Your MISSION, should you choose to accept it…

MISSION: Marshall

Photo Credit: szeke via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: szeke via Compfight cc

Today in Small Group communication class we were lucky enough to have Mrs. Misty Scott (wife of Glenn Scott – ETBU IT extraordinaire!) from Mission Marshall come to talk with us about some service the groups in class could participate in this semester.

I thought it was AWESOME!

She explained so much about their history and vision that I didn’t know. I’m thinking you might not know it either, so allow me to share!

Mission Marshall Facts:

  • Mission Marshall has only been operational for 2 years.
  • They partner with many other non-profits around the area like the United Churches of Marshall Food Pantry, the Faith Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, and the Red Cross.
  • One of their biblical inspirations comes from Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon, which encourages them to make the most of the land God has sent them to inhabit.

Wow! What an inspiring woman! What an inspiring program!

She explained to us that the city of Marshall has a 25% poverty rate, and though we have many churches/organizations trying to help, there is still a lot to be done.

Mission Marshall seeks to help people along the way, create relationships with them, and show them how to help themselves, all by showing them the love that Christ has for them.

They have seemingly a million different programs, but some of the highlights are their Jobs for Life class, the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and a Food Pantry that even provides PRODUCE twice each month!

Photo Credit: cignoh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cignoh via Compfight cc

(If you’ve ever found a tomato or peach at the back of your fridge that’s even 1 day too old, you can imagine how difficult it is to collect and distribute such perishable foods!)

So besides offering more services than your average non-profit, what was so captivating about Mrs. Scott’s presentation and Mission Marshall?

Much more than just a food pantry, relationships are their number one priority. (Click to Tweet)

Photo Credit: cignoh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cignoh via Compfight cc

Their main purpose is to treat every individual as a person and not just someone who “needs help.” They seek to help people help themselves, and to help them realize God is there to help them too. 

Why is this such a new idea? Helping the whole person and not just their one need –  sounds like an obvious solution!

But how quick are we to zero in on one problem and fix it as fast as possible? We pat ourselves on the back for “serving,” and then just move on to the next project.

But people in this city need our help. (Click to Tweet)

Churches do a great job of feeding the hungry, at least for a time. But there is a greater need.

What about self-fulfillment? What about friendship? What about love? What about God?

Photo Credit: szeke via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: szeke via Compfight cc

What kind of poverty are we really fixing here?

I am so excited to see how the students in Small Group Communication will work to serve this city this semester! There are some great ideas already, and we have only just gotten started.

I know I am motivated to be more involved, and I hope you are too!

Saving our city and our neighbors is really a pretty selfish mission. Don’t you want to live in a nice place, with nice people?

But, thankfully, it’s also God’s mission for us.

And I know we are already making progress. We can make an impact on this mission!

After all, God does not know the word impossible.

AML

Real Live Prof

004

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

It was shaping up to be a great Sunday evening. My wife and I were having dinner, without kids, with another couple. We love this couple, but because of family and that demon, Busyness, we do not get to chat with them as much as we would like. Inevitably the dinner conversation turned to our histories. I was surprised to hear a very familiar story from her.

It seems that when she was in college, in her last semester, she was doing her student teaching. She had always wanted to be a teacher. Unfortunately, within a few days of starting her student teaching, she knew it was not for her. She dropped out, worked for a year, and finally went back and finished her degree with another major. So, while I am very glad she finished her degree, I can wish that she had taken a Service Learning class along the way.

At ETBU, I teach this class every semester. Since it is an upper level elective, the students who usually take it are seniors. Their first question is almost always, “What is this class all about?” The short answer is that after students enroll in the class, they must find a place to volunteer for either 30, 60, or 90 hours during the semester. For many, it is exactly like the frustrating process of finding a job later on. Employers do not return calls, or respond to emails. They seem really annoyed when students keep asking about the volunteering opportunity. Or, the potential employers throw down gauntlets of procedures and forms which appear designed to discourage the students from actually working.

The students’ next question is, “Well, where do I volunteer?” I explain that the volunteering can be a career investigation in an area they are interested in when they graduate in a few months. A kind of “try before you buy” approach, I suggest.

Over the 8 years I have taught the class, the overwhelming response of students to volunteering has been very positive. Students who shadow workers for a semester have a very real understanding of what a particular job is all about. They know how to get the job they have seen modeled. They now have a reference in the area they want to work in and they have started networking. They can even list the volunteer experience on their otherwise very skimpy resumes.

When the experience is not positive, the students still come away with amazing personal insight. I well remember a student asking me to help her find a volunteer situation that worked with children. Together we found an after school program that allowed her to do just that. In the middle of that semester, however, she had the “Aha” revelation that she did not want to work with kids, ever. She finished the semester, but soon changed her major. She is now working exclusively with adults in counseling and loves it.

I really believe in Service Learning, and I often wonder why more students don’t try out prospective jobs through this program. Service Learning is part of my story as well. I began teaching at a junior college (so the pay was actually close to volunteering!) When I wondered about teaching at a Christian college, I applied to adjunct teach at Dallas Baptist. After a few weeks of teaching there, I was hooked for life. Eventually I found my way to East Texas Baptist, and I can echo Solomon’s words: I have found great satisfaction in my work and I see that this is also from the hand of God.