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Tornado Brings Harmony to Colorado
By Kaylee Looney
First mission trip. First time to Colorado. First construction project. There were a lot of ‘firsts’ accomplished by the time twelve members from Harmony Baptist Church returned to Atoka, Oklahoma on March 24th.
Pastor Jay Willoughby and his team spent four days taking down the 40-year-old windows in Ponderosa’s Cagle Lodge and installing brand new ones. The four evenings were dedicated to fellowship and unity building devotionals.
“I tell our congregation all the time, it’s easy to put your money in the plate,” said Pastor Willoughby, “the hardest thing to do is to give your time, talents and treasures.”
The Oklahoma congregation used funds set aside for missions to purchase the windows. They also paid for every team members’ travel, asking them to give their time instead.
“What amazed our staff at Ponderosa was how well Harmony worked together being their first mission trip. I guess it’s all in their name,” said Ponderosa’s Director Marcus Rawls.
Getting to Colorado
So how does a church previously not active in service mission projects and which has never been to Colorado end up at Ponderosa? Would you believe it involved a tornado?
“We had a devastating tornado that ripped through our town not long ago,” said Pastor Willoughby. “Many families from our congregation were affected by it.”
A disaster relief team from Oklahoma came to help clean up and happened to tell Pastor Willoughby about mission trips to Ponderosa. Willoughby contacted Ponderosa staff and started working out a plan to come.
“It was amazing how it all worked out, said Pastor Willoughby. “We could see God’s hand in this trip from the beginning.”
The mission didn’t end when the team returned home. A group of women from Harmony Baptist, who were not able to make the trip, donated their time and talents to make new curtains for the windows. They plan to mail them soon to Ponderosa.
“It was a great icebreaker mission trip, to get people thinking about if they can do this what else can they do,” said Pastor Willoughby.
Pastor Willoughby and his congregation are praying about future missions and hope to be able to continue to partner with Ponderosa.
“I’ve encouraged our youth pastor to consider a trip for our youth and kids so they can come and enjoy Ponderosa,” said Pastor Willoughby. “I think that would be a great blessing for them.”
Ponderosa’s remote and fairly large campus is impressively maintained by 2 full time facility staff and many volunteer hours. Without volunteers sharing their time, many of the life changing ministries would be lacking.
“The partnership with Oklahoma has been great,“ said Rawls. “With their state just being a day’s drive away it is easy to get groups to travel that distance. Plus, we know they love to come to Colorado and get out of the Oklahoma heat!“
Seven Oklahoma churches have partnered with Ponderosa this year and they expect more in near future.
To learn more about volunteering or mission opportunities at Ponderosa, call 719-481-2482.
Kaylee Looney is the ministry assistant for the Church Planting and Missions Team at the Colorado Baptist General Convention.