Missions shorten distance between 2 churches


Volunteers repairing a Wilburton home work a little closer to heaven.

Victory Memorial and Wilburton-First appear to have more differences than commonalities. After all, Victory Memorial is the United Methodist church in Guymon, in the Panhandle prairie, and Wilburton is in the state’s forested southeast. Wilburton’s membership totals about 200, and worship averages 70. The Guymon church reported 900 members and attendance of 300.

But when 17 youths from Wilburton took part in Youth Force Guymon last summer, a beautiful connection formed between the two churches. As young people worked alongside adults during that week in mission, all found in common a passion for serving Christ through serving neighbors.

From that week, a continuing friendship developed.

That fruit was evident in late October, when the Guymon church sent to Wilburton a mission team of six men. Partnering with workers there, they roofed a home for a large family. In addition, the team delivered 10 boxes of clothing, to help supply a new clothing closet in the community, and more than 70 coats for distribution through schools and churches.

Wilburton’s Pastor April Coates described the blessing of seeing the volunteers build relationships with one another and the family as they also built a roof Oct. 24-27.

"The project was a picture of the best of what it means to be Methodist — to be connected through the way we serve, the way we love, and the way we share," she said.

She described the hard-working Sparks family and their excitement over the project. The home shelters three generations.

The parents "serve faithfully in our local congregation, teaching children’s classes, serving as a trustee, serving as outreach chair, and organizing recovery meetings in our community," she said.

"They were overwhelmed by the hospitality of Victory Memorial — the willingness of a church to see a need and meet it."

Rev. Coates said the family welcomed the team to share a lunch of deer chili. The Sparkses stretch a very tight budget by hunting and canning most of their food.

"This moment of shared meal placed the team and the family on equal ground, not as one group that has more and has something to give, but as brothers and sisters in Christ acknowledging they are in need of each other," she concluded.

(Coates also is campus minister for United Ministries at Eastern Oklahoma State College.)

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