A guest blog from our Associate USPG
‘I wouldn’t swap the experience for anything,’ says Rebecca Boardman, who spent ten months in the Philippines with the short-term mission placement programme run by the Anglican mission agency USPG.
‘I lived in a village at one point’ she recalls. ‘I had to hand flush the toilet using bucket of water and showered by tipping buckets of water over myself – so I became very aware of how much water I was using. Also we had to burn our rubbish, so I became aware of how much I was wasting. In a very direct way I was receiving a lesson in what stewardship means.
Over the years, those taking part in USPG Journey With Us have been to countries in every continent, finding themselves helping in schools, on farms, in churches and clinics. The point is not so much about the tasks that participants might be given, but a chance to fellowship with your hosts and experience the life and mission of the local church. Rebecca believes that the placement ‘stripped me of all my usual labels. In the Philippines the people I met had no preconceptions. They just saw me for who I was, without masks, which was both challenging and refreshing.’
The USPG Journey With Us programme arranges placements of up to 12 months and is open to people from Britain and Ireland, aged 18 or over, regardless of their church background or where they are on their faith journey. No professional skills are required. There is preparation before travel, support while you are on placement, and debriefing on your return.
Rebecca has no hesitation in recommending the programme to others. ‘The preparation and training is excellent for going into a culture and context that’s new. I felt prepared to make judgements for myself and rely on my own resources. And there was good debriefing when I got back.
‘I felt stretched and refined, always with the support network of the church behind me…It made me realise that I’m part of a much bigger community – I felt a sense of connectedness that goes beyond our own small lives. I felt part of this huge thing that we call God’s mission. I also made friends for life and met people who I still consider to be role models.’
Anyone wanting to find out more about USPG Journey With Us is invited to attend an ‘Exploration Weekend’, in Birmingham, on 6-8 April 2018 or come and talk to us at Greenbelt Festival later this year! For more information or to book a place on the weekend, call Habib Nader on 0207 921 2215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at www.uspg.org.uk/journey or listen to Rebecca being interviewed by UCB Radio
Photo credit: Rebecca visiting the Banaue Rice Terraces during her placement with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, photographer Jane Macagne