In Isaiah 6:8, the prophet hears the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I. Send me!” This is the same response Southside United Methodist Church is giving as it embarks on a weeklong Global Impact Celebration – Mission Ignition, May 16-20.

This life-changing experience will invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to the participants and the church God’s plan to show His love across the street and around the world. Through various events, all ages will hear and be inspired by local and international missionaries as they learn what it means to be mission-minded every day. As Acts 1:8 states, “You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Coordinator Pat LaMountain says the Global Impact Celebration has been a journey of faith for her. When she was asked to organize the event, she said “why me Lord? I don’t know anyone, and I can’t do it. It’s way out of my comfort level.” But obediently, she went to the organizational meeting and then set out to encourage everyone she met to be a part of this first mission conference. She says, “It is the same message today that the Apostle Paul preached at the church of Antioch, [the mission conference] teaches us to set out in faith and commit to promise to pray and to give of ourselves to His service through our time, talents, and funds.”

For Pat, this faith promise was scary at first, but God provided, and the blessing kept coming. She says, “I am always surprised, but I have found I cannot outgive God.” Throughout the planning, she is already seeing miracles and hearts changing.

Southside UMC invites the community to attend. There are signups on the church’s website. Organizer Chris Thomas says, “The Holy Spirit will be filling hearts and minds of those who attend. If you know someone that is lost, this is the place to be found.”

On Wednesday, May 16th, there will be a kickoff celebration from five to seven. It will include dinner and give everyone a chance to meet the missionaries and mission partners. It will conclude with a worship service. Dinner is $5/person, $20 max for a family.

An International Banquet will be held Friday, May 18th from 6:30-8:00. During this event, missionaries will share about their ministries and what God is doing through their work. It will give people a chance to learn how they can join in missions. Dinner is $10/person and is catered by Pollo Tropicale. Reservations can be made on the website.

“For we know, God calls us to share his love across the street and around the world.”

During both the kickoff celebration and the banquet, children will participate in the Passport Club, where they will have fun, interactive learning about the mission partners. They will have the chance to taste the food of the various cultures, do hands-on service, talk to missionaries, and get their Passports stamped.

Mission Partners from SUMC’s sister church in Cuba will speak at a Senior Adult Luncheon on Friday at 11:30 a.m. On Saturday, men will enjoy a breakfast at 8:00 a.m. catered by Maple Street Biscuit Company and hear from missionaries to China. Later in the day, a Women’s luncheon will be held at noon, featuring speaker, Kristin Keen, founder of Rethreaded. She will share her testimony about how God led her to reach out to women trapped in human trafficking and how these survivors are impacting the world today.

Students will have several of their own activities on Saturday from one to four. The Youth Guatemala Bowl will be held at FEC Park with special guests Manny and Cindy Batres from Mission 2Guatemala. Teams will play in an ultimate frisbee and flag-football competition to raise money for upcoming mission trips. On Sunday morning, a teen missionary from North Africa will speak to the youth about life as a missionary in a dangerous part of the world.

The culmination of Mission Week will be the Faith Commitment and Life Commitment Services during Sunday morning worship times. The Faith Commitment will be an anonymous pledge to support missions financially. The Life Commitment will be a time to commit our time to missions, through prayers and service.

Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to look for the Kindness Tree. It will have ideas of ways to share kindness to neighbors, friends, or strangers. For we know, God calls us to share his love across the street and around the world.

For more information about all the events and to make reservations, visit the website at http://sumcjax.org/events/mission/.

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Award-winning author Leslie DeVooght writes Southern Romance set in her hometown, St. Simons Island, Georgia. Leslie has been published in Spark magazine, on the ACFW blog and the Florida Christian Writers Conference blog, and will be published in the Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story Anthology this spring. She also posts devotions and flash fiction weekly on her website, www.lesliedevooght.com and can be seen weekly on Facebook Live for Wacky Wednesdays from the Carline. Leslie loves cheering on her three children and date nights with her inspiring husband, who loves that she researches kissing. Keep up with Leslie on Facebook at Leslie Kirby DeVooght and on Twitter and Instagram @LeslieDeVooght.