A Sunday Prayer

Lord,

Too often my prayer is “Lord, Save me! Save me from pain, hurt and suffering! Save me from things I don’t want to experience! Save me when I mess up!”

But what I need, Lord, is to be saved from me when I put myself at the center of the universe. Think I can prod, coerce or trick You into doing my will. Settle for a shallow life. Seek to escape real life. Focus on surviving instead of thriving. And refuse to embrace Your will for me.

So, Lord, my prayer is very simple. Save me from me. And save me to You.

I pray this in the strong name of Jesus.

Amen.

I Love That You Love Me

It always begins with God, not you. You simply spend your life responding to what God does first. You don’t have to do it perfectly. God just wants you to show how much it matters to you, it’s what you really want to do and it’s your heart’s desire is to do it in every single part of your life. Responding to God’s amazing grace is simply the most powerful way you can say to God every single day, “ I love that you love me.”

Real Hope

Your life may be so painful that having any hope seems like a dream. You may have experienced so many setbacks you’re skittish about being the least bit hopeful. You may be struggling so much your greatest hope is just to find a dash of hope. But you can have real hope right now regardless of what you’re experiencing because God is pouring more hope into your life than you can take in. And when God does this, it unleashes a power that allows you to live with the confidence hope is actually becoming reality.   

Mission u Gears up for Four Days of Fellowship, Fun

Mission u Gears up for Four Days of Fellowship, Fun

Mission u is a chance for United Methodist women and girls throughout the state of Arkansas to come together and study important issues affecting society, and this year’s Mission u will cover topics like radical discipleship, 150 years of United Methodist Women’s ministry, and our relation to money within the context of faith.

The annual gathering will take place July 17 – 20 at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.

According to information provided by Mission u, the gathering is “an opportunity to study current issues impacting society based on recent mission study topics.”

While Mission u is seen as a great opportunity for members of the United Methodist Women to gather and learn together, it is also open to non-members of UMW, as well as children and youth.

“Mission u is a time for like-minded people to gather together. It’s a time to learn, and then leave renewed and hopefully go back home and pass along what you learned,” said Beth Cobb, 2019 Arkansas Conference Mission u dean and the Northwest District president for the Arkansas Conference United Methodist Women.

This year’s theme is “Radical Discipleship: Then and Now,” and the classes offered during the four days will focus around this theme.

In “Practicing Resurrection: The Gospel of Mark and Radical Discipleship,” participants will learn what it means to be a radical disciple using the Gospel of Mark as the foundation for the teaching. This class is based on author Janet Wolf’s book of the same name.

“Women United for Change: 150 Years in Mission” is a study by Ellen Blue which will commemorate the 150-year anniversary of United Methodist Women. United Methodist Women began with a group of eight women from Boston who organized the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society in 1869 and raised enough money to send two teachers to India as missionaries to serve the women living there.

There will also be classes on faithful use of money in “What About our Money? A Faith Response,” and two other classes on Mark geared toward youth, “Who do you say that I am? Meeting Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark,” and “MARKED: A Mission Journey with Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.”
“We have classes for everyone, from pre-k through adults, but our focus right now is really trying to get the younger ones involved in Mission u,” Cobb said.

One of the ways that Mission u is trying to attract the younger crowd is through hands-on projects that get young adults out into the mission field.

“Instead of having them sit in another classroom and listen to a lesson, we’re going to have them go out into Clarksville and help in some of the United Methodist mission projects in the city.

“That’s one of the ways this year will be different than last year; they’ll do one mission study the same as everyone else, but instead of doing a second mission study, we’re going to get them out and involved in helping the community.”

“With Mission u, we really want to remind people of all the good that United Methodist Women do, not only in the United States but worldwide, as well,” Cobb said. “Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot of negative things about the United Methodist Church and UMW, so this is a time to reinforce the good that we do and remind people that no matter what happens, the work of United Methodist Women will continue.”

To register online for Mission u, visit their website at www.armissionu.weebly.com. The registration deadline is July 1. For more information, visit their Facebook Page or contact armissionu@gmail.com.

Breaking Barriers in the Community
Booneville UMC reaches people where they are

By Sam Pierce

Featured Contributor

Left to right: Betty Hix, Michael McLean, Tommy McLean, Rachel Ewing, Caring & Sharing Team Chairperson Nikki Parker, Debby Scoggin, Nancy Smith, Joan Bishop and Rev. Mike Smith. || Photo by Nancy Kossler Smith

When the outreach ministry for Booneville First United Methodist Church first began, one lady showed up during one of the most challenging times in her life.

“She came when we were having the meal on the church,” Mike Smith, the pastor at Booneville FUMC said. “She was walking by because she didn’t have any transportation, and she engaged with us in conversation easily and she started coming to our church.

“As our relationship with her deepened, that’s when we began to discover more about her and her complicated background. We came into her life at a crucial point.”

Smith said the ladies of the church just surrounded her.

“We have helped her financially, got her set up a residential center in Rogers and got her counseling,” Smith said. “She actually told us, she would not be alive if not for this ministry because she considered taking her life.

“This ministry allows us to break through that barrier and it is an opportunity for us to contact people and give them an encouraging word that we would not have had otherwise.”

The Sharing and Caring Ministry, as it has become known, involves members of the church taking meals to certain housing areas, setting up tables, and engaging in conversations with residents of apartment complexes. Nikki Parker, a member at Booneville FUMC, is one of the lead organizers.

“If we only reach one person, that’s one more than we had,” Parker said. “I think anytime, whether it is on the church grounds, or at the apartment complex, or other areas of towns, where we can reach people, especially the kids — because we know they are the future — it is pretty special.

“When things are close to my heart, this is what happens.”

The ministry started with a hot dog type lunch at the church on the lawn, and it had some success. Smith said the church is located at the intersection of the two main highways that run through Booneville, so it was a good location, and they had some activity there. He said it allowed them to engage in conversation outside of the church, just with people walking or driving by.

Smith said they eventually moved out to an apartment complex that “has a lot of children and working families.”

“We knew one of the managers at one of those complexes, so we discussed coming and offering lunch,” Smith said. “We would park our church van near one of their pavilions and serve hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks.

“It was just a great opportunity to engage in conversation, by talking to the adults there and hopefully encourage them to visit the church because of our ministry.

“Our main objective was to get out to the community and let people know that we care.”

“Our church has always had the reputation of being an open and friendly church, with a very strong prayer ministry that reaches to people outside of our church, when we know about them,” Parker said. “I just felt like we needed to get outside the church and we felt like this was a way to give back and get out into the community.

“We never did it with the anticipation that it would cause people to come to church. That was never the goal. Our goal was just to get out into the community.”

The ministry has now moved from the apartments to a local neighborhood. Smith said one afternoon, they parked the van, and visited with people who were out in their yards. He said they had some great success with that, as people would come and engage in conversation and hang around the van.
“We would talk and pray with some people, and it just became a real time for us to touch base,” Smith said. “We have eight to 10 people that are currently involved that are going out and more than that helping us prepare, or give money to help buy the food.

“We don’t budget the ministry; it is self-sustained. It allows our whole church to be involved.”

Parker said she has several school teachers that are involved in the ministry and a juvenile probation officer that has seen the results of kids not having the support that they needed from their community or family and went down bad paths.

“All these ladies are a big part of our ministry because they want to help,” Parker said. “Our church is very supportive of any ministry that we try to do. Some can’t go out with us, but they can help us at the church as we prepare food, or support us financially.

“I think that’s because they believe in what we are doing. It gives the church body several avenues to support this ministry.”

Parker said they are currently gearing up to start the ministry again, after taking a break this winter. She said they are trying to determine if other areas need to be targeted because they don’t want to be tied at one place all the time.

“There is a possibility for us to do more than we are doing now,” Parker said. “We may need to get a second place and alternate trips.

“I don’t know if we could get a second group together, but our church has always been so supportive, and we have had lots of people that come and help.”

She said they have good fellowship bagging up cookies and putting the drinks on ice.

“That was a good opening to get the kids, and that was the primary target,” Parker said. “But now we are seeing a lot of adults join us as well, so we just keep on trying.”

Betty Hix, center, talks with residents of an apartment complex where Booneville UMC’s outreach ministry team meets. || Photo by Nancy Kossler Smith

Smith said they are hoping to expand the ministry, which will include more nutritious meals such as sandwiches or a hot meal.

“We would fix it at the church, and put into carryout boxes and deliver them to the apartment complexes — something more sustainable,” Smith said. “When we first started, we really didn’t promote it a lot, but we are looking now to have a regular schedule every week.

“So when that day rolls around, people will know we are there. We are meeting within the next few weeks, to get back out there by the time school is out and take the ministry to the next level.”

Smith said one of the reasons they moved away from having it at the church is because people are more comfortable at their own turf.

“It is much easier to have a conversation, and it allowed us to reach more people in a much more relaxed environment,” Smith said. “We go back and see the same people, and we knew them by name and the issues they are having.

“We are taking the church out into the community.”

Smith said one of the main things he has seen through this ministry is “acceptance.”

“We see barriers being broken down,” he said. “Barriers that were put up because of expectations from people that are in the community.

“We had people, who started this, who were a little apprehensive and we saw those barriers being broken down. We are seeing God work and conversations happening.”

He said he had met a lot of people who said they never wanted to go church at Booneville FUMC, and now “they see God in a different way or see the church in a different way.”

“We have seen barriers on both sides of sharing the gospel being broken down in the community, and we see the church being a part of their life,” Smith said.