I was in middle school when my home congregation partnered with a local Roman Catholic Congregation to feed and house the homeless. My family and I went to buy the food, and then we met others from our groups at the Catholic Church to prepare the evening meal. The Youth Group and my mother's Sunday School class served the meal that evening. It was salad, spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread, and ice tea. As the adults and older students worked in the kitchen; the middle schoolers were the servers. Table after table, I served up pasta dishes, and then something completely unexpected happened. "Oh hey, Brian." The voice that came across the table was one that I knew well, since it was my Uncle Wayne (my grandmother's brother). I was a little shocked to see Wayne, because I knew he did not have a car and that we did not bring him. "Hi, what are you doing here?" I asked. "I am staying here this week, its much better than the cold, "said Wayne. That was it, and the conversation was over. He began to eat, and I walked away. That was the day that I learned an important lesson: mission is about people.
Missions are about people and transforming lives, but because missions are planned by and fulfilled by imperfect people, there will be mistakes that happen. But from time to time, we make mistakes are the results of a misunderstanding of principles of missions.
Many times the way we talk about missions and service-based ministries are not helpful. Many times as people discuss or present about various missions the presenter will talk about either how much stuff needs to be collected (this includes money given) and/or celebrating how much they did previously. Here is the problem with this: The Mission is about people; missions are about people. It is not about how much we collected, but what is about is the impact that we have on the lives of others. I have honestly no idea how much food was donated to Community's Beach Bag program in 2015-2016 academic year; but I know that 30 elementary school children had food to eat over the weekend. 30 students lives are at least a little bit better, because we cared enough to use the human, financial, and material resources at our disposal to make sure a grocery bag of food made it to College Park Elementary.
Missions is about Loving People
Whether it is volunteering on your own or you participating in the service-based ministries at Community UMC, missions is about loving people. It is about the compassion and empathizing with the situation of others and responding to their needs. An essential element to every mission is connecting and building relationships with those your are serving and those with whom you are collaborating to make an impact in the lives of others.
Responding to the Call of God
Living out our faith in mission is an essential part of the Christian experience, every Christians should be expected to participate in missions. This does not mean you have to go to Africa or South America. There are people who need to be loved on right here in Virginia Beach. God is calling us to live a life of mission and service, and this can and does happen right here in Virginia Beach (Click here for more info on local missions). If you would like more information about the impact we are having in the region (Click here for more info on regional missions). If you would like more information about our international missions in South Sudan and Chile please contact Jan Hurd (South Sudan) or Paul Steel (Chile). I cannot list all of the ways that you could be involved in missions here at Community, but I hope and pray that you will consider how God is calling you to serve through the ministries of Community and beyond.
Grace and Peace be with you