Waterfront Church has a heart for missions

4/6/2014

At just two years old, Richmond Hill’s Waterfront Church has already developed a heart for missions, both locally and abroad.

In November 2013, seven members of the newly constituted church traveled to Chincha Alta, Peru. The trip was coordinated through Light For The Nations, an evangelism and missions ministry founded by Rev. Mike Ricker, senior pastor of Isle of Hope United Methodist Church and father of Waterfront Church’s pastor Rev. Adam Ricker.

Located near Peru’s coast about 124 miles south of Lima, Chincha Alta was devastated when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the area in August 2007, killing more than 500 people.

Not only were lives, homes, churches and businesses destroyed, many residents also lost hope.

Not long after the earthquake, a Peruvian friend and fellow pastor invited Rev. Mike Ricker to Chincha Alta. During that first trip, he forged deep relationships with area pastors and congregations.

“Our purpose in going was not to rebuild structures, but to help people rebuild their faith and their hope,” said Rev. Mike Ricker. “Many of them had lost that. We weren’t able to rebuild structures, but we were able to help rebuild lives through teaching and preaching the word of God, praying with the people, talking with people and encouraging them.”

The main purpose of Waterfront Church’s trip was to minister to Chincha Alta’s large population of young adults through nightly rallies. The team also operated a temporary dental clinic that served more than 200 children.

During the day, several team members, one a dentist, cleaned teeth, pulled teeth, filled cavities, and taught children and parents about basic oral hygiene. Others traveled to local television and radio stations to share their testimonies and promote the evening young adult worship services.

This was Anna and Matt Ross’s first mission trip, but they both feel called to eventually be full-time missionaries and jumped at the chance to go to Peru.

Anna, an Army dentist, spent her days serving children at the dental clinic, most who had never before received dental care. Matt shared his personal testimony and the gospel message on television and the radio. Both say that the trip helped solidify their desire to one day serve as full-time missionaries.

“Sharing the gospel is my passion,” Matt said. “I think that missions is what the gospel is all about. There are billions of people out there who have never had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus, and they are dying eternally separated from God. That’s a burden that’s been placed on our hearts to do what we can to get the word out to more people.”

Evenings were spent preaching, teaching and building relationships.

Rev. Adam Ricker, pastor of the Waterfront Church, preached at each evening rally. Through an interpreter, he shared with hundreds of young adults the message and hope of Jesus Christ.

The trip, he said, was an opportunity for the church to spread the gospel and to grow its faith.

“Our church is just two years old, so a lot of our ministry has been focused on growing the congregation and to try to get it to a place where it’s a healthy, mature, functioning church,” he said. “So this was really the first opportunity we’ve had to invest outside of ourselves. We’ve done a lot in the community… but this was solely for the purpose of us giving outside of ourselves without any real expectation of return other than being a blessing on that community.

“This was a huge step in our faith journey.”

Several church members gave sacrificially so the team could make the trip, and many others supported it with their prayers and finances.

“This was an opportunity for our church to grow, not necessarily in terms of adding to our numbers, but growing in our faith and in what we are able to do in the world around us,” Rev. Adam Ricker said. “This was a maturing moment for our congregation.”

While in Peru, team members built relationships with local pastors and congregations. They hope to cultivate and grow those friendships, to continue to send teams, and offer support and encouragement and help where they can. Another group will travel back to Chincha Alta in July.

The trip also helped the Waterfront Church congregation realize that they can make a significant impact in their own community. They are partnering with other area congregations to bring Family Promise, an organization that helps homeless and low-income families achieve independence, to Bryan County.

“This trip to Peru opened our eyes to seeing the needs in our own community and where we might be able to have an impact,” Rev. Adam Ricker said. “We were able to go to Peru and see the ministry they were doing and the tremendous impact they were having with limited resources. That helped us realize that we’re not limited by our resources and that we can make an impact in our community. We just need to take a look around and see what those needs are and figure out how we can start meeting those needs.”