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United Methodist agency starts missionary campaign



Beth Ferrell, who has served as a missionary in Mozambique and Sierra Leone, speaks about her experiences during the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries meeting. A UMNS photo by Cassandra Heller.













By Linda Bloom*
April 30, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)

Twenty years ago, life circumstances led Beth Ferrell to consider a career as a missionary.

Then 48, she was working as a nurse at a small rural hospital in East Central Ohio. Her children were grown and her husband and four close relatives had died over the previous six years. In search of a change, she was accepted for missionary service with three different organizations.

She chose the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and served the church in Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

Ferrell is the type of "called, committed and competent" person that the mission agency is looking for in its new missionary campaign, according to the Rev. Edith Gleaves, head of mission personnel for the board. "Ultimately, this campaign should bring us more people like Beth," she said.

The campaign, called "The Face of Today's Missionary: Is It Yours?," was launched during the April 23-26 spring meeting of the Board of Global Ministries.

Applicants are needed for a variety of service categories and work, including evangelism, education, church development, agriculture, financial administration, medical care and legal services. Many of the assignments are outside the United States.

Whether serving, supporting or praying, everyone can be involved in missionary work, according to Farrell, now a mission interpreter for the denomination's North Central Jurisdiction. "I strongly believe that all Christians and all United Methodists are missionaries," she said.

Farrell became a nursing supervisor at the United Methodist-related Chicuque Hospital in Mozambique in 1988 during the African country's long civil war. The hospital itself was attacked in 1991 and, though she had to figure out which way the bullets were flying, she believed she was where God wanted her.

While in Mozambique, she discovered her passion for community-based health -- a passion she carried in late 2001 to a small rural clinic in Sierra Leone. "I was in a post-war situation very similar to Mozambique," she said.

A new category for missionary service is global health missionaries. The first six missionaries in that category will be commissioned in Ghana in May.

“We need hospital- and clinic-based medical personnel and we need persons who are skilled in the techniques of community-based health…”
–The Rev. R. Randy Day

Such service might be attractive to young people just entering the medical professions or those in their mature years, according to the Rev. R. Randy Day, the board's chief executive.

"We need hospital- and clinic-based medical personnel and we need persons who are skilled in the techniques of community-based health, the model we are using in malaria and AIDS prevention and treatment," he told board directors.

Although missionary recruitment and placement slowed over the past few years because of financial constraints, nine church and community workers were commissioned during the board meeting and 16 traditional or "standard support" missionaries will be commissioned in May. Twenty short-term young adults will be commissioned in July.

The Board of Global Ministries currently has some 220 standard support missionaries, with partial financial support provided to another 120 people. Another 100 are "non-commissioned" mission personnel, and the agency helps to support 293 "persons in mission" selected by partner churches around the world.

Detailed information on the recruitment campaign can be found at www.ummissionaries.org in five languages: English, French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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