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Dear Friends—

A most happy and blessed New Year to you and yours.

No doubt, many of us reading this article can readily receive such a greeting; but, for some, these words may be welcomed but not so easily received or even believed. This may include an individual who just discovered they have a very difficult illness to contend with or maybe it’s a husband who lost a beloved wife of 35 years or one trapped in overwhelming bondage to an addiction or perhaps it’s a family who experienced a natural catastrophe and lost everything. The list goes on. When facing such a reality, it can be much more difficult to receive a word of blessing, while happiness is illusive at best. This is precisely when the Community of Faith, the Body of Christ, is called to rise up and consider the potency of missional engagement. It is helpful for us, as brothers and sisters who are bound up in Christ, to be aware of those who are struggling and then allow the Great Commandment to settle deeply into that place of compassion: “‘ … and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:30, 31) This will necessarily push us towards mission which can quickly and graciously re-prioritize the living out of these most challenging days. 

In 1 Corinthians 12, St. Paul paints a beautiful and profound picture of what it means to be a community of faith and concludes with these striking, life-altering words: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (v. 26) The writer of Hebrews says it a bit differently in 12:12, “ … lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Again, we can see our ‘calling’ to come alongside and help lift up and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus, especially for those whose hands are failing and knees and feet weak. This is what it means to be fully engaged in mission.

This brief article is an invitation for you to join us in an upcoming missional event or better yet, and more practically speaking, connect with a local church body and engage in mission … in your own backyard! Prayerfully consider engaging—Not only will it help bring restorative healing to any given situation but you will experience restoration and healing as well. Just engage.

Last year, I wrote an article for the July CORE Voice Newsletter (click here) regarding the power and potency of such missional engagement. It is there that I describe a particular outreach called City Mission (CM) which was birthed out of Cross Country Mission (CCM). Dennis (Nelson) asked that I write this article to share just a bit about our upcoming CCM. Again, though I’m inviting you to participate in this event, more so I’m inviting you to simply participate in mission at some level, somewhere.

On January 30th through February 4th (link for more details @ https://www.riversedgeministries.org/ ), River’s Edge Ministries will be headed to Pine Island, Florida, for our eleventh disaster relief/rebuild effort. We are a multi-generational group of ordinary people coming together from many denominations to be His Church. Our fervent hope is to be a Christ-centered family on mission and avail ourselves to the needs of those who were severely impacted by Hurricane Ian, causing over 150 fatalities in Cuba, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia; but most of the deaths were in Florida. Ian also caused catastrophic damage with losses estimated to be more than $50 billion. The cities of Fort Myers Beach and Naples were particularly hard hit. Millions were left without power in the storm’s wake, and numerous inhabitants were forced to take refuge on their roofs. Sanibel Island and Pine Island were hardest hit by the storm surge. Clearly, thousands are still in the recovery phase and are only now rebuilding their future. It will be our sacred honor to be part of that rebuilding.

Please note that we are currently working with Mary Bates (NALC Disaster Relief) who has established our base of operation, housing, missional work, etc. (Thank you, Mary, for all of your extraordinary work for the Kingdom of God, especially as it manifests itself in the midst of utter chaos and ruin.) Our plan is to arrive to First Baptist Church on Pine Island by the evening of January 30th. Upon arrival, we’ll set up our base camp on the church grounds in their building and outside in the parking lot, etc. We will work from 9:00 until 3:00 on January 31st, February 1st and 2nd, and then depart on February 3rd and arrive back home to MD by February 4th.  We will travel just over 1000 miles by car, van, and truck with the hope of bringing a small caravan of hurricane clean-up-rebuilding workers and prayer warriors. Some are even flying in. As alluded to before (cf. Mark 12), our hope is to minister to heart, soul, mind, and strength. There will be a broad range of work tasks, including ongoing clean-up, framing, electrical, drywalling, roofing, meal prep, and on-the-ground intercessory prayer. We are praying for many skilled and unskilled co-laborers, but mostly willing hearts! At the present time, nearly 20 have committed to this event; but, it seems that we’ll have closer to 30 brothers and sisters participating in Cross Country Mission: Pine Island, FL; again, from 16 to 70+ years of age and at least 7-8 different denominations. And to think that we, a church of the NALC, get to sponsor this event—What an honor and joy!

If by chance you become interested in participating in this effort or have an interest in hosting a similar event in the future, please register here or contact me directly. But the gentle invitation and challenge from this article remains: Simply engage in mission somewhere … it’s right in front of you. I’d like to thank CORE and many individuals for supporting this missional endeavor with resources and encouragement. 

Do take care, stay the course, and keep your eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith.

K. Craig Moorman

River’s Edge Ministries, Mt. Airy, MD

(Images in this post: Flickr)

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