They say spreading the word of God is a mixture of both blessings and sacrifices. For the next few days First Presbyterian Church in Biloxi invited several missionaries to talk about their experiences. Some of them minister thousands of miles away in places like Africa, Canada, and Mexico while others are trying to make a difference here at home. Wherever they are, the goal is the same, to bring people closer to God.
In Africa, where war and hunger are common, Joanna Robertson and her husband Palmer have met people who also yearn for spiritual peace and nourishment.
"The hunger for the word of God that these African students have and their zeal to take the Gospel to their own people is just a great encouragement to us," said Joanna.
Another missionary in Canada is preaching the Gospel in what he calls a country of mostly of non-believers.
"The key has been building bridges with the people. Getting to know the people. Getting to know the young people and the kids. I try to do this through coaching soccer in my spare time," Ian Crooks said.
Lisa Graham didn't have to cross an ocean to find people in need of encouragement but she did leave her native Ocean Springs. Back in high school, she never picture herself ministering to children in a poor New Orleans neighborhood.
"We have a lot of needs. The kids have very little parental, parental involvement and very broken homes," said Graham. "[There are] a lot of drug problems. A lot of crime problems."
The missionaries told fellow Christians why they do what they do.
"We all have to sacrifice ourselves and our lives and live in places that we might not choose to live to reach out to others," said Graham. "For instance I'm in the inner city of New Orleans and I live in an all Black, impoverished neighborhood. I think it takes a little bit of sacrifice to do that but I think we are all also richly rewarded for that and our lives are enriched by the people that we chose to live among."
First Presbyterian Church in Biloxi is hosting the 2004 Missions Conference. The conference runs through Wednesday.