Today's guest blog writer is EBC member (and church Ministry Administrator) Krista Thornton. There are many types of relationships we have over the course of our life. Within the church, a very important relationship we have is with other churches. At EBC, there are several churches/missionaries with whom we have built relationships over the years. We have the Kendrick Ministries in El Salvador, the Bell’s in Slovenia, and Restoration Road Church in Boston. Last week, four of us EBC members went to Boston with work with Joie Thomason, the pastor at Restoration Road Church. If you have ever met Joie or heard him preach, then you know that the deepest desire of his heart is to reach the people of his community. You can visibly see the burden he has for the lost people around him. To reach the people around him, Joie has been building relationships with local organizations. One of those is The Boys and Girls Club of Wakefield and Stoneham. The club is in the process of purchasing a new building but in the meantime, they needed some adjustments made to their current building to accommodate growth. That’s where we came in.
We had two goals for the week. The first part of the week, our goal was to do some construction work at the club. That included tearing down a concrete wall, uncovering two windows and making one of them larger, and making two new cabinets where kids can store their backpacks. We had sledgehammers, saws, drills, and sheer muscle power out in full force. Our work was concentrated on the “Teen Room.” There was a small alcove that housed four computers that the teens could use for homework or free time. Because of the wall and the fact that the small window was covered, staffers could not completely see into the room. While it may not seem like much of an alteration to remove the wall, it made a huge impact. The director told us the work we did for them saved the club $50,000. Not just in labor but it also saved them from having to hire another staff person. A worker can be in another part of the room or even in the adjoining conference room and still be able to see everyone.
Our work was not just physical. Throughout the week, we were able to interact with staff members and build relationships. We had many laughs but also some great conversations. They had questions about what we did here in Raleigh, why we came up to Boston to help, and how we became connected with Joie. According to their statistics, 80% of the kids that participate at the club have grandparents that are their primary caregiver. The opioid crisis is rampant and affecting kids daily. There are kids growing up without their fathers or mothers and that are facing situations that we would never even dream of facing. Joie’s desire is for their members to stand in the gaps for these kids and for their church to be a safe haven. The importance if the relationship between Restoration Road and The Boys and Girls Club is crucial for this to happen.
The second goal of the week was to help the members of Restoration as they had their first community Field Day. We spent Friday morning playing games with the kids, talking with the parents and pitching in wherever needed. For their first time, it was an awesome turnout! About 40% of the kids who came did not attend the church. You think removing a wall is tough business? Try playing dodgeball or tug-of-war with a bunch of kids! The day was such a success and they are looking forward to next year!
When you hear the word “mission trip”, there are several emotions you may experience. One is a sense of excitement. Going to a new place and meeting people that you would not normally meet is exciting. Another is a sense of purpose. To know that there are tangible needs that need to be met and that God can use you to fulfill those needs is overwhelming. The most common reaction though is a sense of inadequacy. I can name at least 10 reasons as to why I was not qualified or did not have the time for this trip. I am sure Colin, Matt, and Mark could have given you just as many reasons. But here is what we did have: a willing and obedient heart. God used us in ways we could never have imagined. Not only did He use us there, but we left with a renewed desire to look at our own community. The needs are not just contained to Boston or El Salvador or Nepal. There are needs here in our backyard. Our prayer is that we will be burdened for the lost around us. That we will lose sleep over it and pray without ceasing. That we will give up our evenings or weekends to serve those around us. The call to serve is not just for those whom you deem “qualified”. The call to serve is for you, for me and for our church. Our job is to be willing and God will use whatever we bring to the table.