NEW PALESTINE — The Rev. Jason Taylor is a man with a purpose.
A couple of years ago he led members of Zion Lutheran Church in New Palestine to Honduras, where the parish began doing mission work at an orphanage through Open Door Ministries.
Since then, Taylor has been back three times, each time taking others from the church with him. Twenty church members were part of the most recent trip in March.
Also, in April, Taylor took a group of nine men from the church to New Orleans. They went to help families still in need of getting back on their feet from Hurricane Katrina nearly 12 years ago.
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Taylor and the other men helped rebuild a home for an elderly woman. She’d been living in the dilapidated home with no water, no electricity and no walls for more than a year. Their work sought to put her back where she belongs, in a safe place.
Taylor wants to bring that type of ministry service to the area, reaching out to the elderly who have needs around their homes but can’t take care of them.
Trips to Honduras and New Orleans are examples of the type of mission work Taylor is hoping others will want to part take in.
“Life is about loving and serving others,” Taylor said.
“It’s what God calls us to do.”
He’s trying to lead by example, showing others how to become involved in their communities as well as places around the world. He’s showing his flock of nearly 400 that they, too, can do mission work abroad or every day, right in their own backyard.
Taylor feels it’s not only important for people to serve one another now and again, but also to learn from mission trips and turn the experience into daily action by figuring out what people can do in the here and now.
“Many people, when they go on these trips, they realize just how good we have it here, and they wrestle with what they can do about it,” he said.
Taylor’s answer: God gives a look into other worlds so people with plenty can see they need to step up and give to others who don’t have their blessings.
“That’s scriptural — 2 Corinthians,” he said. “We’ve got to love our neighbor, just as God has loved us.”
The spring trip overseas to Honduras was moving for the pastor and the rest of the group.
They took shoes and first aid kits and passed out food at feeding stations near where they were staying.
The main focus of the mission trip was to share faith and provide assistance to an orphanage in Tocoa, Honduras, where 70 abused children live. The church sent an exploratory team there three years ago and decided then it would be a mission Zion Lutheran would support with funds, supplies and visits.
The orphanage is run by an American couple from Florida, Barry and Penny Compton, who started the mission 12 years ago.
The Zion Lutheran group also went to a nearby hospital where new moms were given a handmade blanket or quilt for their newborn made by the church parish.
Anna Caster, 14, is an eighth-grader at Zion Lutheran School in New Palestine. She went on the trip with the church group, including her parents and older brother.
As the pastor had hoped, it was an eye-opening experience for the young student.
“It was so crazy,” Anna said. “It gave me a whole new perspective on life.”
She’ll never forget the children’s smiles, she said. The orphans were beyond happy to be given attention and get a pair of socks, when the free shoes ran out.
Taylor knows these kinds of trips can have a lasting impact on people. He was thrilled recently to learn his 15-year-old daughter, Kate Taylor, the eldest of his four children, made a decision to go into the mission field.
She visited the orphanage for the first time last year with her dad.
“She surprised us,” Taylor said with a smile. “I was pleased to hear about her plans.”
The pastor is hoping others in the church and community will step up and support their own mission, whatever that may be, or the Honduras orphanage directly. Anyone can do so by visiting odm.us.org, or contact Taylor at the church at 317-861-4210 for more details on the facility.