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What do you imagine when you think about missions? Tents and huts in isolated third world countries? Being gone for months, even years, at a time, with little or no contact with family, friends or the outside world?
Sure, some missionaries live in these extreme settings. But for those of us who aren’t called to this type of mission work, there are plenty of opportunities right in our backyard.
The Bible tells us to take care of the widows and orphans. So what’s the best way to do this? Think about it. In any given town—even if it’s not a giant metropolis like New York or Chicago—there are service opportunities on every corner, some of which could involve helping widows and orphans. You just have to get out and look for them!
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Think about the following options:
Habitat for Humanity: Founded by Millard Fuller in 1976, Habitat for Humanity now has offices in all 50 states. In its history, Habitat has built over 300,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.5 million people in 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. This nonprofit organization is always looking for volunteers to help build houses for needy families across the country.
Shelters: Homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation shelters—these are just some potential places in which you can help others in need. These places may need volunteers to help serve food, organize activities, or babysit children. Get in touch with the shelters and rehab centers in your area and see how you can help out. Take a few days off work and make it a “short-term” mission trip.
Senior Citizen Homes: Too many elderly people live lonely in the final years of their lives. Make a difference in their lives! Even the smallest act of service can make an impact. You don’t even have to volunteer at a group home; instead, think about senior citizens who live alone in your neighborhood or community. Mow their grass, rake their yard, deliver a meal, or pick up groceries for them. Get creative!
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Events for Children with Special Needs: What about the Special Olympics? Or even a children’s hospital? Plenty of opportunities are available with either of these places. How satisfying is it—and what better way to love God—than to help out kids in need?
Bottom line: You don’t have to travel to Africa to take a missions trip. There are plenty of opportunities in your backyard.
With that said, you should never rule anything out. What if a two-day mission project becomes your inspiration to take a two-week project in another country? Keep an open mind and see where God takes you!
Learn more about serving your congregation and community with Dave's program for church leaders, Momentum.