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On July 9th, 25 of our students embarked on a trip to Carlisle, Ohio—a village located in the North Cincinnati area. At first glance, Carlisle appears as a rural town, just minutes from a myriad of stores and attractions. The village has the stereotypical small town pride—local shops, Friday night lights, and everyone knows everyone. The only other evident thing about Carlisle are the trains. There is a train that goes by somewhere in this town all the time. Conversations just pause until the train has gone on its way. So many trains… The last apparent truth of Carlisle is that the members of Church in the Village-Carlisle LOVE Carlisle. They love their school, their old homes, their town’s history, their neighbors, and even the trains. They wore shirts saying— “I Love This Village.” This was most evident when our group met Pastor Eric Clarkson on the first morning of our trip. Pastor Eric spelled out to our group what he valued and he presented two goals for the week: meet as many people in Carlisle as possible and learn to love their village.
The mission work began shortly after. Our group’s role was to assist in the church’s kid’s clubs. There were 50-60 kids, from preK to 5th grade. Our group led recreation through games of silent ball, kickball, Duck, Duck, Goose, and more. The students also assisted with craft and were the “runners,” helping to lead their herd of children from each station. Each morning our students worked with the same groups of kids, learning their names, what they like, playing with them, and listening to them. In some cases our students served as human jungle-gyms and professional piggy-backers—for the gospel!
Two afternoons that week we visited Allistrong. Allistrong is a free store in Carlisle that provides a variety of clothes and goods to people in need of assistance. This ministry is supported by just a few retired volunteers, and the woman who primarily ran the store was blessed by the work our group was able to do for them this week (sorting clothes, cleaning, removing boxes…).
Our nights were spent doing a variety of different activities. Some evenings we canvassed the neighborhoods, leaving door-hanger surveys. On Wednesday evening our group joined Church in the Village Carlisle for their worship service where we met on the side lawn of one of the members, sang some songs, listened to Pastor Eric preach the Word, and played some wiffleball. On Thursday night, we hosted a block party for the families of the kids that attended our kid’s clubs every morning that week. Our students hung out with the kids while members of the church built connections to the parents, talking over snow cones and hot dogs.
Through these different ministry opportunities our students experienced a lot of Carlisle, which meant meeting a lot of the people of Carlisle. A lot of aspects of the week were laid back and flexible. However; even when our group was just hanging out with the church members and their families—they were hanging with a purpose. A major aspect of Church in the Village is intentional “hanging out.” So even in the breaks between the ministry work, a different type of ministry was occurring. The members of the Church in the Village sought to get to know our group better each day—playing games with them, asking them about their lives, telling them stories—and as a result our group was reminded of a mission work that we could emulate each day. We may not be able to host a kid’s club in our subdivision every morning, we may not be able to host a weekly block party, but we can hang out more. We can build relationships with those around us—whether it is a neighbor, a classmate, or a coworker—intentionally hanging out with those around us could be one of our most efficient vehicles for delivering the gospel. A mission trip is often tiring from the nonstop work, late nights, and early mornings; but those trips end. Our group was reminded that we are always on mission and that while we spent a week serving alongside the Church in the Village Carlisle, we have a daily opportunity in our own village to reach people, care for them, and share with them the truth of the Gospel.
“And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” – Luke 9:6 (ESV)