As a church planter, Dane Helsing says he is thankful for the short-term missions teams that partner and serve alongside him in the Greater Boston area.
But Helsing and his congregation aren’t the only ones who benefit.
“Obviously, the church benefits, but members of the mission team benefit, as well,” says Helsing, who planted Beacon Community Church in the Boston suburb of Belmont, Mass., about a year and a half ago. “That’s because God has a way of lighting people’s hearts on fire for His work in other places through missions trips.”
Helsing is looking forward to seeing how God will work this fall when a team from North Carolina will make its way to Boston to serve alongside Helsing and the congregation of Beacon Community Church.
The Embrace women’s ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is sponsoring its biennial “Embracing Boston” missions trip again this year. The trip is scheduled for Sept. 14-17 and is open to women college-aged and older.
Space is limited, and interested participants must submit an application by May 5. Cost of the trip is $675 and includes airfare, lodging, ground transportation, ministry expenses and insurance. More information and application materials are available at embracenc.org/boston.
When an Embrace missions team served in Boston two years ago, team members worked with Helsing just weeks before Beacon Community Church launched on Sept. 27, 2015. Helsing said he is excited for members of the team coming this fall to see how God is working in the church and in the community.
“As Embrace has led mission teams over the years, I have seen how the Lord uses mission trips in the lives of the women on the team,” said Ashley Allen, who leads the BSC’s Embrace women’s ministry.
“For many ladies, volunteering to serve on a mission team means stepping out of their comfort zone as they engage people by serving and sharing the gospel. However, those same ladies have also seen how the Lord can use an encounter on a bus, at a coffee shop, or by handing out donuts as opportunities to begin building relationships that can lead to questions about God, Jesus, the Bible or the church.
“I think as women engage in conversations on mission trips, they realize they can do these things in their own neighborhoods in North Carolina. Women begin to see their role in the Great Commission ‘as they go.’”
Since Beacon’s launch, Helsing said he and members of his congregation have been hard at work building relationships with others and making inroads in the community. The work is a challenge, Helsing said, because many who live in the region are generally skeptical of the church at large.
Belmont is home to lots of commuters who work in downtown Boston. The church is located near popular train stations and bus lines which provides lots of opportunities to minister to morning commuters. One of the ways the church has sought to serve others and build relationships is by providing free coffee and donuts to morning commuters.
“It’s just one way we try to be a loving and gracious presence to the people here,” Helsing said. “We try to love them, serve them and share the gospel with them on their way to work.
“We’ve seen people come to church because they’ve received a cup of coffee at the train stop.”
Through the commuter outreach, Helsing said he met a man who had been on a path of restoration with Christ. Although, he’d made a profession of faith years before, he’d experienced several years of difficulty and hardship.
Helsing befriended him at the train stop, continued to meet with him regularly and learned more of his story.
Over a period of about six months, Helsing and the congregation continued to minister to him. The man was baptized this past September during the church’s one-year anniversary.
Commuter outreach is one of the ways Helsing plans to work with the Embrace team coming to Boston this fall. In addition, he’s planning other community outreach events for the team involving local schools and parks, areas that Belmont residents take great pride in.
“We love doing servant evangelism and servant outreach in the community,” Helsing said.
The team will also help Helsing with some needs in Beacon’s children’s ministry, as well as participate in prayer walking activities.
Beacon Community Church meets for worship gatherings in a dance studio that was discovered as part of a prayer walk, Helsing said. As he’s gotten to know several business owners on the street where the church meets, Helsing says they are amazed when mission teams come to serve with the church.
“The business owners enjoy meeting the teams of people who come to serve,” Helsing said. “People are always touched by that. They’re like, ‘Wow, you raised money to come up here to serve?’ That’s a foreign concept for them.”
Helsing said he appreciates missions teams’ service and sacrifice, and he loves to witness how God works in the lives of team members through their trips. Helsing said a young woman who was part of a missions team from Texas for a Vacation Bible School event a few summers ago felt called to work with a church plant during her trip. She moved to Boston and ended up helping with the launch of Beacon Community Church.
“She spearheaded the launch of our children’s ministry and served in this role for the first year of the life of our church, all because she went on a missions trip,” Helsing said.
Helsing said he enjoys the relationships he builds with the teams and ongoing prayer and ministry support.
“Church planting is about intersecting life with people, and the more you do that the better,” Helsing said.
“Mission teams help you do that, and they are a huge support for us as a church plant. We love having them come and are looking forward to seeing Ashley and her team again in September.”