Lily Jones poses for a photo after being commissioned as a UM Global Mission Fellow. Photos courtesy of Lily Jones' Facebook page.
“I did not know that there was surfing in Northern Ireland. I had no idea. It truly is a fresh expression of church, to connect surfing and faith,” says Lily Jones, who is headed to serve The United Methodist Church in Northern Ireland.
Lily Jones, a recent graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University, and a newly commissioned United Methodist Global Mission Fellow is going surfing for Jesus. Jones will be serving The Surf Project, a fun, relaxed, and creative space for people to explore the Christian faith in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
A United Methodist Global Mission Fellow is commissioned to walk alongside and partner with agencies and ministries all over the world. There are 56 UM Global Mission Fellows this year. Six are from the United States, and 50 are from other places across the globe.
“I had been looking for some missionary opportunity and did not want to do it alone,” says Jones. “I needed support. I wanted to serve somewhere that aligned with my values. I was talking with Dr. Alisha Vincent, DWU non-profit advisor, and she connected me with an e-mail that she learned about through Rev. Rebecca Trefz—The UM Global Mission Fellows program.”
Jones completed the application process in February and was selected for a placement. The site that mission fellows are selected or chose for assignment is based on questions in the application process. Candidates answer questions like: What type of service do you like to do? What are your values?
Candidates and mission agencies interview with each other says Jones. “You are selecting them as much as they are selecting you. I had my doubts. Once I got my placement and learned more, I was sure,” she says.
Campers at The Surf Project show off their boards in Northern Ireland. Photo courtesy of the Surf Project Facebook page.
The Surf Project is part of the United Kingdom and where there are lots of politics around religion among Catholics and protestants. “The church has hurt a lot of people,” says Jones. “So, the Surf Project talks about God and invites people to faith outside of the church. It is not a forced religion. It is an organization that is affiliated with The United Methodist Church. They do things like give surf lessons, surfing retreats, small groups, kids surf camp. They have a lot of work retreats. They connect people to God and faith through surfing. “
In some ways The Surf Project is a lot like Fusion UMC. The Fusion congregation has nurtured Lily while receiving her undergraduate degree at Dakota Wesleyan University, in Mitchell, South Dakota. They are both fresh expressions of faith. Fusion blends the college community with the overall Mitchell community through service and worship.
“I want to be a bridge that builds community and connects people to faith,” says Jones, who has actively contributed to many ministries at Fusion UMC. “Fusion has helped me experience that community is a key part of building your relationship with God.”
While in Ireland, Jones hopes to explore God’s call for her life. “I have a slightly different way of looking at my calling. Calling is about your relationship with God. We are all meant to serve God. We need to be open to wherever God calls us. We are his. After we form that relationship, we are all called to live out his love. We are called to live it out in different ways. Living out our call takes nurture, patience, perseverance,” she says.
Being a Global Mission Fellow is one step along the way of living out her call. Jones hopes to build community and relationships with God and others while at The Surf Project.
In Northern Ireland for two years, Lily will need support for her and her family. “I ask for your prayers. This is the first time that my family and I will experience this kind of separation, I know I will be homesick,” she says.
Your donations fund the Global Missions Fellow program. Individuals and congregations can donate online here.
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