Do Mission Fairs Matter?
Published February 28, 2019
By Guest Author Kellie Schmidt

Do you know how I like to spend some of my Saturdays during the warmer months?  Once I finish my morning routine, I put on my work clothes and drive out to Refuge Ranch, where I spend a few solitary hours thinking, praying, and scooping horse manure.  Yes, you read that right. It’s not glamorous. But, it’s one of the chores that needs to be done on the ranch. I enjoy it because I get time in the pasture with the horses, it’s peaceful, and reminds me of growing up on the farm.  I do it on my schedule. The horses don’t seem to mind. It’s not the only way I volunteer at the ranch, but it’s still important.

A group of South Siders served at Refuge Ranch during an I Heart SPFLD event.

Refuge Ranch is a mission that serves children and families in need, in a special way.  Children are paired with adult volunteers, and horses that were once abused and neglected, in a unique, mentored horsemanship program.  The ranch is a sanctuary in many ways, for both the families in the program and the volunteers who serve there.

I’ve only been involved with the ranch for a year. Up to that point, I could count the hours I’d spent serving my community on one hand.  I knew I should be doing more. We are called to do more. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) But there were so many extra hours of overtime, so much Netflix to binge, so much social media to peruse, so many…excuses.

Last year at this time, South Side was holding the Local Missions Fair and my Journey Group leader asked if we could “scout it out” for I Heart Springfield opportunities for our group. I wasn’t going to let her down, so I took a stroll through the room.

I was surprised to see the Refuge Ranch table.  I remembered Phil Harris talking about it during our ABF class and it piqued my interest.  When I met the ranch’s Executive Director, I knew immediately this was the reason I was at the mission fair.  Have you ever met a person who was so enthusiastic, so authentically genuine, that you just knew you wanted to be involved with whatever they were doing?  Chris Daniels has such a heart for serving the ranch families and spreading the love of Christ. I knew that I had much to learn from her.

Kellie walks the grounds of Refuge Ranch during an I Heart SPFLD event.

Of course, God had a bigger plan that day. Chris and I were meant to do more together than just getting me started as a volunteer.  Not only did I begin serving the ranch in a variety of ways I would never have expected, but that mission fair sparked a friendship and professional mentoring relationship that I really needed.

This Sunday we’re excited to have 15 community partners joining us for another Mission Fair.  They are excited to meet you and share opportunities where you could make an impact. Don’t be shy about sharing the gifts you’ve received.  There are countless ways to serve no matter your background, physical ability, age, or manure-scooping prowess. I would encourage you to be bold and use the face-to-face opportunity to make new connections during the Mission Fair.  This also provides a great opportunity for Journey Groups, classes, families and individuals to identify places to serve during this season's I Heart SPFLD event (March31 - April6). You never know how God may use the opportunity to bless you, as you serve others. Oh, and there will be donuts.

Guest Author
Kellie is the director of a non profit industry association in Central Illinois. Born and raised in a corn field north of Springfield, she is happy to call South Side home.
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