(Image from pbs.org)
In 2006 our church of sixteen years, Lake Murray Community Church in La Mesa, California, (San Diego County, in case you're not a local) sent a team of 21 adults and young people to Seneg*al, West Africa. I already have a homeschooling e-friend living in that country who has been part of several online communities and Yahoo Groups (currently a prayer group) serving as a missionary with her family in that country, so I possessed some familiarity with Seneg*al. Our team helped missionaries in the country and also went out to the villages to serve.
Why Seneg*al? One of the leaders of the 2006 Seneg*al group from our church grew up in the country as the child of missionaries and now is seeking to return there as a missionary himself with his wife and two sons. As they finish raising the requisite support and then attend foreign language training, our church desires a closer relationship with the Seneg*alese, especially those in villages outside the big cities.
Our church has the idea of supporting a single village over (at least) the next five years, helping them with needs for clean water, for education, for medical care, for nutritious food, etc., sending smaller teams to Africa every 12-18 months, with the first trip planned for March 2010. We will build relationships with these people and help supply some of their physical needs as well as their spiritual need for Christ.
I'm really excited about this opportunity. Our church already supports another missionary family in North Africa who came from Lake Murray and are good friends of our family. In addition, over ten years ago, our church adopted the Turkm*en people group, and our former pastor is still quite active in serving the Turkm*en people in the several countries in which they live. Several of our church's young people have served in East Asia, with one just returning to continue to serve in a predominantly Musl*im area.
Our church also supports missionaries serving here in the the States -- a family in Idaho/Wyoming who minister to migrant farm workers, another family who trains missionaries in Wisconsin, plus two local families in which the husbands serve as Kaiser hospital chaplains (unpaid positions). Each month a group from Lake Murray fires up the grill to serve dinner to the homeless in downtown San Diego, with everyone from the pastors to small children helping make the venture a success on the first Friday of every month.
I love seeing God use His people to help others in need. We all need a hug from "Jesus with skin on," as we sometimes call our Christian friends. We are knit together, heart and soul, by the One who created us and who is glorified as we serve in His Name. I am looking forward greatly to seeing how His Will shall unfold in the days and weeks, the months and years to come.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (The Gloria Patri)