Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Standing with a Homeless Man

Every day there are people who give the church a phone call, or stop by to plead their case, seeking financial assistance. I've been in churches since 1992 that get this a lot, therefore it's a regular part of ministry. Not too many years ago it was a certain type of person who would know the system and appeal to churches and non-profit ministries for help with their "light bill" or rent or gas or food or whatever. With the tougher economy, and more people out of work, we get more people who don't know "the system" and who are unaccustomed to asking for help.

As a pastor, and as someone seeking to follow Christ in my personal life, it's a tough tight rope as I so often deal with con-men and those who live off others, yet seek to have a tender heart that takes time with people and is responsive to those who are in great need. There's never enough money, never enough time, and it's a challenge to safeguard what has been given to church and God for those most in need.

Late this afternoon the call came from the receptionist's desk that I had a "friend out front." Freddy had shown up a couple of months ago. He seemed transparent, likable, and even in spite of knowing he has had his challenges and is likely running a story, I found myself drawn to him. He was upbeat, optimistic, with a smile and a twinkle in eyes that showed a hope I didn't usually find from my brothers and sisters on the street. It was an afternoon when I didn't have many appointments and could take some time in conversation.

Freddy was very open and revealing. He responded to all my questions and didn't get defensive or seem evasive, even when I pushed in directions and gave advice that could have pushed anyone's buttons!

He told he'd done jail time. His only ID is from corrections.

He told me about the mission where he lives, and the challenges of living in such a place, of being out during the day with his Goodwill training and to look for work.

We sat and chatted leisurely for almost 30 minutes.

I gave him a little bit of money, and a pair of reading glasses as we had some left over from our recent west African mission trip. I told him about our mission partners at a local medical clinic that might be a help to him with some of his problems. We chatted some more and I gave him a blessing as he went back out on the street.

Today was very different. Today everything was different. Today we stood together and the emotion hung thick in the air.

Freddy seemed defeated. It was more than just his situation that had him down. Everything he said indicated he'd been beaten in life and was ready to give up. He said repeatedly that this was his "last chance." But his words and emotions sounded more like a man who didn't expect to have much longer to live. Freddy had a tear that kept popping up in the corner of his eye. His emotion was raw, but controlled, as the frustration, remorse, and hope to do better was all confessed. How amazing the sense of God's presence as this homeless brother of mine shared from the depths of his soul. In all of my years talking with my homeless neighbors I've never had an experience quite like this.

Freddy was drawn to the church today because of the deepest needs of his soul. He needed to talk. He had to say some things. He needed to hear some things.

At this moment as I write this, and as the night claims the day, I can't help but think of Freddy. I hope you'll pray for him, and for others like him in your neighborhood. As I think about him I'm drawn to a scripture that recalls Jesus who calls us all to his feet and who came to heal us all.

Luke 6:17-21 (though you may wisely wish to read more in that chapter). Speaking of Jesus the passage says:
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh."

Lord, be with Freddy tonight. Help him to stay on your path and cling to You. And help me to have a similar faith and expectation of healing for my soul. Lord, let it be!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Transportation Vital to the Mission of Destino del Reino

Destino relies heavily on buses in their ministry. Their work includes an orphanage, a school which now goes up to middle school, a church, and hosting mission teams. The families they work with in the Siguatepeque area of Honduras is large, mountainous, and primarily on dirt roads with LOTS of potholes. Just a week of riding on those roads is enough for most mission teams to be tired and beat up from the jostling. The amount of travel on poor roads takes a toll on tires, chassis, and engine, so maintenance and repair is a constant.

During our week at Destino we saw 2 buses sitting idle in the yard with one requiring minor repair and the other needing an engine. We were on the last bus and it required repair twice during the week as it needed tires. And school starts next week.

Whether you wish to sponsor a child in the school, support Destino in your prprayers or participation, or want to help repair a vehicle, I can assure you that you'd be hard pressed to find a more transformational ministry anywhere! Contact Rhonda and her team at
Destino and tell her Scott sent you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Destino del Reino

The sometimes absent mission pastor returns again!

I just got back last night from our latest mission team after 8 days in Honduras. We had a medical team working in partnership with our good friends at Destino del Reino near Siguatepeque. The group offered adult and pediatric medical care, medicine, and an eyeglass clinic. We also had groups for evangelism/discipleship and children's ministry. It was another phenomenal experience as we all grew in deeper relationship with one another and with God. Once again, as often happens with a strong mission experience, there are far too many stories to tell in this small space. I guess I'll just need to write a book sometime to share more of these incredible stories.

- we ate some great food!
- we heard bandito gun fights on two different early mornings.
- I helped orphans knock huge grasshoppers out of pine trees!
- we visited the homes of some of the children sponsored at the Destino school by individuals in our group.
- I drank Coke from a bottle for the first time in many years.
- we all learned a little more about the experience of following Christ as we worshipped together, sang and prayed together, and served together.

Here is the Destino del Reino website.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Speakers Available for Men's Meetings

Perhaps by now you notice I'm privileged to serve an extraordinary church. By that I don't mean we've got everything figured out. Instead, I mean there are lots of honest, real folk who are eager to serve and to share.

We've got four guys in the +/- 40 year old range that illustrate the point. In addition to their careers they are now making themselves available to share their stories and encourage other men. One is a high school principal, another an engineer, the third a financial advisor, and the fourth an international level gymnast who continues that interest in his businesses. They are an interesting group of men, with diverse personalities, yet with common goals of encouraging other men to live extraordinary lives.

Jason, Tim, Jeff and Jay can tailor their presentation to a seminar or a one day event or weekend retreat. They have presented "The Service Road" at a number of churches in the Augusta area, at the North Georgia UMC United Methodist Men's Retreat at Rock Eagle, and at FUMC of Fayetteville TN. These friends are highly respected in both our church and community. You would be hard pressed to find a stronger presentation and their hope is that they will help you to find a similar group develop in your own church.

Learn more about The Service Road here and find the contact information if you wish to have my friends lead your next men's event. If you want to reach men ages 25-50 you will not find a better group to lead a program.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Choctaw Mississippi

I'm thinking about our spring break trip tonight. The time with the Choctaw had a great impact on my high school daughter and elementary aged son. While I often tell of mission work locally, and occasionally go off for a week for a national or international trip, I never seem to have opportunity to have my family with me. Tonight I'm thinking back on our experience with the Choctaw, lifting them up in my prayers, and praying for Steve, Robin, Jon, and those who work with our Choctaw brothers and sisters.

What a treat to attend the Red Water Spring Festival!

And we saw the historic and important mound that is central to the story of the Choctaw.

See the work of the Choctaw Methodists here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Super Saturday

Today my church celebrated our monthly Super Saturday. It's a ministry for special needs adults that we've been privileged to host at Trinity on the Hill for over 30 years. Our friends love this event because they have so few social opportunities. We've grown old together over the years. In our safe space we see old friends & make new friends. We sing, we dance, we make a LOT of noise, and there is always a LOT of movement. But it's all good because we are family and understand we are who we are, and everyone is accepted in our fun couple of hours. The crew loves dances, is excited to have Elvis visit a couple of times a year, and there is nothing better than eating a great lunch provided by a church Sunday School class or choir.

We'd fallen into a comfortable routine of offering certain programs over the years & thought we had it down to a science. You know, not everyone can sing or do magic in a room of 225 special needs adults! So, we'd filtered through those who could and those who couldn't play such a venue. A few months back I noticed one of the caregivers had set her purse down so she could load up her Super Saturday friends in their van. Many of our crowd are in wheelchairs, or use some help to walk, so quite a few of the groups have vans or minibuses that are especially equipped. It isn't a quick process to load up & it's easy to get distracted if you're transporting 5-6 people. As I got her purse back to her she was bragging on us for doing this ministry, and we were bragging on her and everyone in the group that we think of as family. Then something in the conversation led me to ask her what other activities we might do that no one else offers. She though for a moment and got us into conversation that these sorts of friends NEVER get to go to a public movie theater. They make too much noise, move around a lot, need to use the bathroom a few times during a movie, need something to drink, etc, etc.

Why hadn't we thought of that!

So, today we set up the laptop, got out the projector, and set up the big screen and tied into the speaker system in our fellowship hall dining room. Some of the challenge was to find a great movie that would fit into a 1 hour or 90 minute time slot. Don't forget we've got to eat, and it takes almost 30 minutes to get this large group with some needs their food and to their seats. Our faithful leader, Jim & his wife Candy, determined the newer Alvin and the Chipmunks movie would be a great first attempt. And they were right!

We had a wonderful time today. The applause was as if we'd staged a premiere movie. The gratitude was heartfelt & with these friends becomes a handshake, many hugs and high fives.

What a joy to meet simple needs, listen and learn, and hang out with folk who are often overlooked yet have so much to offer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blazing Saddle Methodists

I attended our annual district "set up" meeting Monday evening. I still laugh at the name of such a meeting! I'm in a large mostly rural district so we all commute to a central location so that almost everyone has a 45 minute drive to get there. Maybe I'll work up some thoughts on "set up" some other time. Since my calendar, at this point in the year is generally full 12-18 months out, I'm always amused at the important dates that are given for an event a month away! It will certainly be curious to see how the old ways of United Methodism fit into the Call to Action approach and expectations as the whole denomination appears to be moving toward a more efficient, production based approach to ministry.

When I got home I was vegging in front of the TV, flipping channels catching news and miscellaneous shows, when I found "Blazing Saddles." I don't think I've ever seen the whole movie, and this was a language edited TV version with interesting footnotes explaining elements of the historic classic movie from that distant cultural time (1974!). I was instantly drawn to the cast of old characters and was sucked into it for a few minutes. Blazing Saddles was the typical Mel Brooks spoof packed with all sorts of "inside jokes" based on the times and shared with the world.

I stalled at the movie just as Harvey Korman and Slim Pickens appeared. They made me laugh before there was even any dialogue because... well because they are comedic geniuses & I know to expect fun. You may recall that in the movie Korman was the evil Hedley Lamarr & Pickens was his helper Taggart. What caught me off guard was a reference to Methodists! I had to go to IMDB to see if I'd heard correctly or if somehow the "set up" meeting was merely boomeranging on me.

Remember the scene where they are plotting and Lamarr is telling of all the types of bad guys he needs for the plan to succeed? If you know the voices and mannerisms it's best for you to mimic Pickens and Lamarr as you read this!

Taggart: What do you want me to do, sir?
Hedley Lamarr: I want you to round up every vicious criminal and gunslinger in the west. Take this down.
[Taggart looks for a pen and paper while Hedley talks]
Hedley Lamarr: I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, ..., train robbers, bank robbers, ...and Methodists.
Taggart: [finding pen and paper] Could you repeat that, sir?

Could you repeat that, indeed! What a strange thing to hear after a Methodist set up meeting!

It makes me wonder though-- do you know of other movies where Methodists are mentioned in the script? and what is the context? How are we portrayed? Share the movies you know & your thoughts on Methodists in the movies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fall 2011 Children's Consignment Sale

We host 2 seasonal children's consignment sales each year. Usually the church will have around 300 consignors, too many quality items to count, and a gym and fellowship hall full of great deals. The consignor gets 60% and the church benefits with 40% of the proceeds going to mission. We're recruiting quality consignors now who have clothes, furniture, toys, electronics, etc. that need to get out of the house! Great selling items are offered for baby, children, and teenagers. FYI I've noticed in recent sales that we get a LOT of baby and small child items but less and less clothing for older children and teenagers. People with older children and teens with quality items should consider consigning as we don't receive as much of that clothing and it sales, sales, sales!

See Fall 2011 CCS for more information that will answer all of your questions and to sign up to consign.

Help yourself and help mission for the WIN/WIN!

Monday, August 8, 2011

How Do You Live the Mission?

I'll be starting a Wednesday night small group of 8-12 people in September with focus on living a mission lifestyle. "Tangible Kingdom Primer" offers a way to combine spiritual formation and missional living. IN a small group setting we'll take 10 weeks to get to know Scripture, practice elements of mission living, and talk about our experiences.

In some recent church publicity for the class I used the TKP description that we'd "explore incarnational living and missional community." Someone on our church staff said, "What does that mean in plain English?"

She posed a good question. Yet, isn't it funny that we may fail to use such historic Christian language in the church to the point that it does take a good amount of explanation?!

TKP is a devotional approach to living out the Kingdom of God in a local community in a small group. Other descriptors-- a "field guide for starting mission together." So, it's a mission/evangelism primer based in Scripture, with group discussion, and asking for personal experimentation. That's the incarnational living part-- how do I personally follow Christ (the incarnate of God) in mission? Much of the discussion is also in the context of community-- both how the church reflects a mission movement and how we are truly at work in our community as part of the work of the Kingdom of God. This study should be great for a beginner, but I find there is a depth of material that will allow for some great discussion for Christians & those involved in mission for years.

Here's the agenda:
Sept 7- introduction, meet each other, and receive books-- discuss how we'll use the books. This is a devotional format but there's a certain rhythm to it that we'll need to agree to and reinforce.
Sept 14- Chapter 1- What is Missional?
Sept 21- Chapter 2- What is Incarnational?
Sept 28- Chapter 3- The Gospel
Oct. 5- Chapter 4- What is the Community?
Oct 12- Chapter 5- Living Out
Oct 19- Chapter 6- Inviting In
Oct 26- Chapter 7- Becoming an Apprentice
Nov 2- Chapter 8- The Intuitive Life
Nov 9- Endings & Beginnings

So, you interested in "incarnational living and missional community?"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Faith Discovery

An important part of my work is to help people grow in their experience, understanding, and expression of faith in Christ. So, while I love the action and impact of mission, a vital part of the equation is the worship, study, and renewal that occurs which allows me to be active in mission. Make sense? I just wouldn't get into the adventures I get into, or be able to sustain such activity, except that I have this profound sense that I've got to continue to follow Christ.

Mission as one "program" of the church or denomination, too separated from the rest of the Christian walk, makes for weaker mission and a weaker Christian and Church. Over the last few years I've found a richer experience as worship, discipleship, evangelism, mission, fellowship, prayer, etc. all interact and engage each other.

And just as I need "rest" from the crazy activity and happenings of a week, I find I'm more and more drawn to sabbath, to sanctuary, to a present salvation which inspires, and challenges, and encourages. Who doesn't want that?! Thus, Sunday worship and small group time are vital elements of my faith which sustain me.

But I realize that not everyone has this. Not everyone has a church family, a community of faith, or a circle of friends who are with them through thick and thin. While such a person may pray, may read Scripture, may sing the songs of faith, they may also have had a bad church experience or awful life experience, that has shaken them to their core. Add to this that sadly, too often a church can be too exclusive, too much like a social club, and create barriers & walls which are tougher to cross than getting through a nation's border!

Part of the wonderful joy in the life of the Christian and Church is to help create "bridges" so that people can connect with the family of faith, become active in the life of a church, and grow stronger in Christ through this sort of full experience of faith. Said plainly, it is a great challenge and a great joy to help people who aren't involved in church find their place, and in fact their family and home, in the life of the church. This is tough, but immensely satisfying work as we might stand as guides in the pilgrim trail of life always on the lookout to lend a helping hand to the weary soul seeking a band of friends and their spiritual home.

On Sundays I offer a Discovery Class during the Sunday School hour. We try to be such an oasis, such a bridge, that helps folk in their journey. We've got a mix of long time church members and people new to the church. My goal is that the discussion and fellowship be about "real life and real faith." Sometimes we talk about missions. Sometimes we talk about the local community or challenges in our town or family. During the next couple of months we'll be considering who Jesus is as we look at the Gospel of John. This study might reveal a Jesus that's much more than you've seen or heard before. If you are in Augusta, whether you are struggling with life & faith or just need some encouragement or are looking for some friends, I hope you'll spend some time with our group.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Goodwill Mentors Needed

Today I'm looking for some Adult & Business Mentors. Have you ever thought you could combine business and your faith? Perhaps you didn't know it, but our local Goodwill is on the cutting edge of ministry and we are glad to be part of their efforts.

Join this new mentor project as part of your work in local mission through Trinity on the Hill & Goodwill. Mentors are provided 4 hours of training, spend time 1:1 with a trainee every other week, and become part of the Goodwill team. An application process and 4 hours of training are required & there are upcoming dates for Augusta & September training sessions.

Goodwill’s mission is to help people discover and develop their God-given gifts through education, work, and career development services. Job training and placement services are offered in that pursuit. This philosophy began in Goodwill’s earliest days as a ministry developed by a Methodist pastor in Boston convinced that what people want is not charity but a chance to work. The goal of the mentorship program is to provide individual, outside support, for Goodwill trainees, students, or employees throughout their training program and transition into a new job.

Interested in sharing your time and talent with someone as a Mentor?

For more information contact Rev. Scott Parrish, TOTH mission pastor at the church office 706-738-8822 or, or Amy Breitmann, Goodwill Volunteer Manager for the CSRA at or 706-691-6527.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

October Mission in Rural Jamaica

Can you see yourself in Jamaica in October?

No problem mon!

Join Trinity on the Hill for a week of medical ministry and fellowship in St.Mary Parish on the island of Jamaica. We will be hosting a team from October 22-29 serving the people of this impoverished but vibrant part of Jamaica in partnership with American Caribbean Experience (ACE) ministries. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians, physical therapists, and anyone (even with no medical training) with a desire to serve is welcome. For more details contact Rev. Scott Parrish or Dr. Ron Eaker.

Visit ACE to get more information
about our partner mission host and the varied work they do in rural Jamaica.

We will offer medical clinic, dentistry, and eyeglasses in 5 mountain village clinics throughout St. Mary Parish & hope to have a team of 25. We typically have a number of churches represented on each team and are accustomed to such team work.

Serve a sweet spirited people in need...
Eat the BEST jerk chicken...
Drink fresh coffee grown in the nearby mountains...
Soak up the culture and spirit of Jamaica even as you follow Christ by sharing your skills and talents.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reconstruction in Towns Damaged by Spring Tornadoes

Tornado Reconstruction Teams Needed NOW!

It's something of a forgotten story these 3 months after the headline. But now is the time for rebuilding with families devastated by spring tornadoes yet without the insurance, finances, or tools and skills to rebuild.

We need "all hands on deck" as our neighbors in Ringgold & Tuscaloosa areas are calling for construction teams. We'll be partnering with Wesley UMC & other interested Augusta friends to send teams the next 3 months. No experience necessary-- supervision & tools provided. Contact Eric Long or Scott Parrish for more information or to sign up.

We need a Tuscaloosa team for August 18 through 21. We need kitchen crew, framers, sheet rock, and roofers to repair a church and parsonage. $65/ person to cover food/lodging/gas and scholarships are available.

We need another Tuscaloosa team for Sept 11-17. We need MANY workers! Cost will be $215/person for food/gas/lodging with scholarships available.

October 25-30 we’ll send a Ringgold team as that small GA town rebuilds following their devastating tornado. More info later as we get closer to the date.

Be part of the solution as we help neighbors in need!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Charles Wesley on Mission

See how great a flame aspires, Kindled by a spark of grace!
Jesus's love the nations fires, Sets the kingdoms on a blaze;
To bring fire on earth he came, Kindled in some hearts it is,
O that all might catch the flame, All partake the glorious bliss!

When he first the work begun, Small and feeble was his day;
Now the word doth swiftly run, Now it wins its widening way;
More and more it spreads and grows, Ever mighty to prevail,
Sin's strong-holds it now o'erthrows, Shakes the trembling gates of hell.

Sons of God, your Saviour praise! He the door hath opened wide;
He hath given the word of grace, Jesu's word is glorified;
Jesus, mighty to redeem, He alone the work hath wrought;
Worthy is the work of him, Him who spake a world from nought.

Saw ye not the cloud arise, Little as a human hand
Now it spreads along the skies, Hangs o'er all the thirsty land;
Lo! the promise of a shower Drops already from above;
But the Lord will shortly pour All the Spirit of his love!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Charles Wesley Hymn on Church

Have you ever experienced church as a foretaste of heaven? Ever experienced a community of followers of Christ that sacrifices for the group, encourages one another in faith, and this depth of faith that is so far beyond the individualism of our times? Don't sing this one thinking it's some unattainable ideal, but look to an expression of church at its best that we are called to build.

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
Who joins us by his grace,
And bids us, each to each restored,
Together seek his face.

He bids us build each other up;
And, gathered into one,
To our high calling's glorious hope
We hand in hand go on.

The gift which he on one bestows,
We all delight to prove;
The grace through every vessel flows,
In purest streams of love.

Even now we think and speak the same,
And cordially agree;
Concentrated all, through Jesus' name,
In perfect harmony.

We all partake the joy of one,
The common peace we feel,
A peace to sensual minds unknown,
A joy unspeakable.

And if our fellowship below
In Jesus be so sweet,
What heights of rapture shall we know,
When round his throne we meet!