Many times when the word ministry is mentioned, people imagine priests or pastors either preaching to their congregations or visiting the sick. Ministry is, at least for the congregation at Whitehouse First Assembly, a personal involvement, one that shows the love of God to others.
Two dozen members of WFA, along with 11 members of Cornerstone, a church in Rowlett, left on Saturday, June 23, traveling to a community outside Spanish Lookout in Belize. The goals were many, but all had the same focus, to build relationships with people in the area and further the spread of the good news of the gospel.
One of the major projects the team worked on was the renovation of the kitchen in a local church, Preserving Grace. The church had been providing lunch for local schoolchildren twice a week.
“We got them a commercial oven, built cabinets, and got them a new sink,” said WFA pastor Michael Fleming. “They were using a bucket and a hose as their sink and at one time for their stove they were using a campfire stove.”
Due to the upgrades to the kitchen, the church is now able to provide meals all five days of the school week.
“Kids are coming to school that day for the meal, that’s what is really bringing them to school,” Fleming stated. “Otherwise they may miss or stay at home, but knowing they have food, they come to school.”
The church was without a stage for use by the pastor, worship team or during community events, so another project consisted of building the church a stage. A member of WFA, who works on sound equipment by trade, upgraded the sound system as well. The entire outside of the building was also repainted.
Along with the various hands-on projects, the group brought vacation Bible school lessons and activities to teach the children and youth of the village. The Anglican school that serves the village where WFA members were working allowed the group to provide two days of vacation Bible school activities. Two more vacation Bible school services were held at the church.
Fleming stated the church members present on the trip were “blown away” by the conditions.
“The poverty is always eye-opening when you take people outside of the US and see how other people live. Being able to just give back in a small way, of their dollars, of their time, our people were so fulfilled and grateful that they had an opportunity to give.”
Completing a week of ministry, members of the mission team returned Friday, June 29.
Lance Seelman, a WFA member, worked in a variety of projects on the trip including teaching one of the lessons, building the stage, painting the exterior walls of the building and visiting and praying for people in the village.
“They welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles,” Seelman recounted. “I met people who were very different than me. I helped those who have far less than me, and I saw what life in another context looks like. I felt anxiety, motivation, and most of all, blessed to be accepted as part of the family.”
Shawn Garrison and Gena Garrison, a married couple who are WFA members, also went on the mission trip and served at Preserving Grace.
“This mission trip was so refreshing for me,” Shawn Garrison commented about the mission experience. “To see kids play and enjoy life despite their economic situation. I took part in building a stage at the church and building cabinets and installing a sink and a new stove. To know that now a community of kids will get lunch five days a week and that I had a small part in making it possible goes beyond anything I could have imagined.”
Gena Garrison participated in the same projects as Shawn and also commented about the experience.
“This trip was life-changing to me,” Garrison affirmed.”It helped me prioritize what is important in life. That is to be a servant like Jesus and to serve others without looking to receive anything in return. My heart was drawn to education and the schools there. I would love to go serve there for a time and get to teach and just serve those children and their families.”
Fleming’s sentiment echoed that of other mission team members.
“I would encourage everybody to take a trip like that,” Fleming stated. “Just getting out of your own comfort zone and seeing the rest of the world really gives you appreciation for what you have. Even though you’re going to be a blessing, you wind up being more blessed than you can ever be to somebody else. God has blessed us all, especially here in America, and I think we have a responsibility to do what we can to help somebody else,” Fleming concluded. “They don’t have to be overseas; they can be around the corner.”