By Kam Cook
This year's Summer Mission Trip offers mission opportunities for everyone. We are returning to West Virginia, but will be working in a new area, McDowell County, the southernmost county in West Virginia. The dates for the trip are Sunday, June 16 - Saturday, June 22. Those who choose to take the optional extra day to visit and/or raft down the New River Gorge - one of the most spectacular areas in this country - and see the outdoor drama Honey in the Rock telling the story of the founding of W VA during the Civil War will return on Sunday, June 23.
The greatest need for ministry in our country is in the poverty-stricken Appalachian Mountains. McDowell County is one of the poorest counties in the nation, with the highest percentage of children living below poverty level. The median household income there is barely a third of the national average, and 38% of residents live below the poverty line. McDowell County ranks last nationally in economic sustainability and general health; first in diabetes, suicide, homicide, SIDS, low birth weights, births to unwed mothers, and high school dropouts. Drug and alcohol abuse rank among the highest in the nation.
The area has also sustained major damage from recent floods and heavy snows. Many houses are valued at only $1,500 - $2,000, with the median value being $22,600; 18% of houses are not habitable.
We will be working with School for Life, Inc. (www.schoolforlifeinc.com), a Christian non-profit organization founded by Brenda and Jack Fultz. Their motto is "changing hopelessness to optimism." It is their mission to help the people of Appalachia help themselves to overcome the ceaseless round of poverty. Their vision is to ease poverty conditions by being the HANDS and FEET of Christ and extending HOPE and HELP to those in need through the love of Jesus and the generosity of the churches that care about the less fortunate.
School for Life is housed in the old Gary School, located in Gary, W VA, where we will be staying. Mission work will include home repairs, helping with Vacation Bible School, ministering to those in a nearby nursing home, visiting with people in the community, working in the School for Life Thrift Shop, taking those without transportation to doctors' appointments or to run errands, and serving the children and adults of the community in whatever capacity is needed most.
Those who are unable to go to W VA with us but who want to participate are encouraged to donate school supplies and toiletries to be distributed by School for Life.
Please make plans to join us in June, where you will have the experience of serving those who live in abject poverty, but are blessed to live in one of the most gorgeous regions of God's creation. Your life will be immeasurably enriched - and possibly changed - by this mission opportunity. For more information, contact Kam Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 836-5301.