Archives For Service Projects/Ideas

Memphoplin Part 2

June 29, 2011 — Leave a comment

June 13-17 we went to one of the hardest hit areas by a tornado in half a century.  Consider some of the facts below:

  • EF5 Tornado (200+ MPH Winds) _ Now they say there may have been multiple vortexes in the tornado.
  • Deadliest Tornado in the US in over 50 years
  • Death toll is 154
  • 990 People were injured
  • Possible cost to rebuild Joplin is estimated at $3 billion.

Words cannot describe the amount of devastation we saw while we were up there.  As far as the eye could see there were homes piled up in rubble.  We saw personal belongings 30 feet up in the air on a tree.  We saw photographs of memories frozen in time yet torn apart by the storm.  We saw whole houses destroyed except for the spaces where the people were hiding for shelter.  I remember the plagues of Egypt in the book of Exodus and how much damage the plagues of hail did and I thought about that as I walked up and down the streets.

The first house we went to belonged to a lady named Laura who was a single mother of seven.  She came up to me in tears and all I could do was hug her as she wept in my arms.  As the teenagers brought rubbish within ten feet of the road her she was looking at everything she owned being placed in a pile to go off to a trash heap somewhere.  I dared not tell her “I understand what you’re going through” nor did I tell her that “everything was going to be alright.”  Somehow none of that seemed important as I felt a longing to simply hug her as she wept.  All she could say was, “Thank you…thank you…thank you!”

We spent another day putting a roof on a house and then another day cleaning trees and shrubs at a location that was going to house mobile homes for people who were displaced.  It was tiring, back-breaking work but it felt like only a drop in the bucket.  I shared with then teenagers about a story with my children.  In our living room there is a section that has books where they can read or ask us to read them should they choose.  Often they decide to throw the books all over the floor and then pile up other toys and it is not long that our living room looks like a disaster.  Now, we always ask them to clean up and their response (usually Madelyn) is: “There is too much to clean we can’t do it!”

Now kids are prone to exaggeration but admittedly to a three year old a pile of books and toys seems like an insurmountable achievement.  When they respond to me like they did I usually tell them, “Start with this book.  Start with that toy.”  I told the teenagers this story because I wanted them to know that their work was not in vain.  No, we did not fix Joplin over night and we didn’t even finish cleaning some of the houses we started.  But…we started with that pice of trash and then did what we could.

Joplin needs your prayers, your help and your assistance.  Below is a YouTube clip of a person experiencing the tornado first hand in a gas station.  It is well worth your attention.  Blessings.



June 21, 2010 — 1 Comment

Can I give you a hug?

This has been such a wonderful experience and I am glad our Backyard Mission Trip was such a success.  This week we had about 15 regular workers and we worked probably 35 hours so we totalled 420 man hours of service.  Thursday, because of the morning rain, we decided to make cards for our widows and widowers.  I thought that we would miss the point of service if we did not serve our own people in some capacity.  In the afternoon we picked up trash on Main Street’s Adopt-a-Highway section of 431.  Trash was wet and it was slow going but we picked up close to 50 bags. 

Friday we spent the morning painting a lady’s porch who had heard that a group from Main Street was helping folks so she gave us a call on Thursday.  She said her friend had received our help and wondered if we could do the same.  Inevitably when people see you doing good things that want to participate and this lady was elderly so we painted her porch.  Perhaps she was looking for a way to have her porch painted for free but you are not the judge nor am I so we simply served. 

After that we did a little “house-cleaning” and washed the bus (inside and out) and cleaned some things around the church property.  Technically we closed the day by moving watermelons and breaking a couple because of our clumsy tendencies but that is ok 🙂 

I think this was an amazing opportunity for us as a group to grow closer and to serve.  Youth Ministers if you are struggling with unity and want to find a way to bring each other together then something like this may be for your group.  When a group works together they have to shed their pride, egos and laziness otherwise the work will not get done.  This was truly a good week. 

Thank you Youth Group for being amazing and being so spiritually in tune with God and His Word.  Thank you parents, cooks and prayer partners who all made this happen.  Deo gratias!

Magazine Illustration of Thanksgiving Dinner at the Five Points Ladies' Home Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church

The above image is a magazine illustration of thanksgiving dinner at the Five Points Ladies’ Home Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1865.  What a feast it must have been!!!  This past Wednesday night the Main Street and 19th Avenue churches of Christ embarked on a mission to feed members of the community in an effort to provide a good meal for people who would not ordinarily have received one.  Members in our congregations offered to cook various portions of the meal and then all of the food was then brought to the Main Street fellowship hall.  We made announcements and passed out cards in the community and on that day over 500 people received a plate from our congregations.  500!!!  Many congregations have done similar acts of service with the same success but, as far as I know, this has never been done in the history of the Main Street church of Christ (I am not sure about 19th Avenue).  I think of the verse in Matthew 25 where Jesus says:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  (Matthew 25:34-36)

I was so impressed with the response by our congregation to feed those who needed it.  They did it not because they were guilted into it nor did they do it because it was a marketing campaign to get the name of Main Street or 19th Avenue out into the community.  They did it because out of the overflow of their resources the congregations decided to give back to those who needed it the most.  I was also impressed with the collaboration between the sister churches of Main Street and 19th Avenue.  I am not sure what the situation is like where you are at but it seems that in Robertson County we have not maximized our potential of working together with other sister congregations in the county.  This was an effort to combine resources (drop egos) and to give God the glory as we work to feed people and give them the basic necessities to live. 

I am honored to be associated with these churches and I am proud that you continually show me new things and new ways to reach out in service.  Our work is not done though as we have only just begun to break through this community.  I look forward to many things from Main Street and 19th Avenue to see them change lives and change hearts.  Deo Gratias!

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  (Isaiah 1:16-17)

Many of you have already planned your summer and the Main Street congregation is in the process of doing so but we are doing things radically different this summer.  I get tired of doing the same things over and over again and it is time we see a change in the way we do things.  Instead of the high-powered, high-financed mission trips many ministries normally take we are doing something different this year.  I am calling it, to steal a term from a book, Main Street’s 2009 Backyard Mission Trip!  I have always thought to myself, “Why do we go and do mission trips in far off places in the world and in the United States when there is so much to do in the cities we live in?”  The answer is that there is a lot of people who need help and, probably more so, need our financial resources.  So these mission trips are an awesome thing but it removes the personal touch and contact with those people. 

Why not do a mission trip in your own city?  The cost would be cheap (sleep in your own house!), there would be people who would know who you were and it would allow you to contact people in an ongoing basis.  I have not organized all of the details but here are some things I envision us doing:

  • Door-knocking…no it is NOT an effective way to do evangelism BUT it does let people know we are in the community.  This means we would also offer Bible studies, meals, worship, tutoring, painting, mowing the lawn, etc.  To let them know that we apologize for being in the community but not being a presence in the community. 
  • Volunteer at a local food pantry.
  • Help at a local youth camp to serve (Youth Encouragment Services)
  • Clean up the highway. 
  • Wash windows
  • Free Car wash
  • Handing out bottles of water
  • Encourage a local congregation (other than our own) by leading the services (Sunday and Wednesday).     
  • Visit the people in the hospital who are sick and recovering. 
  • Visit and sing for those in the nursing home. 

There will be more but this is a start.  Andrew Rushing (my intern) and I will be planning this event rigorously in the next few weeks.  I am excited about this.  Here is a sample schedule:

  • 8am-8:30am:  Morning Devotional
  • 8:30am-11:30am:  Doorknocking
  • 11:30am-12:00pm:  Process
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch 
  • 1:00pm-4:30pm:  Service Project
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm:  Process
  • 5:30pm-6:30pm:  Dinner
  • 6:30pm-8:00pm:  Worship
  • 8:15pm:  Dismiss to Homes

Keep in mind this is a rough schedule but looks to be a fun, hands-on, inexpensive way of helping our community!  Stay tuned for more details…