Colorado mission trip offers Wayland alums chance to assist church planters
Cotton candy, popcorn, bounce houses and face painting may not seem like important church-building tools. But for North American Mission Board missionaries Joel and Ronnie Arrington, both Wayland Baptist University alumni, these things can all be key to building their church in Delta, Colo.
The Arringtons are church planters in Delta, a community of roughly 8,900 in western central Colorado. Since moving to the community 18 months ago, the Arringtons and their children have become a vital part of the city and have grown to love the people to whom they are ministering. Their congregation, Church Without Walls, began meeting in their home and has just recently begun renting a vacated church building that just happens to be in a part of the city they were hoping to focus ministry efforts.
That’s why the couple is excited about hosting a team of Wayland alumni for a mission trip this summer, using the tools of a block party to reach out to new residents and forge relationships.
“The block party trailers belong to the state convention, and we can use them for the week for $100,” notes Ronnie, who earned her BBA degree at WBU in 1996. “The trailers are amazing; they come with the popcorn machine, cotton candy machines, two bounce houses, bean bag toss games and face painting and all the supplies we need.”
The plan for the Wayland Alumni mission trip is simple: participants will spend Monday through Thursday mornings canvassing neighborhoods and passing out flyers advertising that evening’s block party. The afternoon will include some down time after lunch, then the block parties will be held in four strategic areas the Arringtons are choosing with the help of their church membership.
“We’re trying to engage our core group and encouraging them to host these parties in their neighborhoods,” Ronnie said. “We’re trying to teach them that mission teams don’t just come in to serve but we serve along with them; they don’t do all the work but we work with them.”
Arrington said the parties are entertaining on the surface, but they serve a deeper purpose by giving the church a boost of exposure in strategic areas and offering a non-threatening environment to introduce the congregation.
Church is not a foreign concept to the people of Delta, Arrington notes, but few are doing much to reach the community where hopelessness is the norm. With the legalization of marijuana several years ago, that condition only got worse.
“There are a lot of ‘religious’ people but not much relationship. They know it’s good to go to church but there is no relationship with the Lord,” she explained. “We were talking with some of our families that they do church really well at church but they don’t know how to carry that home.”
The Arringtons said the former coal mining town was hit hard with the closing of the last mine shortly before they arrived in Delta, and that left residents unsure what to do next and unable to keep up the lifestyle they had enjoyed with the generous mining salaries. With no college degrees, the job possibilities are limited, adding to the hopeless feelings and leading often to drugs, alcohol and other vices.
“We meet them where they are, in the middle of all that. You will often smell the marijuana on people in town, and there’s a lot of family brokenness,” Ronnie said. “We want to be that church that says, ‘come as you are’… literally.”
Being part of what God is doing in Delta is the reason Wayland’s alumni office wanted to organize the trip, taking place June 16-22.
“I’ve wanted to put together an alumni mission trip and it just made sense for us to work alongside Wayland alums already in the field,” said Teresa Young, Director of Alumni Relations and the trip’s leader. “This trip is fairly easy and is family friendly, and with the ability to stay overnight at the church facility, the week won’t break anyone’s budget.”
Participants will be responsible for travel to and from Delta, or they can travel to the Plainview campus and caravan to Colorado, an approximately 11-hour trip by car. For those living west of Delta, driving or flying directly is encouraged. Team members should arrive by Saturday night, June 16, then will go through some training on Sunday before attending Church Without Walls that evening. The rest of the week involves the block parties, with Friday as a free day to explore the beautiful Colorado scenery. Participants can head back home on Saturday the 23rd.
“It’s my hope that some of our alumni families will want to come spend the week making an impact in an area that truly needs to see the love and hope of Jesus Christ,” says Young. “What better way to honor the Wayland family spirit than to give back and serve alongside other Pioneers.”
· Dates: June 16-23, 2018
· Location: Delta, Colorado
· Cost: $120 (includes lodging at Church Without Walls; punch passes to the city rec center for showers, swimming, etc.; breakfast Sunday through Friday; dinner Sunday through Thursday; Wayland Mission Center admin fee)
· Other expenses: Cost of travel to Delta, lunch each day of the trip, activities on Friday free day, food on travel days. Participants may also choose to stay in a Delta hotel at their own expense.
· Questions? Contact Teresa at 806-291-3600 or email Teresa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Reserve your place on the trip by May 1 by contacting Teresa. A nonrefundable deposit of $50 per person is due by May 1, with the remainder by June 1. Payment can be made by check or credit card.