Missions Begins at Home. That was our focus for Mission Sunday 2022, based on the commands of Jesus recorded in  Acts 1:8: “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, even until the ends of the earth.” 

Our church supports these local mission partners: Networks, Lilburn Co-op, the Family Heritage Foundation and Friends of Refugees. At Smoke Rise, we do an excellent job of serving, partnering and providing financial support to our “Jerusalem” neighbors through these wonderful organizations, right here at home, just as Jesus commanded.

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege to begin working with Rashette Walker in the Weekday School here at Smoke Rise. It is a role that I was hesitant to take on because it has been so long since I was in the work force. I felt a huge weight coming into the position, because the Weekday School is a ministry of the church and is a vital part of the church that provides life to our building throughout the week. 

I also knew that the program we offer here is the only connection to a church that many of the families at the Weekday School have. However, after much prayer, it became clear that this was the open door that God had prepared for me. I have felt right at home since joining the Weekday School team and I look forward to all God has planned for this vibrant ministry.

The thing that has stood out to me most since coming to the Weekday School is the diversity of the population we serve. We have 45 students currently enrolled. Half of our students speak a language other than English at home. In our student population, there are at least eight languages other than English spoken, with students connected to roughly 12 different countries. That diversity is represented in our staff as well. One staff member speaks Amharic (from Ethiopia) and another speaks Arabic. (Her husband is from Lebanon and grew up in Kuwait.)  Another, whose family is from Jamaica, laughs and says she speaks “broken English” as her language. 

If we are going to be true to our theme of “Missions Begins at Home,” let us not overlook the reflection of the world that walks through the doors of our Weekday School every single day during the week. At the Weekday School, our ministry is to welcome little children, as Jesus did and to care for them and their families personally, nurturing them in a safe, loving and creative environment. 

But what are we doing as a church to welcome, to care for and to nurture these families? How can we help them feel they are a part of who we are? How can we embrace this ministry and the diversity that it brings? We don’t have to go anywhere. The people from the “ends of the earth” are right in our midst. Will you join us?

– Rebekah Edmonds, Assistant Weekday School Director

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