GREENFIELD — A mission aviator. A couple working with children in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border. A mobilizer for those going out to serve on the mission field, as he once did in Uganda.
They will all share their stories Sept. 21-22 during the annual Mission Celebration at Trinity Park United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Larry Van Camp, senior pastor of the church, said there are about 65 individuals and/or projects supported by the church’s Faith Promise giving. Each September, several of those supported visit Mission Celebration to offer a more in-depth look at the ministry happening where they serve.
Having the missionaries visit is “putting human faces to names and circumstances,” Van Camp said. “It’s building relationships. Nobody gives to a budget…
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“That name and what (missionaries) shared becomes real to them, and it’s a lot more personal that way.”
Jim and Mary Newman, for example, serve with MMS Aviation (Missionary Maintenance Services) in Ohio and will speak at the event. They help train and mentor the next generation of missionary aviators, who go to Ohio to serve 30-month apprenticeships learning to work on planes and fly them. They train with certified mechanics, working on planes that will fly off to the mission field, and earn their own FAA license.
Jim Newman said he was working on a mechanical engineering degree in college when he learned of an aviation maintenance degree also available through the school. Meanwhile, he had chances to learn about missions through his local church.
“I learned back then that missionaries could come in a lot more shapes and sizes than pastors or doctors,” he said.
The Newmans served with Wings of Peace in Bolivia from 2003-2009. They left Bolivia amid political unrest, but “didn’t really feel like the Lord was done with us in mission aviation,” Jim Newman said. Working with MMS Aviation has been a good fit in the years since.
He said planes assist in mission work by drastically reducing the time needed to move team members and supplies — or take an emergency patient to a doctor. He recalls a village he used to visit in Bolivia that was six hours away by driving over rugged terrain, 11 to 12 hours away by boat on a piranha-infested river, or 20 minutes away by plane.
“I think a lot of the people here … have a hard time understanding how primitive and basically non-existent the road infrastructure is” in some parts of the world, he said.
Just as he found his own unique path in ministry, he said he’ll be encouraging his Mission Celebration audience to consider how God can use their unique abilities.
“Doing what God wants you to do can take on a lot of different looks to it,” he said. “Look at what God has done in your life, what he has gifted you with, and try to use that to further the kingdom.
“(Take) that unique ‘you’ness and put that to use somewhere around the world.”
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Mission Celebration 2019
Organizers say anyone is welcome to attend Mission Celebration to hear from missionaries and be encouraged. All events take place at Trinity Park United Methodist Church, 207 W. Park Ave. Baby-sitting is provided for all services.
6:30 p.m. — ice cream social in the Ministry Center
7 p.m. — service in the Ministry Center with John Rinehimer, vice president of mobilization and communications for World Gospel Mission, speaking and Adams Voice singing
7 p.m. — JAM (Jesus and Me) and Junior Worship in Room 11, featuring Jim and Mary Newman of MMS Aviation
9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. — services with Rinehimer speaking and Adams Voice singing
9 and 11:15 a.m. — JAM and Junior Worship in Room 11 with Jim and Mary Newman
10:15 a.m. — Sunday School
after 11:15 a.m. service — catered dinner in the Ministry Center with everything provided
4 to 6 p.m. — junior high and high school Youth Missions Night with Gerson and Betsy Tejeda, who minister with World Gospel Mission along the Texas/Mexico border