Experiencing Relationship Ministry

Weekly Reflection, Friday, August 12

By: Rebekah and Francie McKay

During the week of July 18, four youth and one adult led by the Rev. Deacon Kilpy Singer drove down to Wise County, Virginia to participate in a week of mission work with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). In a recent reflection, Kilpy shared how ASP’s founder believes that a week with ASP is a time and place to “accept people right where they are, just the way they are.” Two of the team members, mother and daughter, Rebekah and Francie McKay, share their own experience of this relationship ministry.

Rebekah writes: Appalachia Service Project likes to call itself a relationship ministry with construction on the side, and I saw that vividly on that final Friday morning. It had ben 24 years since I had traveled to Wise County, Virginia with my childhood youth group to participate in ASP. Now I was back with my teenage daughter on her first trip. Most of my memories of ASP are of friends, evening talent shows, and seemingly impossible projects that my group leaders handled, while giving us “character building” tasks on the job site. Now I was in the group leader position, and while it was important to complete our task of laying new flooring and installing drywall, it was just as important that we make a connection with the community we were serving and our homeowner. I realized on that last morning, while I had been preoccupied with power tool safety and making sure the angles on the baseboards were correct, the girls had been doing their own ministry of love and connection with our homeowner and each other.

However, that morning of our last workday, I got my opportunity to make a community connection. We stopped at a local coffee shop as a treat for a successful week. On our way out, we were stopped by a gentleman who had obviously noticed our coveralls and inquired about what we were up to. I spent the next half hour learning about his 30 plus years in the once prosperous coal industry. I could have spent much longer, but remembering we had a project to wrap up, we said our goodbyes. As we walked out of the coffee shop, the girls said they were proud of me for making a friend.

Francie shares: At the beginning of the trip, I didn’t know what to expect. I was traveling to an unknown place with unknown people, and I felt vastly underprepared. However, to my surprise, friendships and trust began to grow between our group. And soon enough we were laughing and joking like old friends. I learned so much over those few days about how thankful we should be for what we have and I cannot wait for another opportunity to go back.

Francie and Rebekah are looking forward to returning next summer with more experience and more to gain. They would love the opportunity to speak with any youth or adults that are interested in learning more about the ASP mission and experience.