OMP completes 29th summer of service

A wheelchair ramp nears completion by an OMP family group. COURTESY PHOTOS

A wheelchair ramp nears completion by an OMP family group.
COURTESY PHOTOS

Ozark Mission Project (OMP), a United Methodist-related ministry that began with a single camp in the summer of 1986, has completed its 29th season with a dozen mission-focused camps at locations across Arkansas.

More than 1,000 youth and adults fanned out across 24 counties to participate in 512 service projects—the largest number yet in a single OMP summer. The work included building wheelchair ramps, painting houses, doing yard clean-up and other tasks for neighbors who need assistance in maintaining their homes, whether for physical or financial reasons.

Campers form “family groups” that stay together over the course of each week-long camp, serving several neighbors during that time. Each family group seeks to build relationship with the neighbors they serve, inviting them to share in lunch and a brief devotional time. The physical labor combined with experiencing the spiritual side of Christian service helps form stronger disciples of Jesus Christ.

“Every summer we have volunteers and youth and tell us they want to devote themselves to ministry after spending one week at OMP,” says Bailey Faulkner, OMP’s executive director. “We are a ministry that’s developing future leaders of our church and state.”

Campers at Wayland Spring OMP Camp celebrate their work on the frame of a wheelchair ramp before putting it in place for a neighbor.

Campers at Wayland Spring OMP Camp celebrate their work on the frame of a wheelchair ramp before putting it in place for a neighbor.

This summer’s work was aided by the largest grant in OMP’s history. The Home Depot Foundation provided $26,000 that covered the costs of expanding OMP’s stock of tools and replacing broken ones, as well as paint and other supplies. In addition, the grant will help OMP continue to expand its year-round service opportunities. OMP already joins with campus ministries to provide mission opportunities for college students who want to spend part of their winter or spring break serving others.

“Being the hands and feet of Christ to people in our own backyard fills your soul like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Faulkner said.