A Simple Yes is all it Takes
Betty Moats had a plan. The 84-year-old approached the leader of the church
youth group that was painting and roofing her home. Could she invite her
neighbor to join them for the devotion and the meal they shared together each
day? Betty did and her friend came.
Near the end of the week Betty’s neighbor approached
one of the adult chaperones. "For 18 years Betty has been inviting me to come
to church. But I have not seen church people live out what the Bible says. But
after being here with these young people, I want to know this Jesus." There
under a shade tree at Betty’s home, the neighbor prayed to receive Christ and
now attends church.
The mission effort is called Ocoee Outreach, but
the story goes far beyond one ministry. It’s about a pastor’s wife in
Cleveland, Tennessee, who heard from God and said, "Yes, I will." From that
commitment began a ministry that has served the community, changed lives,
challenged Christians and set the stage for greater outreach.
Michelle McCluskey’s awakening began in the summer
of 1996 when she took a college group to Charleston, South Carolina, on a
mission trip to repair a roof. She returned home wondering who helped the needy
people in her city with home repairs.
The answer was nobody. Michelle spoke to Charleston
Outreach director Jack Little about developing a similar project in Cleveland.
His advice was: "Just start." Start-up funds came through a new ministry grant
provided by the Tennessee Baptist Foundation. Ocoee Outreach was born with the
goal of "sharing Christ’s love with the people in the Bradley County area
through home repair."
Ocoee Outreach began bringing in volunteer teams
for construction projects. In the summer of 1999, the program brought in more
than 500 volunteers from nine states. These construction groups are led by
college students recruited through Baptist Student Unions and state mission
Local churches contribute by providing meals and
hospitality to the youth groups coming in for the weeklong projects.
These groups fund their own mission trips, as well
as the cost of the materials used for repairs. As they work on their designated
homes, the students also build relationships and share Christ with those they
As a result of her work, Michelle was appointed to
the position of Director of Church and Community Ministries by the Bradley
County Baptist Association. Now she is a resource to others who have a desire
to help meet needs.
Soon other ministries sprang up. The popularity of
the mountains and white-water activities in the nearby Polk County area has led
to a resort ministry for Ocoee River tourists and workers. This ministry
reaches out with sports activities, Christian music and Bible studies. Area
churches provide river guides with survival packets containing first aid
supplies, shampoo, deodorant and aspirin.
Other churches and Christians have started leisure
ministries for children in four at-risk areas of Cleveland. This project is
called YUC (Youth Under Construction). It serves as an outreach to neighborhood
children by providing wholesome fun and fellowship opportunities.
"There’s nothing extra-ordinary about me. I was
just willing to take a step of faith and to care." Michelle’s greatest struggle
is finding time to fill her multiple responsibilities. "It’s tough knowing when
to say no. I also have to realize I can’t save the world. My heartbeat—my
watchword—is to seek to minister. To do whatever we do with excellence and
represent Christ well. We want to seek to be faithful where God puts us ... I
can’t imagine a more abundant life than that."
Radio Freeing Denver
"Hello?" ... "I’m a prostitute."
The caller’s voice was detached, almost
Kathy Joy, half of the "Roy and Joy" Morning Team
for KWBI Radio broadcasting to Denver and most of Colorado, took the call right
after the show.
A long pause followed before the caller, Wendy,
"I figured you might hang up on me," she said.
Kathy sensed Wendy had reached a critical moment in
her life. She squeezed the phone receiver, praying Wendy would keep
And Wendy did. She told Kathy she was sick of her
lifestyle, but scared to make a change. She was drawn to the music she heard on
KWBI. She also heard a gentle quality in Kathy’s voice that gave her courage to
make the call.
"Can I pray for you?" Kathy asked.
Guarded, Wendy agreed.
"Can I ask our listeners to pray for you, too?" she
Again, Wendy said yes and hastily ended the
"This happens a lot," says Kathy. "Sometimes we
don’t get to hear the rest of the story. We are left to pray and trust the Holy
Spirit to continue His mysterious work."
At the heart of the KWBI Roy and Joy Show is
encouragement. "Every morning, we’re building relationships with people we may
"Stories tear away the facade of the polished,
distant announcer. The listener relates much better to someone who is in the
trenches with him, in the everyday experience. When I go on the air and ask how
to get melted crayon off a car seat, the phones light up. People instantly
connect with a mom who’s survived a family road trip. If something we say
resonates in the listener’s heart, then things begin to happen on a more
spiritual level. We simply want to be real and most of all, approachable."
The rest of the story?
Wendy stayed in touch. She became a Christian,
earned a college degree and now is married with a family. Kathy and Wendy have
become close friends.
"It’s a gift to have Wendy in my life. Now, when
the mic is up, I think about others who are finding hope through Christian
radio. Who knows? Tuning in for a few minutes may be a side trip on a journey
of despair. Such a side trip can make an eternal difference."
"One thing that is distinct about the
Christian method of changing our society, our world, our inner cities, is that
[it] always starts with changing people."
Kevin Cosby, pastor
Louisville Baptist Church
FaithfulnessYou might say Allison Leding has been pre-paring for
the mission field her entire life. "Missions is in my blood," says Allison, a
US/C-2 missionary on assignment in New Orleans. "Since
I was a small child, I’ve known about missions and I’ve always had a desire for
Allison’s passion for missions inspired her
involvement in mission friends, GAs and Acteens. Her mother was the Woman’s
Missionary Union Director for their church’s association. As a student Allison
went on church mission trips to Michigan.
During college she worked with students at a church. Things
were going great. She had an incredible student group that was growing in their
"I was at M-Fuge with my youth one summer and they
showed a video on missions. Watching that video, seeing people’s lives changed,
made me realize I had to do mission work." A few weeks later, she saw an ad for
US/C-2 missionaries. She decided to do it.
"Leaving the student group was my greatest
struggle. I had developed such a good relationship with them," says
But she followed her desire and Allison arrived at
the Rachel Sims Baptist Mission in the heart of New Orleans.
"The mission is pretty much the center of activity
in this neighborhood. During the week, school age children spend their
afternoons in tutoring sessions and Bible study. We also have evening Bible
studies for the teenagers who live in the neighborhood," says Allison.
She says one thing she and a co-worker have really
focused on is being an example for teenage girls.
"Most of the girls who come to the center do not
have positive role models at home. I try to exemplify Christ—even when I’m
working in my yard—because I know they are watching me. I’m here to share the
love of Christ with them and that’s an awesome feeling."
Allison lives just two doors from the center. "I am
with children and teenagers all the time," she explains. "I have to show them
with my lifestyle what it means to be a Christian."
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC