|Nathan Herrera of Walnut Creek Downtown clears brush for a Des Moines resident as part of Mission to the City. | Photo: Katie Robinson|
More than 400 men and women from Walnut Creek South, Johnston, West, and Downtown served the greater Des Moines area for the fourth annual Mission to the City, May 25-29.
Held each year over Memorial Day weekend, Mission to the City is an opportunity to meet needs around Des Moines while getting the gospel out. A few examples of service projects to the community include free oil changes and car washes, yard work, and handing out free coffee and root beer floats. Participants also had opportunities to serve other local churches, non-profits, and the city of Des Moines.
"We're supposed to be sowers, and Mission to the City offers us the opportunity to do that," said John Teeter of Walnut Creek South. "It's probably the most important job we have as Christians."
Free oil changes were a big hit at Walnut Creek South, where there were at times more than 100 people waiting to get their oil changed or visiting the church's free garage sale. The oil changes and garage sale also provided many opportunities for the gospel to go out.
"We were running out of places to park cars because people were talking and weren't leaving even after their cars were done," Teeter said. "Lots of seeds were planted. It was amazing to sit back and watch God working."
Walnut Creek Johnston had an opportunity to serve the school staff at Horizon Elementary, where the congregation meets. On the staff's last day at school, the church served a homemade lunch of specialty sandwiches, salads, and pies. "It was a great way to say thank you to the teachers for letting us go into their space every week for Sunday school," said Jess White of Walnut Creek Johnston. "We got to serve at least 70 to 80 people. They loved the food and felt so appreciated by the church's efforts. The Lord really blessed it."
Although plans to go door-to-door and provide free car washes were rained out over Memorial Day weekend, the congregation plans to continue Mission to the City through June. They will be doing Summer Kids Club at Johnston Barn, going door-to-door, and offering free car washes.
"Loving and serving gives communities the opportunity to see what it looks like when people really care about what the bible says. They think of a face when they think of Jesus," White said. "It's also really good for our kids to see that it matters to their parents. We had 22 parents and children serving that lunch. When kids see things acted out, there's a better chance they'll do it when they get older."
Walnut Creek West also offered free oil changes and car washes. Additionally, volunteers cleaned local parks and along Grand Avenue from Raccoon River to 50th Street.
"I enjoyed helping with the car washes. We got to meet people, and they were open to talking to us because we were serving them," said Laura Brill of Walnut Creek West. "Mission to the City shows that we care about the community — by not only meeting peoples' physical needs, but by helping them spiritually as well."
Landscaping for local non-profits, cleaning Des Moines' alleys, serving area churches, knocking on doors to offer yard work, and providing free oil changes were a few of Walnut Creek Downtown's projects.
Erin Youngblood of Walnut Creek Downtown said her favorite project was building garden planter boxes for a community garden at 18th and Forest Avenue. The community garden is a ministry started by a former missionary to Africa who is now serving that area of Des Moines.
"It was encouraging because it showed me that other people out there have the same mission," Youngblood said. "We got to work not only with brothers and sisters from our church, but also with other people trying to glorify the Lord through their work. We’re not alone. The Lord is with us, and he has other laborers out there as well."