July 27, 2016
This Week’s Storyteller is…
Bev McGregor, First UMC, Port Orange
Does God Always Get It Right?
Sometimes in life God answers your prayer request exactly as you've asked it. Other times, He just doesn't seem to get it. Graduating from high school, I told God I was ready to go wherever He wanted to send me to do mission work...preferably far away from the city in which I was living...more specifically, I knew of a position available on an Indian reservation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a secretarial position for which I had already been trained, so it seemed like a very viable request which He certainly couldn't refuse. Though not raised in a church-going family home, I had become quite active in a youth group from about the age of 11. I was baptized and confirmed in the Methodist church and fully convinced I was being called into some kind of fantastic ministry, maybe even in another country, if the position in Albuquerque was already filled.
At the time (1962) I was making these prayer requests to be sent to the mission field, I was a member of the United Brethren Church and decided that Brethren Volunteer Service was for me, in New Mexico. I took a job locally to support myself while I pursued my "mission.” This led me to the Inner City Protestant Parish on the near west side of town. My assignment was to teach a young girls' Sunday School Class, supervise a Saturday children's roller skating program, make lunch and call on families in the neighborhood. It might be well to note here that I had been raised on the near east side of this city by parents who, though very loving, had alcohol addictions.
God did not send me out West to spread the Word in New Mexico, as requested, but chose instead to send me to the west side of town where I would meet many children being raised in a community exactly like the one in which I had been raised, but less fortunate in many ways. My family was never homeless, and I was never abused; but I could certainly relate to the needs of the children in that neighborhood. Fortunately for me, I knew what it was to be loved by God. Guess He knew what He was doing after all.
Years have gone by and I've had the privilege of going on many short mission trips to places in and out of the United States. Like so many people facing retirement, I was curious to find out what direction this new phase of my life should take. I volunteered in several areas at the church and about this time, my son brought me the gift of grand parenting two beautiful little girls. Having worked all my adult life, I decided to just sit back, take it easy, and enjoy the fact I no longer had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. for work, enjoy the girls and maybe something would come along.
And then it happened. First United Methodist Church Port Orange decided to explore a new ministry in an area of Daytona Beach about 15 miles away from my home. A United Methodist Church was at risk of closing, and First Church voted to accept it as a new ministry/mission. Adding this ministry to a church which was already very involved in so many services and programs proved to be challenging. Not convinced it was really something I wanted to get very involved in, I did offer to lead this effort for six months just to help get it organized. We began cleaning and repairing the campus immediately -- I put my organizational skills to work -- and believed I would be turning the project over to someone else very soon.
Just a month into the program, Pastor Tom Nelson decided that because we just had a vacation Bible school in Port Orange, it would be simple to take it "on the road" to Holly Hill for those children. Okay, arts & crafts are not my thing; but I could help make lunch or something. And then I could turn this project over to someone else. God had a different idea and made it very clear that here was my mission. No, not Albuquerque but yet another "inner city" type place where children need to know God's love and protection. When I saw the little girls singing along to the first video, I saw myself at the age of 11 and knew that right now this is where God wants me to be and He sends others to do the arts & crafts!
We may think God only calls people to go far away and do great and amazing things, we may even feel disappointed not to receive that kind of calling, but I think sometimes He simply sends us full circle to serve in very simple ways in areas which are most familiar. Some would call the children we serve "the least of these.” I see a reflection of self and call them family.
Three years ago, God created Derbyshire Place to be a unique safe place for children and families to come together in Christian community. While we are under the umbrella of First United Methodist Church of Port Orange as a type of Fresh Expression and second campus for ministry, we plan our own program and have a separate board and budget. We constantly seek His direction in creating new ways to reach families. We are especially excited to have United Methodist churches and other denominations in Volusia County partnering with us in ministry at Derbyshire Place. More information can be found on the church webpage at www.firstchurchpo.org.
Julie Mitchell, CrossRoad Church, Jacksonville
The disciple shares her witness about losing her 15-year-old son to a hiking accident. She tells how she found herself angry, lost and broken, trying to make sense of it, then learning to wait and listen and let God make decisions for her. Her journey led to transforming ministries.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin L King Jr Ave
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011