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Family mission trips see registration climb

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–James and Cheri Tew and their children were “on mission” as a family even before the North American Mission Board turned their summers toward ministering to others.

In lieu of the typical family vacation at theme parks or the beach, NAMB’s “Families on Mission” enables mom, dad, kids and even grandparents to join in a Saturday-Thursday pre-packaged missions venture.

Rick Head, NAMB’s adult volunteer mobilization consultant, said a total of 280 people participated in Families on Mission in 2007 — and 675 have registered to date for this summer’s projects.

For the second year in a row, the Tews, their 14-year-old son Andrew and 8-year-old daughter Mollie from Lakeland, Fla., will participate in a Families on Mission initiative. Last summer, the family spent a week in New Orleans repairing hurricane-damaged houses.

“Working alongside our children in New Orleans last year was an incredible experience,” Cheri said.

Tew, referring to the upsurge in Families on Mission registrations, said he believes such missions trips are “going to take off because I think this kind of mission work is at the heart of God. And when I think about families working together for the Lord, I think that pleases God.”

In Lakeland, Tew is a bivocational minister who also operates a 2,300-acre cattle ranch and blueberry farm. In ministry since they both attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where James earned a doctorate, the Tews found out about NAMB’s Families on Mission initiative by accident.

“We were elated when we found out about it on NAMB’s website last year,” Cheri said. “But James and I had talked about the need for such a missions program for years. We found Families on Mission as an opportunity to show our children that we’re willing to go outside our comfort zone.

“We view everything in life -– and we’re busy people with a lot of responsibilities -– from the standpoint of missions,” she added. “We want our children to understand that a family is to be on mission wherever they are, even at school.”

Tew, who will be project coordinator for a Families on Mission effort in Bryson City, N.C., this June, said missions “is not a just a vocation reserved for a select group of Christians. We believe missions is the responsibility of every Christian, and that families should do missions together.

The Bryson City project has a maximum capacity of 150 slots for volunteers. The Tews’ own church, Kathleen Baptist Church in Lakeland, already has filled 20 of those slots.

Plugging into the work of local missionaries and their ministries, participating families may spend their week doing light construction, repairs, painting and yard work. Other projects may include conducting Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps, block parties, prayer walking or simple acts of kindness.

Their days begin with family devotions and missions training, and end with evening praise and worship, testimonies and family discussion of the day’s happenings.

Registration is under way for the six Families on Mission trips scheduled between June 7 and July 24: Bryson City/Cherokee, N.C., June 7-12; Blue Ridge, Ga., June 14-19; Helen, Ga., June 21-26; Lynch, Ky., June 28-July 3; Blue Ridge, Ga., July 12-17; and Summersville, W.Va., July 19-24.

The cost is $225 per person, which includes meals and housing for the week.

A similar Woman’s Mission Union initiative, FamilyFest, has slated projects for Baltimore, June 21-25; Tijuana, Mexico, July 19-24; and Kansas City, Kan., July 21-25.
Mickey Noah is a writer with the North American Mission Board. For more information about Families on Mission projects, go to www.namb.net/fom, phone 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6219, or e-mail Rick Head at [email protected] Slots are first-come, first-served and each venue has a maximum number. For information about Woman’s Missionary Union FamilyFests, go to www.wmu/VolunteerConnection/volunteer/2008_mfest.asp.

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  • Mickey Noah