Summer Missions In Rural America 2013

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R.A.M.’s 2013 Summer Mission to Cordell and Washita County officially ended 3 weeks ago. It was our first Summer Mission and God blessed us and led us every step of the way. It was a major success, creating a model that future teams will imitate and establishing a foundation that R.A.M. will continue to build on.

 

Rural America is a special place to minister. You will hear an occasional bark of a dog or the rumble of an old beater automobile, but to the city-trained ear it is a quieter place. It takes no time to cross town and even less time to meet people. It’s common to run into them again; often. And in rural America, people remember who you are. Cordell will remember our R.A.M. team, as will Burns Flat and Dill City; smaller, yet equally important communities within Washita County that met our very own Charlie, Jordan, Josh and Quinn face to face. Both the team and the communities where they served are better than they were before they came and here’s why.

Face to face. The Kingdom of God is built through relationships. Too often, churches and we who lead them have built organizations and neglected the organism. I remember years ago someone saying that a corpse is organized. If our churches are to avoid a terminal outcome we must tend to the organism too. It begins by understanding the necessity of relationships and that these are built through face to face encounters; emboldened by the Holy Spirit and surrendered to the power of love we step out and into the lives of others, face to face. Our team of four young people did just that on multiple occasions – both collectively and individually and across a broad spectrum of humanity. (The names have been changed, but the stories are true.)

Beth & Leonard – They had been Christians for most of their adult life. Now, long retired, they frequented the Senior Center in town where lunch was served at a bargain price every weekday. The team sat across from them one lunch hour and began a discussion that they will not soon forget. Josh, one of the team wrote of their encounter, “Another thing we did today was go eat at the senior center or community center (not 100% sure what it’s called). While we were there we had a nice conversation with Leonard and Beth and learned about their history with the church and how they became Christian. One of the things that struck me was that as Christians and disciples of Jesus, we get caught up with the different denominations and how different people see things differently than others. It has been something God has been opening my eyes to, the closed-mindedness we have towards our fellow Christians.”

T.J. – When Jordan met T.J. she did not have a church to call her spiritual home. Seven years old and possessing more personality than her little frame could contain, she quickly attached herself to Jordan when the team hosted a cookout in the city park the first week of the mission. In no time she made it unquestionably clear to Jordan that they were inseparable. Jordan said, “She wouldn’t let me leave her. At one point she told me, ‘No, you’re not leaving me.’ She told me that she wanted to go to church really bad.” Needless to say, this little girl is no longer without a church home in Cordell or a new “Big Sister” who better understands Jesus’ special concern for “these little ones.”

Tom and Kate – Quinn had just arrived for the start of the mission when he had the privilege of meeting Tom & Kate moments before witnessing their spiritual rebirth. He wrote the following account of their meeting, “ . . . . . . the happiness that my new brother and sister were feeling was contagious!!! They could hardly keep still from being so happy about their decision and they had the biggest smiles that they just couldn’t keep off their faces. Then watching as Tom after having been just baptized, assisted in the baptism of his wife Kate with such pride and joy in his eyes. After they had dried off we circled up and prayed for them in their new lives, and then we sang Happy Birthday (something I had never done at a baptism) which totally makes sense because you really are reborn! So Happy Belated Birthday Tom and Kate!”

When we come face to face with people, no matter their similarity or dissimilarity to our life experiences prior, from that moment forward, we share a connection that can last a lifetime and influence an eternity. Face to face insists that we pause and listen; that we engage with those across from us with genuine concern and personal transparency. Face to face begins the journey towards life-changing relationships that are remembered long after the first meeting.

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