OMP hosting adult groups for year-round mission
By Amy Forbus
As part of its strategic plan, Ozark Mission Project (OMP) has expanded into programs beyond its well-known summer camps for youth and school break experiences for college students, with the goal of being able to provide year-round mission opportunities.
The organization’s executive director, Bailey Faulkner, credits a grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA), which funded the hiring of a recruitment and logistics coordinator, for helping make possible the latest expanded offerings. Michael McMurray has been working in that role since May of this year.
One recent result of OMP’s expanded capabilities was the October arrival of a Volunteers in Mission team from First UMC Appleton, Wisconsin. The group of 26 United Methodists, most of whom are retired, divided their attention among projects OMP arranged at the Arkansas Foodbank, Our House, United Cerebral Palsy and the homes of three different OMP-identified Neighbors in North Little Rock who needed ramps or porches to make their homes accessible.
“The work needed to be done sooner than in the summer,” said Bailey Faulkner, OMP’s executive director.
Appleton UMC’s team, which tends to choose a different destination each year, expressed appreciation for a wonderful and rewarding experience.
“This year I was able to work on several different projects and felt God’s presence in the amazing families I connected with and the committed and caring staff at OMP,” said Donna Frick.
“The staff at OMP made everything so convenient for our team when we came there to work,” said fellow team member Anne Bremer. “The families we served were welcoming and helpful, directions and guidelines were clear and thorough, and the churches who hosted our meals were welcoming. OMP manages its programs in an efficient, compassionate, and professional manner. It was a joy to be part of the operation for a week!”
First UMC Appleton’s pastor, the Rev. Jayneann McIntosh, was making her third trip with this group, but she said some of its members have been engaging in mission together for more than 20 years.
“From the first, I’ve been amazed and delighted by their commitment to this ministry,” McIntosh said. “They’ve worked with both storm damage and poverty relief, traveling to New Jersey, the Dakotas, New Mexico and now Arkansas, as well as many other places nearer and further from home.” The team looks for opportunities with jobs for everyone, so that someone with health problems can serve in a non-construction setting, while those with advanced carpentry skills can put those talents to work, too. They also address the spiritual aspects of service to others.
“This trip, I particularly encouraged us to try to look beyond our own context,” she said. “What assumptions or judgments were getting in our way of meeting people where they were—loving and accepting them as our neighbors?”
To connect with OMP, visit www.ozarkmissionproject.org.