by Mary Flickinger
Gateway is a church that sends its members out on mission. I was recently blessed to attend the Judean Missions Trip to Louisville, Kentucky. This was an opportunity to learn to profess your faith to others and help build His kingdom. I had never been a part of a mission trip like this. I only knew a couple people on the trip initially, and didn’t know them well. By the time we returned to Findlay on Saturday night I felt a strong bond with all of them.
We took a very comfortable bus down to Louisville. There we met a group from Knoxville, Tennessee. Most all of them had been on Judean Missions Trips in the past. They served as mentors to us. It was such a blessing to listen and learn from experienced believers expressing their faith. They demonstrated how to naturally, and in a caring way, begin conversations with new people, show them genuine care, and when possible, share the good news of the Gospel. We listened to their concerns, prayed for them and helped them as best we could. I was able to walk with three different mentors the first day. It was interesting to learn their faith journeys as well.
One man’s story really touched my heart. He had grown up in a broken family, but his mother was a strong woman and set a good example for him. He began drinking and doing drugs at a young age. He was involved in automobile accidents, and nearly lost his life. One accident caused him to go blind. His father and brother both died of alcohol related diseases. In the accident in which he lost his sight, he had a spiritual awakening. He could have lost his will to live when he lost his sight. Instead, he found purpose. He got his GED, bachelor degree, and master degree in counseling specifically with people who have addiction issues!! He now acts as a mentor for men in the AA program. He gives his testimony often in a variety of settings. The Lord put him in my pathway to see tragedy turned around for His glory.
In the evening, and the next morning we participated in a study called The Explicit Gospel. It reinforced the need for all of us to go forth and spread the gospel. We had praise and worship time which was delightful.
In the morning, we drove to the Wayside Mission. We were given options to serve at the mission. Some people helped sort food, did dishes, served food, visited with residents in different areas and played praise and worship music in the dining hall. I chose to go out to the playground area. There weren’t any children in the playground area, but there was a woman sitting at a picnic table eating. I sat down with her, and she began talking to me. She related that she had had children at a very young age. Her oldest son had a physical disability. He had recently died. Her story was very touching. I was able to comfort and pray for her. She introduced me to other ladies on the playground, and they related their stories. I felt blessed beyond belief. Many knew the gospel, but were hesitant to trust anyone.
At lunch time, we went to the center of town. We set up in a green space. We had a station with praise and worship music, and the remainder of us walked around the green space, spreading love and care as Jesus did to people enjoying the beautiful weather. This was the most meaningful retreat I have ever been involved in. Having experienced mentors demonstrate how simple ministering to others can be makes me want to continue to reach out to others where and whenever possible. I am truly grateful! There will be another retreat in October. I suggest any and all of you consider participating. I might just go along again!