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Young Adult Missionary Reflections

By Anna Gill

From 2012-2015, I served as a young adult missionary through the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. The program has changed its structure since I started. When I began, my program was called Mission Interns, and I was commissioned to serve for three years total at two placement sites, one international and one domestic. Today, the program is known as Global Mission Fellows- International, and young adults serve for two years. They also have the option to serve for two years within the United States in the Global Mission Fellows- US 2 track. Both programs are part of Generation Transformation, including other opportunities for young adults to serve.

My first placement was in Grenada with the Grenada Community Development Agency (GRENCODA). I assisted program staff to plan, mobilize, implement, and evaluate development projects in the rural parishes of Grenada. I also ran an after-school program for students in Forms 1-3 (equivalent of middle school age in the US) and taught Sunday School at a small Methodist congregation in the town where I worked, as well as attending the Catholic church in the community where I lived. When not at work or church, I played the high second pan in my village’s steel pan orchestra, and opened my home to children in the community to do homework, play, cook, and spend time together.

My second placement was in Miami, Florida with Branches. Branches is a non-profit organization that provides student, family, and financial services to low-income persons in Miami Dade County. I worked with the financial services team, teaching financial education classes and administering a small loan program that enabled people to purchase vehicles for getting to work. I also assisted people with fixing their credit, provided support throughout the life of the loan, and prepared tax returns. I chose to volunteer with Branches’ after-school program with students in grades 6-8, giving homework help and teaching Bible study and personal development lessons. I was also active at Fulford UMC where I taught Sunday School. 

Serving as a young adult missionary had an incredible impact on my life. Entering this program directly from graduating college, I lived my first three years of independent adulthood in faraway places, learning to live on a modest stipend and to trust God through navigating life in unfamiliar contexts. I cannot understate the importance of these experiences in developing spiritual and personal maturity. I was reengaged with the United Methodist Church and the wider Methodist family, through both local churches and general agencies. I experienced firsthand the struggles that poverty and historical (and current) social forces have on communities. I was challenged by the beautiful and messy task of living justly in an unjust world. I see now how complicated, and how essential, this task is.

The experience of mission work shaped my vocational call as well. After completing the Mission Intern program, I enrolled in a dual master’s program at Wesley Theological Seminary and American University in Washington, DC where I am studying International Development and Theological Studies. I hope to work in a faith-based non-profit organization doing development work, seeking to create communities where everyone is afforded opportunities to use their God-given talents and abilities to cultivate a full, satisfying life. I seek the same for myself, and it is through my work, my relationships with people, and my faith that I find that fulfillment.

Apply today to become a Young Adult Missionary with The United Methodist Church!