If you have not yet heard, our Student Ministry just completed another very successful High School Mission Trip to Bogalusa, LA. Over 100 students and adults expended their blood (many cuts to prove it), sweat (100 degrees and 100 % humidity) and tears (of joy) with the unified focus to revitalize Bogalusa and themselves. The trip was successful, but unfinished. Why? Because revitalization requires relationships, and relationships take time to grow.
This is the second year we have joined with the people of Bogalusa, and immediately upon arrival it was evident that strong bonds were formed last year and held through the long absence. Church leaders greeted us with welcoming arms. Local kids, with the excitement of Christmas morning, searched out our students from last year then tackled them with a bear hug. Residents who had received home repairs told stories of better living conditions and regular church attendance. We were excited to dive in and pick up where we left off.
This year we worked work with four churches, city officials and a nonprofit to lead VBS, repair houses and host a baseball tournament. The VBS attendance grew from forty students on Tuesday to eighty students by Thursday, and despite a monsoon rain for the first hour of the Thursday evening baseball tournament, residents came out to cheer on the kids, eat jambalaya, and enjoy their community.
Our students and leaders learned that it is not just about building a wheelchair ramp, fixing a roof, teaching baseball or even telling a Bible story, but more importantly, it’s loving on a community, helping them heal and building relationships that don’t just change Bogalusa, but everyone on the trip. Yes, they will change because of home improvements and a tighter community, but what makes real, everlasting change, is when they hear and understand our real reason for being there, to share the saving power of the Gospel.
If you want to find out how you can get involved is mission work, local, regional or international, with children, students or adults, please contact Steve Ryan.
If you have been in the church recently, you may have noticed many of the staff moving offices. These changes have been made for various reasons, but the end goal is to create a more efficient and focused staff to serve our congregation and community. For us, the church, to accomplish this, we need more help from people like you.
Cathe Skinner, who has been on the Outreach team for over nine years, has moved over to the North Campus. She is now working with Student Ministry, Recreation Ministry and Modern Worship. Along with this move, she just successfully launched Christ Centered Yoga classes on Mondays at 6pm and Wednesdays at 9am. Email Cathe at .
Pauline Rodrigues, who has been working in the Front Office and with Discipleship, is now working with Outreach. Jessica Caccamese, who at one time or another had about every job on staff (outside of preaching) is moving from full to part-time to take on a new task as Servant Coordinator. In this position, she will work with the church’s ministries to help the congregation identify their gifts and passions and then connect them with service opportunities. Debra Harris has moved from her long-time position in Children’s Ministry to lead the Hospitality Ministry.
Through all of these changes, we want and need our congregation to take a more active role. We need people that have the passion to serve our neighbors (near and far). We are looking to build and strengthen committees in the areas of foster/adopt, refugees, disaster response, school/education, missionaries, CAM, military and many other needs. If you feel led to serve in any of these Outreach areas, please reach out. We will find a place for you. Please Contact Steve Ryan.
You have probably heard about the toll Hurricane Harvey took on the Houston area and Coastal Bend, but did you know that over 6000 houses were flooded in the Rio Grande Valley in June? Probably not, because, due to the reporting of the border controversy, the flooding has not made the news. As of the end of July, only a few hundred of the houses had mitigation work complete (removing drywall, insulation and other water soaked items from the house).
To help these families, you don’t need any expertise, just the desire to serve. If you are already ERT (early response team) trained and current (3 years from training), you can spend from a day to a week in RGV (McAllen, Weslaco and Mercedes) working with a team. If you are not ERT, you can sign up for training on the RIO Texas Disaster Response website and be ready to respond for the next event. The next two training events in San Antonio are September 6 and October 20.
If you can’t swing a hammer, run a saw or climb a ladder, don’t worry. We need people on the team that stay on the ground, talk to the homeowner and ensure the team is well hydrated and safe; the only skill required is love and attention. You will still be required to complete the background check and take the ERT class to better understand the process and rules.
If you still want to serve, but don’t want to take the ERT class, the Harvey impact area is calling your name. There are three to five years of work still to be completed. Support has transitioned from the response to recovery phase. Serving in the Harvey impact zone, with the Methodist Church, only requires that the team lead is VIM (volunteer in mission) trained. If you get five or more friends together to serve, I’ll find you a VIM Team Leader, a place to work and a place to stay. Just like ERTs, there are no special construction skills required to be on a recovery team. If ten of our high school students can repair a metal roof or build an ADA wheelchair ramp in Bogalusa, LA (see the first article), our adults can hang drywall, install a floor or lay shingles (or support those that are doing the work). Most of the people I have worked with in the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley areas are in their sixties and seventies. If you need more information or want to serve, send Steve Ryan an email.