Consistency Leads to Long-Term Impacts
The primary focus of Mission Anchorage is our parks ministry. Over a nine-week period, a group of summer missionaries and interns lead short-term mission teams in administering a nutritious lunch program for kids under 18, followed by recreational activities, crafts, and Bible stories.
Over the course of the summer, our teams take the park kids through a discipleship curriculum that teaches the story of God from Creation through Jesus' life on earth, with each week's lesson and memory verse building out the plan and purpose of God in the Gospel. This summer saw lots of return kids at our parks, which meant opportunities to water seeds that have been planted in years past.
"Seeing children return this summer who had come in the past allowed me to see God's hand moving in these children's and adults' lives," said Mason Law, summer intern from Georgia. "I loved seeing the way the summer missionaries connected and loved on their kids at the parks. Just to see the joy on the children's faces when interacting with the staff and volunteers was very rewarding."
The consistency of our parks program each summer is impacting Anchorage in long-term, transformative ways. "Trust builds up summer after summer, and walls are coming down," explained Danny Hester, Mission Anchorage Project Manager. "We may not have a specific baptism to celebrate at the end of every summer, but we see attitudes change in kids and parents, relationships strengthened, and hearts opened."
In addition to the daily ministry in the parks, Mission Anchorage hosts weekly block parties with bounce houses, games, and free hotdogs. This summer, we served 200-300 hotdogs a week at the block parties! These weekly touch points provide a unique atmosphere to connect with parents and build deeper relationships in the community.
"Every year we see relationships strengthened, especially with families," Danny said. "One father voiced his appreciation for what we were doing. He wanted to thank us for feeding his children. The meals we provide and the love we give these kids in the parks are meeting a real need. That's what we're there for."
Testimonies: God Moments
This summer, over 170 short-term mission volunteers mobilized to serve at Mission Anchorage. Here are the responses of some of these volunteers when asked about the most meaningful aspects of their week of service:
"Even though you don't see results immediately, God is still working and using you as part of His plan. Seeing how impactful our actions are to the kids. They truly love with no limits!"
"Seeing the expression on their faces of disadvantaged children at the block party while playing games. Watching them smile as they gain confidence as they were being treated with love."
"Seeing the smiles on the children and how fast they accept you and regret seeing you leave."
"You don't have to go out of the country to make an impact. I loved how connected I got to the kids in my park and how willingly some of them would open up. How much of an impact the kids made on my life!"
"Today as we drove up and saw all the children, I realized that I had done what God sent me to do. Monday when we arrived, there was no one, but today, they were all waiting and stayed!"
"We had three new children come to the park. Within minutes of their arrival, they were in my lap. They were hungry for love."
"Our purpose—go and make disciples—is fulfilled through our serving. I prayed over a woman with a few other people, and the power of the prayer was indescribable. I was overcome with emotion."
"Ministering to the homeless in the parks along with the kids. Forming relationships that, while temporary, are impactful."
"I was talking to a young girl about Jesus, and she was filled with joy when we were talking."
"I really loved serving the kids this week. It was so fun to play with them but to also get to know them and share God's love with them."