Thank you to all who have supported us through these many weeks of preparation and then finally, while we were on our mission trip itself. As you know, we were called to work in Crum, WV. It is a city in Wayne County with a population of about 1500. The need for Jesus here is great. Crum is a coal mining community that is able to provide intermittent work for its members based on the varying needs for coal around the country. The opioid crisis has been a prominent concern in the community as well, taking a toll on many of the families. As you can imagine, the future remains uncertain for many community members.
While morale for what the future holds is often low, the sense of community is great in the area. Many of the people support one another in various ways, more so than (I believe) we see in our own community. We were able to rely on these community supporters to point us to some of the physical needs. We were able to work with a family who suddenly lost custody of their husband/father three months ago. The couple who had formerly lost their children due to the opioid epidemic was able to be reunited, much due the work done by missionaries who came before us. The mother is attempting to renovate the mobile home herself while the oldest daughter prepares to attend nursing school. We were able to support the family by doing some painting.
We worked in another home painting as well. It was an approximately 700 sq foot home with 9 people living in it, one of whom is handicapped. The living conditions are poor by our standards. There is no stove, oven or ac in the home. There is much work that is needed to make repairs and the home is infested with pests. The mother takes care of the handicapped aunt while the father works and assists in getting the aunt to appointments. One of the sons who grew up in this home has come to know the Lord through the work done by previous missionaries and has recently received scholarships for college. Despite all of this, the family is surprisingly joyful. The son who is saved, in particular, has an incredible outlook on life. I am not sure if I have ever found anyone as content.
We also served in a community clothing center. Christian Helps is a center that (sometimes freely) provides to the needs of the community. We were able to assist in sorting and preparing incoming donations in to be given away. On our final day, we were able to participate in giving away (free) 340 pairs of high quality, new shoes, hundreds of pairs of socks, underwear, shirts, toothbrushes and toothpaste. All of these items were donated by grants from the manufacturers or retail outlets. Our group felt this was the highlight of their trip. It was tough to organize, but we were truly blessed to be able to participate.
On three separate days we were able to put on a VBS style camp that was centered around competitive games, like kick ball and sharks and minnows. We did this in an apartment complex just over the Kentucky state line in a community that has been similarly hit by hard times. We were able to minister to as many as about 25 children daily. We were also able to share our testimonies and teach Bible verses such as John 3:16 and 2 Timothy 4:7. We ate ice cream together and laughed a lot. We were able to engage the adults as well through games and show the real love of Christ as we simply fellowshipped together.
The Youth from Covington Christian grew so much in preparation for and during this trip. Home sickness was a challenge as well as fear of the unknown and fear of rejection. We learned through our Bible study not to have a fear of man, but to have a fear of the Lord. That is a reverent fear in which we obey out of love for our Lord and not for fear of punishment or rejection. We learned that serving God can be physically uncomfortable and the smells and tastes of serving Him can seem unappealing, but we did it anyway. We learned how much we can grow when we spend time alone with Jesus each day, examining who He is and who He wants us to be. We learned that we can be leaders despite our young age as stated on our mission shirts, “But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Jeremiah” 1:7-8. We learned that the Lord will go ahead of us and give us the words to say as we shared our testimonies and led and sang together in worship. We learned to just say yes. We learned that we still have a lot of learning to do.
We were also so blessed that we were partnered with Bob from The Center for Short Term Missions and New Life Church out of St Joseph, Michigan. I can’t imagine a partnership that would have been more fruitful than this one.
Our students from Covington Christian were very stewardship minded and had money left over. They have decided to donate the remaining funds to Christian Helps, Inc of Mingo County. We believe it to be a worth while ministry that represents God well.
Again, we are so thankful to you who have supported us along the way. Your prayers could be felt as we were encouraged. If you would like more details or information, please feel free to contact Steve Knowles.
Covington Christian Church on the Round team members:
Steve Knowles (group leader)
Recognizing that Jesus Christ came as the ultimate servant to mankind, paying the debt for our sins on the cross, we, living life focused on God, with humble hearts and servant attitudes, desire to participate in the Great Commission through outreach to the people. As ambassadors for Christ, in word and deed, we will show Christ’s love for the people of West Virginia and for each other.