April 15 – Introduction to Risk-Taking Mission/Service with Tom Gilbert

Currently serves as the Chair of the LEAD Team. Participates in both a couples and men’s small group. Involved with the Journeymen men’s ministry activities. Assist with the “Knucklebuster’s” chair team.

Scripture: Mathew 25:40 – “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it for me.”

LuAnn and I moved several times during our life together. We discovered early on that we settled in faster by finding and plugging into a church family as soon as possible. Such was the case when we moved to the Atlanta, GA area. After visiting several churches, we decided we liked the atmosphere of Creekside UMC. They seemed to be a vibrant, active and engaged community. There were lots of family’s as well as “empty nesters” which is where we fit in.

Wanting to get engaged we heard about a program they called COP. LuAnn investigated and found that stood for Community Outreach Project. They had recently started this program and were looking for volunteers. So, we attended a meeting to hear what it was all about. The program was youth oriented. For one week during the very hot Georgia summer, groups of 8-10 teens would go to people’s homes and do minor repairs, yard work and clean-up projects during the day. Once the work day was completed, the youth would return to the church for dinner, evening activities and would sleep at the church. After learning what the program was about and with much trepidation on my part, we both signed up to help. I had some mechanical aptitude and thought I could help with handling tools and supplies. It turned out to be a much bigger event than anticipated with 14 teams of 8-10 teens and 1-2 adults per group. Each group had different work assignments throughout the day. Depending on the site survey it could be an all-day job or just a couple hours. My job was to ensure the tools (lawn mowers, string trimmers, rakes, shovels, hand and electric hedge clippers, extension cords and whatever else was needed) were in working order and then stage the tools necessary for each team for pick up in the morning as they headed out to their assignments. When (not if) something went wrong I also was part of the team to go to the site and fix whatever the issue was. I spent the majority of each day fixing lawn mowers, trimmers and the like and/or training folks on how to use the equipment. Many of the teens had never started a lawn mower or worked with a string trimmer before. A big challenge was ensuring the mixed gas went into the 2 cycle trimmers and straight gasoline went into the 4 cycle lawn mowers.

It was a long tiring week and to think I used a week of vacation time to do it. However, in the end I met a lot of great people and got to know many of the youth in the church. I became known as “Tom the Tool man” and continued helping in this capacity for 3 more years until we moved again. Seeing the transformation of the kids attitudes toward one another as they bonded and my own heart being moved from the experience of helping folks who truly needed support was life changing. I’m grateful that I took the risk of getting involved.

Discussion questions:

  1. Have you ever taken the risk of taking on a job you weren’t sure you could handle? How did the experience effect you?
  2. Have you ever had the opportunity to be a part of a mission or outreach project?

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