Enthusiasm spills over as Mery Donald, board chair for Montana on a Mission, speaks about her favorite moments as a volunteer with the Big Timber-based ministry.
“There is no greater joy than to share the love of Jesus Christ, to watch and feel the transformation of that love turning hopelessness to anticipation of a better tomorrow,” Donald says.
She and others with Montana on a Mission have experienced that in myriad ways.
“We’ve seen that as families step into a newly blessed home amid the wreckage of a natural disaster; the first ride in a wheelchair after a lifetime of being bound to a dirt floor by disabilities; a child sitting down to the only real meal in his day; the sparkle in the eyes of an eager-to-learn student at the sights of new books,” Donald says.
Here’s what else she had to say about the work of MOM:
Description of the ministry: Montana on a Mission is a nonprofit nondenominational Christian charitable organization. We exist to encourage others to live out the love of Jesus Christ by coming alongside impoverished or marginalized people to improve their physical condition and ultimately impact their spiritual lives.
Give a brief history of the ministry: It started with a mosquito bite.
In 1998, Dennis and Ellen Freed had recently built a house in the tiny barrio of Calunasan Sur on the island of Bohol, Philippines. The intense poverty and profound need of the residents of the barrio quickly became evident to them. After meeting Sarah, a young mother made ill from an infected mosquito bite, Ellen resolved to take her to a medical clinic the next day.
But Sarah died in the night, an easily preventable loss of a precious life. Denny and Ellen returned home and shared a sense of urgency to serve the basic humanitarian needs of families in this village. Their church in Big Timber responded quickly, serving in and with the community for several years before Montana on a Mission was officially founded in 2004.
Since then, more than 12 teams and 200 individuals from a variety of churches have travelled to the barrio to assist on a number of projects. MOM has also expanded its mission call to serve the needs of pastors and an orphanage in India, and, most recently, to focus on a new water project in rural Narok County, Kenya.
As needs are placed in front of mission teams, MOM is spirit-led in meeting them. MOM now sponsors a school lunch program at Calunasan Sur Elementary School, where 50 children receive a healthy meal each day. Compassion projects focus on meeting physical needs of our friends with great disabilities, providing wheelchairs, medical assistance or housing as needed.
Tell how your organization is funded: MOM is funded by generous, loving private donors and volunteer-based fundraising efforts like the Cow Country Stampede race, T-shirt sales, youth-run dodge ball tournament, special offerings and online at www.montanaonamission.org.
The biggest success your organization had in the past year: 2014 was a big year for Montana on a Mission. Following the devastating 2013 earthquake and tsunami in the Philippines, we set a goal to rebuild 100 homes for 100 families in Bohol. Through two mission trips, a local labor force and generous donors, 104 Filipino families were given physical shelter and spiritual support through our small Montana mission team last year.
Give one piece of advice that has helped you, as the head of the organization, succeed, and one pitfall to avoid: Be spirit-led, pray first, and focus on building and nurturing relationships, above all else. We always want to work to be a partner in serving and working alongside a community or individuals, not just be a short-term monetary provider.
Describe your ministry’s plans for the next five years: MOM will continue to support and foster the current school lunch, compassion and housing projects in the Philippines while focusing on the most basic, impactful needs of clean water in Narok County, Kenya, and around the world.
Favorite Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-7 | Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Number of staff members: MOM is completely volunteer-supported.
Contact information: Address, P.O. Box 696, Big Timber, MT 59011; Board Chair Mery Donald, 406-930-1056, firstname.lastname@example.org; MOM founders: Denny and Ellen Freed, 406-932-6312; email@example.com, website: http://montanaonamission.org/; on Facebook, facebook.com/montanaonamission.