I come to you this morning, as a member of this church, and as a United Methodist Woman. The entire program and organization of UMW focuses on mission. Our mission initiatives include:
Providing opportunities to grow spiritually
Equipping women and girls to be leaders
Providing transformative educational experiences
Organizing for growth and flexibility
Working for justice through service and advocacy
But more specifically I would like to share with you how my relationship with God relates to the mission work that I have been involved in. I see missions as a matter of action, intentions and heart. I see it as the grateful outpouring of gifts to others, out of my love for God.
So why spending time for God is important in my life?
I do it for my love of God. I believe that all the gifts and talents that I have received in my life have come from God.
But where did this love of God come from:
I came a little later in my life to organized religion. I have been attending First United Methodist Church of South Haven for 18 years. Coming to this church, initially was a way for me to become connected to God after the unexpected death of my mother. Little did I know how important that this church would become to me.
I started attending here the Sunday after my mother’s passing and within six months Bill, our 2 children, and I joined the church.
Almost immediately I was asked to become the Outreach Chair which led to being involved in Open Door and the Parish Nurse Program. These two ministries were primarily supported by fundraisers. I was also on the Admin Board which led me to meeting and getting to know Simmie.
Simmie approached me and asked me to a United Methodist Women’s meeting. I am a Social Worker and the mission of UMW focuses on the needs of women, children and youth which are a passion of mine. I have also been a member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, a member of a bible study that has been meeting for over 5 years. The members include Simmie, Pam and Susie. These 3 ladies have provided me with religious education and more importantly surrounded me with women that love their God and are not afraid to live their faith…..they are awesome role models.
For 4 years I have been a youth camp counselor for a week at Camp Albright in Reed City. This was probably one of the scariest things I have done…….being responsible for 10 teenage girls…….but also one of the most rewarding. I have been blessed to see these young girls develop their relationship with God in a safe and nurturing environment.
Also, for the past 4 years, I have been active with the Wesley House at Ferris State University. I have helped with numerous fundraisers. Twice a year, Simmie, Pam, Susie and I have prepared meals for the Wesley House Thursday night worship, which has allowed us to hang out with the students as they share their walk with God.
As part of my involvement with Ferris Wesley House, I went on their 2017 Spring Break mission trip this past Spring. The students choose to go Choctaw, Mississippi and complete clean up services at the Choctaw Mission church which is on the Choctaw reservation. This is a very depressed area in Mississippi. The community was filled with people who are proud of their heritage and loved sharing their culture with our mission team. Now this mission tested my patience’s the most of all mission work I have done. Imagine riding with 18 young adults for 2 days to Mississippi and 2 days back, allowing them to organize the service projects, deal with relationship issues, and sharing one living/bathroom space with 10 females.
How Does Spending Time For God affect me or changed me?
Attending church and being involved with the fellowship of the church has opened my heart, making me for the most part, a more caring and compassionate person. It makes me more willing to step outside my comfort zone, looking at the needs of others, not just inside this church but outside the church and outside our community.
Mission work is not just about giving money, raising money, or going on a mission trip. I believe mission work has to do with the whole of who we are and how we care for our neighbors; not only our church family, but the people of Flint, the people of Puerto Rico, Florida, California, Las Vegas, the Middle East…and the list goes on.
Jesus says in Mark 12; 29-31 that the Greatest Commandment is “Hear, O Isreal, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second one is this “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”