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Six of Colfax’s 13 churches joined together in community Guatemala mission

By Jeannette Solimine

Instead of attending worship in their separate church buildings one Sunday in October, members of six of Colfax’s 13 churches joined in a community worship service. A common mission brought 550 members of the Community Bible Church, the Assembly of God, the United Methodist Church, the Nazarene Church, First Baptist Church and Onecho Bible Church together in this community of 2,800.

Guatemala Sign in Colfax
Guatemala sign outside Colfax, WA

The community worship service was the kick-off for a summer 2009 mission trip to Guatemala.

Todd Kinley, associate pastor of Onecho Bible Church, said the idea for the mission began in 2003, when he and his wife Jamie went on a youth trip to Guatemala.  Their guide took them briefly to an orphanage outside Guatemala City.  They knew they would have to come back.
Todd, now 33, grew up in Spokane.  After attending Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and earning a master’s in educational ministries, he returned to the Inland Northwest to serve.

In 2007, Todd and Jamie brought youth from Onecho Bible Church for two weeks to help at the orphanage.

In February 2008, David Leafe, one of the men who runs the orphanage, came and spoke with Ken McNaughton, pastor of Community Bible Church, and Rich May, pastor of the Baptist church.  They became excited about the possibilities God was opening up before them.
In 2008, Todd and Jamie went back to Guatemala again for several days to help at the orphanage.

Todd had been praying for a community-wide mission for Colfax.  When he returned from that trip, he said, God provided the opportunity.  As he went to the post office to collect his held mail, he saw Steve Bretveld, youth pastor at the Baptist church and Bill Reynolds, pastor of the Assembly of God.  They asked about the trip.  Todd’s excitement rubbed off on them.  They told him they, too, were looking for opportunities for mission, ministry, and community building.

Pastors of the churches that decided to be a part of this mission began to meet to discuss how to make this happen.  Although a diverse group theologically, Todd said they have taken a Philippians 2 approach. 

That means the pastors and the congregations have set aside their wants and needs as individual churches to show God’s love and glory in Jesus Christ by working as one in this mission.  By concentrating on what unites them and leaving their differences aside, their interest, willingness, and determination has grown.

The citywide service included a band from Real Life ministry in Pullman and Tim Ruth, a speaker from the orphanage.  The churches took no individual offerings that morning, because this was to be a service to unite the community behind the mission.  The offering went to the mission trip.

Todd overheard people as they left the service saying they needed to do this more often. 
Over the next months, plans began, people applied, and fund raising began.  To date, 103 people, including 30 youth, from the six Colfax churches and the Endicott Bible Church are going.
Businesses and individuals in Colfax, Pullman and Lewiston donated items for a Feb. 8 Dessert Auction at the Community Bible Church.  The event raised $15,000.  That money, along with money raised by individuals and churches, will go to help transport participants, to assist the orphanage, and to build a parsonage and a three-room Christian education building for a nearby village church. 

That church’s pastor was one of the orphans cared for by the Casa Para Niños Alleluia orphanage. 

Money will be sent ahead so the foundations can be poured and materials can be purchased before the group arrives at the end of June.  The 12-day mission will include opening a medical clinic to help anyone who comes while the team is there. Some of the group will go to the village to build the buildings, repair the church and run the medical clinic.  Others will do maintenance work, such as painting and repairs for the orphanage, and help with daily chores. 

Todd said the stories of the orphanage
are both tragic and triumphant. The 470 children, ranging in age from a few weeks to 23 years old, come from difficult circumstances.  Many were abused, abandoned or sold by those who should have loved them. Some are disabled and have special needs that are hard for the orphanage to meet. 

“Stories of forgiveness abound as well,” he said.  “One young girl, who was seriously abused by her family, after learning of the love of God through Jesus, forgave her family of abusers, who also came to Christ as a result of her forgiveness.  The children do their own church services at the orphanage, and are building a church adjacent to the orphanage for their community.”

Todd hopes this mission trip will be the foundation of more interchurch ministry in Colfax. 
While not every church was ready to participate in this mission trip, others want to be a part of community ministry. 

Many pastors meet monthly as the Colfax Ministerial Association.  Most Colfax churches pool financial resources for a traveler’s fund, and there is an evening Community Thanksgiving Service every year the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Several pastors also work together as a part of the volunteer chaplain program at Whitman Hospital.  Churches also share responsibility for the high school baccalaureate and Sunday afternoon chapel services at Whitman Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Many of the pastors hope that more lay people will become involved in interchurch mission and activity. Knowing conflict might arise from disagreements over faith and religion, the pastors pray that everyone will live out their faith, acting on God’s call regardless of what might cause differences of opinion. 

“We know that God will make it work out for God’s glory,” says Todd.  “At this point, the least of anyone’s worries should be individual ideas about religion.”

Todd said the theme is “the supremacy and glory of God through Jesus Christ,” which is “best shown by helping those most in need.”

In a small community like Colfax, he believes that the only way to do something big is to pool resources.  He relies on God to open further channels for interchurch ministry.

For information, call 397-0362.

Copyright © March 2009 - The Fig Tree