The NorthCoast Baptist Association took our first mission trip to New England with a plan to bless a few ministries. We had taken a few teams for "vision trips" to New England, but this time we were on mission to make a difference. One of our churches had a "Change for Maine" money drive that allowed us to provide a gift basket of Ohio items for each visit, along with a financial gift.  However, the reality of this trip was that we were the ones who were blessed. 

Pastor Tom Hicks, Pastor David Starkey and I began our journey by meeting Daniel Molind of Enough Ministries in Barre, Vt. We were able to install a toilet, clean the lower level, prayerwalk the neighborhood and see the potential for future ministry there. Daniel has such a heart for Jesus and the people of Barre. It was so great to see and hear all that God is doing in Barre with the facilities that have been given and updated. Our plan is to return next year during the Heritage Festival to engage the community and do anything else we can. We were blessed to spend the night at Enough Ministries.

Our next stop was in Skowhegan, Maine, where we got to catch up with our friends Pastor Mike O'Hara and Paul King with Set Free Church. We were introduced to quite a few of their attenders and provided a BBQ rib dinner for their local neighborhood. We spent the afternoon and evening engaging the people around Set Free Ministries with prayer and sharing the Gospel. We were able to provide the materials for and construct a sound booth and also an exterior door to help them finish up their women's floor. The highlights of the visit were listening to the neighbors praise God for what He is doing through Set Free Ministries and meeting the "dirty kids" who would never set foot in a church but then they did. We witnessed such love for all, as well as three baptisms.  Mike, Paul, Ce Ce and Katie have such an infectious way about them.  We are working on a way to get them a commercial wheelchair lift.  

After spending the night at Set Free Church, our next stop was with the Hill Church. Church planter Eric Wood had shared with us about a pastor friend who was struggling with an illness and needing some house repairs done.  We spent a whole day replacing a flat roof, rebuilding some house vents and painting some trim.  We enjoyed talking to Rick and Katie about trials and triumphs and closed out the day with prayer. We were blessed to catch up with Eric and Mandy Wood over Otto's Pizza and to hear about the new gym they are working at; we crashed there for the evening.

Our final leg of the trip was to help collegiate ministry leader Marilyn McClendon assemble some gift bags and envelopes for RAs and freshmen on the University of Southern Maine's Gorham Campus.  After lunch we prayerwalked the campus and listened to the stories of grace and connection Marilyn has made over the years.  After this we headed to Portland for "Neighbors," a homeless ministry, where we prepared 100 sandwiches and side items, washed the dishes and started for home.

Our ride home was a recap conversation of how we were so blessed and challenged by those who have been living by faith to its fullest. It was WELL worth it.  A GREAT INVESTMENT INDEED! We love the hearts of those who serve in New England and cannot wait to return next year.  Please pray for those we have visited, but also pray for the churches in Ohio to catch a vision for the lostness of New England.

Mark Jones is Director of Missions at the NorthCoast Baptist Association in Ohio.