By Del Duduit
When I hear someone is going on a mission trip, I naturally assume it’s a third-world country. I rarely think of one here in the United States, let alone just a few hours from my home in Southern Ohio.
But Dr. Thomas Mancini is leading a mission team to Webster Springs, West Virginia, as he’s done the past 15 years.
The team will be supporting the Mountain Marketplace Mission in this West Virginia town – about two hours east of the state capitol of Charleston. The first week of August is always set aside to take the trip from Massachusetts to the Mountain State to help the non-denominational mission.
“There is quite a bit to do there as far as helping to clean up and cut grass,” Tom said. But his team does more than just manual labor.
“And we let them know they are important to God too.”
It goes into the small community and ministers in many ways. On Friday night of the visit, the team holds a 3-on-3 basketball tournament where awards are earned. People are fed after the games, and the Gospel is shared.
“We hold adult Bible studies and parties for the teenagers,” he said. “We show a current Christian movie, and our teenagers give wonderful testimonies about how God has made a tremendous impact on their lives.”
Tom said he takes up donations for clothes, and his team of young adults helps the teenagers of Webster Springs pick out new clothes for school. A lot of the town’s residents are subsidized through state and federal aid because jobs are scarce.
But Tom and his group don’t stop there. They also hold a pool party at the local community pool and pick up the costs for each person to attend.
“We let them know they are important to us,” he said. “And we let them know they are important to God too.”
Another important thing his team does is to go into the homes of some of the elderly and visit with them. Once inside, the team takes a visual inventory of the home and goes back and meets later in the evening to discuss if any repairs are needed. “If something needs fixing, we fix it,” Tom said. “If there is a leak, we repair it. If something needs painting, we paint it.”
“There was just a wonderful calling to go there and support this mission.”
The week is capped off by a block party attended by about 400 families who come to the mission for food. Over the years, Tom and his team noticed recipients of the food would often open the bags on the spot to begin eating because they were hungry. They also noticed a baseball field was located right next to the mission. An idea was sent from Heaven to haul in grills and begin making dinner for everyone who came.
“When the people get their bag of food, they can come right over, and we will make them an entire meal,” Tom said. “Whatever they want – we can probably grill it or cook it.”
The revelation to go into West Virginia came to a group of young people Tom was preparing to do mission work. They didn’t want to go into the inner cities, and one heard about great needs in rural Appalachia. Tom started researching and was led to the Mountain Marketplace Mission. “It was meant to be,” he said. “There was just a wonderful calling to go there and support this mission.”
I have never been to Webster Springs, but Tom says it’s a beautiful community filled with wonderful people. “The poverty rate is high there so the need is great,” he said. “The folks there have accepted us coming each year and welcome us with open arms.”
When the big rig full of furniture and supplies pulls up, residents of the town help unload. “They just want to help us help them,” Tom added.
The mission itself needs help, in Tom’s opinion. It needs more volunteers and financial donations to keep it operational. “I’d like to see the mission get about $40,000 to $60,000 in donations so it can complete some big projects.”
It’s always been on my heart to take a mission trip to Africa – something Tom does often. I plan on taking such a trip one day. But the need here in the United States is just as real as those in Kenya. I think there is work to do all over the world, but I need to take inventory myself in my own back yard.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than in infidel.” I Timothy 5:8.
I challenge you to take a look around your neighborhood and see if there is a need. It doesn’t have to be a poor child with nothing to eat. It might be an elderly neighbor who needs his or her grass cut. It might be a widower who needs a roof repair. It might be a single mother in need of car repairs. Just be still, and let the Holy Spirit lead you. There is a mission in need of your help.
If you are not doing anything July 28-Aug. 5, take a trip to Webster Springs, West Virginia and help at the mission and meet Tom and his team. I plan to go there one day and help myself. Thank you, Tom, for challenging me.
“But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16.
“There are always people to help,” Tom said. “There is a great work to be done for these people and for the Lord.”
If you want to help the mission with a donation, send it to:
Mountain Marketplace Mission
95 Gauley River Road
Webster Spring, WV 26288
You can also send Tom an email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
What can you do to make a difference? Let me know how you plan to help.