Mark and Julie wandered around the tiny, postcard-perfect town in rural England with their two young daughters. There were no other Adventists in the whole town. They’d been sent to be “mingling missionaries,” and they wondered where to start.
They decided to look for a home with a large living room space, where they could invite people to events and even run seminars. They found the local estate agent office and explained what they were looking for. The agent, Anna, knew just what they needed.
As the agent showed them around the house, she explained that her husband had left her with three young children and she was struggling as a parent. “If you ever start parenting seminars here, I want to be the first to know!” Anna told them.
Mark and Julie were inspired by the message in Jeremiah 29:7. “Go to Babylon and be a blessing to the people there.” Well, if Anna would be blessed by parenting seminars, would other people enjoy them too?
As soon as Mark and Julie settled their little family in their new home, they baked dozens of little cakes, packed them into pretty tins, and took one to each of the neighbors in their small street. Their daughters, Lily and Lucy, stood on each doorstep, smiling, singing, and giving out the biscuit tins. After all, who could turn down a gift from a happy child! Julie told the neighbors, “Please enjoy the biscuits, and we’ll come back in a week to collect the tins so we can use them again!”
The next week they collected the tins. As they chatted, they learned more about their neighbors and offered to help if they were struggling with anything. Julie was a nurse and Mark had learned car mechanics while he was going through college. After a couple more weeks they invited a few neighbors at a time to join them for afternoon tea — juice and cakes — in their neat little garden.
Every day they looked for ways to be a blessing in their neighborhood. They took old Tom Jones to his hospital appointment. They helped Kate to fix her car. And they sat with Mrs. Wilson after she had fallen and broken her hip, until the ambulance came. They didn’t forget about Anna, either. Whenever they were in the town, they visited her office with a homemade cake and stayed for a chat.
Julie found a parenting course, written by Christians, which was ready to use. All she had to do was to show the DVD and facilitate a discussion around the topics. Anna was excited about the course and suggested that they offer it to parents in the local school, where she was also a governor. The school let them have a room for free and advertised the course to all the parents.
Julie was a little nervous on the first day. Would it all go smoothly? Would anyone come? Anna had shared the course through several of her social media networks. She knew lots of parents who were struggling. The room quickly filled up. The course was designed to encourage parents to talk together, make friends, and share their challenges and their ideas.
Soon Julie and Mark had an expanding group of people to bless. They felt impressed to find ways to bless them as often as they could. So, they invited a few parents at a time to meet them in a local café, so they could get to know more about their lives and their needs. Each need could be opportunity to bless them.
Looking for other ways to make friends and bless people, Julie joined a ladies’ craft group, and Mark volunteered to help with a football club for teenagers. Lily and Lucy joined in with swimming lessons and an orchestra for children, so they could make friends with other children and their families.
The More They Looked … the More They Found
The more they looked for ways to bless others, the more opportunities came their way. When Anna went into hospital for surgery, she was very relieved that her children could stay with Mark and Julie. The local town authority asked Mark to sit on the improvement committee and even gave the couple funding to expand their parenting project and start other community groups.
Mark and Julie befriended people and showed them God’s love. Every evening they prayed for each person on their contact list. Then they waited for people to ask them about God and their faith when they were ready to learn more, because they believed it was important to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of the timing and the process.
Eight years later, when they moved away to be mingling missionaries elsewhere, there was a tiny church in that little town with 40 members. And Mark and Julie are still “mingling missionaries” to this very day.