Support allows missionaries to serve where sent
Missionary Katherine Parker focused on ensuring food stability and access to clean drinking water while serving in Cambodia. In September, she began a new assignment in Nepal.
United Methodist missionaries sent by the General Board of Global Ministries serve in more than 60 countries. Local church support, through apportionment payments supporting the World Service Fund, accounts for only 38 percent of the money needed to keep a missionary in service to God and the world. The remaining funds come through The Advance, where congregations and individuals contribute $6 million each year to support missionaries.
Katherine Parker – Nepal
Katherine Parker (Advance #15187Z) has had a huge impact on the future of Cambodia. Parker, who has just moved to Nepal, has been a missionary since graduating from college in 2000. Her home church is Mount Tamalpais United Methodist Church in Mill Valley, Calif.
Part of Parker's ministry in Cambodia, she said, was working herself out of a job. Collaborating with local communities and national leadership, Parker worked to ensure food stability and access to clean drinking water. As local leaders stepped forward in the various projects, Parker stepped back, encouraging growth and opening doors for new people to take over.
"Sometimes, we need to step back in order to push others to step forward," she said. "I was excited to be able to facilitate this kind of change while I was in Cambodia."
"Five years ago, I was one of 11 missionaries in Phnom Penh," she wrote on her blog on Sept. 23. The number is now seven, "a great indicator of the strength of the mission as more programming and leadership is picked up by Cambodian nationals."
Parker's new ministry in Nepal is as part of the health team of the United Mission to Nepal. Her work will focus on clean water, sanitation and hygiene. She stays in touch with her supporters through a blog, bokashi.blogspot.com, where she writes about her experiences.
Jacques Kambol – Brazil
A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and a member of Bethanie United Methodist Church there, Jacques Kambol (Advance #3021495) is a missionary in Brazil. The mission intern is a social educator with the Shade and Fresh Water Project (Advance #11580A) of the Brazilian Methodist Church.
"Education is an important tool that can be used to transform people's lives," he said. "It expands our knowledge and helps us understand and solve that which affects negatively in our society."
The 6- to 14-year-olds Kambol works with in the after-school program are "at-risk," he said. Drug use, prostitution and other activities endanger their lives. He teaches the youngsters English and music, but, perhaps most important, he pays attention to them and gives them a place to be safe and loved.
"The support from The Advance pays my stipends, rent, Internet and many other expenses," he said, "to ensure the smooth running of my ministry. Most of our financial and spiritual supports come from local churches. So it's important for me to remain connected to them, because together in ministry, we are making this world a better place."
The Rev. Meri Whitaker – Oklahoma
The same is true for the Rev. Meri Whitaker (Advance #982994), a church and community worker missionary in eastern Oklahoma. She serves among the Cherokee tribe as the director of the Cookson Hills Center United Methodist Mission (Advance #582161), which serves low-income people in Cherokee, Adair and Sequoya counties, three of the four poorest counties in Oklahoma.
Whitaker was ordained in 1984 and is a member of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
"We are changing both the world and the face of mission," she said, "through our cottage industries. We work really hard to employ people so that they can buy the groceries of their choice rather (than be given) a sack to assist their need."
The Cookson Hills Center assists children and the elderly with food support, since Oklahoma leads the United States in hunger, she said. It also houses a daycare and offers opportunities for people to share their experiences with others.
"We share our experience, strength and hope with people," Whitaker said, "so that they might see Christ in us and want that for themselves."
Local church support is "primary" to her ministry, Whitaker said. Everyone on the staff works to maintain relationships with churches, she said.
"This is a large ministry, and we believe we are changing the world by changing people," she said. "We would not exist without the support of The Advance. The dollars that come in to pay the salary of the missionary, to support the project and that come through linked agencies in the forms of grants make it possible for us to even survive."
The Rev. Fuxia Wang – Oklahoma
A ministry of radical hospitality is found on campus at the University of Oklahoma. There, the Rev. Fuxia Wang (Advance #3021191), a native of China and an elder in the Oklahoma Conference, leads the Chinese ministry at OU Wesley. The Wesley, as it is known, is the only Wesley Foundation in the United States to have a Global Ministries' missionary on staff, and Wang is the only ordained female United Methodist clergywoman from mainland China in the United States, according to the ministry's brochure.
Since 2006, Wang has reached out to Chinese students in Norman, helping them with everything from how to set up a bank account to weekly Bible study, from English classes to worship. More than 40 students have made professions of faith.
Qian Wang, one of the students, praised Fuxia's ministry.
"I was taught to believe in science rather than God," she wrote. "But Pastor Fuxia has opened a door for me to see the existence of the caring Father God who has seen me through all difficulties that I have encountered. Now I have learned to thank God for his grace and what he's done for us and to praise him constantly."
Fuxia Wang says that without the support of local churches, her ministry would vanish."We keep in contact with local churches through newsletters, and visiting and speaking in churches," she said.
Christian Love Daroy – Grenada
Christian Love Daroy (Advance #3021494) also works with young people. The young adult mission intern works in Grenada with the Grenada Community Development Agency (GRENCODA) as a program associate. She helps with planning and organizing community development initiatives, especially for youth, women, farmers and fisher folks of rural areas.
Global ministries' mission interns serve half of their three-year terms in international assignments and half in their home countries. Daroy was commissioned in August 2012 and is from Little Baguio in the South Cotabato Province on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. She is a member of the Cathedral United Methodist Church in Davao City.
Daroy's ministry is changing the world, she said, by providing the less fortunate with opportunities to improve their quality of life.
"The After-School Class provides an avenue for students to learn while having fun," she said. "It is a program that reaches out to the young people, to strengthen not only their understanding of their lessons at school but also life lessons."
The affirming, commending and encouraging of students doesn't end with the class, she added. Some students "hang out in our homes" so that they can have a safe environment while their parents are at work.
The Advance, Daroy said, is vital in her ministry. "The Advance is making the advancement of God's kingdom here on earth real and visible," she said. "It's a vessel to let God's justice, peace, joy, hope, grace and love flow from everywhere to everywhere."
Connecting to local churches, in both Grenada and the Philippines, widens the scope of her ministry, she said, providing the opportunity to work with more children and youth. She stays connected via blogs and stories, and her family shares her ministry with churches they attend.
"I believe that providing educational support and friendship help in transforming the lives of these young people," Daroy said. "What we do today develops what happens in the future."
The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is managing editor of UMConnection, the official newspaper of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Increasing Young Missionaries
The General Board of Global Ministries hopes to increase the number of post-college young adult missionaries who work around the world for two years. Ninety young adults have already become Global Mission Fellows through the Generation Transformation program. The agency hopes to boost that number to 500.
Gifts to provide salary support for Global Mission Fellows may be given through Advance #13105Z.
"There's no better investment than the investment in a young and committed witness engaged in mission in the world," says Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of the General Board of Global Ministries. "These young people engage in mission around the world and then spend time in their home [location], where they tell others about their experience and what they've learned and invite others to be mission interns."
Gifts to The Advance may support a specific missionary or provide salary support for the Global Ministries' missionary community.
Support a specific missionary: Find the missionary's number at www.umcmission.org/advance.
Church and community worker missionaries: Advance #982147
Missionaries around the world: Advance #00779Z.
38% – Apportionment ($20,364)
28% – Donations through The Advance ($15,204)
23% – Endowed/Invested Gifts ($12,489)
11% –Other ($5,973)
73% – Salaries/Health and Pension Benefits ($39,639)
19% – Mission-Related Benefits ($10,137)
8% – Staff Support ($4,344)