Children learn importance of Christian service through Destination: Mission

Participants in Destination: Mission help out at a food pantry during one of this summer’s trips. COURTESY PHOTO

Participants in Destination: Mission help out at a food pantry during one of this summer’s trips.

By Denni Palmer
Special Contributor

Destination: Mission, a division of the Arkansas Conference Council on Children’s Ministries, held summer mission trips in Jonesboro, Beebe, and at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville for upper elementary and middle school students as young as third grade. In the spirit of I Timothy 4:12, the young missionaries do not let their age and size stop them from serving at food banks, thrift store, children’s home, assisted living facilities and more.

Teams are made up of students, youth helpers and adults from a variety of churches and everyone has a prayer buddy. Children always make new friends from other churches by the first night, which is a way of strengthening the United Methodist connection. Teams represent churches of all sizes across Arkansas, and this summer also brought the first out-of-state participant from Missouri.

When teams go to mission sites, the constant response is one of surprise at how much work is accomplished. Before teams are sent out each day, they pray to see the things that break the heart of God, and also for God to show them who in the group could be a future pastor or will hear the call into ministry and missions.

At afternoon debriefings, children share how they are grateful for the things they have and for food to eat. They talk about how they can continue helping once they return home and also point out anyone who showed Christ’s love in service to others.

Destination: Mission also offers ideas for staying connected after participants return home. For example, this Advent and Christmas season, churches are encouraged to participate in Project Present, which involves carrying out service projects in their area and posting photos at

For 2016, the spring break trip, BuiLD, will be based on Matthew 28:19, and held March 20-23 in Little Rock. The summer trip theme will be HEROES, based on Philippians 4:13, and two options for attending will be available: July 6-9 at Mount Sequoyah and July 20-23 at Siloam Springs. The latter dates also will be the 20th trip since Destination: Mission’s beginning in 2008 as a ministry of First United Methodist Church Siloam Springs.

To help support Destination: Mission, send contributions to the Arkansas Conference UMC, Destination: Mission, 800 Daisy Bates Drive, Little Rock, AR 72202. To learn more about this ministry, connect at or

Palmer serves as Christian education and spiritual formation coordinator at Mount Sequoyah and as director of Destination: Mission.