A.I.M.ing to help out

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MARY KATHRYN CARPENTER/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Suzanne Green, far right, helps members of Crosspoint and First Assembly youth groups pack lunches for Pilgrim Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School Monday morning.

NATCHEZ — Local youth were taking A.I.M. at mission work in the Miss-Lou this week.

Instead of traveling to Central America or some other overseas location, these missionaries traveled as far as their backyard to serve.

Youth from Natchez First Assembly of God and Crosspoint Church came together as Ambassadors In Mission to serve their community and learn what it means to be a missionary.

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The group formed eight years ago after Tom McGehee and other church members traveled to Mexico and Nicaragua to do mission work.

Having spent many hours and thousands of dollars away from Natchez, McGehee started asking questions.

“I started wondering, ‘Why are we doing this? Can’t we do this closer to home? Aren’t there people we can reach out to in our own communities?’” McGehee said Monday morning.

Out of those questions formed A.I.M. not only to serve others in the Miss-Lou but also to teach.

“We are trying to train these kids in mission work, to show them that they do not have to leave home to serve others,” McGehee said.

Grant Westbrook, youth minister at First Assembly, agreed.

“Students learn to experience how others in their community live,” Westbrook said. “They learn that there are people that need ministry, not overseas, but in their own backyard.”

Monday was the first day of this summer’s week-long mission trip to the Miss-Lou.

As they have for the past eight years, the students helped pack lunches for Pilgrim Baptist Church’s vacation Bible School. Throughout the week they will also travel to Meadville to paint a Sunday school room for another church and renovate a run-down trailer into a usable home.

“I love doing this,” Jessi Green said as she packed lunch bags Monday. “Even though we are doing work it is a lot of fun.”

“It is a great way to come and serve the community and be a servant to the city,” Green said.

Chase Stroud and his two brothers also helped Monday morning.

Stroud said he probably would be at home watching television had he not been participating in the A.I.M. program.

“But that is my regular life,” Stroud said. “This helps me learn about God and how He works in the community.”

McGehee said he hopes A.I.M. will continue to inspire the youth to do mission work as they become adults. Past A.I.M. participants have gone on to be a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and missionaries to Belize and other countries.

“I would love to go back to Nicaragua, but I get a lot more done here,” McGehee said.