“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:

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.

The Next Generation: Drifters?

“One generation shall commend Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.”  Psalm 145:4

I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective and powerful because of your accurate knowledge of every good thing which is ours in Christ.”   Philemon 6

I am so excited about the 2017-2018 Great Commission Women’s National Project theme this year, “more”, and was encouraged speaking with ladies at General Council as they began to understand the substance of this theme from Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” 

I have to admit that my mind tends to focus on adult women and not necessarily on teenage girls, perhaps because my children are adults now.  Unintentionally I have overlooked these teen gems, our young Great Commission Women, thus not sharing enough with them that “there is more in Christ.

The National Project theme primarily touches the lives of young and teenage girls overseas, those at risk, pregnant, caught in human trafficking, prisoners.  As we support them financially and with prayer, let us not forget those young women within our immediate reach, those sitting in our own church pews – or wherever our lives may cross.  Is my busyness or feeling of inadequacy something that allows these girls to fall between the cracks and become part of heart-rending statistics?

Did you know, per the Sticky Faith research, that 40-50% of students from good youth groups and families will drift away from God and the church after high school?  Some researchers state that as many as 80% will walk away from God by the age of 29.  Unfortunately, I am personally touched by this sad realization in my own family.

Our local church has decided to put action behind these staggering statistics and recently started the “Pray for Me Campaign” by Tony Souder.  In order to walk alongside and pray for a teenager or a family with teens, an adult chooses a provided picture, on the back of which is information on the person(s).  I chose the first teenage girl (age 15) my eyes landed upon and picked up not only her picture but also the serious responsibility that comes with it.

In the Pray for Me Campaign Prayer Guide, a 17-year old wrote about adults:  “When I reflect on what their prayers meant to me in those early days, I was shocked that I was on the radar of any of these people.  After all, I was really a stranger to them.  Their willingness to pray for me, and their expressions of care and concern, transformed the trajectory of my life.  The ‘goodness’ that I had walked into was the Body of Christ, filled with people who knew God and wanted me to know Him.”

My heart’s desire is to walk alongside a teenage girl so that the “sharing of my faith may become effective and powerful.” I will be praying that she will see there is more in Christ, and that her life’s trajectory will be transformed for the glory of God.

When it comes to a possible teenage drifter, what is your heart’s desire?