The New England Church, located in Trenton, Ga., is a relatively small country church with a membership of about 40 people. In June, the church held their annual Vacation Bible School, planned and organized by 16-year-old Jacob Martin and his mother, Melissa. Instead of having the normal run-of-the-mill VBS, with the usual food, games, songs, crafts, etc., they wanted to make this year’s VBS more meaningful. Their theme became “Fishin’ for a Mission,” but they needed a mission. Then they remembered reading an article in the January issue of Southern Tidings about the refugees from Burma who now lived in Clarkston, Ga., just 10 miles east of Atlanta. The organization, called Friends of Refugees providing Empowerment and Education (F.R.E.E.), specialized in helping newly arrived refugees begin a new life here in the United States.
“Fishin’ for a Mission” began to take on new meaning. After getting in touch with F.R.E.E. and learning more of what they did and what they needed, the VBS leaders began to plan how they could help.
Opening night of VBS brought nine excited young attendees, all under the age of 13. They told the children and their parents about their mission project and gave handouts with information about F.R.E.E. and an example list of the refugees’ needs. By the end of the week, the results were astounding! In total, 31 children had attended VBS. Each night brought more and more donations. A total of $1,074 was raised via the efforts of the VBS leaders and attendees. God truly showered His blessings on the New England Church!
Instead of mailing the donation, the church decided to hand deliver it along with whatever clothing donations they could gather. So on July 28, New England Church members, VBS attendees, and friends (13 of the 28 people were children under the age of 16) loaded up the donations and drove to Clarkston. Two F.R.E.E. volunteers greeted the group and helped them distribute the many boxes of items to the refugees. Seeing the reactions of the refugees filled everyone’s hearts with love, compassion, and hope that this small act of kindness would somehow impact these peoples’ lives for the better. Many Karen, Chin, Bhutan, and Somali refugees obtained clothing that day at the two sites visited by the church group.
The experience was so wonderful that the church has decided to continue the F.R.E.E. project and is already planning another trip this fall. It’s amazing what great things can come out of such small beginnings.
For more information on F.R.E.E. and to find out how you can donate toward this cause, go online to freerefugees.org.
Written by Jacob Martin