By Ben Lockridge
The earthquake in Haiti has turned a lot of people to those in need, but there are some who still feel like Americans should put forth more effort in aiding those in need.
Members of First Presbyterian Church here in Meridian hope to push others to do just that. The church is currently prepping for a missions conference to motivate and prepare others for missions work all over the world.
"We're trying to recapture our reason for being here as a church," said Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Rhett Payne. "We're here for the people that are here. It's so easy in church to get comfortable and take care of people inside, but it's very important to reach out to those outside of our church walls."
Payne says that they have this conference every two years.
"We have this to remind everyone that we are here for the mission of proclaiming the gospel around the world and not just here in Meridian," Payne said.
While it's a great thing to do missions work overseas, Payne also emphasizes that missions should start where we are now.
"We should reach out to the community. And a lot of churches are trying to do that, but we are trying to do it better than we have at this point," Payne said.
Some of the things that the church is doing differently is taking people on short-term mission trips to give them a taste of what missions is.
"If we were to take someone to Haiti right now with what's going on over there, that person would come back a changed person. The way you look at your world would be very different than it was," Payne explained.
The church started taking people on these quick mission trips a couple of years ago. They have been to Honduras so far.
The conference will have speakers, one of which is a young man from Honduras who graduated from high school and actually attends college, which according to Payne is a huge deal in that part of the world.
The keynote speaker will be Rev. Jean Larroux who is the organizing pastor if Lagniappe Presbyterian Church in Bay St. Louis. He and his family moved to the area to plant the Lagniappe church as part of the Katrina relief and recovery ministry. A relief effort that Larroux is very passionate about since he lost not only his childhood home, but his aunt and uncle due to the storm.
The conference will be Jan. 29, and Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. nightly, then Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. The church is located at 911 23rd Ave. in Meridian. The conference is free to everyone.
For more information call (601) 693-1133.