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VIM: Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we volunteer to be in mission?

The understanding that we are called and that we are sent is at the foundation of our faith. The scriptures are full of stories of persons who responded to a call and were sent on mission for God. Jesus spent his ministry calling persons and sending them on God’s mission.

Putting our faith into action is at the very heart of our Christian calling. The New Testament instructs those who would be followers of Jesus to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, heal the sick, care for the widows, and nurture the children.

Through volunteers in mission, every person in the church has the opportunity to serve and to live their lives more faithfully. And when we reach out and use what God has given us in the service of others, we have life-transforming experiences.

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What is a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) team?

A United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) team is one that serves locally, nationally, or internationally where it is invited; works in a ministry endorsed by the host Methodist church, partner church r agency, or nongovernment organization (NGO); and serves in cooperation with the local host group.

The team will have an UMVIM trained leader who provides training for the team, ensures completion of proper forms and insurance coverage, and is in communication with annual conference and jurisdictional UMVIM leadership.

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What is the purpose and motto of an UMVIM team?

The Mission Volunteers Program Area (of which UMVIM is a part) within the General Board of Global Ministries was established in 1996 and enables the participation of United Methodists throughout the world in global mission volunteer programs so that affirming, empowering, and trusting relationships would be established. The worldwide church prepares to send and receive those who want to make the love of God visible, meaningful, supportive, and redemptive.

The UMVIM motto, “Christian Love in Action,” is taken from 1 John 3:18, in which Christians are asked to love “not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Living our faith is at the very heart of our Christian calling and reflects the purpose that has grown out of our understanding of who we are and what we want to be: those who express “Christian Love in Action.”

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What are the characteristics of a UMVIM volunteer?

  • Open to God’s blessing.
  • Radiates Christ’s love.
  • Has a healthy prayer life.
  • Shares Christ’s great spirit of kindness, acceptance, and unity.
  • Serves Christ and His people.
  • Lifts up God in all they do.
  • Thinks team, not self.
  • Is flexible, patient, and relaxed.
  • Realizes that people are more important than work results.
  • Understands that cultures are different, not superior or inferior.

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How would you compare the Task – vs – Purpose of UMVIM?

The task is what we do with our abilities (such as provide dental care, teach classes, treat an illness, construct or repair a building, or realize an evangelism project). Our task is secondary to our purpose of sharing the love of God in ways that make a Christian difference. Task and purpose are closely related, and both are to be accomplished in ways that lift up Jesus Christ in all we do as a volunteer and servant.

We all are called, we all are sent, and we all are to offer the gift of hospitality to others. The understanding that “we are called” and “we are sent” is at the foundation of our faith.

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What is our Dream for the future?

We dream of a future –

  • For United Methodist Volunteers In Mission of sharing together,
    praying together, suffering together, and working together – in spiritual renewal, lifestyle changes, new relationships, and revitalized local churches. — as we reach out to each other in cooperative ministry.
  • In which the partnership is strengthened – where we will come to understand and be able to work in each other’s contexts – and where UMVIM will be integral to the realization of a global church – where people can create continuing relationships with brothers and sisters different races, faiths, and experiences around the world.
  • With increased involvement in the Volunteers In Mission program – every country will be enabled to send and receive teams – with individuals empowered with the knowledge that they can make a difference.
  • Of improved coordination and communication – with an international network of mission volunteers in annual conferences, jurisdictions, partner churches, and the General Board of Global Ministries Mission Volunteers Office will be linked via the Internet — . a large pool of volunteers ready to respond to emergencies — an extensive skills bank and database of people who are willing to be called into service – and a system to find local and regional projects through which teams can respond to missional opportunities.
  • In which Volunteers In Mission will be the driving force for mission renewal of the local church — a church that recovers its purpose and power as it demonstrates God’s mission by pouring itself out for others, crossing all boundaries to identify with struggles and needs, yearnings and sorrows, joys and fears, confusion and doubt, and the quest for true human dignity among all people everywhere. God has given us the United Methodist Volunteers In Mission movement to lead the way.

(Based on “Guidelines for Sending and Hosting Volunteers,” created by the International Conference on Sending and Hosting Volunteers, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 1998)

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Do I need a passport and visa to go on an UMVIM Mission trip outside of the U.S.?

Passport – Yes. Visa – Yes, in many cases. View current U.S. State Department information on passport and visa requirements.

Specfic guidance on passports and visas is also available on page 19 of the current issue of “United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Training Manual for Mission Volunteers,” issued by the General Board of Global Ministries.

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Are shots or immunizations required prior to going on an UMVIM mission trip?

Some shots or immunizations are required in some countries – some shots or immunizations are recommended.

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What forms should team members fill out before leaving on mission trips?

The team should fill out the three forms listed here. You should keep one copy with you during the mission trip, and give one copy to the team leader to hold in case of an emergency.

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What is the most important aspect of an UMVIM trip – completion of the project or development of relationships?

While both are important in many regards, development of relationships is by far THE most important aspect of a UMVIM trip.

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Should I receive formal UMVIM training for mission volunteers before going on a mission trip?

Absolutely. You’ll be a much more effective team member after completing such training.

In most cases, sites require that a UMVIM team leader complete the training prior to leading a team to a UMVIM site.

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What are the essential qualities of an UMVIM Team member?

The essential qualities of an effective UMVIM team member are:

  • A Christ-centered life.
  • Commitment to the mission work of the church.
  • Commitment to orientation and training.
  • Willingness to follow guidance from the team leader.
  • Willingness to serve in friendship and mutuality with the host and host church.
  • A cooperative and courteous way of relating to others.
  • An enthusiastic and positive attitude.
  • Flexibility and openness to other cultures and ways of worship. (Considered by many as THE MOST IMPORTANT quality of all team members).

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Should I complete the legal documents provided in the UMVIM Training Manual for Mission Volunteers?

Absolutely. These forms were developed as aids to ensure a safe and meaningful mission trip. They were reviewed by legal counsel for the General Board of Global Ministries. (See page 77-78, “United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Training Manual for Mission Volunteers”).

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Should I purchase Accident Insurance? 

(described on pages 113-114 of the Training Manual)

Absolutely. It covers accident/injury for mission volunteers only. Key features of this insurance include:

  • Medical expenses for an injury due to an accident.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment benefit.
  • Exclusions: There are certain exclusions which are described on the back of the application form.
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation.

The most current UMVIM accident insurance forms are available from the NEJ.

In some cases, mission volunteers may determine that this policy (intended for accidents in connection with the project) may not be sufficient to cover, for example, their specific medical needs – especially when traveling outside of the U.S. In such cases, mission volunteers may wish to consider separate trip insurance which they can obtain at their own expense.

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Should my UMVIM Team have a “Journal Keeper” and “designated photographer?”

Yes – highly recommended. It helps with the all important step of telling the story when the team returns to their home church from the mission trip. The BWC VIM Facebook Group is the perfect place to share your story.

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What is one of the most important qualities for ALL UMVIM Team Members?

F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y. WHY??? Things almost never go according to plan/script.

SO — “Blessed are the flexible – for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

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