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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

U.S. MAPS: Spirit of Unity

By Scott Harrup
June 29, 2014

Some have called U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) RV Volunteers “the best-kept secret in the Assemblies of God.” Mark and Mary Ann Rittermeyer agree.

The Rittermeyers had been AGUSM missionaries for more than 13 years, serving as motorcycle chaplains, when they sensed God leading them in a new ministry direction.

“Years ago, we envisioned having a motorhome and traveling around to help churches,” Mark says. “Despite our years with AGUSM, we really didn’t know much about RV Volunteers.”

That has changed.

The Rittermeyers now travel widely through MAPS’ Southeast Region, where Mark serves as regional director for RV Volunteers. He currently oversees 11 construction projects, including a new building for Pleasant Grove Assembly of God in Plant City, Fla.

“Our crew worked most of the winter on the slab,” Mark says. “Another contractor will put up the steel frame over the summer, and we have another crew planning to come back in October to finish the interior through next winter.”

Whether the project is a church, district campground extension, or Teen Challenge ministry center, Mark says the key to success has always been Holy Spirit-inspired unity among the volunteers.

“Our theme Scripture passage could easily be Psalm 133:1,” he says. “‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!’ (ESV). Mary Ann and I were treated like family from Day 1.”

The Rittermeyers transitioned from a ministry in which personal evangelism was a vital component. They see similar opportunities as RV Volunteers.

“Wherever we travel, my main goal is evangelism,” Mary Ann says, “and I’m thinking of different ways to make that happen.”

One tool is a simple excursion into the community.

“I’ll organize a walk for the wives while the men are on a work shift, or we’ll drive to a local attraction,” Mary Ann says. “But we also have people visit the work site, and that creates the kind of openings for evangelism Mark and I had in our other ministry.”

The Rittermeyers’ “other ministry” was among the estimated 10 million recreational motorcyclists across the U.S.

“Out of that group, only about 2 million were believed to have received an adequate gospel witness,” Mark says. “I felt the Lord leading us to approach Charles Hackett [then executive director of U.S. Missions] in 1998 about reaching that demographic. Honestly, I expected him to say something like, ‘Mark, you can’t eat pepperoni pizza at 11 o’clock at night and not have nightmares.’ But Brother Hackett got even more excited about the idea than I had been.”

By the fall of 2000, the Rittermeyers had raised their missions budget and were the proud recipients of a Speed the Light motorcycle.

“The most exciting outcome of those years was God brought in 12 more chaplains who had the same calling as we did,” Mark says.

Mark is just as passionate about his calling to coordinate teams of construction volunteers, and insists that anyone can be such a volunteer.

“Probably half of our volunteers do not have professional construction experience,” he says. “Anyone can join a team if you’re just willing to come alongside and help. And you don’t even need to own an RV. Numbers of our work sites, such as campgrounds and Teen Challenge centers, are able to provide housing.”

As the Rittermeyers visit each of the projects in their region, they repeatedly encounter the same overwhelming sense of unity.

“This is the most bonded group of people I’ve ever worked with,” Mark says. “Whether you’re talking about a local work site or our annual convention in Carlinville, Ill., the reaction among our volunteers is the same. They may not have seen each other for a year or more, but when they get together it’s like they’re picking up a conversation from last week.”

SCOTT HARRUP is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.



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