This week is our Mission Conference at church and last night was seminar night. We had 15 different speakers who talked about their 'missions' or opportunities for us to serve. It was very interesting. The sessions are divided into 5 categories (3 each) such as Global Missions, Local Missions, Evangelism, (don't know what all 5 were). Then they are set up in 5 rooms and 3 time slots. Each person can choose which session they want to attend in each time slot - attending 3 sessions in the evening.
Going into the evening I was only interested in the College Ministry session - mostly because I have daughters that fall into that category and can see there is a need for something to help them stay connected to the church family. Our church is also located within 3 miles of a state university. The church in the past has tried several different ministries reaching out to the students there but nothing has lasted long term. Usually the leaders moved on to somewhere else and the ministry fell to the wayside. The session is wanting to come up with something that the church can sustain. It was a good session and there were several recent college grads who had a lot to input into the discussion. DD19 and her boyfriend attended with me and they had some input - mostly "FOOD" - if you offer home cooked meals you will get them to come :-)
Since DD17 was working in the nursery, I had to stay for the whole evening so I chose the Bethany Christian Services for my second session. It was good - but she should have handed out tissues at the door as we came in. She showed a short video (Everything to Me) to a song written by a man to his birth mother thanking her for making the sacrifice to give him a better life. The video showed a young lady who was pregnant, went into labor, delivered and gave her baby up for adoption. The man's story followed in a second video (Story behind Everything to Me) One of the young ladies in our church within the last month had delivered a beautiful baby that she dearly loved and wanted to keep - but knowing she could not do so financially (unemployed and a student) she gave it to a family through Bethany. So the video really hit home to many of us in the room who have struggled with this young lady in her decision.
The speaker was very interesting, telling about domestic, global and embryo adoptions. They will not consider a couple for adoption unless they are actively involved in a church so that is a comfort to the birth mothers who use their service. Most adoptions today are open adoptions with the birth mother choosing the parents and allowed to see the child at least once a year. The young lady in our church chose a family who will allow her to see the baby 4 times a year and live about 3 hours away.
This morning I found the lyrics to Everything to Me. I love the song!
The third and final session is where I was given a 'treat'. I planned to go to the session on the Chippewa mission trip that the church is planning for this summer. For many years the church has gone to the Lummi Reservation in Washington. The past couple years entire families have gone and it is quite expensive to fly a family of four - so the church has been looking for something within a reasonable driving distance and with a more flexible time frame. So I was just curious about the new location and people. But when I got to that room it was already packed with pre-teens - so I went to my second choice - The Gideons.
One of the men in our church is a member of The Gideons. They are an international group of men who promote God's Word in many ways. He showed slides and videos of a trip he made with the Gideons to Thailand. Very interesting and a beautiful country. They handed out Bibles in the Thai language to students, hospital patients and even to the Buddhist monks who are everywhere on the streets. He told many stories of God's providence and protection while they were in Thailand. And in case you are curious - the Gideons pay all their own travel expenses. Any money donated to The Gideons goes 100% to buying Bibles and New Testatments.
As he closed the program he passed out greeting cards that individuals can use to purchase Bibles for The Gideons to distribute (they are responsible for the Bibles in hotel rooms in the US). He wanted to show us how easy it was to honor someone by donating a Bible in their name. Glancing at me, he pulled out a little well-worn notebook and started flipping through the pages. He said he makes notes of things to do and some time ago he had made a note and had never followed up on it but was going to take care of that right now. He stood next to where I was seated and leaned down so I could see the pages as he was flipping - he had many items crossed off and finally came to a page that wasn't - there is said "Thank You to Mary C and Pastor - Marriage Retreat"
So he took a "Thinking of You" card and filled in the form on the inside saying 5 bibles were being donated in honor or Mary C. He added a line saying, "Thank you for your service". Then on the other side of the card he wrote something like "Thank you for all the work on the marriage retreat." Placing the card in the envelope, he handed it to me. Then he took the smaller envelope that was in the card and filled out that he was paying for 5 Bibles ($25) and that a card had already been sent to the honoree. It was that easy - and it made me feel very honored and appreciated. To think that someone who works hard for his money was willing to give up $25 because he appreciated what I had done. It did not matter that I did not receive the money - I felt blessed to be the 'reason' he was making the donation. I felt like I have received a special unexpected gift. It certainly make me want to do the same when I want to show someone I appreciate them. So I took a box of 10 cards to have on hand for just such an occassion :-)
I can see how God uses everyday things like a man's lack of follow up on his note made the end of January, and a room full of pre-teens to glorify Him. Isn't He wonderful!?!?!?!?