Hands-On Mission

by John C. Westervelt

Mary Ann Smith, Senior Director of Outreach and Director of Global Missions, offered the Joy Community and the Vineyard Community an opportunity for hands-on mission work.

Volunteers from these two classes gathered in the Mason Center Gym at 9:00 AM on Saturday, September 13th. Mary Ann explained that the grandparents would cover the tops and bottoms of the shoeboxes with Christmas wrapping paper. The young married people would help the children fill the boxes with gifts brought to Asbury in June by seven hundred children attending Vacation Bible School.

Franklin Graham is president of Samaritan Purse that sponsors Operation Christmas Child. Before we started work, Mary Ann read two paragraphs from Franklin Grahamís book "The Name."

"Operation Christmas Child makes a lot of people smile. The grins begin when children go with their parents to the store to fill a shoebox with goodies for a child they will probably never meet. Then our volunteers at the collection-distribution centers break out in smiles when they see thousands of brightly wrapped boxes pouring in. Even our volunteers and staff in countries all over the world smile as they work with local church leaders to arrange the gift giveaways.

"The most beautiful smiles are those that pop up on the faces of children in the remote areas around the globe when they hold their gifts. Many of them have never received a gift or even heard of the Name of the One who gave Himself as the Greatest Gift."

The hands-on mission work was an opportunity for me to fellowship with old friends from the Joy class and to make new friends with the young people of the Vineyard class. One friendship had its beginning in the 9:30 worship service when the music director said, "Turn and greet your neighbor." On two occasions I was seated next to Julee and Mike Rhodes. Julee was so cordial that I thought, "I would like to be her friend."

Near the end of the Saturday morning, as we completed filling 125 Christmas boxes, Julee stopped by my table to say hello. I listened as she answered my questions about the young married people and the programs of the Vineyard class. Julee listened intently as I shared about the lives of the grandparents in the Joy class.

I departed the hands-on mission project with a smile on my face because children around the world will be smiling this Christmas. I came away with an uplifted spirit from the good fellowship of working side by side with old friends and from making a new friend.

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