By Charles Hallman
A group of young missionaries are finishing up a nearly-two month stay in the Twin Cities. Their goal is simply to change people’s lives for the better.
Around a dozen National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS) volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 31 have visited local churches and juvenile detention centers since their arrival in mid-May. Many of them currently are college students and hail from various parts of the country.
NAPS was established in 1978 in Alabama as a nonprofit volunteer relief organization. It also has offices in Guyana, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Sudan and Zambia.
“We try to do things simple,” explained Mia Pile last week after the group aired on KMOJ. “We try to be as comfortable as possible by staying in tents or in churches. This is in preparation for when we go to rural areas [or overseas]. We are going to stay
with the people — if they live in huts, we stay in huts. I love it because then people know that you are for real [in helping them].”
“Our favorite part is that we save lives door-to-door,” admits Darla Price of their “literature evangelism.” “We pass out encouraging literature on God’s love. Our marching band starts playing down the street, and people come out while the band is playing. As they come out, we are at their doors and we tell them about our ministry.”
The group also visited several churches: “A lot of the young people in the churches are looking for a purpose. They are looking for a role model, so we go to these churches with the hope of encouraging them that they can be somebody and showing them the testimony of your choices,” says Price. “We have been encouraging the youth there to come get involved.”
“We typically stay about four or five weeks in the summertime in any given area,” says Pile. “We also do similar missions during the school year when we go for the Thanksgiving and Christmas break.”
A home was donated to them for use during their Twin Cities stay, she added. Last year NAPS opened a free health clinic in rural Alabama and built next to it a 6,000-square-foot wellness center.
“A lot of people are dying needlessly or living miserably,” says Price, who was among the volunteers to help build the facility. “You know when they try to say that African American students or people of color are lazy and don’t want to work. In this organization, you get to learn how to use your hands. I know that I can create a center that’s going to help people. As a young person, I will never be the same.
“[Area officials] were able to find a building for us,” continues Price. “It is open every Friday. We want to be open longer, but for now we can only afford to have it open on Fridays. As a team we went about building the wellness center. People donated the land — it is over 100 acres.”
She adds that “an important part” of their Twin Cities visit was raising the remaining $81,000 needed to finish the center. “Right now, the building is up. The siding is up. The walls are up. We are just trying to furnish it now.
“Our main goal while we are here in Minnesota is if the churches could pull together and at least raise $51,000 towards this cause,” says Price. “A gentleman just the other day wrote a check for $1,000 because he was so impressed at young people doing something positive.”
“The thing about this organization is that it changes lives,” says Detroit native Christopher Holloway, who recently was valedictorian at Oakwood University and will begin medical school in California in August. He has been a NAPS member since 2008.
“It is not so much that NAPS is special — it’s what we do, and that is serving others,” Holloway points out. “I always wanted to be a doctor. When I got to college, I knew I wanted to do well in school, but in this organization I’ve learned the power of service.
“I would say that the most important thing you can do is, first, get to know God for yourself, and also love those around you, the people you see every day,” suggests Holloway. “Give time to those around you, and when you see those around you hurting, do something about it.”
The group’s next stop is New Jersey: “We have been blessed by God so much that whenever we have a break, we should go to different places. So we travel to different cities,” says Price.
“We will be doing similar projects that we have been doing here in Minnesota,” adds Pile.
For more information on NAPS, go to www.napsoc.org.
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