Last summer (July 2014) my husband and I were part of a mission team with other adults from our church to East Tennessee. From the time the idea was mentioned, we knew we wanted to be part; we saw from the pictures that is was a beautiful part of East Tennessee, but we also learned that this area was ranked among areas with the highest poverty levels in the United States.
The teams’ roles would involve a daily feeding program for local school-aged children, as well as meal delivery to homebound senior citizens. Home repair was one of the major opportunities as was working in the ministry center’s warehouse, and, on the night before coming home, we hosted a block party for families and children in a community about 8 miles from where we stayed. There was even a very limited wellness opportunity.
It was a wonderful week. The gospel was presented through the lunch program, the home repairs and at the block party. Being the “hands and feet” of Christ was both challenging and rewarding. We came home with the same “mountain-top high experience” that most of us had experienced at youth camps and through college mission trips. We knew we had been where God planned for us to be.
That same opportunity was not open this summer and I have found myself wondering, “Why it was such an imperative to go last year, but not this?” “Why does missions look so much more appealing and needed ‘out there’ than here in my own state, my own community?” Not sure I have the answer to that question, but I do know there are mission opportunities all around – even though it is the end of the summer.
Here are 11 ideas to get out from under the steeple and out to the people.
- Help a group in your church be prepared for a mission trip – provide needed materials and supplies, sign up to be a prayer partner, give a few extra dollars to send them on their way, pray.
- Volunteer as relief help at a compassion ministry food pantry or food distribution center.
- Volunteer at a nearby church plant or ministry site to help with a back-to-school event.
- Go coastal. Look for a maritime or seafarers ministry and take a batch of homemade cookies to drop-off as you go. (This would be a great day-trip for senior adults, Women on Mission/myMission group or Sunday School class, even your teens.)
- When your family takes a weekend trip, plan to visit a ministry site or worship with a church plant on Sunday.
- Lead your church to adopt a UUPG (Unreached, Unengaged People Group) through the International Mission Board. Information is found at www.imb.org.
- Prayer walk the schools in your neighborhood in the days before school starts. Keep it up weekly during the school year and involve your children by walking on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.
- Gather the children’s gently-worn school uniform pieces and donate them to a family that needs them. Don’t forget to purchase NEW underclothes and socks to go with them.
- Pray daily for the teachers in your schools. Make it personal, “adopt” previous years’ teachers. Let him/her know that you are praying. Send a note at least once a month
- Volunteer to teach or help to lead a WMU/mission education group in your church.
- Be ready to participate in the Week of Prayer for State Missions and the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering (September 13-20) generously and willingly.