Spirit Alive: Gone Volunteer in Missioning


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.

July 10, 2018

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

When Our Encounters Change Everything...and Everyone

"'And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'"

Mark 1: 17

"Jesus did not tell us to 'go to all the nations,' or care for the poor, or visit the sick, primarily to help them, to save our souls, or to be his version of the Red Cross. He sent us to 'otherness' to get us out of our own unquestioned assumptions, our own tribalism, and our self-referential worldviews that have only kept us xenophobic, ethnocentric, nationalistic, and even competitive with the other world religions. The practice of 'voluntary displacement' is a way of giving up control."

Richard Rohr

As you read this issue of Spirit Alive, Susan and I, along with twelve others, are currently in Kenya as a part of an United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) work team.

This UMVIM team is being led by Revs. Jim Monroe and Sue Owen, who have been deeply involved in ministry there with the Maua Hospital and several other projects for some time. In fact, since 2006, the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference has sent 14 UMVIM teams to work in Kenya, involving some 150 volunteers. It is one way that together we can make a difference in the world.

But as anyone knows who has ever participated on a mission team, those who are going are changed and blessed by these experiences far more than they are able to contribute to the lives of others. These encounters make a difference to everyone involved.

It matters that others know that their lives are important to those who come from far away to be of service, but it also matters that those going on a mission team see the realities of the world in new ways. It matters that a house for AIDS orphans is built and that volunteers are available to help with a variety of other projects, but it is just as important that those going are able to bring back stories to tell to others, so that hearts can be opened and new understandings can be shared. These experiences are clearly multi-layered and change lives... everyone's!

Years ago, when I worked at the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development in Cuernavaca, Mexico, I saw this at work in the lives of those who came to CCIDD. People were not the

same when they left the experience.

This UMVIM trip is my seventh one. Over the years, these journeys have taken me to a Habitat Project in Central Oregon, the UMCOR West Depot in Salt Lake City, UMCOR Sager Brown in Louisiana, and to different locations in Brazil. But as a result of each experience, I have grown as a human being and as a Christian. I have gained new understanding, seen life from new perspectives, gained a deeper sense of empathy, and become more committed to advocating for justice. Simply put, participating in UMVIM experiences deepens one's faith.

 This is why I'd encourage everyone to take part in an UMVIM experience at some point in life...but if not UMVIM, then follow Richard Rohr's helpful wisdom and practice "voluntary displacement" in some way closer to home. It will make a difference to others...but it will also change your life forever!

Let us walk in the light of God's love,


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.




Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org