April 30 – United Methodist Volunteers in Mission National Volunteer Month

UMVIM Advance Project #3020527 Rio Bravo, Mexico
UMVIM Advance Project #3020527 Rio Bravo, Mexico

A Moment for Mission

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” —Acts 2:44-45, NRSVUE

What were you doing early on Dec. 26?

An 18-member United Methodist Volunteers in Mission team from Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio was braving ice storms and flight cancellations to participate in a one-week mission journey in Manos Juntas [Hands Together] (Advance #3020527), Rio Bravo, Mexico.

Landing in Texas, the team crossed the border into Mexico and traveled three miles to Manos Juntas. Their mission was to prepare a construction site for future teams to finish while strengthening relationships with one another, Manos Juntas staff, the community and Christ. 

During a July tour, the team learned Manos Juntas had recently received four buildings of a partially constructed school. A community survey determined child care was critically needed and the best use for the buildings. After Manos Juntas shared their vision and needs for this ministry, team members accepted the challenge of taking the first steps to make the dream a reality.

God always kept the team busy. “Usually construction requires demolition, and we did both,” a team member recalled. “Each team member had different gifts and graces, and our challenge was to discern which were necessary, which new ones we needed to develop and which ones to put aside.” The group broke into four smaller teams. One team pulled thousands of tall weeds and removed a truckload of trash from an area that had become a community dump site. Two teams mixed concrete to build a new wall, improve existing concrete-block walls and increase accessibility by connecting the buildings with new sidewalks. Another team prepared safe spaces for a children’s garden, a flower garden and a playground by removing 20 large stumps from already-cut trees.

The new child care center, located in a populous sector northeast of Rio Bravo, will serve children of working mothers and couples. Several partner churches have worked on construction of the center, with a goal to open during the first half of 2023.

Truly, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission model love in action!

Children’s Story
We all need help at every age of life. When babies are born, they are not able to take care of themselves and they need help. Have you ever noticed that a baby will cry when they need something like food or to have their diaper changed? When they grow up a little bit and become toddlers, they can speak short, simple sentences like “More juice, please.” In elementary school, kids ask for help with both tying and learning to tie shoes.

As we grow up, we always try to help our friends and family and sometimes we need help too, don’t we? In the Bible, we read stories of people helping one another. Jesus taught us to always love and help others and in one story a child helps solve a problem. When Jesus and his disciples were in a crowd of people during the Passover celebration they knew they needed to find a way to feed all the people who were there. Do you remember what happened? That’s right…a child with five barley loaves and two fish gave what he had. This child was kind and gave all that he had to help feed others. Do you remember how many they fed? Yes. Five thousand people!

Teenagers in the Bible also were kind and tried to help others. At around age 16, Timothy met the apostle Paul and started helping him talk about Jesus and how to be kind and love one another. Paul was proud of Timothy and told him to keep sharing all the good things about Jesus no matter what people said to him. Have your ever heard someone tell you that you can’t do something because you are too young? You are never too young to be kind and loving and that is what the apostle Paul was trying to tell Timothy. We can all make a difference if we love everyone like Jesus did.

We all have special ways that we can help others. Can you think of ways we can help one another? (let the children answer, but if they need help prompt them)

Pray for one another.

Share our toys.

Help our parents clean up.

Those are wonderful ideas. Just remember, no matter your age, you can make a difference in someone’s life simply by helping them!

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, thank you for the chance to serve with others in our church, our community and around the world. Teach us to be generous with our talents and our financial gifts. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Fourth Sunday of Easter — Guardian of the Soul. Caring and compassionate God, we feel like we have been through so much. Battered by division, perceived by some as too judgmental and by others as too accommodating, and we know our witness to the world has suffered. Bless the gifts we give and help them to be used to sow seeds of kindness, healing, hope, and justice. When we as a church falter, remind us that Christ, our Good Shepherd, never falters. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (1 Peter 2:19-25)

Newsletter Nugget
For the Rev. Tammy Kuntz, this was the 20th consecutive Christmas-to-New Year mission journey with Manos Juntas [Hands Together] in Rio Bravo, Mexico. She coordinates United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (What is UMVIM? — UMVIM) for the North Central Jurisdiction. With previous teams, Tammy helped build casitas [little houses]. While this was a return journey for several team members, this was the first visit for others.

“I am grateful for all of you and the amazing work we accomplished,” Kuntz said. “Some of us from previous teams missed the connections with families and others in the community as we built casitas; yet, we know the day care will be a great community resource and asset for families. The child care center project had to start somewhere, and the work we did set the stage for future teams to assist Manos Juntas’ maestros [skilled teachers] as they guide the work needed to finish the project and open soon.”

The Rev. Martha Scott invited the five-member team from Euclid Park UMC, Oak Park, Illinois, to share reflections on their mission experience. “When we are in mission, when we are blessing others as we do the work of Christ,” they told her, “We discover Christ.”

April is National Volunteer Month. Across the United States, volunteerism is the cornerstone of summer vacation and woven into after-school programs. In tiny villages and huge cities alike, most organizations would not function without volunteers of all ages.

Volunteers help staff rural fire and ambulance departments. They provide essential medical care to the disadvantaged. They repair and upgrade homes for older adults. They answer emergency-hotline calls. They work at soup kitchens and deliver meals to people who cannot cook for themselves.

Now is the perfect time to focus on Volunteers in Mission. It’s a grassroots movement within The United Methodist Church, designed to provide an official channel for volunteer service. Through UMVIM, Christians (lay and clergy) offer skills and talents to serve in their home country and around the world on short-term assignments at their own expense.

The UMVIM network offers guidance, organization and training for more than 125,000 volunteers each year. These volunteers minister with the poor, build churches and other mission facilities, assist in disaster-recovery efforts, participate in community health programs and join leadership-training events.

The UMVIM movement is organized by jurisdiction. Click on UMVIM or check with your jurisdictional office to see how you can become involved.

Adapted from United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Global Ministries and other sources

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