Notes from my Knapsack – Newark Central 9-18-13
Mission and motivation
By the time most of you get this (by mail, anyhow), our mission team will be at work in Joplin, working to rebuild housing destroyed two years ago by a massive tornado sweeping across that western Missouri city.
Many of you already know the story, about how members of Newark Central, their hearts broken by the devastation across the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina, went down to Louisiana, and ended up in Mississippi, and found fellowship and relationship with brothers and sisters from the Moss Point Christian Church just outside of Mobile, Alabama.
As a congregation, our work in these mission trips has gone to those three states, to Kansas, and now to Missouri. In years past, back to the summer of '93, we've seen our youth go in mission to Texas, to West Virginia, even to somewhere as distant and alien as Michigan.
Our sense of Christian mission as a congregation is not limited to these mission trips: we've found the opportunity to live out our faith right here in Newark with refugee resettlement and support of transitional housing through the Licking County Coalition for Housing, and in Ohio we've put our hands as well as our resources to work in building up Camp Christian as a ministry center for the Christian Church in Ohio . . . and our youth, with their Super Bowl subs, have added to the CYF "SCOOP" funds that help maintain a missional presence in the Hocking Valley Parish and with the Cleveland Christian Children's Home.
Once in a while someone will ask "aren't there needs here in Licking County?" of course there are, and we respond powerfully and faithfully to those needs as a ministry opportunity: our Medical Loan Closet is a widely admired outreach in Licking County, our Men's Ministry is largely a "Guys Who Build Ramps" series of events through the year, and we are involved in feeding the hungry in more ways than fit into one paragraph. We know something about local needs, and the mission God calls us to in this area.
But we also know our Bible. Paul in II Corinthians 8 and Romans 15 makes it clear that the church of Jesus Christ has a calling to share from those who are blessed to those who are in need, and that such sharing is a witness to the unity of the Body. That alone would be reason enough!
And in Acts 11:27-30 we see how the early church lived out a commitment to relief; this comes literally on the heels of 11:26 where we first get our name as "Christians", and seems to be part of our very identity as a believing community.
When we share our time, our treasures, and our talents with those who are not similarly blessed, and we do so without any expectation of benefit or blessing from doing so, we give glory to God, and we are living out one of the most powerful witnesses there are to the Good News of God's love made known in Christ Jesus.
Please keep our mission team on the road this week in your prayers, and part of the blessing will return to you, wherever it is that you labor!
In joy and hope, Pastor Jeff