A Year in the Books

By Kinsey Tucker, Partnership Coordinator

Two thousand and sixteen. 365 days of community development. In each of those days, it didn’t feel like much was happening. It was just another day. But that collection of days created change. Lives were transformed in Joplin this year and as I look back on this year, I see so many amazing things that happened. I wanted to take a few moments to share big things from each month of this past year.

January: Started creating student trainings for the summer. These were informational sheets that students went through on Sunday nights when they first heard where they would be working that week. The sheets included backstory on the homeowner or organization they were working with, as well as questions to get them thinking about community development and how their week can have an impact. PLUS, the Dowells, a family from the 2015 summer, hosted a movie night in their brand-new space that teams had created. They reflected on how much they grew in breaking out of their shells and learning how to embrace community. How cool!

February: We met with Journey Church daycare and started creating plans for a VBS there all summer. Who knew then the kind of impact that VBS would have? Teams poured into the kids at the daycare all summer, teaching them the fruits of the spirit and what it means to live like Christ every day. Some families even came to our weekly community cookouts!

March: A group from the 2014 summer came on a mission trip and served at Joplin Workshops! And two of their students got baptized in a creek here in town!

April: As the project planning process wrapped up and projects for the summer were finalized, a group who had never come to Joplin was in town for the weekend. They wanted to work on a project so I got them connected with Miss June. She got a new shed but also an awesome day with energetic students who lifted her spirits.

May: I met a woman named Katharine who needed a new fence, but lived about 45 minutes outside of town, so it wasn’t going to be possible to work on her home during the summer. So a small group of people from Journey Church joined me in helping pick up materials and spent a Saturday building a fence. Katharine is such an introvert that she didn’t want to come out and talk with us while we worked but she sent me this text afterwards: “Thanks so very much!!! Me and my son are so excited about our new fence!!”

June: The summer staff arrived in Joplin! They got acquainted with the community and then got right into action leading amazing groups of students who worked hard for Joplin.

July: Mission trips continued, working at places like God’s Resort and Joplin Workshops and Life House. The staff developed awesome relationships with individuals at those ministries and the students learned so much by hearing other people’s stories.

August: We said goodbye to the amazing summer staff and reflected on ways they had an impact. As I began following up with partners, they were astounded by the ways the teams of students developed relationships. That’s what it’s all about!

September: As the summer ended, we took time to follow up with each person that we worked with this summer. We got feedback on how they felt like things went and ways that they were impacted. One of our ministry partners said: “We enjoyed partnering with young and excited fellow believers to further our ministry.”

October: Journey Church put on a fall festival that drew in over 300 people! It was a fun night where people in the neighborhood (all within the 2in5 Initiative!!!) got to see what Journey Church was all about.

November: Betty, a homeowner from this past summer, got matched with a Sunday school class from Journey to be her BFF. Once a month, this group will go and spend time with her. Year-round discipleship, done by the local church. Amazing!

December: We really started to see the 2in5 Initiative in action. As we started planning projects for 2017, we are meeting many people within the community and getting an amazing opportunity to pour into this neighborhood. Pastor Chip has made awesome connections and many people are already attending Journey Church through the connections he has made. 

Jesus moved in Joplin this year, through Journey Church, through homeowners, through partners, through the summer staff, and through every student who came here. I may have not seen it every single day, but when you put it all together, it is truly astounding. God is faithful. Keep your eyes open for the ways He is moving every single day in 2017.

Next Step Ministries