Northwest Texas Congregation Shares Christ’s Love Through Mission Support
By Sandra Brands
For the Rev. Kelly Inman, mission is not just supporting others in the field or helping people in need. It’s about forming relationships that help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Mission, he said, is “an amazing opportunity to be the hands and the feet and the voice of Christ around the world. We have a higher calling of going out into all the world and missions is the vehicle that takes us [there] to help people experience the love of God that otherwise, they might not be able to experience.”
Inman, associate pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Midland, Texas, encourages and helps build covenant relationships between the Northwest Texas congregation and General Board of Global Ministries missionaries. The church has covenant relationships with Global Ministries missionaries David and Cindy Ceballos, serving in Panama, and Skip Hodges, serving in Bolivia. The congregation also supports volunteers and projects related to the Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya.
“We may not be able to ever go to Panama or Kenya, but we can sure help spread the good news of Jesus Christ by financially supporting the missionaries who do go,” he said.
In a covenant relationship, Inman said, a congregation agrees to financially support a missionary for a period of one, three or five years. But it’s not just about money. When missionaries itinerate in the United States, they visit a sponsoring congregation and share their experiences and stories, helping to build relationships between individual members and the missionaries. Missionaries also keep in contact with their covenant partners through newsletters, the Internet and letters.
Being in covenant with missionaries “means walking with them along their journey in the mission field where we feel like we’re connected to a mission station,” Inman said. “It’s understanding what is going on in other parts of the world as far as kingdom and relationship building from the missionaries’ side of it. They are on the front lines. They come face to face with the poverty, the violence, with all of it.
“We know we can’t fund everyone, so there’s strategic areas that we have covenant relationships with, mainly because of the relationships we built here personally with the missionaries,” Inman said. “Here at St. Luke’s, they have really embodied passionately the call to go into to the world sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
A passion for mission
St. Luke United Methodist Church’s commitment to mission and covenant relationships is seen in its youth, who Inman says have a passion for mission. “They’re passionate about finding new ways to be able to help in places they wouldn’t be able to go.”
Recently, St. Luke’s youth have gotten involved with the Zoe Orphan Empowerment Program, part of Zoe Hope Companions, an outreach that helps vulnerable children and children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda. The three-year program helps teenage and child head of households build community with each other and develop skills needed to care, financially, physically and emotionally, for themselves and their siblings while learning about God’s love.
“Our youth are going to partner with a newly formed group [of orphans], supporting them financially, walking with them, and partnering with them on their three-year journey,” Inman said. They will maintain contact through Skype, letters and updates, and by the end of the three years, Inman hopes to take a select group of teenagers to Kenya to “meet the group they’ve worked with, visit their farms and their houses, help where we’re needed and just to love on them.”
Learn more about Covenant Relationships and the work of Global Ministries missionaries.