August Mission Corner 2016


This month the mission committee is highlighting three ways in which our church supports children in need.  One of those is through an organization called C.A.S.A., or Court Appointed Special Advocate.  CASA is a national organization whose mission is, together with state and local member programs, of supporting and promoting court appointed volunteer advocacy to every abused or neglected child in the United States so that ultimately every child can have a safe, permanent home and opportunity to thrive.  CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children to make sure that they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or linger in an inappropriate group or foster homes.  Often, if a child is fortunate enough to be assigned a CASA,  that volunteer becomes the one constant adult presence in their lives.   Last year, more than 76,000 CASA volunteers helped more than 251,000 children nationwide, find safe, permanent homes.

Take for example the story of one child who was helped by a CASA volunteer.  Told in her own words, Laura, and mother  were horribly abused by her father. Once her father left, her mentally ill mother locked her in a back bedroom for a week without food or water.  Once the police found her and she was released from the hospital, Laura entered foster care. For five years in foster care she had more than a dozed social workers and a new lawyer every court date, but only one CASA volunteer through it all. Laura had to experience many changes, different people and uncertainty throughout her life but knowing her CASA volunteer would always be there, advocating for her and supporting her, gave her something to hold onto.  It kept her in school and moving forward.  When she turned 18, Laura joined the Marine Corps and was able to get job training.  Today, after serving two missions in Iraq, she is 27 and a successful adult, gainfully employed and taking college classes. She attributes much of her success to her CASA volunteer and says it meant the world to her.

If you would like to volunteer to be a CASA, please contact Mechiko White at or 681-234-4278.  It takes $1,000 a year to provide a CASA to each child and donations can be made through our church by specifying CASA on your check or you  may donate directly by contacting Mechiko White.


Another way that our church is supporting children in need is through the Central of O’Fallon School mentoring program. Central School, District #104, tries to provide mentors for children in Kindergarten through eighth grade when they are referred by the school social workers. The children might be going through a difficult time in their lives, might be from a single parent home, or experiencing emotional or academic difficulties. Research has shown that when a positive adult connects with a child who is at risk, he or she becomes a role model that often results in better outcomes for the child’s success in life.

When children raised in dire circumstances were interviewed as successful adults and asked how they were able to overcome their difficult childhoods they most often cited one adult whose kindness towards them made all the difference in their lives. The influential person could have been a relative,  a teacher, a neighbor, or someone at their church.  Sometimes, the adult had very limited interaction with the child and might not have even known they were a positive influence.  Central School mentors are asked to spend time with the child one hour one day per week, often just playing games, talking and establishing  a positive, good relationship. The mentors meet with the assigned child during their school day.  Benefits to the child include increased school motivation and improved self-esteem. Background checks are conducted by the school social workers. There are always children in need of this service. If you are interested in volunteering to be a mentor, please contact Phil Goodwin at 618-567-8454 or


Finally, OFFUMC supports the YMCA Operation Backpack program. Church members donate school supplies and backpacks to be distributed to needy children in O’Fallon. School supplies have gotten more and more expensive and much more is asked to be provided by parents today than was 30 years ago. The additional burden of buying a large amount of school supplies for their children can be impossible for a family who is barely making ends meet. Sometimes, children have to come to school without the proper supplies if they are not donated. The O’Fallon YMCA provides backpacks for children who are receiving free lunches during our church’s summer Feed My Lambs program (which was highlighted in May).


Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”


Linda Gruchala

OFFUMC Mission Coordinator

“Whyyyyy do I haaaave to go to school?”


This is a popular question at the Robinson house especially as the end of summer is fast approaching. I usually answer, “because I said so,” but every once in a while, my husband will chime in with the extended response. “You have a lot to learn! There are facts, skills and experiences that are necessary for success later in life. You need to be able to follow directions, cooperate, work in a group, problem solve, etc., etc. etc., so you can grow-up to be a well-adjusted, productive member of society.” Then, I change the subject because secretly I wish summer was longer, too.

Regardless, we all know why our kids are in school, but, have you ever thought about why your family is (or isn’t) involved in a church community? What is the end goal?

Personally speaking, in a few years when my kids leave home, I pray they will have a relationship with God to carry them through hard times; that they will have an every day faith guiding their decisions; that they will experience the peace and joy only God can bring; and that one day, they will be called home to an eternal life with their Creator.

If you’ve landed at OFFUMC (or maybe just in this newsletter) with similar desires for your kids, know that God’s gift of salvation is given to all who will accept. But just as kids get more benefit from school when they give their best effort, so God multiplies our blessings when we intentionally pursue a relationship with Him. Growing with God takes time and repetition; There are truths to learn and skills to practice. It might involve some hard work and some home work. The process can be challenging, especially when we, as parents feel unprepared or ill-equipped, so the support and encouragement of a Christian community can make a huge difference. If OFFUMC can be that community for you, please contact one of our staff. We would love to walk alongside your family in their journey of faith.


Stacy Robinson

Children & Family Coordinator



Being the youngest of four children, growing up I could NOT wait to begin school.  I loved school.  I loved going to school to learn.  It seemed that I enjoyed everything about school from the supplies, desks and teachers to friends, books, recess and homework.  I loved school so much, I became a teacher.  I loved playing school when I was a young one; loving the “pretend” teaching.  I grew up to enjoy the “real teaching” even more…and was paid for what I loved!!!!


I learned some of the most important lessons about life in a school I was not all that excited to attend:  “God’s School of Obedience”.  I did not even start that education in earnest until well into ‘mid-life’!

Here might be God’s summation of His teaching:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally…whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things… and whatever you have learned, put into practice!

(From Philippians Chapter 4)

Paul, the apostle, attended the same faith school I have attended.   He learned contentment in every circumstance.  And He also learned this:  “My God will supply ALL YOUR NEED according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Hey, maybe while all students are going ‘back to school’ you can enroll yourself in God’s College.  It will be the finest, most helpful education of your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Phyllis Dickinson

It’s That Time of Year Again..New School Year

It is that time of year again. Summer days are dwindling and the new school year is just around the corner. As a teacher, I love this time of year. I love to think about my students that moved on from Pre-Kindergarten last year getting ready for Kindergarten. My heart swells with hope as I imagine them stepping into their big classroom on that first day. They are prepared, excited and have a great love of learning. Most importantly, they have Jesus in their hearts. They will be amazing. I also love to think about the new students that will be coming into our church community and our classroom soon. A fresh bunch of bright faces and unending potential will soon be in our care and we have a huge responsibility to them and their families.

In recent years, researchers have found that the human brain develops the vast majority of neurons and receptors between birth to age 5. The intake of new information and experiences are crucial to creating neural pathways. This information puts preschool to a new level. Gone are the days of just cutting, coloring and pasting. Children need hands on authentic learning experiences everyday that challenge them to creatively problem solve and express their ideas. This can be accomplished by creating a safe and loving classroom that encourages each child to find confidence to express thoughts and ideas through intentional activities and play. Our students are smarter than we think at this young age.

Researchers have also found that high quality early educational programs produce students that are less likely to repeat a grade, have less behavior problems, have higher high school graduation rates and commit fewer crimes. According to Steve Barnett (director of the National Institute for Early Education Research), a lack of educational early learning programs economically and socially impacts our country.

“We pay for failing to invest in our kids in terms of the high cost of school failure — one in 10 middle-income kids failed a grade and will repeat, and one in 10 doesn’t complete high school — the high costs of prisons and the criminal justice system, and the high cost of poor productivity in the workforce,” he says. “There’s even some evidence that we pay for it in the high cost of health, since health problems are often rooted in early childhood experiences.”

Placing preschool education as a priority is important for the child, their families and our community. Our church preschool is striving to help this cause. Our mission is to provide high-quality academic preschool programming at one of the lowest tuition rates in the area. We have been successful in this endeavor, but can always do more. If you would like to help us achieve our goals we could always use help. First and foremost, please pray for our little school and its families that it serves as we embark in our new school year. Secondly, we could always use donations to help keep our classroom stocked with supplies. Please see the donation box and list available outside the door of the preschool classrooms. Thirdly, we would like to create a scholarship fund for families in need that have a difficult time making the tuition payments each month. If you feel inclined to donate towards our scholarship fund, please see Stacy Robinson. Thank you for smiling down on our little school as we prepare for a great new school year!


Kristin Hiam