MissionsFEST -- 150 Volunteers Gather With the Heart to Serve

Apr 29, 2003 02:35 PM EDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Volunteers from 11 states gathered in New Orleans for MissionsFEST as part of the Volunteer Connection of Woman's Missionary Union, April 6-12. Over 150 volunteers ranging from the age of 22 to 82 partnered with local Christians in serving and supporting 18 ministry sites in New Orleans through tutoring elementary students, having prayer walks, ministering at homeless shelters, cleaning and preparing churches and helping the construction of new churches.

"MissionsFEST in New Orleans affirmed my confidence in what God can do through dedicated and surrendered Christians as they commit their ways unto the Lord," said participant Cindy Townsend, executive director of Louisiana WMU. "New Orleans is certainly a city of diversity, and it was so wonderful to see WMU gather volunteers from all over the country to participate in the many diverse missions opportunities that took place."

Pam Lockwood, associate of ministries and adult missions education for Louisiana WMU, added that MissionsFEST was a "great encouragement" to pastors and church members in the area. "We were excited and so thankful that people came to our state to offer their time and talents," Lockwood said. "It's wonderful to know that people around our nation care about the people of New Orleans and were committed and dedicated to God's calling to share the love of Jesus with them."

MissionsFEST volunteers also hosted a block party in the parking lot of Lake Forest Mall, where more than 400 area residents enjoyed midway games, clowns, puppets, live music, face painting, blood pressure screenings, jambalaya, soft drinks and more, all free of charge.

Loy Seal, the director for the development for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans said the event "was a great success because it was customized to really meet the needs of local churches. We appreciate national WMU providing us with the opportunity to identify the local churches and ministries in our area with the greatest needs, and we are grateful for our relationship with WMU."

The New Orleans MissionsFEST was a partnership between national WMU, Louisiana WMU, the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's MissionLab. States represented with volunteers were Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Planning and implementing each MissionsFEST and FamilyFEST experience is truly a team effort, said Kristy Carr, Volunteer Connection specialist for national WMU.

"It was my privilege to work with our local partners in Louisiana," Carr said. "I am so thankful for the volunteers who gave of their time, talents and resources to be on mission in New Orleans. We may never know all the lives that were impacted as a result of MissionsFEST, but we do know that we saw God at work in all of the ministries in which we were a part. It is so incredible to see how God puts His people where He needs them at just the right time."

Then next MissionsFEST opportunities are in Rochestor N.Y, July 7-13; San Antonio, Texas, June 8-12; and Cincinnati, June 28-July 3.

By Pauline J.