Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On the Way to Warmth

Jubilee Partners in Comer, Georgia

Since 2013, I have spent ten months as an Individual Volunteer in Missions (IVIM) with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) in the Middle East: Jordan, Palestine and Israel.  Through this service, my understanding of the plight of refugees has expanded.  IVIM also have an option to serve refugees in the United States. 

Jubilee Partners is an intentional Christian service community in rural northeast Georgia. Their primary ministry is offering hospitality to refugees who have newly arrived in the United States.  I visited Jubilee Partners on my “snow bird” journey to warmer weather.   Jubilee Partners seeks to understand and live by the radical implications of following Jesus Christ.  They are concerned about being effective peacemakers, promoting justice and understandings among neighbors and around the world.

I enjoyed this welcome sign in multiple languages.

There are three ponds on the property, as I drove in I had to decide if I wanted to drive my new car through the flowing overflow.  I made it!

There might be a possibility for me of an IVIM assignment here.  The GBGM website has the following to say about this potential assignment.
The position is welcoming and assisting in the resettlement of newly arrived refugees while experiencing an intensive Christian community.  The tasks include teaching English as a second language, providing childcare, gardening, cooking, cleaning, grounds upkeep and maintenance. 

Although I was a guest, I did volunteer for some of the daily chores.  I helped with the cooking and cleaning of the kitchen, and attended noon devotions. 

I did not have to do the grounds upkeep; instead, I had a wonderful tour of the grounds.  The chickens are in the back of the farm, but the other farm animals were nowhere to be seen on this rainy afternoon. 

I visited some of the homes and met some of the refugees.  Many photos of refugees are available at

The sign by the school identifies the home countries of refugees who have been served at Jubilee Partners.

The refugees go to English class every day, some days twice, as well as to cultural lessons.

There is a well-stocked boutique.

Prayer Vigil

The community of Jubilee Partners believes in the possibility of God’s redemptive work in the life of every individual.  Various members of the community have been ministering in prisons including visiting individuals on death row in Georgia.  Through this community, prayers are offered for all involved in criminal justice: prisoners, corrections staff, defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, police and crime victims. 

The community of Jubilee Partners is opposed to the death penalty and holds a prayer vigil in Athens, Georgia whenever an execution is scheduled.  On January 13, 2015, Georgia executed Andrew Howard Brannan.  I participated in the prayer vigil. 

The Jubilee Cemetery is the final resting place for several people executed by the State of Georgia.

Personal Reflection

Being a part of this Christian community for even one day reaffirmed to me the importance of relational community.  I am drawn to the Christian fellowship displayed here.  The volunteers have two meetings each week including sessions on Christian discipleship.  There are regular worship services and devotional periods.  All volunteers receive training on how to teach English as a second language.  There was an atmosphere of joy, serving refugees and each other.

Friends along the Way


What fun it was to have Carol, a friend from my Sierra Leone UMW Ubuntu Journey, drive over to
I-75 and have lunch with me.  Carol is on the leadership team for her Conference’s United Methodist Women (UMW.)  She gave me many good ideas for my volunteer activities with West Michigan Conference UMW.


Other Traverse City “snow bird” friends flocked to I-75 in Florida so we could meet.  Pam and I met for breakfast and Barbara, pictured with me, and Ken met me for lunch.  Both making my trip to warmth much more enjoyable.

Learning in Florida

SIM Missionary Retirement Village

It is such a joy to visit my sister’s “village.” It is the home for about 130 retired missionaries.  Bible study, prayer meetings and home visits are amazing.  I am bringing up social justice issues and getting years of experience and opinions. 


I brought several books with me to read, and I spend time every day reading articles on the internet.  For my new UMW volunteer position, I want to be conversant in all the social issues.  

We United Methodist Women have the following issues on our advocacy list: Domestic Violence, Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Global Justice/Peace, Health Care, Human Trafficking, Immigration Justice, Peace Building, Racial Justice and Women’s Rights.  

St. Johns United Methodist Church

How fun it is to find a church family while I am here.  I attend the worship service, Sunday school and the Women’s circle at St. Johns UMC.  The Sunday School Class is studying John Wesley’s three rules; Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.  We are following an excellent devotional titled, Praying with John Wesley by David A de Silva

At The Movies

I traveled to Tampa to the Premiere Showing of A Path Appears.  This documentary shows gender oppression and human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.  Check your local PBS listings. 

There Are Some Strange Things Happening

First, time in Florida.  I have not figured it out yet, but time goes faster!  Then extra items appear on my to do list, all needing completion before I get home and add Michigan’s major to do item, yard work!  Finally, the days left before heading back to the cold are disappearing at an alarming rate.