This past July during Family Camp at Lake Geneva Christian Center, I had the privilege of attending the Garden Coffee put on by Bridging the Gap. While I’m not a Family Camp participant, I do enjoy driving up to Alexandria just for the Garden Coffee.

The setup was beautiful, the tablescapes simple and elegant, and the muffins and coffee looked amazing. But all of that pales in comparison to the speakers.

Christi, a missionary to a sensitive country, walked up to the stage to give a brief testimony dressed in a beautifully jeweled burkha. She shared her heart for the Muslims she lives alongside and revealed to many in attendance the error in judgement many hold against the Muslim community. I was excited to see that she was also offering a collaborative book, ‘Live Dead: The Journey’ (Available in October through Amazon). It is a beautiful book (seriously, the artwork is phenomenal) that takes readers on a journey through the Arab world through the eyes of 12 missionaries. I’m especially looking forward to going through the book with my two oldest children.

The main speaker was Nancy Raatz. She and her husband were missionaries to Moldova, and are now moving to Russia to be regional directors. While in Moldova, Nancy and her husband Andrew started Freedom House, a long term home for women who have been sexually trafficked to be restored physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Her stories about the house brought me to tears, and her incredible heart for these women was evident.

Before Nancy shared her amazing stories about Freedom House, she shared a little about a couple of programs for missionaries here in Minnesota: Project Life and the Bridge Warehouse.

The purpose of Project Life is to give itinerating missionaries returning from the mission field, or church planters in ministry transition, needed support in the form of $1,000. Whether they need to put a deposit on an apartment, help purchase a vehicle, or even pay for their kids’ activities, it is a way that the churches in Minnesota can work collectively to share God’s love in a practical way with these families.

If you’ve been to Lake Geneva Christian Center you may have visited the Bridge Shop. What you may not know is that there is a warehouse hidden in back that holds donated household items for returning missionaries.

The Bridge Warehouse is dear to my heart. My mother in-law JoAnn has helped organize the ‘shopping’ time at the warehouse for several years, and I’ve gone along and helped as a personal shopper for many of them. On the Saturday of the Bridging the Gap Fall Retreat (and also during the year as missionaries come home) the missionary ladies are invited to come and pick out things for their homes. There are things like bedding sets, pillows, small appliances, vacuums, and gift cards to places like Target, Wal-Mart.

Many missionaries are not able to store their household items while they are overseas and must purchase new ones when they return to the states. The cost of that is astronomical, especially if they have children. The warehouse helps to reduce their need to purchase new items and is another example of the women of Minnesota practically showing their love for missionary families.

If you would like to help with Project Life, it’s simple. Throughout the year you can collect your change and bring it up to the Garden Coffee in July to be collected. If you want to make a more sizeable donation you can email or call 612-332-2400.

If you would like to donate to the Bridge Warehouse they are looking for vacuums, gift cards (Target, Wal-Mart), small appliances (immersion blenders, crock pots, coffee makers); and  cookware sets or pieces. You can donate as an individual or as a church. Some churches have made it an event by holding a ‘Shower’ to bring in needed items. You can bring your donations to the Fall Retreat in October.