Moments with missionaries: Caledonia, Michigan

Moments with missionaries: Caledonia, Michigan

Allen Kirschbaum

When I heard the announcement last year that I would be assigned to serve as pastor at Spirit of Life, Caledonia, Mich., the last thing I thought was that it would be a mission church. I didn’t know where Caledonia, Michigan, was. I didn’t know anything about the people there. I assumed that it was a small farm town.

As I sat down with my wife, Karrie, and examined the call packet, we realized that Spirit of Life really was a mission congregation. What an amazing thing to be at the ground floor of something so special! What was even more exciting is that Spirit of Life recently had built its new facility in a perfect location on a busy highway corner.

If I asked you what kind of mission work you would expect from a Midwestern congregation, I suspect that you would think of the church having an awesome vacation Bible school program, Easter for Kids, or Mommy and me program. If you thought that, you would be correct—we have all of those ministries and more.

But the first day I sat down in my office, I received a call from an unlikely place to do mission work. One of the adult care homes in the community reached out to the congregation, seeking a pastor to come visit. They wanted their residents to be active in the community. This opportunity led to an every-week service at the home.

I expected the regular nursing home experience. However, once again, mission work in an unlikely place blessed Spirit of Life with so much more.

The residents and caretakers began to join us for worship every Sunday. Our members love to walk out to the cars and guide them into our sanctuary. Each month we have activities for those residents, such as making decorations for our Christmas trees and a Christmas play.

Their faith is a massive encouragement to a young mission congregation. But as much as the residents encourage us—the story of one of their caretakers has touched our hearts even more.

Each week, a caretaker named Florence Bish comes to our congregation. She is from the Congo and came to the United States ten years ago. She feels welcomed by our congregation, and we are blessed by her. The thing is—Florence can’t keep up with how fast I speak in my sermons. Her native language is French. Again, here’s mission work in an unlikely place. God led Spirit of Life to reach out to a female refugee from the Congo who speaks French and works at a small-town adult care facility. Now each week, we translate my sermons into French so Florence can understand them better.

In Missions, we work hard to find new ways to share the gospel. But often God gives us new opportunities that we weren’t even looking for—mission work in unexpected places.

Allen Kirschbaum serves as a home missionary at Spirit of Life, Caledonia, Michigan.


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Author: Allen Kirschbaum
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016

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