by Jenifer Eriksen Morales
Jess McQuade, an Everyday Missionary, is a member of Souderton Mennonite Church, Vice President General Manager for Allebach Communications, wife to John, and mother of three active children. Jess lives according to the overly demanding schedule these roles require. Everyday Missionaries are those who intentionally live the Great Commission to make disciples in the context of their jobs, relationships, homes and ordinary life activities. In her missionary role, Jess ministers to young people by leading a weekly Bible Study in the Souderton Park for swim team members before their morning practice. Her story is inspiring and challenging.
The Souderton Swim Team is one of the many extra-curricular activities Jess’ children participate in. In addition to meets, the family practices 7-10 hours per week nearly year-round. Clearly Jess spends a lot of time at the pool! A few years ago, a friend recommended a book called “Don’t Waste your Sports” by C.J. Mahaney. Jess says it reminded her, “sports are a gift from God, and that we can either use them to glorify God (allowing God to be our focus and priority) or we can use them to try to bring glory to ourselves (not just as athletes, but also as parents of athletes). The Bible study was just one way I thought I could help my kids, and hopefully others, keep focusing on God and give Him the glory in their sports.”
So, two summers ago, Jess began to meet with a group of young swimmers in Souderton Park at 8:00 am, before practice, and before she needed to be at work. All swim team members are welcome to participate. The group does a short game or ice breaker activity, reads a testimony from a Christian athlete with a corresponding Bible passage and discusses what it means to them in everyday life and athletics. Each meeting ends with prayer requests and prayer. According to Jess, “There are always kids who offer to pray for someone else’s prayer request – that is the most awesome thing to hear!”
Not only is Jess nurturing young Jesus-followers through the Bible Study, but she is cultivating leadership. For example, Jess’ daughter and son lead prayer, pick out Bible studies they think would be relevant, and lead some of the games. Next year they are hoping to lead a study on their own. A young adult who grew up at Souderton Mennonite Church, Jessica Wimmer, is a coach on the swim team. She participated with the swimmers and led some of the morning Bible Studies. Jessica notes, “It was great having her involved as an example and motivator for the younger swimmers.”
As the group grows in relationship with Jesus, Jessica hopes the kids “support each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. These swimmers spend a lot of time together. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they could have an opportunity to share their faith, pray for one another, and encourage each other in their faith walk? I want to help them see that God gave them Christian brothers and sisters to walk along with them – they aren’t alone.” Jess aims to “help Christian kids do ‘church’ in their natural, day-to-day environment and not just on Sunday mornings. This is something I still struggle with as an adult. How do you bring your faith into your job, social functions, daily life, etc.? Here’s one way.”
Through this two-year experience in the everyday mission field, Jess has learned that God, “will give you what you need to be able to do what He is calling you to do. I am not a super mom – life is busy and I often live in a state of feeling completely overwhelmed. Adding even a small, simple thing like this Bible study to my plate could almost put me over the edge, but I really felt [God] calling me to do this and each week He gave me the resources and the strength to make it happen. I left each gathering feeling completely energized, blessed, and excited by what God had done in our brief time together.”