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Volunteers Make It Work - Part 2

Recently, Vernon B Parmenter, Editor of Mission Post, sat down with Matthew A Bediako, Secretary of the General Conference, and asked him about a trip he made to the GMM in the South Pacific where he contacted numerous volunteer missionaries serving as teachers in SDA schools.

VBP: Do you have any idea of what the standard of education is like in these schools where our volunteers serve?

MAB: I can tell you that our schools are much better than many of the public schools and even some of the private schools. Many of the students go on to study in United States colleges and universities. Although most of our volunteers are not qualified teachers, having completed only half of their studies, they are doing an excellent work.

VBP: What kind of preparation do these volunteer missionaries receive to prepare them for missionary service? What kind of condition do our volunteers live under and how do they survive financially?

MAB: Apart from the academic preparation, they take cross-cultural classes. They read the book Passport to Mission, which is read by all missionaries, and many attend special classes in college or university to prepare them for service. And their accommodation is usually adequate but probably nothing like it is at home and they get enough money to buy their food.

VBP: You met a number of these volunteer missionaries. Was there anything about them, that you observed, which made an impression on you? I imagine that you visited in their classrooms and saw them in action and met some of their students. Is there anything that stands out in your mind that you would like to share with us about this experience?

MAB: I cannot say enough about the sacrificial and dedicated spirit I found among the volunteers. Not even one complained to me about the work load or their living conditions. They would like to see us improve the orientation we provide. They wish it could be done in their local work area. Yes, I visited their classrooms and they were full of energy and all kinds of ideas. What really impressed me was how they are able to get those kids to behave. I also observed that in some places, parents would look through the windows, attracted to what the children were doing.

VBP: Did you have the opportunity to listen to some of the missionary experiences of our volunteers that you would like to share with us?

MAB: Oh, yes! We heard a lot of stories of what the Lord is doing in their own lives. Perhaps on another occasion we can share some of those stories. I think what impressed me is that many of them would like to extend their stay. Some of the volunteers I talked to inquired about the preparations needed for long-term mission service.

VBP: What has this trip done for you personally, and would you encourage our young people to take a year off to serve in the Guam Micronesia Mission?

MAB: I have mentioned this before, but let me tell you again. I needed this trip. I needed it to keep me focused on the mission of the Church. There is nothing more uplifting than to see young people taking seriously the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. One thing I know for sure is that God is working. I am going to Korea and other places to visit my volunteers.

Yes, I wish I could visit all of our institutions and churches to tell of the need for volunteers, not only in the Guam Micronesia Mission, but throughout the world. Without these volunteers, we may have to close down some of our schools. And the question is, where will these children experience a Christian education?

I believe it's about time our youth and young adults are given the opportunity to give one or two years of their life serving others. And that time is now. I am looking forward to the launching of the program "HisHands" which will give every member of the Church this opportunity.

I salute our volunteers for who they are and for what they are doing for their Lord.

Matthew A Bediako
General Conference Secretary

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Matthew A Bediako, Secretary of the General Conference Outdoor classroom in Guam