WPA VIM Mission to Colombia

The construction, on land purchased by the Colombian Methodist Church with funding from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is a project of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission. Stains’ team will be the second from the NEJ to work at the site.

NEJ VIM Coordinator Greg Forrester led the first team, made up mostly of young adults, last January.  The New York, New England, Upper NY, and Baltimore-Washington conferences also plan to send teams. Read story of Greg’s trip.

The church and the volunteer teams are building relationships with internally displaced families that have moved into Sincelejo from the outlying countryside due to multi-national companies taking land for mineral mining, Forrester said.

Stains’ team includes volunteers from all over Western PA, including Bradford, Warren, Johnstown, Allegheny County, Butler County and Greene County.   Most speak Spanish and about half of them are fluent. Two are natives of Colombia. Stains, who led the Conference Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean for several years, said “most of the team members are veterans of other mission trips, but one or two are brand new.  Many have been involved in other projects in Latin America.”

The Methodist church in Colombia has 34 congregations, but only two church buildings, he noted, adding that a Western PA team laid the foundation for one of the two. “They really need some of the brick and mortar places, from which to work,” he added.

“This project started with Rev. Clinton Rabb, who headed the UMCOR’s Mission Volunteers office prior to his death in the Haiti earthquake,” Forrester explained. “Clint introduced the UMVIM Jurisdictional coordinators to Bishop Cardona of the Methodist Church of Colombia.   I then took a preview trip with Clint to Colombia to visit Sincelejo and meet with the community. The purchase of the land had just been completed in October 2009.

“It has taken a few years to get the vision of a jurisdictional-based project off the ground, but we are getting there and this team from Western PA is an important part of that,” he added. Less than 10 mission teams a year serve in Colombia.

In addition to working on the structure, Stains’ team will conduct a Bible school and children’s ministry. Various UMC  congregations in Western Pennsylvania  donated funds and material for the program for this mission.