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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
“I wonder who will come tonight?” Kathy, a life group hostess for Grace Church at Willow Valley, questioned as she prepared their traditional drink of spiced cider.
“I’m not sure,” her husband Mike replied, skimming the chapter they were covering that evening. Their group was something of a wild card, and with the couple’s background in missions and their current role as mobilizers with Encompass, it was no surprise that they led a missions-focused life group along with Holly Wismer, the church’s director of Missions and Equipping.
Life groups (or home groups) have been a part of the fabric of Grace Church at Willow Valley in Pennsylvania for decades, but the Great Commission Fellowship life group is new and different. While life groups aim to be consistent and regular in their membership, this group does not. Instead, it exists to send people to the mission field. In the three years since its formation, it has commissioned three couples and one single young lady for cross-cultural service.
The church came to realize that the work of sending missionaries (discerning God’s call, partnership development, cultural sensitivity, distribution of belongings, etc.) is their task, but it is not quick—it can’t be learned in a weekend seminar. That’s why this group consists of both “senders” (experienced former global workers, prayers, givers, and encouragers) and those interested in being “goers”.
Once a month they meet for Bible Studies, prayer, encouragement, fellowship, and games. They pray through a stack of unreached people cards and have recently been studying a book on overcoming barriers to missionary service called Scaling the Wall by Kathy Hicks. When they couldn’t meet in Mike and Kathy’s home during Covid, they met outside for campfires, cooking hotdogs and s’mores. Sometimes the snacks are international, and tasting them is chalked up to “cultural learning”!
Although each meeting has different participants, the central focus of encouraging each other to take the gospel to the unreached remains the same.
For more information on how to start a mission-minded life group in your church, contact Holly Wismer, Director of Missions and Equipping.
Is there something happening in missions at your church that you think should be published in TheSail? Email Mike McKeever.