Tying Up Loose Ends

by Rev. Joe Hoover

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Last year a church Volunteer In Mission (VIM) team from Houston, Texas traveled to White Sands Chapel United Methodist Church in Bennington, Oklahoma. The team basically framed a fellowship hall for the struggling Native American congregation that meets there. With just walls, a roof, and windows, the building needed a second team. This time people from three churches in Louisiana formed a VIM team to insulate the building, put sheet-rock on the walls, and begin painting the trim around the new building. A third VIM group was scheduled to arrive later that summer to build a front porch and build cabinets in the kitchen area. The third group never made the trip.

A mission incomplete bothers me. As we approached another summer I discovered that the fellowship hall was never completed. A building with walls, lights, roof, and a floor is nice, but without a kitchen area it is hard to use as a fellowship hall. I traveled there April 15th and 16th and helped build a form for enlarging the porch. Now that the concrete has hardened, a team can return to finish the job. After talking to the Pastor and making sure no other church was planning to finish the project, I felt compelled to form another team to travel back this summer and bring this project to conclusion.

How can we as Christians start a mission project and not follow through? How many times have we offered to help a family whose house has burned down? We gather food, clothing, and maybe a bed, take it to the family, and then leave. At report time we can say that we helped so many families. Yet, we haven't followed through enough to know whether the family was able to rebuild or not. We have a tendency to forget that which isn't on our own front burners. Who is to take responsibility if we do not?

Suppose we send a missionary to South Africa and pay their expenses for one year, then take the attitude, "We have done our part, let us not send any more to help finish the work in South Africa." That doesn't sound right, does it? When we assume a mission project we must count the cost and then pay the price if we truly wish to honor our Lord by serving others.

Each Christian, each church, must be willing to take responsibility for every mission they start. It doesn't matter if the mission is on the other side of the world or on the street around the corner -- when we go out in the Name of Jesus we should finish what we start. We must be in the mission and see that we accomplish what we set out to do. This usually means we have to sacrifice in time, money, or some other way to get the job done.

We serve a great God. Let's not let anything come between us and the work that must be done. Let us tie up loose ends!

(Rev. Joe Hoover pastors the United Methodist Churches in Ringgold and Castor, Lousiana.)

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume VII, Part 4, April 1999.

Copyright 1999 Joe Hoover. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.