When people think of missions work they tend to think of third world countries and travelling long distances to make Christ famous. However, what we fail to realize sometimes is that our greatest mission field can be right in our own backyard. Living in Calvert County, Maryland, we often forget how blessed we are and that not all people in our great country have the same privileges as us. With those realizations in mind, we decided to keep our annual youth mission trip a little more local this year, choosing to serve alongside the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) in Rainelle, West Virginia.
In late June of 2016, the small Appalachian town of Rainelle was devastated by serious flooding, flooding that damaged or destroyed a large portion of their downtown and residences. In an effort to help rebuild Rainelle, numerous churches and organizations from around the country have come together with ASP to help repair and reconstruct homes in the town. With a team of 28 students and adults, we departed for Rainelle on June 18, not sure of how much help we would be with most of the members of our team not being very skilled in carpentry. However, as our trip unfolded, we continued to see God work and provide through each member of our team. Just as Paul likens the church to a functioning body with many parts, our team had all the right parts. From individuals who were skilled with a circular saw to individuals who could simply offer a smile and encouragement, God provided everything our team needed to successfully do His work.
During our week in Rainelle, our group was divided into four teams, with each team having a different home to help repair. Our tasks included installing flooring, building safe and secure entryways, constructing entry ramps, and so much more. When we step back and look at our week, it would be easy to focus on how much we were able to accomplish and how much we served others (none of which could have been done without God’s provision). But if that is what we were to focus on, we would be missing out on sharing how we saw God during our week, how we saw God in the joyful hearts of the people of Rainelle despite great loss, how we saw God in beauty of the mountains of West Virginia, and how we saw God work in the selflessness and compassion of our own teammates.
You don’t need to travel the world in order to serve others, you simply need to look for the opportunities around you. When those opportunities arise, don’t be afraid to take them knowing that the God of the universe is going to provide everything you need to accomplish His work!
Thank you to all of those who helped support us and spent time in prayer for us. Thank you to the people of Rainelle for welcoming us with open arms. We cannot wait to return!
Submitted by: Nathan Orlandi