By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
From Here to There: A Series about Madison County residents that travel to help their fellowman. If you know of an individual or civic, school or church group that has embarked on a mission trip in the last year, please email email@example.com.
With specific plans for constructing a church building in Chile, members of Wesley Free Methodist Church traveled with visions of plumbing, completing electrical work and installing flooring. When they arrived, they found instead that they needed to fabricate, weld and erect the steel frame.
“You never end up doing what you think you will, but God uses you,” said Mark Murphy, pastor. “We had hoped construction was further along than that, but it would have been very difficult for them to do this work without us.”
“You have to be flexible,” agreed Jeff Crosley, GM retiree and maintenance worker at Liberty Christian School. “You can plan for months and months in advance, but when you get there everything is different than you expected. Sometimes you are down there to build relationships and that is as important as any kind of physical help.”
Having supported a full-time missionary to Valdivia, Chile, for a number of years, the congregation has sent teams to provide extra assistance three times. A group has been meeting for 25 years in the lower level of the pastor’s home. Since numbers are consistently near 100, Wesley Free Methodist Church has helped them purchase land on which to build.
“They are doing a tremendous ministry in a very poor neighborhood,” said Murphy. “The help of the North American church and our presence was a real inspiration for them. The church of Jesus Christ is so much larger than we think. God’s body is alive and well around the world.”
Four members of the Anderson congregation met up with three members of a congregation in Pennsylvania to complete this trip. In addition to construction, two nurses set up a health clinic and ministers spoke to groups and traveled to minister to individuals.
“On my trips I have been surprised at the connection you make with people from a different culture that speak a different language,” said Crosley. Most of the time you communicate without an interpreter. It’s amazing how much emotional feelings you have for people when you only stay two weeks.”
“When people are able to move cross-culturally, so often the worldwide need becomes lodged in their heart and doesn’t leave,” said Murphy. “It’s a life-changing moment when you become aware of the needs in Third World nations.”
“If you are a believer, a mission trip expands your spiritual growth and actually intensifies the love that is a gift from the Lord,” said Crosley. “Even if you are not a believer, it makes the world a lot smaller. You have empathy for things around the world and are not so localized.”