Missions at home

I read a blog recently from a woman who lives in a rural area.  Her suggestion was for people to take on small towns as a mission field and bring back stores and dentist and/or doctor offices.  She talked about how the local general store was a place, not just for supplies, but a way to build community.  She has a point that there are a lot of needs in our more rural areas.  It sounds idyllic, until you look at the statistics and realize there is often quite a bit of drug use/manufacturing, or growing, in the case of marijuana for instance.  It certainly could be a second career for someone retired to bring some services into isolated areas.

But then I looked at the comments.  Most were in favor of the idea, but others, who lived there had a bit of a different take on it.  One man explained quite clearly that many of those towns were built specifically for that purpose.  There was a need for services within about a days ride, with a horse or a wagon.  Farmers could come in and sell their produce and get other supplies, mail, etc.  But the system began to break down as the automobile culture took hold.  Many of those small towns are within an hour’s drive from services in a larger city, so in that sense they are no longer needed.  In many cases, the younger generations did not stay in the small town, so it is simply a collection of aging holdouts.

So if you are looking at that scenario, and the town is dwindling and it is unlikely to find some new industry, or get a doctor, or even a hardware store to locate there, what then?  Well, it seems to me that there could still be a ministry there, perhaps simply imported from the larger town 30 miles away.  These are people who want to age in place.  Like all people who age in place, they need someone to check in on them and make sure they are doing okay.  They may need someone to bring them groceries, or take them to the larger town to shop or get their hair done, or to go to doctor or dentist appointments.  Many people move into assisted living facilities when they can no longer drive.  But a church with a few willing people with vans could help those small town folks stay in their homes a lot longer.  And if all goes well, their friendships could help them make the transition when they are no longer able to manage on their own and perhaps need to move into the big town.

I know, it doesn’t sound as idyllic as breathing life back into the small towns by planting stores and services there.  I’m sure there are places where that would work, particularly if the larger towns are a lot farther than 30 miles away.  But if not, how about helping people  just to stay in their homes as long as possible?  It might take a partnership between churches in the small towns with those in the larger ones, assuming of course that there still are active churches.  The point is, setting up a vanpool simply sounds easier than luring services into small towns.  Or maybe I’m just crazy?

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About ansaphil

I am the fourth of five children, born and raised in Bakersfield. I am an at home mom of two teenagers. I attended the local junior college and worked my way through my last two years at USC. But that was some time ago and I do not think writing ability has much to do with where one attended school. I was never sure what to be when I grew up. But I always loved books and music. Several years ago I found myself writing more and more in my journals. It was almost as though I was processing life through my writing. Eventually it occurred to me that perhaps I might have something to say publicly, and not just in my journals. I hope my unique perspective on things will be a blessing to all.
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One Response to Missions at home

  1. Emily says:

    I live in a town of 3500 people. We are a shrinking community, in a shrinking county. Once the need for wood went down in the 80s, people have been leaving. It isa beautiful place to live, and raise children. I wish more people believed that. I think there should be services in our community, and there are. The hospital shut down a couple years ago (we still have one with an emergency room in the county– its 30 minutes away), but we have a clinic and the Rancheria has a clinic with doctors and dentists. The county health service comes in once a month.

    We have one large-ish grocery store, a health food store, beauty parlor, two thrift stores, four restaurants, (one pizza place, two “finer dining”, one cafe only open till 2pm, one roach coach) a drug store, a post office, a library, and three antique places. All but one of these businesses have been open for over three years. Business can survive in a small community. We rely on tourism in the summer months. Like many small communities, we have a constant struggle between the “oldies” who want to leave the town exactly as it is, and the “progressive newbs” who want more business and tourism. I would love to see people from reno and Sacramento have “staycations” here: it’s less than three hours away, just as pretty as tahoe, and MUCH less crowded. Because it isn’t as well known, things like hotels and restaurants tend to be cheaper than tourist towns.

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