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October 2014

Congregation in Illinois provides funds to help rebuild church building that was destroyed in an earthquake in El Salvador   (click to open/close)

An Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation in Illinois received a second Mission Match matching contribution to help fund support for rebuilding a church in El Salvador. According to the Mission Match application and cover letter, the El Salvador “church was destroyed in an earthquake in 2000. Our members will have the opportunity to work alongside members of the ... church as well as having time for fellowship and worship together. In 2013 we were fortunate to have had the support of empty tomb through the Mission Match and we were able to provide each participant with funds to help offset some of their travel and lodging expenses ... as to not prevent anyone from serving in this manner due to the lack of funds.”

July 2014

Congregation in New York provides help renovating school and leading teacher training in Ghana.   (click to open/close)

 An American Baptist Church congregation in New York received a third Mission Match matching contribution to help send a mission team to Ghana to renovate a school and lead teacher training. According to the Mission Match application and cover letter, the congregation wanted to “renovate a school and build some new classrooms, as well as youth ministries and teacher training. We are raising money to support renovations of a primary school, including the construction of some new classrooms. These mission offerings are monies given by church participants above what they have pledged for the church budget.”
 According to the congregation’s internal E-Journal from early February 2014, the church encouraged, “Boys and girls, don’t forget to bring some change for Ghana every Sunday” to “contribute to the building project at the primary school through the children’s collection of Change for Ghana.” According to the congregation’s Mission Match application cover letter and another E-Journal dated February 2014, [The Ghana community] is “the home village” of a member of the New York congregation who describes the village as “a small farming community … with over 10,000 people.” The E-Journal continues, “Although it has many challenges such as poor education resources, high poverty and lack of jobs, it is very peaceful and friendly and makes every visitor feel a part of the community. … Our team plans to spend about a week in the community working together with the community members to lay down the foundation for three classrooms, leveling and adding poles and securing a roof so the students can start using it before permanent walls are added in the coming years.”
 The E-Journal continues, “There are over 100 students studying under a temporary thatched roof or under a tree. It is amazing and inspiring to see the dedication and how much these students love learning. With the lack of proper school classrooms, they prove they are committed to work hard and are determined to succeed.”
 Follow-up comments from the congregation stated, “This mission project to Ghana had several goals and we feel that all of them were accomplished to some degree. The first goal was to work with a middle school in the community to be[gin] construction of a new set of classroom blocks for the students. The current structure is simply made from bamboo with some palm fronds for a roof. When it rains the students cannot meet in this space and both students and teachers become discouraged. As part of this project we were able to start construction of a four room classroom block. While we were in the community we were able to assist with pouring the foundation, installation of several rows of bricks pillars to support the walls and roof. The blocks were made in the community and the holes for the foundation were dug before we arrived so that the project could move forward while we were there.
 “An objective of the building portion of the mission project was to engage with the community and have the community engage and take ownership of the project. This occurred in a number of different ways and we had a very strong sense that God was at work in the community in very powerful way. There were very positive meetings with the parents at the school with over 30 people attending. It was wonderful to see the students and some parents engage in this process and being to take ownership for the new school block.
 “A highlight of the project was in the second week when there was a call for community support to help dig and haul dirt to level the ground inside the blocks that has been installed. … God moved in mighty ways that day and this was one of the miracles were witnessed on this trip. Over 250 people from the community showed up to help from 6:30–9:30AM. Not only did a lot of work get done but there was a strong sense of people working together and community spirit. When the town elders announced it was time to finish, about 50-60 people said they wanted to continue working and stayed for another hour and half to make progress on the project.
“In addition to the broader community engagement we had very good meetings with pastors and elders from two of the local churches about establishing a partnership going forward. In addition to meeting with the elders we participated in services on Sunday morning with both congregations.
“A second goal of the project was to engage in youth ministries in the community. The young people involved in our mission project were very engaged with students in the school doing various activities including learning new songs … doing some arts and crafts projects and in reading programs hosted at the community library in the evening.
“We also gave away 10 soccer balls to other schools in the community and the young people on our team led these presentations and shared about their spiritual motivation for this trip and encouraged the students in their school work. This was a very positive interaction for our youth and it was really valued by the students in the school and the youth in the community. We also engaged with the students when we gave away 200 pairs of shoes that we had brought with us from the U.S.
“A final goal of this project was to provide an opportunity for young people in our church community to be involved in a mission project overseas and be exposed to another culture and way of life. This certainly occurred and the goal was reached. As we wrapped up the trip and began to say goodbye to our Ghanaian friends and hosts, one of the youth on our team frequently told his new Ghanaian friends that this is not the last time he would be in Ghana and that he would be back sometime soon.
“The support from Mission Match was essential to the success of our project and we are grateful for the support and the way God has used those funds to have an impact in the lives of the mission team and the community in Ghana. Fund raising for this mission trip actually started at our church with the children participating in ‘Change Ghana’ where they were asked to bring in loose change each week and put it in a bucket. Not only the children but adults in the church eagerly engaged in this effort and soon the children were walking up and down the aisles during part of the service collecting change. In just a month over $200 in change was raised and this seemed to really engage our church community in this project. When we announced that Mission Match was willing to match contributions in the church up to $2,000 we felt like this was going to be a stretch for our congregation. But God moved in amazing ways and in less than one month over $3,000 was given by our congregation to support this project. All together our congregation gave over $3,500 directly to this project. … The commitment from Mission Match to support this project was essential to make this project successful and encouraged our congregation to give above and beyond what was expected.
“We have already started planning for the completion of the school block so that the children in this community can have a school with a roof over their heads. We are excited about what God has done so and the opportunity to partner with Mission Match has been a blessing. We are looking forward to seeing how God will work to complete this project in the near future.”

July 2014

Congregation sends mission team to work on improvements to community center and medical center in Belize   (click to open/close)

A United Methodist Church in Indiana received a Mission Match matching contribution to help revitalize the church mission spirit and to send a mission team to Belize. The mission team worked on improvements to the community center and the medical center in partnership with Christian Service International (CSI Ministries).
According to Mission Match application materials from the congregation, “We are attempting to revitalize our church mission spirit. We have made some short trips during the past year, and are undertaking a giant step of sending a small team of 7 to 9 to a mission in Belize. We will use the matching funds to help fund the trip for our team and for supplies. … It is hoped that this small starter group can find an energy to expand our mission outreach and to make Christ centered missions more a part of our conscious giving.”
The Mission Match application materials also stated, “While on the ground in Belize we will be making physical improvements to the community center and to a medical center. The community center is a gathering place and a major source of the outreach that CSI uses to develop relationships. One of the other projects may include constructing bleachers for outdoor basketball courts, another strong point of contact for the CSI missionaries.”
Follow-up comments from a mission team member in the form of a story stated, “The … church in Belize is a small church in a relatively rough neighborhood. … By American standards the church building is closer to a shack than a church, but by Belizean standards it is well above average. … The church yard is flanked by two concrete block walls. The one on the right is brightly painted with a colorful Bible verse running it’s roughly 100 ft. length. The wall on the left is bare concrete blocks and topped with razor wire to keep kids form climbing it.
“At the front of the yard stands a brightly painted picket fence with one picket missing. … We enter the church and find it clean and in good condition. We are not here more than 5 minutes before the first young girls arrive, … around 5 years old or younger. … They just want to be loved and played with. … It’s not long before a young girl walks up to me and says, ‘Bop me.’ Bop me … means more than just pick me up. I swing her side to side and she lays her head back. She just giggles as she is swung. … The next thing I know we are taking our ‘selfie’ and she’s taking photos of everyone in the yard. Every photo needs to be looked at so we look at it and show the person we photographed. … Almost everyone on our team is playing with or talking to a child. Finally, … we get ready to leave. It is time for last hugs. As we leave the ladies sing ‘Jesus Loves Me” with the children. Sitting in a 2nd story porch watching and listening is a man who just minutes before was cursing his children.
“We arrive about 8:30 am … to beat the heat. When we return there is far more trash than before. … [Team members] started picking up trash while the rest of the team starts painting the wall. It goes quickly … the yard is clean and the wall is painted.
“Our afternoon plans change, which has been a common theme for this trip. Rather than sit and do nothing we return to [the church] to paint ‘Jesus Loves Me’ on the wall. It turns out to be one of the biggest blessings of the trip. … It is 2:30 pm, and school is out for the day, and as [our] van starts to pull up to the church, the kids know what is happening. A few of them chase the van down the road. [One] runs through the gate with his arms wide open and hugs the first person he comes to …
“We spend another hour or so hugging, bopping, twirling, playing with and loving the kids. We once again make our exit to the van, saying goodbyes and giving final hugs.
“The rest of the trip gave me time to think. If you are like me, you wonder if you’d be a better steward of God’s gifts simply by sending money to places like Belize … I cannot give you an answer, but I know that you can not put hugs, bops, and laughter in an envelope, and that as Christians we are called to GO!”

July 2014

Congregation in Indiana provides funds to help a mission team build a house for a homeless family, do a VBS program and distribute food to the hungry in Mexico   (click to open/close)

A Missionary Church congregation in Indiana received a third Mission Match matching contribution to help fund a teen and adult mission trip to Mexico. According to the Mission Match application and cover letter, “We would love for you to help us raise new funds from our congregation to go toward this mission trip. We will have a special offering to encourage people to give above and beyond their normal tithe, and … knowing their contribution would be matched would only help make them willing to give!”
According to the Mission Match application materials, “We will be building a house for a family in need. We will also be handing out food, water and clothes to many people who are working/living in a landfill. We will be putting on a Vacation Bible School for some of the kids in the area, and sharing the Gospel with those we are serving. We will help supply a daycare food pantry with food and water to give to kids and their families who do not have their basic needs met.”
According to follow-up comments from the congregation, “Our goal was to go to Mexico and meet physical needs of some of the people who live there, and after meeting the physical needs, to share the love of Christ with them. We did accomplish that goal! God’s name was glorified!”
In response to how Mission Match helped the congregation grow in their mission giving and awareness, the follow-up comments from the congregation stated, “… knowing that their contributions would be matched encouraged people to give who normally wouldn’t have given. Then upon hearing the mission team share what God did, they will be encouraged about what God did with their gift. This is an incredible program that allowed us to have a much greater impact than we could have had on our own. Thank you.”

March 2014

Congregation in Illinois sends mission team to work in communities in mountainous areas of Nicaragua   (click to open/close)

An Evangelical Lutheran Church of America campus congregation in Illinois received a Mission Match matching contribution. The application materials from the congregation stated their intention to send a mission team to Nicaragua to work in two communities in the mountainous country.
According to the application cover letter, the congregation went on their first international mission trip in partnership with an organization that has been working in villages in Nicaragua, “in the spring of 2011 … It is there we met the amazing people who live in [these two communities] … As a college community, we desired to grow these relationships more deeply …” According to the Mission Match application materials from the congregation, “Our primary activity will be growing our partnership with these global neighbors in the mountain communities of [two villages] in Nicaragua. We’ll learn about their culture; experience daily life with them; hear their struggles, hopes, and dreams, and worship and pray with them. … We will help build latrines for several families living in critical poverty. We will work in partnership with the local people in this project, supplying the money for materials and shared labor. … The funds will be used to purchase supplies, gather donations for school supplies and medical supplies for the village nurse, and assist in the cost of airfare. Most of the participants for this trip are college students paying their own way.”
“Each student [who went on the mission trip] was asked to write about his/her experience of the trip. The written reflections demonstrate the impact this trip had for the students who participated in the activities described in our goal. Each student also shared this reflections with the congregation as well as in the [Spring 2014] newsletter.”
Some comments from the student reflections follow: One student wrote, “One thing that really stuck with me was that the people work together as a community for the good of the community. They depend upon one another.” Another student wrote, “You are the salt of the Earth. In Nicaragua, we sweated. We carried bricks and sand and cement up and down mountains under a hot, hot sun. The proof was on our t-shirts. We were pouring our sweat into our work. Our [organization] leader insisted that we needed to pour extra salt on our food to make up for what we had lost. … We were also pouring our salt into the work we did … As we were doing God’s work in Nicaragua, we were sharing our salt with the people we met. For me, that experience was at times challenging and taxing. We extended our bodies physically, emotionally, and spiritually in ways that we hadn’t experienced before. But just as [the leader] replenished our bodies with a sprinkle of table salt, God replenished us through the people we met and the beauty that we saw. We are the salt of the earth, but so are the people of Nicaragua. The week was an exchange of love and lessons between the groups, and just as we poured our energies into them, they replenished us with their generosity, hospitality, and hope. While I may have lost a little of my salt … what I received back in return replenished me tenfold.”
Still other student comments stated, “It was inspiring. I was immediately immersed in cultural differences upon our arrival. … One amazing idea I found from the people … is incessant, abundant hope and love.”

December 2013

Congregation sends full-time missionary to Honduras   (click to open/close)

A non-denominational church congregation in Kentucky received a second Mission Match matching contribution to help send a fulltime missionary family to Honduras. According to the cover letter of the application materials from the congregation, “The family has been with us for the last 12 years and has been directly involved with our church and our vision from day one. We are a mission minded church with a call to carry the gospel to unchartered territory ... [The family’s] integrity and character represent Jesus in all manner of life; their children serve Jesus as well ...”
The Mission Match application submitted from the congregation states, the missionary “... has continually gone to Honduras to further cultivate the work he began in 2009 by ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ to churches in the remote mountainous regions. Now we have the pleasure of sending him and his family to Honduras as fulltime missionaries. [Their] hearts are to further reach out to the churches in the mountains. … many of these churches are untouched and suffer greatly due to ignorance of God’s Word and financial resources. Their desire is to ... bring strength to [them] through various ministerial means. ... the family will begin to host mission groups from the states ... in July 2014. ...
“The goal is to develop more connections with various other types of ministries to bring unique strengths to the churches and communities (construction, business development, medical/dental, evangelism, food/clothing distribution, clean water projects, etc.).
“The whole designed plan and goal is to develop healthy vibrant churches in the remote mountainous communities of Honduras.”

November 2013

Congregation in Illinois helps build affordable and safe housing in El Salvador   (click to open/close)

An Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Illinois received a Mission Match matching contribution to send a mission team to El Salvador. According to the Mission Match application, the congregation was “sending a team of 10-15 members to help build affordable and safe housing ... The trip is organized through [two organizations]. Since [one] requires the person receiving the house to assist, our mission team works alongside them during the building process. This promotes cross-cultural understanding and teamwork among our mission team members.”
According to the Mission Match application materials, “The [church] Service Committee did not want financial barriers to stop members from participating. The funds [raised were] used to offset the costs of travel, food & lodging for mission team members.” The Mission Match application cover letter stated, “After sending a mission team to El Salvador in 2012, we have found it to be a very worthy trip and are excited to send a second team this November. We hope that by providing financial assistance, particularly to families or youth who may want to serve, more church members will be able to participate in this mission.”
The Mission Match application materials also stated, “We plan to host a Mission Sunday in which last year’s participants share their stories and photographs and perhaps even include a Latin meal after the service. A lot of the members who served on the mission team last year would like to return, which speaks volumes of the project and how meaningful it was to them.”

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