Thursday, September 1, 2011

Become an Individual Volunteer

The following reflection is written by Marnilyn Grant, a participant in the recent training that occurred at the Mt. Sequoyah Retreat Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Marnilyn attends Murphy First United Methodist Church in Murphy, North Carolina which is part of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. Marnilyn is the fourth person from the left in the back row of this photo of volunteers and training staff. (Photo by Debbie Vest) 
If you are thinking about volunteering as an individual to serve those in need, the General Board of Global Ministries provides one of the best avenues for putting faith into action. I say this wholeheartedly because it has been my good fortune to pursue this avenue.

Quite a while ago I developed a burning desire to serve others. Through the Individual Volunteer Program I am finally finding fulfillment.

The training for becoming an Individual Volunteer covers an array of topics critical to preparing volunteers for challenges that will be varied and unfamiliar. The training leaders are those who have given their lives to serving others and developing cross-cultural understanding. Based on their cumulative experiences of leading and participating in mission work, the training team’s curriculum included theology, self-care, health and safety issues, community-based paradigms of service, the fundamentals of fund raising, international travel, and the responsibilities of an individual volunteer.

The intercultural understanding I gained and the guidelines for engaging in ministry with the poor were among the highlights for me.

As individuals and as representatives of the General Board of Global Ministries, we are all answering the call to “love your neighbor” and to “love the Lord your God.” The training guided us on how to practically and theologically apply this. We were given opportunities to express our faith through theological discussion of scriptures that pertain to mission, and we did role plays in a series of skits that were aimed to get us thinking about the best way to handle challenging issues of relationships. All of the skits were based on actual occurrences.

The training participants will serve impoverished areas in the global community, including the United States, serving for periods of a few months to two years. We vary in age, background and interests. My intelligence and compassion were validated and encouraged to expand. I feel ready to act now, and more humble than ever. The training was essential. I thank the training staff for their modeling of hospitality to me and all the others. The journey has begun as an individual volunteer!

The Individual Volunteer Program offers individuals and couples the opportunity to serve at placement sites in the global community, including the United States. In preparation for the work, volunteers attend a training event that includes theological grounding, spiritual enrichment, and practical “nuts and bolts” information. The training also serves as an occasion for discernment, as participants prayerfully consider how God’s call on their lives will be expressed. 

To find out more about upcoming dates to train to become an Individual Volunteer, link to

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