By Dan Steska
All hands were raised and waving in unison as Mrs. Mitchell’s 4th grade class responded to her question, “Would anyone volunteer to...”
That’s all the further she spoke before being interrupted by 25 excited volunteers. It really didn’t matter whether they were volunteering to take a message to the office, sweep the floor, water the plants, or help clean the cafeteria tables. The clear message to the teacher was “Send me!” This sounds very much like the same response from the prophet Isaiah when God asked, “Who will go for us?” He replied, “Here am I. Send me!” (Is.6:8)
The heart of volunteerism doesn’t stop in Mrs. Mitchell’s class or with the Old Testament prophet. “Send me” is also the excited response from eight new Disaster Response teams recently formed in the MO Conference. The Office of Creative Ministries is proud to partner with these churches who are ready to volunteer their time and service. In order to provide encouragement and support, each of the churches listed are receiving a Church Partnership Grant. This is a dollar for-dollar matching grant up to $3,500 to develop an Early Response Team.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” was the response from Missy Nance, Missions Coordinator at Woods Chapel, Lee’s Summit. They plan to put the grant money toward the purchase of a skid loader to be used for debris clean up. Other churches plan to purchase tools and equipment like generators, chainsaws, air compressors, ladders, tool trailers, safety helmets, etc. One very generous church member actually signed over his own tool trailer title to his church, and committed the use of all his tools, in order to get the ERT team started.
Wait a minute! Who are these volunteers, and where do they come from? Large churches, medium churches, and small rural churches. McMurry, Cabool, Willow Springs, Woods Chapel in Lee’s Summit and Odessa, Sunrise, Church of the Shepherd, New McKendree, La Croix, and Faith at Grain Valley. They are from varied parts of the state and have very different congregations, but they do have some very important things in common. They have pastors whose focus is to serve beyond the church walls. They have lay leaders and volunteers who have caught the joy of worship through service. They have a vision for what the kingdom of God can look like in reaching out to the less fortunate in distress. It may be a flood, ice storm, fire, or tornado, but our brothers and sisters in Christ will be there, praying, sweating, shoveling, and rebuilding.
No, we are no longer in Mrs. Mitchell’s fourth grade class, but the same enthusiasm to serve still exists in the hearts of dedicated men and women across the Missouri Conference. The recipients of the Church Partnership Grant will be there when there is a need, when disaster strikes, and the question is asked, “who will go for us?” Our new Early Responders will simply say... “Here am I. Send me.”