Its been about a week and a half since Cokes Chapel, Cornerstone, Senoia and Newnan UMCs came together for a weekend River of Life mission trip.
Its hard to explain what happens on a mission trip. There are so many different variables involved that just trying to come up with a description is overwhelming.
But here are a few highlights. First the numbers:
- The event was 17 months in the making.
- There were 288 hours of planning.
- 72 hours of a prayer vigil that included 4 states.
- 427 work hours (just in one day!).
- 63 facility hours.
- 92 kitchen hours.
- The kitchen prepared 52 lbs of meat.
- 180 pancakes.
- 112 gallons of beverages.
- 20 lbs of fruit. 12 were actually consumed. 2 were juggled.
- There were 40 students.
- 6 worksites. (5 non-profits and 1 private home)
- Infinite number of lives changed.
Of course it isn't about the numbers. What was most impressive were the stories that the students told as they came back. When we started planning the event, we thought we would be working on houses but as we got closer we discovered that the biggest need at the time was at non-profit locations. We were helping places that were helping others.We were working in our county so all of our mission sites served others in the local area. As the work teams came back, we discovered that their experience helped them learn about the community in which they lived. Many students didn't realize how much it cost to go to the doctor. Others were shocked at the number of homeless children in our county. Some discovered the importance of a safe place for those who experience abuse in their home.
One story in particular hit me right in the heart. One of our students came into my office and looked troubled. He really enjoyed his work site at Bridging the Gap, a non-profit that distributes food, toiletries, and household items each Saturday. He was so convicted by their work that he wanted to know why we weren't doing the same thing out of our church. He kept asking, "Why can't we do that here?" As we began to talk further, we felt the Holy Spirit moving in our conversation and convicting us to move forward in weekly mission out of our facility.
There's no telling what you'll discover when you become the hands and feet of Jesus. Each time you step out on faith is a journey that can take you on an adventure beyond what we can fathom.
The theme for our weekend was "Thankful." Words can't express how thankful we are for:
- our students
- their leaders
- the experience of churches working together as one
- the mission sites we served
- the people we met
- the stories we heard
- the experience of mission
- the messages during worship (from Chris Mucha at Fayetteville FUMC)
- the music that spoke to us (from Newnan UMC's praise band)
- the food that nourished us
- the warm floors that we slept on
- the families and homes we returned to
As we continue to hear stories from these students, we know that God is with us and is continuing to call us to work with Him to make disciples and transform the world.
Until Everyone Hears,