The New Kid in Town by Bob & Dian Harner, Directors of Missions Mobilization

Most of us have been there at one time or another: the new kid in town.  If you were never the new kid in town, you’ve been the new person at work or the “outsider” trying to figure out her new surroundings or the college student returning home to see that things have changed.  Depending on your personality, it can be an uncomfortable time or an exciting time or a mixture of both.

This year we have several international workers and their families who are joining us in the Central District during their home assignments.  Most have been “one of us”, living and serving in some capacity in the district before they moved overseas.  They are still one of us, but years have passed and we’ve all changed in one way or another, them and us.  Their original space has been filled.  Now they are here in a different capacity and, although they know they’re part of this family called the Central District, they may feel like the distant cousins that were just small children the last time they saw the rest of the family.  And new family members they’ve never met have been added!

We want to make them welcome this year.  We are planning a “meet and greet” during the Monday evening pie reception at District Council with those IWs who will be there with us.  So that you have some ideas of how to begin a conversation with them, here is a brief introduction (or re-introduction) of each family:

Peter and Laura Marshall – Before moving to South America the Marshalls had connections to our churches in West Virginia.  They have served in South America in a few countries including Uruguay, where they presently serve.  They are also well known in the Mansfield area where they spent at least one other home assignment.  They will be making Mansfield their home during the months they speak in our district.  They have four adult children and are living near a daughter in the Boston area when they aren’t in our district.  This term they have served in church ministries in a young church in Salto, where Peter mentored the pastoral couple, Laura did ladies’ discipleship and they both taught.  Ask them about the children’s Sunday School class in their garage!

Alan and Jill Kropp, with their four children – North Mar Church in Warren was the Kropps’ Central District home before their deployment to Japan, so it’s not surprising that they will be living in Warren during their year of home assignment.  They have spent the last four years developing and ministering to their neighbors in the tsunami-devastated city of Ishinomaki, Japan through a wholistic ministry center.  In addition to basketball camps, a community garden, Bible studies and programs for mothers of preschoolers, the New Life Center provides the only Christian counseling in an area the size of West Virginia. 

The two other families that are living in our district come from creative access countries.  They are both using vocational skills and serving through the “marketplace ministries” branch of the CMA.  One family serves in North Africa and the other in Asia.  You can learn more about the family from North Africa by reading their profile that was sent out with the e-calendar information, or you can contact us to learn more about both families.

Speaking of the e-calendar, thank you to the many churches that have already signed up!  If your church has not yet signed up for your missions emphasis speaker, please do that as soon as possible.  The original deadline was August 1st.  (Those on interdistrict tour or who are part of the freedom tour do not need to sign up.)  When all churches that have opted to use the e-calendar are signed up, we will open the calendar to all churches to sign up for the remaining available dates.  Contact us if you have any questions.

By Bob and Dian Harner – Directors of Missions Mobilization