How are we connected?
Among EM's greatest assets is its growing network. Often poverty and hardship exist because people lack connections to those with resources. Human nature is such that most people with excess resources are generous with their family and friends, but they are less likely to give without some sort of personal connection. This simple principle dictates that we can assist those in need by enabling them to build genuine relationships with those who live in abundance. This demonstrates the value of networking.
An example of this is homelessness in the United States. How can so much homelessness exist in a country as prosperous as the US? Having worked with various inner-city rescue missions and recovery programs, we have seen firsthand that in many cases people are homeless because they have either lost or severed every relationship that was available to them. Similarly, people in impoverished countries often remain poor because they have no connections beyond their own governments, which may be corrupt or lacking in resources themselves. For this reason, our developing web of relationships between churches, families, individuals, nonprofit organizations, and underdeveloped communities provides a foundation for our future goals.
In short-term missions, EM partners with many churches, parachurch organizations, and nonprofits. In fact, we have recruited volunteers from over 300 churches and organizations in 44 states and over 850 cities. This growing network of partners is a key to the past, present, and future success of Experience Mission.
Teams Network Map
We also work closely with several universities to offer students a college accredited internship. At Indiana Wesleyan University, EM has a partnership with the Leadership Department, and they have offered two consecutive courses using the EM Model of Mutual Influence culminating in a real life leadership experience in Costa Rica.
Staff Network Map
In urban partner communities, EM works with a number of local organizations. In the past, we have worked with Union Gospel Mission of Seattle, Northwest Harvest Food bank of Washington State, Habitat for Humanity, the Affordable Housing Initiative of Atlanta, Catholic Community Services of Seattle, and Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne, the Root Cellar in Portland, Maine, and the Salvation Army of Atlanta. Through its partnership with the Salvation Army, EM has touched the lives of hundreds of youth in Colony South Trailer Park in Atlanta’s Lakewood neighborhood, and EM has met with Salvation Army Corps leaders on other major cities who are interested in a partnership as well.
In rural domestic communities, EM normally works closely with a key community partner. In West Virginia, we serve with long time missionaries Jack and Brenda Fultz of the School for Life. On the Navajo reservation, we partner with local pastors and churches to identify projects and accommodate volunteers. Most of these connections were made through Many Waters Mission. Following Hurricane Katrina, EM sent hundreds volunteers to Pearlington, Mississippi for three summers to assist the Pearlington Recovery Center in relief efforts.
Some of EM's longest standing partnerships are international communities. In Ruiz, Mexico, Executive Director Chris Clum has been working with local churches for almost 25 years. He has partnered with local leaders and continues to maintain an excellent standing relationship with the local government. While the community has been through multiple pastors and mayors, Clum has been a constant presence through World Servants and now Experience Mission. EM currently partners with a local church in Catadupa, Jamaica, and Clum has known the local pastor for approximately 15 years. Finally, in Tecate, Mexico, Clum and his wife Kristy have been working with local resident Anna Teyechea since 1991.
EM is also in the early stages of partnership with other international communities. In Costa Rica, we work with the Bribri and Cabecar tribes through relationships with the governing council and have also established relationships directly with some remote villages in the interior portion of the indigenous territory. In Honduras, we work in two small neighboring villages called Junquillo and Ocotal. EM staff members traveled to these communities in 2008 where they were welcomed and invited to a community meeting to discuss how EM could help with community needs. Beginning in 2011, we will be partnering with Every Home for Christ to recruit teams to serve in 5 countries in Africa.
The Community Affiliate Program is essentially the maturing and formalization of EM's developing community network. It will be designed to assist those in underdeveloped communities with training, resources, and support so that they are enabled to improve their communities. Affiliate communities will have their own board of directors and will serve as leaders to help determine how our volunteer teams and other resources can best serve struggling families and individuals in their region. All affiliate communities will be unified by a covenant that will embody a set of shared goals and values consistent with the EM Model for Mutual Influence and the Model for Sustainable Change.
A component of the Affiliate Program will also be education and encouragement for individual community leaders. There are many leaders faithfully serving their communities who lack training and support. Through the program a network of leaders from various backgrounds will help connect each other to invaluable resources such as training in business, medicine, community development, and pastoral ministry.
Community Network Map