CEDAR CREEK…going beyond the walls
Cedar Creek, a church from Toledo, Ohio, has partnered with GCLA to bring many short-term missionaries to Latin America for the last 10 years. We asked Steve Hutmacher, an Executive Pastor at Cedar Creek, to share with us why they give so much importance to short-term mission trips.
1. What motivated you to come to Latin America, and launch a major fundraising campaign to support the projects there?
We have been involved in Latin American missions ever since hurricane Mitch in 1998. We have mobilized hundreds of short-term missionaries over the years… Late in 2006, we decided to launch a church-wide, two-year capital campaign called, “Beyond Our Walls”. Nearly one-third of the funds are specifically designated to help reach people literally beyond the walls of our own church building…
2. What has been the impact in your church?
Our church members have returned from these trips with their own lives changed, challenged, and with a whole new perspective on what it means to serve people in need…I definitely see in those who go on a short term mission trip, a deeper love for God and the world He loves and sent His Son for.
3. While you were visiting the Church in Choluteca, what moved you the most?
The leadership and vision of the church there is inspiring! To see a church that is devoted to the physical, economical and spiritual well-being of an entire city is amazing; and the need of those who are suffering or have been abandoned because of AIDS and HIV or extreme poverty and misfortune.
4. What is your perspective for the future of the partnership between Great Commission Latin America and Cedar Creek Church?
As far as our church goes, I see hundreds more getting involved in short-term trips as well as many making one-year or more commitments to serving in Latin America. I also anticipate that God will move the hearts of some to generously support some of these emerging opportunities.
5. What would you suggest to a church leader who is thinking in mobilizing his church into the field of missions?
Matthew 28 is hard to overlook. Pray about “where” God will lead you, not “if”. Lead by example. We (CedarCreek) have put as a priority on our calendars two basic types of trips per year. One is a short-term mission’s calendar for anyone to sign up to go. The second trip is what we call “whirlwind” trips. It’s where the senior pastors hand select a group of people who have influence and resources to experience first-hand what God is doing in the areas we’re seeking to help impact… The invited guests on these trips generally come back and help us spread the word about opportunities and help make these project dreams become reality.