Missions and My Family
By Eric Stoudt
The word Missions in my home usually centered on topics like military endeavors, Tom Cruise movies or the frustrating task of finding the hottest new toy for a child’s Christmas present. That has changed drastically over the last four years and it all started when we began attending a “Missions Minded” church. We had an idea of what the Mission of the church looked like, because we heard stories and met people who went on Missions trips. We knew that some people grew up to become missionaries just like any other job, but that is where our impressions of church Missions ended. That was until God got a hold of our hearts and we started seeing Missions in a new way.
Our first gifts toward missions started shortly after we began attending GT Church, when we found out about the Missions giving program for kids called Buddy Barrel. Every month kids fill their little yellow barrels with spare change and drop them into a robotic collection bin. As a thank you, they receive a package of M&M’s reminding them to be “Missions Minded.”
Our children began giving small monthly donations to Missions and we became more interested in the topic. We paid closer attention during church announcements when Missions topics were addressed. On mornings when our Pastors shared stories of missionaries our church supports our ears would perk up. Missionary prayer requests were sometimes outlined in the bulletin or monthly newsletters. The Church made announcements about Missions trips and local events involving Missions so we learned quickly that praying for missions is crucial. Making the greatest impact requires any Missions team or ministry to have an army of prayer warriors constantly lift them up. Learning this led us to praying with intention for Missions purposes.
One weekend our church hosted international missionaries Bob and Michele. They told our church fascinating stories of the work they were doing in Central America. They explained how God is moving in that part of the world. While unpacking their vision for ministry, they explained how they are on the front lines helping lost people. We were moved by their passion so much, we financially donated to their efforts. It was the first time my wife and I intentionally gave to a specific Missions purpose. We responded to a feeling in our hearts to partner with this family to help them reach people for Jesus. Between our children’s giving through Buddy Barrel and our gift to this ministry, a deeper interest for missions sparked inside of our family.
We began to seek out more information and we found out about a community outreach festival through GT church’s local Missions group. Our family was encouraged to serve, so we signed up to volunteer at “Hopefest.” The Hope Rescue Mission is a local ministry that helps homeless men in our city. At the festival we operated a tic-tac-toe game for the children. My family served the community together and it was a fun and impactful experience for all of us. We handed out prizes to everyone who played our game, giving us the opportunity to “be the light” to the kids that lived in the neighborhood near Hope Rescue.
“Hopefest” took that spark that was in hearts for missions and fanned into a fire that today might be described as raging. We have continued to intentionally pray for missions. We have signed up for email prayer bands and we get messages from local ministries and international missionaries giving us plenty of prayer requests to fulfill. We began regularly giving specifically to missions when we were challenged by a Pastor to start by giving $1 per day to Missions. Since then we have faithfully put $7 or more per week, into the church offering which is above and beyond our regular gifts. We earmark the extra Project Impact which supports our Missions Fund. As of today both my wife and I have each been on one international Missions trip. We went individually and we are both planning our second trips this fall. There are even plans in the works for us to take our third trip which we will take together in 2018. In the future we hope our children will experience Missions trips with us and we will encourage them to go with their own teams. We want them to see the needs of the world firsthand.
GT Church has taught us that there is a 3 phase process to approaching missions. We must Pray, Give and Go when it comes to serving the Lord. Through that process God will shape our hearts and call us to serve in ways that use our talents, skills and abilities. Sometimes the Lord will have us using gifts that we never even knew we had. God’s perfect timing can draw out hidden gifts that he placed in us for His specific purposes. He will overcome all the obstacles that stand in our path when it comes to serving Him. He has a plan for every excuse we could ever make and has answers for every concern we could ever we have. When it comes to praying, giving and going for missions God will provide. He will open doors. He will make a way. The Missions story of my family is proof that if there is prayer or a gift or a place that God has called us to pray for, give toward or go to, then He will, without a doubt make it happen for us.