You don’t have to travel around the globe to be a missionary; sometimes the mission field is as close as your own backyard.
That’s what 15 junior high and high school students from First Baptist Branson, Missouri discovered during a March 12–16 mission trip just a few minutes from home, in the neighboring town of Reeds Springs.
“It’s a challenge to convince students to work on spring break, but these students were incredible,” Caleb McElvain, First Baptist high school director, said.
The students focused on evangelism and serving widows in nearby Reeds Springs for the week. The mornings were spent in training and service projects, then in coaching and a debriefing time in the evenings.
“The Bible is pretty clear about widows and how we’re supposed to treat them and help them,” McElvain said, referring to James 1:27, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
“It was nice to be doing work like raking leaves or mowing yards and being able to show our students that this is directly in the will of God,” he said.
Beyond serving their neighbors in need, McElvain said the reason for the local mission trip is to drive home the idea that students do not have to be far from home to be a missionary and serve the Lord.
“They are on mission even in their hometown,” he said. “You don’t have to go overseas or go to another country. You’re a missionary to Branson. Every day that you wake up as a Christ-follower, you are a missionary. And guess what? You can still do this after spring break!”
This is the third year FBC students have been on mission in Reeds Springs, and McElvain said he enjoyed seeing returning students reconnecting and checking in on those they’ve met in previous years, and continuing to share the gospel with people in need.
“To see them go from being scared to sharing their faith is pretty cool,” he said. “We loved watching them go from just sitting to realizing they’re called to be obedient to Christ and to action.”