myMISSION Blog

If the Shoe Fits

Have you ever considered using shoes to help your friends discover their niche in missions by finding “what fits” their interests, lifestyles, and abilities?

God intends for each of us to find a place of service. Plan a gathering that focuses on learning about local missions opportunities as well as overseas missions efforts.

Step-by-Step To-Do List for an “If the Shoe Fits” Affair

• Publicize your event; ask women to wear a pair of shoes that best match their personality.

• Decide on a take-home gift or door prize that’s shoe related.

• Set up displays featuring local ministries or outreach events and create a display of shoes to match each. (Example: Display white tennis shoes for a healthcare ministry, children’s shoes for ministry to schools, or boots for a disaster relief ministry.)

• If your church has a missions trip planned, create a display with a map and a list of items the team will need.

• Preselect three women to briefly share about their involvement in various local ministries or missions efforts.

 

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The Least Likely Listener

In high school, I was part of the Vacation Bible School team during my church’s missions trip to Latvia. In America, I could do VBS backward, forward, and practically in my sleep. However, I didn’t know how VBS would work in another country since the children spoke a different language and we had to use a translator.

I could tell so many stories from that trip, but I’ll tell you about Olaf. Olaf was the cutest kid there ever was. He was three years old—really too young for our VBS camp—and he was a mess. He could ransack an entire classroom in less than a minute, and he loved to wrestle with anyone and everyone.

We quickly realized that we needed someone on “Olaf duty” almost all the time. We kept Olaf with the other children as long as possible, but if he became too distracting, we had to take him to a separate room.

Although we loved this adorable child, he did present a barrier to the effectiveness of our VBS “system.” Was he even old enough to understand what was going on?

So Far, So Good?

How’s your summer so far?

So far, I’ve had a picnic, seen a movie, slept in at least once, and hung out with friends. Thankfully, I love my job so I actually enjoy going to work, but I love getting off work as well to step into nature for at least a bit before dinner.

And then there’s the trip planning. Guess where I went? I was able to share about myMISSION at the WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri. What an amazing opportunity! So many things were going on—evangelism and service opportunities in the city, reports from all the missions agencies, connections with friends both new and old, fun food to try, and different sessions to hear more about missions. We prayed and worshipped together, attended breakout sessions for different age groups, and found out about opportunities to jump into all year long. I loved getting to talk with people about where God is leading them and what missions opportunities they are seeking. We are celebrating all that God is doing in our world.

No Sweeter Name

Jesus.

A name with a variety of thoughts, connotations, and feelings attached to it. In our culture, we hear the name used in slang or as a swear word. The name evokes opinions and thoughts as to who He was in history and, for Christians, what He means to them presently.

Many of us have grown up our whole lives hearing this name, whether it was in a church setting or in passing conversations.

We pulled into the village, unloaded our belongings at our hut compound and began to walk around meeting our new neighbors.

The desert sand was soft underneath my worn out sandals as they pressed down with each step sinking. Step after step we approached a smaller cluster of huts to introduce ourselves.

“Hi, my name is Abigail. I am from America and we are going to live in your village this summer to tell you about Jesus.” I spouted off in her language joyfully as I met the apprehensive villager staring back at me.

“Who?”

Missions Focus

A few years ago I went to Sochi, Russia, with a diverse team of women to help a local church with a special celebration of International Women’s Day. Nearly 100 women gathered at the church for music, crafts, games, and food. We encouraged the women of the church with our testimonies of God’s goodness and shared God’s love with women who would not normally be in a church.

In some ways the experience reminded me of my days as an Acteen®. One summer we traveled to New Orleans for an Activators trip. One of our assignments at the Baptist Friendship House was helping with an event for women in need. The small number of women who attended participated in cake decorating classes and Bible study while we took care of their children.

Another Activators trip involved leading Vacation Bible School in Chicago. I remember Backyard Bible Clubs in college and other trips, experiences, and projects throughout my life.

Lessons from Mexico

During my time in seminary, I had the opportunity to go to Mexico as a translator for a missions trip. The youth pastor from my former church was leading a group of teenagers, and he asked me to go along because I knew the students in the group and because I studied Spanish for 8 years. This trip was my first missions trip, as well as my first opportunity to leave the country. I was 24 years old and wasn’t married or a mom yet.

Since it was my first missions trip, I didn’t know what to expect from the week. I knew that it was going to be challenging: I was spending a week with teenagers in a foreign country that didn’t speak my native language. I was excited about the trip, but I was nervous as well. My inexperience made me feel vulnerable and insecure, not the most comforting situation to be in when you have a Type A personality like me. So, I was out of my comfort zone. However, God stretched me during that week in ways that have eternal implications. Here’s what I learned on my Mexico missions trip:

• They don’t teach “Christianese” in Spanish class.

Reaching the Nations Through VBS

It’s summertime, which means Vacation Bible School time! This time of year is a hot mess of decorating, planning, recruiting volunteers, and passing out flyers as many churches prepare to welcome a small army of little people and engage them with the gospel for a week. If you’re a part of VBS, you know it is exciting and exhausting. It is also an evangelistic effort with kingdom implications.

Our church is nestled in the heart of the Hispanic community in Oklahoma City. Every year, we have a unique opportunity to interact with another culture through VBS. Many children from the Hispanic families in the neighborhood surrounding the church attend our VBS, and it affords us an avenue for connecting with these families. Many of these families would probably not cross the threshold of our church doors otherwise.

The Mission of Summer

Summer is advancing on us with warmer days, tank tops, and cookouts. Summertime is typically a change in our routines. It’s time for family vacations, church activities at the parks, and, for some of us, summer missions trips.

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you have a heart for the world and for serving the community around you. Maybe God has called you to a specific people group, demographic, or ministry to volunteer in or partner with in your community. Maybe this summer is a time where you are gearing up to go on a missions trip to the other side of the world or lead a team to a place you have been visiting for years.

Even though we have a heart for the world, sometimes our life circumstances don’t allow us to board a 747 for Asia. Maybe you have a full-time job that keeps tight reign on your vacation hours, maybe you have aging parents, or maybe you’re like me and my third-trimester self who won’t be boarding a plane anywhere unless it’s going to the labor unit at a hospital.

Let It Go

Have you ever listened to a song that completely changed an everyday phrase?

For example, now you can barely say “Hello,” without someone breaking into song. (“It’s me. I’ve been wondering . . . ”)

You get the idea. Or what about, “Tell me what you want.” (“What you really, really want!”)

Perhaps my favorite phrase to sing is “Let It Go,” from Frozen. While Elsa’s song is quite dramatic, “let it go” is a statement that applies to multiple areas of real life.

One of the hardest things for me to “let go” is attempting to control the future. College is full of big decisions that lead to big life changes. Sometimes the world makes us feel like we should already have a 30-year life plan. Meanwhile, we’re just trying to make it through a tough semester.

Jesus has some practical advice for us. He said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:27 NIV).

Summer Plans

Summer . . . plans. Really? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Summer is not supposed to be about plans. It’s about not having to have a plan! Or at least I used to think so. I guess summer as a grown-up isn’t always quite that free. I remember the feeling of getting out of the last day of school without a care in the world. I had nothing to do and no expectations—just rest, TV, making up games in the yard, or spending time with my grandparents. It was awesome, for a while. It didn’t take long to find out that there were still household chores to do, some expectations of others, and, in the South, a humid heat that drains your energy. Oh, and boredom, sunburns, and mosquitos.

I didn’t make plans back then but I’m pretty sure someone was making them. Summers are pretty awesome, but maybe having a plan isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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