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This year Missions and Outreach has tangibly shared the love of God to people in our community, our nation, and around the world. This is made possible by your generosity. As you read about a few of the projects, I hope you will know the impact that your generosity has made for Christ in the lives of those we touch. I personally want to say thank you for sharing your time, talent, and treasure in 2019. Below are a few stories we would like to share with you from a few of our mission participants.

Randall Lucas
Associate Pastor
Director of Missions and Outreach

Reaching Nationally

This past summer, Rev. Sarah Luginbill with several members from the Young Adults Ministry travelled to Puerto Rico. One of the participants, Sam Butler shared his experiences with us:

Missions does not mean to me what they used to. I grew up in an extremely traditional Southern Baptist church in north Alabama, and my scope of missions -- and church by extension -- was very limited. But after experiencing what I can only identify as the very real love of God after a week in Puerto Rico with the team from Lovers Lane, missions mean something entirely new and immediate to me.

I’ll explain. Missions meant going somewhere for a week, spending a handful of days interacting with locals, helping out with something here or there, and heading back home to share with everyone how the place we just went to “changed our hearts,” which would last a week or two before everything was back to normal.

When I got to college, my viewpoint started shifting, whether I noticed it or not. I started being exposed to and interacted with worldviews and experiences other than my own, and that kickstarted a pretty speedy process of really thinking about what I believed for the first time. I left the church completely, and I wasn’t planning on going back. The process of really examining what you believe is messy. It was hard, and it still is. I won’t pretend like I’ve figured everything out, because I definitely haven’t. But after I moved to Dallas after graduating, I decided to give church another shot, and I found Lovers Lane. I found a church that loves everyone and wasn’t shy about it. I found people who are firm in their convictions, and part of that was an emphasis on missions that made a tangible difference in peoples’ lives.

After being a part of the Young Adults group here for a while, I heard Sarah Luginbill talk about a trip to Puerto Rico she’d planned for the summer of 2019, and I instantly knew I had to go -- and now that I think about it, I don’t ever remember second-guessing that feeling. I heard about her vision for the trip: to provide relief work for the people who were still trying to figure out how to recover from the devastating hurricanes that hit the area in 2017, some of whom were still literally without a roof over their heads. So I signed up, and we went. And the trip was everything I could’ve hoped for. We spent a week-plus in Puerto Rico doing legitimate construction work, which was something I’d never really done before. Our team installed a new tin roof on Miss Sonja’s house in the hills of the countryside -- and let me tell you, the peace and relief I felt while sitting on the exposed beams of her roof, 40 feet off the ground under the blazing hot sun, soaked in sweat and exhausted beyond belief was something I don’t think I can accurately describe.

The love of God was something I’d always struggled to say I could legitimately see and feel, but to see the utter joy and gratitude on Miss Sonja’s face after we put the last tin sheet on was something I’ll never forget. That moment right there made it all worth it, and it reinforced my decision tenfold. I can’t recommend the experience of going on a mission trip with your brothers and sisters here at Lovers Lane enough, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Missions isn’t limited to just preaching to a few people, or to pitching in with vacation bible school. It can be those things, sure, but that’s not what they have to be defined by. Our trip to Puerto Rico involved hardly any of that, if at all, but I think we exuded the love of Christ all the same.

- Sam Butler, member of LLUMC Young Adults

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Courts and Ports

In September, members of Lovers Lane and I joined the Courts and Ports Immersion trip to the Texas/Mexico border. While at the border, participants witnessed court proceedings, fed migrant families that were living on the Mexican side of the border, and observed the horrific living conditions.

One of the participants, Bruce Ryrie, said that he went to “see and hear with my own eyes and ears, beyond the political sound bites” what the situation was like for the asylum seekers. “In my experience, I felt that there is a true humanitarian crisis,” Bruce continued. He went on to note that “it doesn’t matter what one’s political beliefs are, it doesn’t preclude us from helping and seeing these people as children of God who need to see his love through us.”

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Another trip to the border is planned May 22-25, 2020. In January, Lovers Lane will be partnering with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church to host an Immigration Summit featuring the testimonies of United Methodist immigration advocates and preaching by Bishop Michael McKee. Prayerfully consider how you might support this very important and vital work, whether through your prayers, your participation or financial support.

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Reaching Globally

Rev. Dr. Jacob Keega, from the Heart of Africa congregation, with the help of LLUMC continues to reach out to the community in Kenya with the love of Christ in tangible ways.

Tumaini Education Scholarship

Founded in 2014 through the efforts of Rev. Jacob Keega and LLUMC member, Brad Holcomb, the Tumaini Education Scholarship Program currently has 19 students participating in the program. The scholarship program provides tuition and living expenses for underprivileged students to attend high school. The cost for one year of board and tuition to attend high school is $1200 per student.

Through the scholarship program, two students are now enrolled in college and four will begin college in 2020. Because of the sponsorship of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church through the Tumaini Education Scholarship Program, these students are able to receive an education.

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Thuura Coffee Project

The Thuura Coffee Project is helping families improve and stabilize their economic situation by reestablishing coffee farming to this community in Meru County, Kenya. The main goal of the Thuura Coffee Project is to provide the means to a stable income to support their families, educate their children, and to be empowered “to live the life God intended them to live”, according to Rev. Jacob Keega.

In the past, coffee farmers have been exploited economically by the coffee market system. As a result, farmers in the area had stopped growing coffee. Rev. Keega, with assistance from Charles Mutwiri, a prominent coffee farmer in Meru County, have assisted the community to once again grow coffee. The coffee would be marketed as a specialty brand in the United States.

In October 2018, 10,000 coffee trees were planted by 52 families. An additional 15,000 trees were planted in October 2019. The first harvest for processing will be ready in the spring of 2020. The next stage in the project will be to construct a processing plant for the coffee that will be located near the community. Funding will be needed to acquire a site for the plant, construction and acquisition of equipment.

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Reaching Locally

This year we served nearly 500 guests with the help of 210 volunteers at Everybody’s Christmas to share the radical love of Jesus Christ with people that at are experiencing homelessness, recently incarcerated, or in other living situations. There were many testimonies from those that participated. Here is one that was shared with us…

As it was getting close to the end of the evening, a volunteer was on his knees putting shoes on a homeless man’s feet. The gentleman was in a wheelchair and was unable to put shoes on. It was later, after the event, that the volunteer shared what had transpired. The man had no shoes. The volunteer had tried to see if the man could wear his shoes, but found they were way too big for the man. So the volunteer began a search around the church for shoes. It was another volunteer who had her teenage son give his shoes to the man. It was that teenagers' shoes the volunteer was putting on the feet of our guests.

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There were so many examples from that evening of the Love of God in Christ. some of the stories were as simple as a smile or handshake, and others like the story above. All of the stories were no less profound than another.

Please continue to pray for those we served. In 2020, we will continue our outreach to people experiencing homelessness through feeding programs at The Bridge, Austin Street, and Oaklawn UMC’s Warming Station. We will also continue our outreach to ex-offenders through our prison ministry.

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