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Missionsfest draws Baptists from 11 states

TOLEDO, Ohio (BP) — When Helen Henley, a member of Sunrise Baptist Church in Midland, Mich., heard Missionsfest would be in Toledo, Ohio, she “felt it was too close not to be a part.”

Henley was familiar with the three-hour drive to Toledo, since her son had attended college there and had lived just blocks away from where the outreach event would be held.

“I had visited the area before, but had not really been in the neighborhood,” Henley said. “I saw the city life that most people want to avoid seeing, but felt welcomed by those we spoke to and worked with.”

Missionsfest drew 77 adult volunteers from 11 states for a week of community outreach in urban Toledo and rural Defiance, Ohio. Construction work, hosting block parties, prayerwalking, conducting evangelism and outreach efforts, and teaching English to international college students were among the events activities.

Rosann Lafata, a volunteer from Warren Woods Baptist Church in Warren, Mich., supported Hope of Glory Church by inviting neighborhood residents to services there. The assignment was something Lafata hadn’t done before and was a little outside her comfort zone.

“In the area we were in, at first I was kind of leery about approaching the houses,” Lafata said, “but within a few minutes, that all changed for me. I don’t know who benefits more spiritually — the volunteers or the people we help.”

Sue Stickel, Ohio Woman’s Missionary Union vice-president, saw several benefits from Missionsfest as a local leader.

“Missionsfest in Ohio helped to show our people they can do missions right where they live,” Stickel said. “It doesn’t have to be hard, and there is a missions field right in your backyard.”

A highlight of the outreach was witnessing the pastors’ unselfish ministry, Stickel said.

“There were some rough areas to serve in,” she said, “but it didn’t stop anyone. Everyone worked together well.”

Teresa Bailey, WMU director for the Northwest Ohio Baptist Association, also expressed benefits of Missionsfest.

“Missionsfest brings the people of God together in one accord to minister by using various skills to meet needs of churches and communities and make new friendships,” Bailey said. “It is a great opportunity to form future connections for missions work and to give area communities and churches a boost of encouragement as His people work together for one common goal — sharing Jesus!”

Cathy Pound, executive director of Ohio WMU and a member of Spring Hills Baptist Church in Granville, expressed gratitude for all the volunteers. “I am thankful because our brothers and sisters in Northwest Ohio are blessed with new friends, new partners, and new hope,” she said.

Jeff Woolum, pastor of First Baptist Church, Perrysburg, Ohio, said, “The joy brought to one of our families, a single mom who is blind with two teenage girls, by the work done on her house cannot be described. (The volunteers brought) encouragement after encouragement.”

The Oct. 1–5, 2014, event was a partnership between the Northwest Ohio Baptist Association, and the Ohio and national WMUs.

Visit wmu.com/trips for opportunities to serve in 2015. Already lined up are myMISSION: New York, May 22–25, for collegiate and young women; and Familyfest in Indianapolis, July 18–22, recommended for volunteers age 6 and older. The Indianapolis outreach is designed for families, adult teams and student teams.