teachers, farmers, educators, doctors, accountants, community developers, volunteer coordinators, pilots, nurses, professors, administrators and more. They serve the needs of the community as identified by local leaders as key priorities. And they cross many boundaries to dedicate their lives and the lives of their families to be in mission.
I am so grateful for their passion and commitment to God’s mission in the world. I am also grateful for the parents, pastors, youth workers, Sunday school teachers and women and men of God who planted seeds, nurtured the sprouts to grow and are now supporting the trees to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Of course, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, it is ultimately God who makes things grow, and yet we are invited to be active participants in that process.
Thank you for the ways in which you are actively engaged in God’s mission, from discernment to deployment to on-going support. Mission cannot be done in isolation, it happens only in community with others. When we engage in mission together, we have the privilege of witnessing God’s transforming acts all around the world. As The United Methodist Church, it is my hope and prayer that we will continue to commit ourselves to mission, going and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.