Today is February 20, 2018, my 25th birthday. I am thinking about how thankful I am for all I learned being a part of Global Ministries and now as I work at my return placement with the Partners in Service program. Last week, I had a Partners in Service retreat where I had a chance to both reflect on my current assignment in Kentucky and my Global Ministries assignment, in Swaziland. During this time of reflection, I understood that I gained more patience and the ability to listen from my Swaziland placement - which ultimately helped me on my return with my current assignment by understanding my place and role in an organization. In the Zion Church, I learned about the importance of prayer and disciplined meditation. Knowing your place and being present are just some of the disciplines I learned in Swaziland.
During my time in Swaziland, I worked in the Human Rights department for the Council of Swaziland Churches fighting for women and children's rights. I was also working for the “KukhanyOkusha Cares Food Initiative” through KukhanyOkusha Zion Church where we instilled hope and offered support to the caregivers and children at each location we delivered food. Lastly, I worked with the youth and attended their international youth conference. Through these experiences, I learned about everyday life and struggles of my fellow Swazi youth. I learned how laws and customs worked which I tied into spreading hope and support to those who were young and vulnerable. I learned how to inter-personally connect with my peers of all ages and to give them an open ear. With this relationship, my fellow Swazi brothers and sisters taught me so much; and I continue to share their story so we can learn and live together as one family under God.
As part of the Global Mission Intern program, I was offered a similar domestic service placement on my return of the U.S. I am currently serving USPIRITUS, located in Louisville, Kentucky. USPIRITUS is an organization that restores hope, instills confidence, furthers education, and encourages spirituality and faith through a comprehensive continuum of care for vulnerable youth and families. USPIRITUS has 160 child residents who live in assigned cottages either on the Bellewood or Brooklawn campus. USPIRITUS provides many services and resources for our children residents. We have an elementary school on Bellewood campus and a middle school/high school on Brooklawn campus.
USPIRITUS has many volunteer groups wanting to help the needs of USPIRITUS. This entails being a mentor or buddy with one on one time with an assigned child, group activities with a cottage, and organizing our donated items. I have been helping organize the donations that have been given to USPIRITUS. I have been given a high school volunteer group to help me carry out my various projects that have been assigned to me.
I am very thankful for this placement because it requires me to be a leader but also take steps back so that I can be lead. In Swaziland, I learned a lot about patience and doing what is needed for the bigger picture. I have been able to point out my mistakes and qualities I can work on to ultimately be the best I can be. My assignments have opened my eyes to what is out in the world. Thank you Global Ministries and Partners in Service for allowing me to participate in these ministries and showing me that GOD is still speaking.
In growing faith,
Stewart Barker serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Khukhan’Okusha Zion Church, Swaziland. His appointment is supported by Week of Compassion, Our Church’s Wider Mission, Disciples Mission Fund and your special gifts.