“SHOP THE GROVE” at Mahaffey Camp
*reprinted from the Alliance
The Mahaffey Camp Grove is known all over the world among international workers (IWs) of all denominations. The ladies of the Western Pennsylvania WMPF (Women’s Missionary Prayer Fellowship) started this loving ministry approximately 75–80 years ago (maybe even longer). It has been carried down from generation to generation and is still going strong.
Each year on the Thursday of Mahaffey Camp from 9 a.m.–noon, the Grove is filled with tables from churches from all over the district. The churches have donated a wide variety of items for the IWs to “shop the Grove” and use while on home assignment or to take back to the field.
Items include things like:
- handmade quilts
- tools and tool boxes
- children’s items
- holiday decorations
- dried goods
- all sizes of storage totes
- gas cards
One year we witnessed an IW couple rent a small U-Haul to take all their items home. Another couple loaded their vehicle from front to back and floor to roof with just enough room for the two of them to sit on their way home.
Here’s how the ministry works: The IWs are given a shopping name lanyard and as many 30-gallon garbage bags as they can fill. The Grove begins at 9 a.m. for active IWs, 10 a.m. for retired IWs, and concludes at noon or when all the tables are empty.
Through the years, there have been 20–40 tables filled with helpful items. The Grove is filled with smiling faces of ladies trying to convince the IWs that they need to take more or trying to find the IWs in the crowd to give the gift cards to. The Spirit is in the air, and everyone is blessed. Hugs and kisses fly everywhere.
Here are a few thank-you notes from some of the IWs:
From Dave and Teresa: We have always looked forward to “the infamous Grove” not only for tools and household items that save us as missionaries lots of money but also to see and personally thank those men’s and women’s groups that pray for and tangibly provide for us.
From Shawn and Becky: There are no words for how much our family loves the Mahaffey Camp Grove! It’s definitely a highlight of our time stateside, and our kids look forward to it! It’s gotten to where I have to limit how much I let them bring home! You just never know what will be on those tables, and there is always something for everyone!
I remember returning for our second term and unpacking our outfit. It had been a difficult transition, and we were still grieving the goodbyes. As I was unpacking and putting items away, I began to notice stickers on everything from toothpaste to Tupperware. I was so encouraged that day as I realized we weren’t in this calling alone, but just as you provided items for our home, you were also sustaining us in prayer.
I now make a point to not take any stickers off anything until we unpack in Africa. It’s just too encouraging to read all the names of those that are part of our team and supporting us back home.
Praise the Lord for the precious ladies of Western Pennsylvania Great Commission Women who give of their hearts, time, and money to provide such a blessed experience for our IWs.