Being a father, husband and the U.S. Director for CLC International is a pretty big juggling act most of the time. Add being a missionary and things can get really interesting. This weekend, Deb and I attended the annual missions conference at one of our key supporting churches in Lancaster, PA. I could not believe it, but this was the fourteenth year that we have hosted a book table and attended this conference. I guess I should be more clear on the time line as I look in the mirror and notice my hair line receding more by the year and my “mature” silvery – really white hair – starting to show more and more.
The amazing thing about this conference is that though many elements of it have remained the same from year to year, it always seems to get better. This year was no exception. The cornerstone of the conference, from my perspective, is their unique “Missions and Me” program that is run for kids in the elementary age Sunday school classes for several weeks leading up to the conference. The kids are given assignments that connect them to a place, Peru this year, and the missionary work being done by individuals sponsored by the church. As the assignments are completed, the kids earn “mission dollars” – yes, this church prints it’s own money. At the missions conference, the kids complete a scavenger hunt as their last assignment and then are given the missions dollars. They are allowed to spend these dollars at any of the missions displays for the various items that people bring with them to the event.
Deb and I have had the privilege of hosting a mega-book table for this events with half of the books and resources geared towards kids in the target age range. What a fun thing it is to help kids select books that they are able to buy with their own money that they earned after participating in missions related activities over the prior six weeks. These kids normally spend a lot of time figuring out what they want so that they can make the best use of these funds that have just been given to them. Over the years we have helped dozens of children and their parents make choices about books that have the potential to influence their lives for years to come.
I applaud the Great Commission Committee at Westminster for keeping this program going and for engaging so many people in the church in missions through the excitement that children bring to the event. The culmination of the missions and me activities is the Saturday evening missions fair where the kids get to spend their dollars. Many churches would be please if two dozen people showed up for a missions event like this. To God’s glory, hundreds of children and parents show up every year. We were overwhelmed again at the response this year as our table was mobbed. Here are some pics from the event:
What a blessing Westminster has been to our family and CLC over the years. In addition to supporting us as a missionary family, they have participated in CLC’s Christian Book Link program. In doing so, they have collected hundreds of used books over the years. These are then sent by CLC to needy parts of the world that cannot afford exclusively new Christian books; places like India, Myanmar, the islands of the Pacific Rim and several countries in Africa.
At the end of many mission’s conferences, the missionaries that participate can be pretty exhausted. Amazingly, Deb and I are always energized, motivated and recommitted after our time with the people at Westminster Presbyterian Church each year. We look forward to the next conference in March 2011.