Dan Van Veen reports for PE News about the community service practiced by a Christian congregation in Hector, Arkansas.
What began with Williams’ trepidation in following God’s lead has now become the heart of the church. He believes God worked in the hearts and lives of the congregation to prepare them to serve their “Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).
Hector, Arkansas — “Our Jerusalem”
Two words: missions trip. What images come to mind?
Far away lands, destitute people, false gods, primitive conditions, hard labor?
Shane and Debbie Williams have been co-pastors of Hector (Arkansas) First Assembly of God for the past 5 1/2 years. Just prior to their arrival, the church had taken a missions trip to Ecuador. The Williams’ first missions trip with the church took them to minister at an Indian reservation.
But as the church began preparing for its next missions trip, God had something else in mind.
“This church has had very successful missions trips,” Shane Williams says, “but the more I prayed about this, the more I heard God saying ‘home missions’ and ‘community service.'” Williams felt the Lord directing him to make Hector the focus of their missions efforts.
Williams prayed about this direction for months. He admits he was not excited about announcing this new focus to the congregation, which averages a surprising 240 (in a town of 500), as it seemed a fairly drastic departure from what the church was accustomed to.
“I announced the plan to make our community the focus of our next missions trip,” Williams recalls, “and to my surprise, it was met with a round of applause! It was exactly the opposite response of what I expected. It was a God thing!”
That was 2013. On June 8-12, 2015, the church completed its second year of making Hector its missions focus.
“We treat the week just as if we were on a ‘normal’ missions trip,” Williams says. “People take off work for the week, we eat breakfasts and lunches together at our fellowship hall — just like we were away from home.”
The church, with a core group of about 45 volunteers, had several projects scheduled ahead of time, with the majority being focused on assisting widows, the elderly, and families that couldn’t afford to do any work on their own.
“We built a lot of wheelchair ramps and did a lot of painting,” Williams says. “We also worked with the school to find children who might not have proper clothing. The ladies [of the church] go out and buy clothes for them and arrange a place where the kids and parents can pick those clothes up to try to help them out.”
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