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M-Fuge International leaders help teens embark on life of missions

GUADALAJARA, Jal., Mexico (BP)–When the 70 teenagers who attended M-Fuge International in Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico, June 15-22, went home, they had just begun to embark on missions, camp leaders said.

“Part of what this camp is about is to show the students how easy it is to do missions in their own world,” Joel Reynolds, camp pastor, from Birmingham, Ala., said. “This camp is not about completing things; it’s about beginning things. This is to open up their hearts to the possibility that missions is something that can be done anytime, anywhere.”

Co-sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and the SBC International Mission Board, M-Fuge International is a weeklong camp for youth, grades 10 through college. M-Fuge International events were held this summer in Wales, Venezuela, England, France and Mexico. Next year they will be held in five cities in Wales, Guadalajara, Mexico; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Kingston, Canada; and possibly Paris, France, and Amsterdam.

“The camps give kids a taste of missions in other countries and helped them know whether they want to become a bigger part of missions in the future,” said Rick Jenkins, IMB strategy coordinator for Western Mexico, who helped arrange the events.

The purpose of M-Fuge International, Jenkins said, is to help kids see “what mission work is all about. I hope the students leave knowing how they feel about missions one way or another. If they don’t feel called to missions, this is a great place to find out. Everybody should be concerned about missions, but not everybody is called to do the work.”

As one of 12 young adults who gave up four weeks of his summer to minister in the sweltering heat of Guadalajara, Reynolds said he attempted to teach the kids to “stop wasting God” through his sermons during evening worship services.

“I told them to stop asking God, ‘When am I going to get this and when am I going to get that?’ and to quit saying ‘Oh, I don’t have a car’ or ‘My boyfriend is mad at me’ or ‘I don’t have enough pairs of pants.'”

Reynolds, who led a construction team during the day at Iglesia Bautista Lirio de los Valles (Lily of the Valley Baptist Church), said the small Spanish countryside church had only 12 pews.

“My church in Alabama has hundreds and hundreds of pews. In closets there are pews we don’t even use. I just wanted these kids to trust God by saying, ‘Wherever we go, whatever we do, I know blessings are going to come to me because that’s how God interacts with his children.”

Margo Compton, of Louisville, Ky., led a team of youth who taught Vacation Bible School in a poverty-stricken area near Iglesia Bautista Elohim, a 40-member church which meets in the home of Pastor Gabrielle Barreara.

“I can see a definite difference in the kids from the beginning of week to the end of the week,” said Compton, who was a Missionary Journeyman for two years in Pueblo, Mexico, and speaks near-fluent Spanish.

“I think the kids come ready to serve and ready to give. I also think they are not quite sure how God will work in their lives, but they end up going home feeling blessed that God has given something to them whether it is showing the love of God through a smile or a hug or just getting a bigger grasp of Christianity and how God is working in different countries, specifically, Mexico.”

Compton said the kids learn God can bless them because they bless others.

“That’s something they don’t expect. They want to be a blessing, but they don’t expect to get a blessing in return.”

Kelly James of Louisville, Ky., led the students in creative activities near Lily of the Valley Baptist Church. While she said she is amazed how much the students grow and learn during their week on the mission field, James said she’s learned a few things herself.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to rely on here is that God is God, and I’m not, and this is not something I can do on my own.”

She said she’s taught creative ministries in the States and believes herself to be a good organizer.

“In the States, I can get a group of kids settled down so the youth can take over and do what they are supposed to do. But I can’t do that here. I don’t speak the language. But, yet, today we sat down with a group of 150 Spanish-speaking kids and planted the plan of salvation.”

By learning the words to children’s Bible songs and skits in Spanish, “we’ve been able to glorify God so that people we can’t even understand or carry on a conversation with can know God.”

James said the M-Fuge International staff in Guadalajara is “incredible.”

“Everyone is unique and gifted in different ways. Everybody works together like a puzzle.”

The M-Fuge staff of 12 included a Guadalajaran resident who works with the IMB, a Journeyman, a summer missions volunteer and nine staffers employed for M-Fuge by LifeWay. All staffers led Bible study groups in the mornings, team missions groups from mid morning until late afternoon, and worship activities in the evenings.

“The M-Fuge Staff has done an incredible job,” Jenkins said. “They have had a heart for students and vision for youth working in missions. They have adjusted to a new culture and have kept a focus on meaningful ministry.”

The staffers were: Tiffany Triplett, Jackson, Miss., camp director; Joanna Miley, Hattisburg, Miss., worship leader; Sally Perry, Live Oak Fla., painting team; Sherri Fain, Suffolk, Va., painting/construction; Mungai Karanja, San Diego, Calif., painting/construction; Jenny Daniels, Gallatin, Tenn., sports/recreation; Gabrielle Ortega, Guadalajara, painting; Jenni James, Statesboro, Ga., painting/construction (journeyman); Melissa Cash, Jacksonville, Fla., painting/VBS (summer missions volunteer); and Reynolds, Compton and James.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: A HELPING HAND, M-FUGE FUN and MAKING FRIENDS.

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  • Terri Lackey