By Fred Koenig
The Robert and Martha Marble Mission Award is given to an individual in the Missouri Annual Conference who exhibits outstanding commitment to mission. This year’s recipient of the Robert and Marble Mission Award was Rogers Strickland.
Starting out at Saint Paul School of Theology, Strickland moved away from vocational ministry to explore another form of ministry as the head of his own construction company. He exemplifies taking one’s baptism seriously and becoming the best disciple one can be within your own context. His career in construction has gifted him with skills to lead teams throughout the world with a focus on building projects. This passion has led him to Brazil, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala and South Dakota. The impact of these projects within the Weston UMC and the community is extraordinary.
His leadership in Weston’s relationship with partners in Guatemala has been particularly impressive. Over the past 20 years, Stickland has led more than 700 people in mission projects in San Lucas, Guatemala. Projects have included schools, churches and fuel-efficient wood burning stoves for individual homes. Weston’s pastor estimates that approximately 40 percent of the congregation has been to Guatemala.
The latest mission trip included 20 persons who ranged in age from 13 to 70. The project this past year involved constructing a building for persons with disabilities. A mother from the Weston church who participated with her high school-aged daughter tearfully shared with the congregation how this building would offer the same type of services in Guatemala that two of her children had received here in the U.S. After each mission trip, participants share their testimonies with the congregation.
Although they work hard, Strickland always emphasizes that these mission trips are not so much about how much work is accomplished but the relationships with everyone involved. Due to their multi-generational composition, the impact of these mission trips on our young people is powerful. One teen who participated with his mother now serves on Weston’s Administrative Council and is currently leading local mission projects. Another teen preparing to attend the next trip in July is currently serving as an assistant lay leader. Strickland has inspired persons of all ages with the understanding that we can each make a difference in the world.
Strickland’s life exemplifies an outstanding commitment to mission. He has clearly demonstrated that even a small church can impact the world in a powerful, positive way – a way that makes disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.