Bishop Bass of Milestone Ministerium visited Mission Central to pick up a podium he had requested. When he stopped in, the Bishop also inquired if there were any folding chairs he could have for the ministry. He needed these chairs for an event that was happening that night. Mission Central had just received folding chairs a week prior to when the Bishop stopped by. When they looked at the chairs and counted them, it wound up being the exact number needed for the event!
Bethesda Mission asked Mission Central to have their volunteers assemble kits for the street ministry program. The program goes into the streets of Harrisburg giving blankets and supplies to the homeless population of Harrisburg who do not go to the shelters. These kits consist of hotel size soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, and hand cream. Mission Central decided to add hats and combs to the kits. The hats would help to keep the people warm. However, they did not have as many hats as we had the other supplies for the kits. Just as the volunteers began to run out of hats, when they were assembling the kits, two women from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference donated two large bags of knitted hats, scarves, and gloves. Volunteers from First UMC, in Mt. Carmel made the knitted items. Because of this, the volunteers were provided with plenty of knitted items to put in the kits to help keep the homeless people warm. The timing was so perfect, who could deny a God Moment had taken place?
Sometimes, the most effective way to remember God’s plan is to experience it firsthand. A group of Mission Central volunteers were staging supplies for a Dominican Republic shipment. As they were getting the supplies together, the person in charge of the shipment asked me if there were any shoes to send on the shipment. At the time, the answer was no. On the same day, Mi Refugio was taking inventory of their supplies for a future mission trip to Guatemala. Mi Refugio is a ministry for Guatemala. They checked a pallet of brand new summer shoes that was designated for their ministry. They decided the shoes would not work in Guatemala, because the geographical area where their ministry is located is mountainous. I asked if we could use the shoes for the Dominican shipment. The Ministry was pleased that the shoes would be put to good use. The next day, there were 300 brand new shoes on the shipment to the Dominican Republic.
Local 4-H Girls Moved to Collect Socks
Despite not knowing who would benefit from their efforts, they remained steadfast. The answer to their questions came after they dropped off their collection at Mission Central, when a shipment was scheduled to leave to Guatemala. The socks were included and now a hundred and eighty orphans have socks to wear, as well as other supplies. The 4-H members were blessed in the end, knowing why they did what they did and who would benefit from their efforts.
Received by the York HUB after a flood
Because of Mission Central’s Ministry, the Otterbein Church Local Outreach was able to share the Gospel with two different homes. Both of these households accepted the invitation to accept Jesus. The Outreach was incredibly grateful for the help they received from Mission Central.
The Aldersgate United Methodist Church expressed gratitude to Mission Central for generously donating school supplies and toiletries to the Allison Hill Community Ministry. Mission Central’s participation in their Back to School Fundraiser made the lives of forty children much brighter.
Let the Children Come to Me
A mother visited Mission Central to volunteer with her young children. The mother wanted to introduce her children to the idea to missions work. The staff at Mission Central wasn’t sure how they would be able to find something for them to do. However, they realized they had a perfect job for the children. MC’s Volunteer Coordinator decided to have them make candy kits. After an hour and a half, the children had put together one hundred kits! One of the two daughters had also brought her piggy bank, and donated the few coins she had to Mission Central’s work.
A group of volunteers were sorting new children’s clothing. The donation had arrived at 7:30PM, and by 2PM had been matched into 150 boxes. At that time, a member of the team received a call from a church who had needs for the clothing to distribute at an outreach event. The team's work paid off as soon as it had been finished.
The Lord Provides
Someone in need called Mission Central early one morning saying she had just moved. Because of this, she needed new furniture. For her original request, Mission Central unfortunately had nothing to offer. However, just one hour later, they found the sofa that she had been looking for. Just after an hour, they were able to connect and complete the request.
A family had contacted Mission Central to see if they would be able to accept a sleep apnea machine. The machine was leftover from a family member who had recently passed away. Just two days later, another family in need was able to utilize the machine to help their family member.
A few months after Mission Central opened, a man stopped by and enquired about an advertisement he had seen offering suitcases. No such ad existed at that time. He was wondering if he could donate a large amount of suitcases. Shortly after he made his donation, another group came in asking for thirty suitcases for an upcoming mission’s trip. The man’s donation, made because he mistakenly thought there was an advertisement, lead to them having the equipment they needed for their trip.
Mission Central received a newspaper sheet reader. A sheet reader magnifies print to allow those with limited eyesight to read more easily. Just an hour after the sheet was donated, a man came in requesting one for a member of his church. Because of the quick turnaround, the device hadn’t even been placed into storage.
Mission Central received a call from a shelter that houses women from abusive relationships. Their requests included a 30 inch gas stove, a washer, and a dryer. Unfortunately, none of those items were in stock at the time. The next day, however, a call came in from a group that was remodeling their kitchen, and had the exact gas stove available to donate. One week later, they also received a washer and dryer! They were able to fulfill the needs of the shelter in an unusually short amount of time.
The camping program for the United Methodist Conference was in need of music stands. The organization contacted the Executive Director of Mission Central. Unfortunately, at the time of their original contact, there were no music stands available. One day later, someone came in and donated four music stands. They were able to get back to the organization and donate the music stands in question.
The Need to Serve
An attorney from New York contacted Mission Central stating he had a client who needed to complete many hours of community service. Because of the amount of transportation Mission Central has to complete, especially with trucks, this was a perfect match! The driver offered to deliver a truckload from South Dakota, completing over 70 hours in the process. Not only was Mission Central able to benefit from his service, but the driver was able to serve in a way that fit what he was already doing!
Another Truck Driver
On Mother’s Day in 2006, Mission Central received a call for Flood Buckets. The buckets were intended for the Boston area. After unsuccessfully trying to contact a commercial carrier to take the buckets to Boston, things were not looking good. However, a truck driver stopped into the office to deliver several pallets of material. He heard of the need for a truck driver. In order to transport the buckets, he volunteered to drive them to Boston himself.
Mission Central received two pallets of new toys in December. At Christmas, it is hard to think of children going without something special to celebrate the reason for the season. Soon after receiving the toys, there was an article about the Salvation Army. They were in need of toys for children. Mission Central contacted the York, Pennsylvania branch of the Salvation Army. When they were contacted, it was just two days before the cutoff date for their Christmas toy distribution. At that point, they had not yet reached their goal, but they were able to thanks to Mission Central!
King’s Kettle Crib
Kings Kettle Outreach ministry contacted Mission Central. They inquired about possibly being given a crib. They were searching for one to give to some grandparents whose children had lost their home in a fire. When they first made the request, Mission Central was unable to fulfill the request. Just one day later, however, Mission Central was given a crib. After that short of an amount of time, the request was filled
Jamaican Outreach, a ministry of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, collects supplies which are stored at Mission Central. The supplies are then sent to Miami, before being sent to Jamaica. Among the supplies sent were food and medical supplies. The total was over six pallets of material. Another organization, America’s Heart, is located in Jacksonville. Jamaican Outreach had a requirement to ship their six pallets to Miami. Bethesda Mission of Mechanicsburg shipped the supplies to Jacksonville free of charge. Jamaican Outreach only had to pay for shipping from Jacksonville to Miami. This cost them a huge amount in shipping. Bethesda Mission has done this once a year for several years. When missions can work together, great things happen!
More Love kits
Love Kits were developed to use the non-standard items that could not be used for UMCOR Health Kits. Initially, they were made as a method to teach children and younger volunteers about the importance of missions. These kits stay in the United States. Because of this, they do not have to follow international guidelines when being packed. Part of the kit is a handmade cart made with construction paper. Volunteers put a design on the front with a message about God. The designer can choose to use their first name inside the card. Both adults and children enjoy this portion of the kit. These kits are handed out to the homeless, flood victims, and anyone else in need. The kits were developed by recycling items that did not meet the first mission to receive traditional kits meant for homeless shelters in Florida. These Love Kits are an initiative that helps our friends and neighbors.
One of Mission Central’s regular volunteers inquired about an electric wheelchair. They needed it for a member of their church. Unfortunately, wheelchairs - especially electric ones- are not frequently donated. However, Bethesda Mission had just received a quality electric wheelchair. They were asked about it, and the staff of Bethesda Mission quickly donated the chair when they heard it was needed.
The Cerebral Palsy Association donated a custom children’s wheelchair to Mission Central. The wheelchair was worth thousands of dollars. The Executive Director’s wife, a speech therapist, had a new student with cerebral palsy. The student did not have a suitable wheelchair for his needs. Around the time the wheelchair was donated, Mission Central learned of this child’s situation. Because of this, the wheelchair was given to the child, and his quality of life dramatically improved.
Mission Central commemorated their 5th anniversary by planting a Peace Pole. The original plan was to plant it in the middle of a garden outside the office building. Several donations were requested from individuals and businesses to use in the garden. Two local companies were contacted, including one with a Mechanicsburg address. When the company was contacted, the owner revealed that she was familiar with Mission Central. She visited the office with a mission group from her church. When they were made aware of the request, they immediately agreed to donate the needed supplies!
A couple visited New Digs, a Mission Central outreach. This outreach provides the needy with household necessities such as furniture and basic supplies. Mission Central had just received a truckload of supplies from the Altoona Hub. One of the items received was a single bed, exactly when the young couple needed it. One week later, Mission Central was receiving new mattresses. The couple returned to retrieve one of the mattresses, thus completing their request.
A volunteer for Bethesda Mission asked Mission Central to collect several types of items. The items were rags and bedding items intended for animal shelters. There was a drop off hosted to collect the aforementioned supplies. Over seven hundred pounds of supplies were collected for the animal shelter throughout the one day drop off. The Altoona HUB sent three large bags of towels and bedding with their shipment, not realizing that that was the exact kind of materials that were being collected for the animal shelter!
HUB Sewing Machine
One of the HUBs located in the State College District wrote an article for their newsletter requesting another used sewing machine to make UMCOR school bags. The next morning, a brand new sewing machine was given to the HUB by one of their regular volunteers!
Vacuum cleaners get a lot of use at Mission Central. Typically, they do not function to full capacity. Additionally, maintenance is difficult to track because they are used by so many different team members and volunteers. One of the volunteer groups had been working on sorting clothing. When the time had come for them to finish their work, they asked if they should vacuum where they were working. After they began cleaning, the vacuum cleaners were not working correctly. One of the volunteers in the group asked if he could take the vacuum home with him to determine if he could fix it. Before his retirement, he worked as a vacuum cleaner. Since then, he has repaired several of the vacuum cleaners that Mission Central relies on regularly.
Warm Hearts and Hands Kits
The staff at Mission Central is blessed in many ways. One of the ways they have been blessed was by the Warm Hearts and Hands Kit. The idea behind this kit was to have a kit specifically for homeless members of the community. The first group to request the kit was “My Brother’s Keeper”, a shelter in Camden, New Jersey. They had requested around 300 kits. Mission Central had around a week to fill the request. Shortly before My Brother’s Keeper was set to collect their supplies, Mission Central received a phone call from Mt. Carmel UMC. Mt. Carmel had flood buckets and handmade quilts available for donation. A few days later, two shipments were set to leave the warehouse. One was a tractor trailer load of UMCOR relief kits going to the UMCOR warehouse in Louisiana. The second was for My Brother’s Keeper. While loading the shipments, the delivery from Mt. Carmel arrived. They had sent Flood Buckets which were going with the Louisiana shipment. They also had sent homemade bedrolls, gloves, a scarf, and a knit hat. The label on the quilt read “My Brother’s Keeper”, the same name as the shelter that was receiving the materials. The volunteers boxed the bedrolls immediately, and included a handmade card. They sent the bedrolls along with the rest of the supplies to the shelter in Camden. Both shipments received goods from the Mt. Carmel UMC delivery, and left the warehouse the same hour they were delivered!
At Mission Central, there is a ramp leading up to the dock that allows pickup trucks and vans to back into the warehouse. In the spring of 2007, an unknown driver backed into the door. This caused approximately $2000 in damages. In July of that year, several rain storms caused the roof to leak, as well as shorting out the mechanism that moved the door up and down. The company that was set to repair the door said that it would cost an estimated $1400. A week later, a group from Lee Memorial UMC came to Mission Central as a work group. There happened to be a retired electrician in the group. After he took a look at the problem, he realized the mechanism could be fixed by replacing a simple $10 part. He proceeded to send the part, along with detailed instructions on how to fix the door. One worker from Computer Ministry was able to install the part, and the door was good as new!
Mission Central Kits are use the non-standard materials that are received for outreach ministry. Two new kits were designed; one was to give to the homeless. The other was for new parents. Mission Central was looking for someone other than a staff member to name these kits. In order to find a new name, they started a contest. There were many entries in the contest. The kit intended for the homeless was named the “Warm Heart and Hands Kit”, a name that came from a Missionary in Peru. The other was named the “Baby Blessings Kit”, submitted by a seminary student from Ohio.
Mission Central sometimes receives items that are difficult to redistribute. One of these items was several operatories of dental equipment from a dentist who had just upgraded his office. The equipment, while appreciated, took up a large amount of floor space. After contacting their medical contacts to determine if anyone could use the equipment, it did not seem as though there was any immediate need for it. A week later, however, Computer Ministry introduced them to Douglas Yeboah-Awusi. Douglas is the President of Africa’s Hope, a ministry which provides aid in Ghana. Africa’s Hope was grateful to receive the dental equipment. Not only was their organization able to benefit from the dental equipment, it also represented the start of a valuable relationship between the two missions.
Every Saturday, volunteers from Mission Central clean the main hall for the Mechanicsburg Orthodox Mission Church. The volunteers had three vacuum cleaners, none of which worked very well. On one particular Saturday, the volunteer claimed that they prayed to ask for a new vacuum. Lo and behold, the next week there were three new vacuum cleaners that had just been donated!
Mission Central sponsored a mural contest for the youth of the United Methodist Church when they initially opened their doors. The contest entrants were asked to design a mural that represented missions. All of the groups who submitted a design were welcome to paint their mural in the warehouse. One group used a goat as part of their design. They were then asked if they could change the goat to a Volunteers in Mission symbol. The group changed their design as requested, and each of them signed it at the top. The same group designed a second mural, which is located in the workroom. This second mural also has the same goat.
When Mission Central first started, a rule was put in place that clothing donations would not be accepted. However, God doesn’t think the same way we do. A Girl Scout troop had been collecting clothing to send to Russia. They sorted, boxed, and inventoried all the good clothing they had received. However, they were set back by the cost of sending the clothing to Russia. The troop called Harry, and asked if Mission Central could use the clothing. They agreed, and the clothing was sent over. However, the inventory sheet was lost, meaning the volunteers at Mission Central had to re-inventory all of it. Two days after the clothing was re-inventoried, an organization in Belarus, Russia requested 150 boxes of clothing to be sent to an orphanage. This meant that the clothing would go where the troop originally wanted it to go, thanks to the connections of Mission Central!
Mission Central is a mission that houses several other Missions. One copier in the office is used by all of them. One morning, an employee for Bethesda Mission thanked a Mission Central employee for helping him to find his ring. The MC employee wasn’t sure what he was talking about. While in his office, the Bethesda Mission employee noticed a gold ring sitting on the top of the bookcase. They had left jewelry on the bookcase when it was discovered, because often times it may have gotten lost by mistake. Ray, the Bethesda Mission employee, had lost this ring over thirty years ago when moving from Maryland to Pennsylvania! As proof, the ring had very distinctive characteristics, including Ray’s name on the inside of the band!
When Health Kits are prepared for UMCOR, one requirement is that the toothpaste has an expiration date of at least six months past the current day. The toothpaste that was used for health kits was mistakenly given to another mission. They picked up the wrong toothpaste, as they were meant to pick up the toothpaste with a current expiration date. This meant there was no more non-expired toothpaste to use for the heath kits. However, just a few days later, Mission Central received a donation of two full pallets of toothpaste, totaling over 3000 pounds!
On July 8, 2005, personal care items and “Love Kits” were sent to America’s Heart in Jacksonville, Florida. The Love Kits were sent to shelter sites in anticipation of people leaving their homes as a result of a hurricane. Thankfully, Mission Central was able to respond within hours, and get the kits where they needed to go.
The Western New York Conference had contacted Mission Central to let them know they had 10 boxes of school kits to be delivered. However, they needed someone to pick them up in person. One of the weekly volunteers mentioned they were going to be in Rochester, New York that weekend - the same area that the Western New York Conference was located. God can make it happen!
In 2004, Pastor Jim Rudy asked our Executive Director for enough work area to assemble and repair personal computers. He wanted to have ample space to work on the computers once a month. At first, he had just four computers to rebuild. Now, he uses over 2,000 square feet of space. His ministry works three days a week at Mission Central; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The ministry has evolved from serving Mission Central and is now sending computers all over the world! The Computer Ministry has been very successful, and they too have many volunteers supporting their efforts.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, Mission Central was inundated with supplies for the hurricane victims. Finding storage space for all of these supplies was becoming a problem. The material needed to be sorted and catalogued before they could be sent to the Gulf Coast. The husband of a regular volunteer happened to own a warehouse in Dillsburg, PA. He had 15,000 square feet of storage space available for Mission Central to use temporarily. Half of the supplies meant for Haiti and half of the Red Bird Missions supplies from Mission Central were sent to the warehouse in Dillsburg. Church members helped to box those items. Four truckloads of materials were stored in Dillsburg!
Mission Central has a volunteer who started coming with her church group. They would come in to volunteer once a month. When Hurricane Katrina struck, Mission Central was in dire need of help. Rhoda, a volunteer, started coming in two or three days a week! Rhoda does a lot of sorting, and knows the warehouse as well as any of the dedicated employees.
Mission Central received a call from the Catholic Social Services of New Jersey. They were looking for two baby scales. At the time, there was one scale at Mission Central and one at Bethesda Mission. The Catholic Social Services was happy to take the scales, but there was a problem; they needed to be in New Jersey in two days! One of Mission Central’s volunteers was going to New Jersey for a family visit. He made the connection with the Catholic Social Services and delivered the scales. The Catholic Social Services delivered them to a Presbyterian Church, who sent them in a container to Afghanistan. The scales were claimed by a Baptist medical team. The scales were used by the Baptist Medical team to teach families “first aid for babies.”
The last editor of Mission Central’s God moments admitted that they had become possessive of the stories they were writing. They would record the facts, write about the miracles, and pass them on to an experienced writer to correct or proof-read. All of the editing transpired via email. A few times, they would send the document as just an email and not a document. The editor was frustrated, because they would have to reformat the whole document each time. They decided to send the edited document back the same way. This would show them how much work it takes to reformat the document. They were working on reformatting the document, when the last line read “This is not a (last name) operation!” The editor had not written that line. The original version said something completely different. After sharing the story several days later, they realized how blessed they were to be corrected and share the moment.
Project K.A.R.E.N. II
Karen Adams had a dream of helping her friends from New Orleans. She was uncertain of all of their needs, and uncertain of her ability to assist them. Her thoughts of all of those people that were left behind continued to disturb her. Karen wanted to transport supplies to her friends that were in need. Her profession was administrative in nature, so building or repairing was not her forte. Karen approached the UMVIM team to inquire about what could be done to assist her friends. She was asked to lead a team of volunteers to assist her friends. She was asked to lead a team of volunteers to assist the rebuilding efforts since she knew the people, the area, and the political world of the New Orleans area. Karen had the same reaction that most people would have. “I can’t do that, I just want to get the needed materials to my friends.” Karen insisted that she was not a builder. However, the VIM team explained that all of the necessary leadership skills to complete the task were clearly demonstrated. The VIM team explained that we can give you the tools and materials and God will provide the rest. Karen reluctantly said “yes” to the request. It was a matter of determination that was pushing Karen to do something. Karen spoke to dozens of people, and her efforts were well rewarded with a tremendous effort for her friends. Karen may not be a builder, but she managed to create the most wonderful team of spiritual leaders, and delivered necessary supplies in New Orleans. Her efforts did not go unnoticed.
From the Beginning
God had a hand in the creation of Mission Central. Bishop Irons had a vision of a warehouse used for missions. He presented his ideas to the 2001 Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference. The Conference attendee’s decided to a ssign a 32 member task-force. The team was meant to construct a plan for a warehouse, complete a search for land, and to set a timeline for construction. They also had to submit an estimated price for what they believed the project would cost. The projected size would be 24,500 square feet. The cost was an estimated $3.5 million. The time frame for completion was 2004. The task-force wanted to have one million dollars in hand before they started the project. A few weeks before the 2002 Central Pennsylvania annual conference, Bishop Irons had to take a detour in order to get to his office. The bridge was blocked, so he had to take a detour to get to his office. He had to take Pleasant View Drive to get to his office. On the way to his office, Bishop Irons passed a warehouse for lease. He phoned the Realtor, and the warehouse’s former tenant was a printing company. He asked the Realtor if his task force could look at the building and proceeded to tell the Realtor of the plans for Mission Central. The Realtor permitted the task force to tour the building. When the taskforce toured Mission Central, they entered the building through the glass door at the parking area. The task force proceeded to the warehouse area and was amazed again. The workroom was exactly the size of the workroom on their plan! The warehouse had the same number of overhead doors they had on their plan. The owners were Christian men; they wanted to tithe ten percent of the purchase price. The $245,000 tithe would bring the purchase price to around $2 million. Another company owned the shelving, which was donated, further bringing down the price. Through various other donations, they managed to bring the price low enough to obtain a mortgage! Mission Central opened its doors in June of 2002, with a lot of prayers and anticipation. God has continually been sharing moments of grace since the doors first opened.
Following God’s Path
Since the inception of Mission Central, God has been guiding its path. From the very beginning when the warehouse was just a divine inspiration, they have been led. The miracles He provides are very humbling. Mission Central’s doors opened in June of 2002. This was two years earlier than anticipated. The plan for Mission Central did not originally include being ecumenical. There was no contact with other ministries prior to the opening. They had communicated with UMCOR at one point in order to inform them about the warehouse. UMCOR did not have a pre-existing relationship with Mission Central, so they were understandably cautious about working with the warehouse. Since then, the two have been working together and have built up a long-lasting relationship. Initially, the in-house ministries were found through word of mouth. Bethesda Ministry was one of the first ministries to contact Mission Central in the summer of 2002. In October, they decided to merge their non-perishable food charity to Mission Central. Bethesda Missions also enabled Mission Central to be open five days a week rather than two! The first five years took the original idea for Mission Central and broadened it considerably. God’s path is consistently a surprise to us. Another aspect of the ministry has been the networking which takes place within the warehouse, as well as the local outreach ministries that are assisted through Mission Central’s work.
Bethesda was the first mission that requested warehouse space at Mission Central. By renting space to them, Mission Central was able to utilize Bethesda Missions forklift - something they did not have at the time. Bethesda is the only Mission that rents space at Mission Central. Currently, they use around 10,000 square feet of the warehouse. This represents around a quarter of the total space available. Today, Mission Central works with anyone who contacts us if it is possible!