Family Oriented Missions Service
( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2003 04:09 AM EDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— FamilyFEST, the family-oriented counterpart to the Woman’s Missionary Union’s MissionsFEST drew more than 160 volunteers from 11 states to gather at San Antonio, June 8-12. Unlike MissionsFEST, which is open only to adults 18 and older, familyFEST welcomed anyone from age 6 and up.

"I knew when Lauren, my 12-year-old niece, and I volunteered for FamilyFEST that the experience would be such a huge blessing for both of us," said Shelda Hoffman, preschool and children's consultant for WMU of Texas. "But it's hard to explain what a special blessing and unexpected joy it was for me to see Lauren use her gifts and develop a heart for missions as we served together. It was amazing."

The volunteers separated into different teams serving 16 different ministry sites throughout the city; they offered backyard Bible clubs, community surveys, light construction and repair work, painting and prayer walking.

"FamilyFEST in San Antonio was a tremendous success in so many ways," Christine Hockin-Boyd, adult consultant for WMU of Texas and FamilyFEST volunteer, said. "It enabled us to establish new relationships with several churches in the area and rekindled excitement among some local churches for missions education and involvement. It was very affirming and exciting to see how God blesses the efforts of those who come together with a common bond and purpose of reaching out, helping others, and sharing the love of Christ."

"We are extremely grateful for our partnership with WMU and for all the volunteers who reached out to the people of our city," said Camille Simmons, coordinator of community ministries for the San Antonio Baptist Association. "We have ongoing work at many of the ministry sites, and FamilyFEST served as a great boost and encouragement. I am confident we will continue to harvest the seeds that have been planted."

The volunteers came from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas; they were able to wok alongside summer missionaries in many of the housing projects and parks

Kristy Carr, Volunteer Connection specialist for national WMU, said that working with the summer missionaries was mutually beneficial.

"The summer missionaries were grateful for our help and it was an invaluable experience for our volunteers to work with them," Carr said. "Many of our younger volunteers may not have realized that as a college student, they have the opportunity to serve in various cities throughout our nation and around the world for a summer. I hope and pray that the FamilyFEST volunteers now have a broader perspective of missions. The needs are great, but the laborers are few."

The San Antonio FamilyFEST was a partnership between national WMU, WMU of Texas and the San Antonio Baptist Association.