Ms. Christine Mercer is a GEMN board member from the Diocese of Alabama.
“Mission and serving others has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I feel that there were two factors that helped form my calling to mission: my parents and my youth group.
My parents were always involved in serving others, either through our church or through civic clubs. They were inspiring to me, and I simply felt, by watching their selfless actions, that it just seemed a part of what one should do in life. Also, as a cradle Episcopalian, I had the good fortune to attend a church with an outward focused youth leader. Our group was vibrant, open and challenged us to learn about God’s call to us to serve others.
For me, the word mission denotes serving anyone just beyond our doors. For some this is serving locally. For others the distance is a bit greater and still for some the larger world becomes their mission.
One of my first entries into local mission was through the youth group at church in Atlanta. Venturing away from the comforts of our suburban homes and church, we went to serve in the inner city. There, in one of the nation’s oldest public housing projects, we became partners in Christ with a family.
The family was solid, with both parents involved with their six children. For more than a year, we worked along side this family that didn’t necessarily look like us, or have similar stories. Through our actions and their acceptance, I learned a lot about how important deep personal relationships are when serving others; Christ had formed a friendship by allowing me to serve. It was evident that our pasts and present did not define us, but what was important was our mutual need for God’s grace and we shared in God’s love together.
Fast-forward a few decades to where I was invited to join a short-term mission team to Honduras. I wasn’t sure that this was what God was calling me to do, but I decided to go anyway. The trip was life-changing as I continued to learn and feel just how important relationships are when in service to others.
I met so many people that first trip that changed my life and filled my heart. Today, almost ten years later, I still have relationships with many of the same people. Again, I learned that while serving others there must be intentional relationships and partnerships. Just going to do for others simply isn’t enough. Relationships and truly getting to know the people you are serving is the only way to bring peace to this world.
Short-term mission work has been my calling since that first trip ten years ago. Primarily, I feel that He called me to be a leader of short-term mission teams. I have a passion for leading teams, and have been blessed to lead numerous teams to Central America. What has filled me with so much joy is that I have had the opportunity to show others the importance of relationships and how it is so intertwined with God’s call to mission. Hebrews 10:24 says it best; “Let us provoke one another toward love and good deeds.”
In 2016, I attended my first GEMN conference, and was overwhelmed with the amount of people who were like me, and loved to serve through mission. The speakers opened my mind, eyes and heart to look more deeply at missions. I loved the small group breakout sessions, as I felt they led to powerful conversations and lasting friendships. The networking opportunities opened up the world of mission to all involved, and how the charge to mission is not isolated to one country or one type. GEMN has provided me with unique resources, new opportunities, and of course, lasting relationships.
In our baptismal covenant we promise to, “Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.” Where is God calling you to forge your next relationship?”