Though travel is often a central component of overseas mission work, Vallejo Drive church reimagined the mission trip experience this summer in light of COVID travel restrictions. Through 30 minutes a week of reading and sharing virtually, an eight-week mission trip reading adventure connected families with children in Belize.
The at-home mission trip is part of a three-year project with Read & Feed Belize, a nonprofit ministry founded by Vallejo Drive church young adult member Ash Reynolds, which seeks to provide adequate health, quality education, and religious services to impoverished children and the elderly in Belize.
What started with fundraising efforts nearly three years ago has “become deeper and more personal as we’ve started interacting with the kids,” said Linda Biswas, Vallejo Drive church associate pastor for outreach and community, who has more than 10 years of experience in missionary work. “With most mission trips, sometimes people forget what their objective is and think it’s just to build the church or the school, forgetting that that’s just the tool God’s given them to reach the people,” she said. “Our objective is to get to know someone and share Jesus.”
Preparation for the mission trip was a collaborative effort among members and friends of the church: More than 20 people paired with children to read to in Belize; many prayed over this mission trip; others donated masks, electronic devices, peanut butter, books, plush toys, sanitizer, and a printer that were packed in eight large barrels and shipped to Belize; and kids even decorated the barrels with artwork and uplifting messages.
Reynolds will meet the barrels when they arrive in Belize to coordinate the start of the reading program. While on the ground, she will also work with volunteers in Belize to help the kids create care packages from items in the barrels so they can practice service by sharing the packages with families in need in their own communities. The goal of the mission trip became twofold: to build a relationship with the students and to share the importance of service.
“We want them to feel like it wasn’t just us serving them,” Biswas said, “but that they are able to serve others as well.”
“I believe that we’re all called to serve one another,” Reynolds added. “Christ came to serve. We should follow His example.”
Although the mission trip was set to take place in July and August, it was pushed back a few weeks due to COVID-related shipment delays of the barrels. However, the mission work still moves forward.
“When I think about how this will impact the community and village years in the future, I can’t rest; it’s heavy on my heart,” Reynolds said. “It’s beautiful what can happen when people work together.”
For more information or if you would like to get involved with the Read & Feed ministry, visit https://readandfeedbelize.org/.
By Araya Moss