By Dawn Zurmiller
TIPTON—In October 2001, Donna Potts and Lucy Engelbrecht started out on their very first MissionFEST. They went to Philadelphia, where they helped elderly women who could not afford repairs on their homes. Engelbrecht fondly recalled that trip.
“We put in a new tile floor for Mrs. Kauffman,” she said. “She told us through tears and a smile that she didn’t know when she had ever laughed so much as when we laughed together while repairing her home.”
Years later it is people like Kauffman and a strong desire to use the gifts God gave them to help others that keep Engelbrecht and Potts returning to take part in the MissionFEST/ FamilyFEST adventure. They have participated in six of these mission trips, going to cities in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Florida and Kansas. This year they will be going to Cincinnati, Ohio, June 19-25, and Wichita, Kan., July 10-16.
MissionFEST and FamilyFEST are prepackaged mission trips that allow volunteers the chance to join with Christians around the country and use their gifts and talents to minister to others in Christ’s name. MissionFEST provides opportunities for women and men 18 years and older, while FamilyFEST gives children age 6 and up a chance to learn about missions while working beside adult family members. FamilyFEST also extends this experience to include church families and friends as well.
Volunteers are responsible for their transportation, lodging and travel to sites. However, both packages eliminate the need to locate and coordinate mission sites, since the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) makes assignments in advance from preferences the volunteers have previously indicated. These mission trips are a distinct partnership between National WMU, State WMU and local Baptist associations and churches. The volunteers are involved in hands-on missions projects that usually last for one week on site. By actively meeting the needs of others, participants can witness through word and deed.
Volunteer missionaries number as few as 50 to several hundred from across the United States; therefore many ministry projects can be completed that otherwise would not have been accomplished. Potts and Engelbrecht have been a part of a wide variety of these projects. Along with remodeling several bathrooms in several churches, painting a baptistry, doing Backyard Bible Clubs, and helping with block parties, Potts noted a couple of their more unusual projects.
“We did Beach Evangelism where we walked the beach in Jacksonville, Fla., and handed out evangelistic frisbees and surfboard wax,” she said. “We also did a prayerwalk across a bridge and got caught on the drawbridge as it opened to allow a boat to pass through. MissionFEST has provided me many opportunities to do a variety of mission projects as well as serving alongside volunteers from across the country.”
Engelbrecht agreed that the wide range of service is appealing.
“Every project provides a new opportunity to minister and witness, new friends gained, new skills developed, and a desire to continue missions involvement,” she said.
When you meet these two ladies you can’t help but catch hold of some of their excitement, but it’s not just because of the great deal of fun they have. Rather, they express extreme fulfillment by carrying out God’s purpose in their lives.
“This enables us to do the ministry we feel called to do,” Potts said, “as well as be part of WMU.”
“The two of us feel God has called and is equipping us as a volunteer team of two who join other teams to accomplish whatever God has planned,” Engelbrecht said.
They encourage anyone who feels God calling them to missions ministry to explore the opportunities available through MissionFEST and FamiliyFEST by contacting the national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., at www.wmu.com or by calling (205) 991-8100. Types of ministry include sports camps, tutoring, prayerwalking, servant ministries, social ministries, creative arts, light construction, and much more. Experience in any of these areas is not necessary—only a commitment to allow God to use you in his purpose.