Make a Difference Close to Home

Going on a mission trip doesn't always mean going far from home. There are big needs in our country, and sometimes even in our own backyards. This story from a recent missions team to Appalachia is a great reminder of how God can use us to help our neighbors if we make ourselves available and listen to his voice.

One afternoon it was our group's turn to do a random act of kindness. We gathered at the church we were serving at and spent some time in prayer asking God where to go. Listening prayer was new to all of us, but we stepped out in faith and wrote down all the things God showed us.

Items that were blue.
Three bottles of water.
A flat tire.
Four specific numbers.
A tall tree without leaves that could not be cut down.
Another tree that was cut in pieces at its base.
We got in the car and began driving without a clear destination. At each stop sign or fork in the road, we asked God which direction to go and followed his lead. 
Soon we spotted an old man in a wheelchair struggling to get his mail out of his mailbox in the rain. We all agreed to stop and talk to him. He introduced himself as "Scooby," and invited us into his house.
We quickly saw that Scooby desperately needed help. 
He had not eaten in three days.
He was living without running water or electricity. Scooby pointed out buckets he was catching rain water in. He drank and washed with that water.
He lost his lower right leg three years ago to a spider bite.
He was recently hospitalized for heart surgery, and while he was gone his house was robbed. Someone stole his wheelchair, his checkbook, and several other items Scooby depended on.
His checking account was overdrawn before he could fix the problem.
Scooby was without a phone, water, electricity, money, food, and hope.
He was tearful and embarrassed to be seen living in these conditions, but he was grateful for the help we offered him. He gave us permission to get him some food and arrange for longterm help.
We went to a nearby store to get Scooby some food. We noticed that the carts and the store buildings were blue just like in our listening prayer. We got him some basic necessities, including three gallons of drinking water like we had also seen in prayer.
When we returned to Scooby's house, we put away the food we brought and did our best to clean the house without running water available. As we cleaned the house, we noticed a well-worn Bible and a picture above the doorway that read, "All things work together for good for those who put their trust in the Lord."
We got to sit and talk with Scooby and hear more of his story. In those few short hours, God confirmed to each of us that we do hear his voice. He showed us that when we listen to him and do what he's asking of us, we have the opportunity to bless others in big ways. 
Scooby was overwhelmed with gratitude to us and God for all that had been done. We prayed with him, and he wept as we thanked God for this divine appointment. We asked for Scooby's address so we could write to him, and the numbers in his address were the four numbers we had seen in our prayer. God really is faithful even in the details. 
As we drove away from Scooby's house, we noticed that in his side yard was a tall tree without leaves that could not be cut down. At its base was another tree cut up into pieces. A couple of blocks away there was a truck with a flat tire in the driveway. God confirmed in every way that he had led us to Scooby that day to bless him in a tangible way.
We have since written letters back and forth with Scooby and connected him with a church in the area that can give him the longterm help he needs. They are helping get his power and water turned back on, setting him up new bank accounts, and getting the basic necessities of his life back in order. 
In his letters, Scooby has told us that he feels we helped change his life for the better through our random act of kindness that afternoon. But the truth is, Scooby changed our lives.

You don't have to go to the developing world to find people in dire need of help. There are individuals and families in our own backyards who are living without some of life's basic necessities. And more importantly, many of them are living without hope and the truth of God's love in their lives.

Adventures Encounter has sent more than 500 people in teams to Appalachia to bring tangible aid and living hope to one of America's poorest regions. We would love if you joined us as part of the next generation bringing light to Appalachia. Possible ministries include assisting Habitat for Humanity to build homes for people in need, sharing God's love to local children by putting on Vacation Bible Schools in community parks, and ministering to the elderly by visiting nursing homes. 
Appalachia is a great place for you and your family to serve. And, like this team, you may find that although you come to change others' lives, it's you who changes the most.
If you are interested in serving in Appalachia, check out our trip options here.