Annual Dinner Benefits Youth Center

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The areas we are ministering out of tend to be incredibly impoverished. Our two biggest goals are to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to help develop the community and aid the people who live in it,” said John Reynolds, a missionary who co-founded Cross Commission with his wife Donna. “Our youth center, Zona Extrema, is our primary focus. It gives us a way to engage and build relationships and trust with the children that come in and as they begin to open up and share with us we have the opportunity to pray with them and help lead them to gospel. The Zone enables us to reach the community on a deeper level.”

John and Donna Reynolds founded Cross Commission in 1993 as a mime troupe that traveled throughout the United States and around the globe spreading the Gospel.

“I am actually a professional mime,” John stated, with a laugh. “We had a couple of teams and would go to churches and perform in the streets, pretty much anywhere we were welcome, for about eight years before we started to feel the calling toward world-missions. After a lot of prayers, we felt that Guatemala was the right fit. Once we were there (San Cristóbal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz,Guatemala) and saw the number of children out on the streets we felt compelled to open a youth center. The Zona Extrema started in a small, one-car garage and before the place was even open we had about 40 kids coming by each day. The numbers have continued to increase causing the mission to grow along with them.”  

The Zona Extrema is similar to youth centers in the United States, filled with games and activities, including a small gym, where area youth are free to come and go as they please. 

“The ping-pong and pool tables are the things that catch the kids’ attention, but we also have a computer room where youth can come in and study, because many of them do not have internet access in their homes,” John explained. “We have had so many mothers come to us and thank us, because they don’t feel that their kids would have been able to complete school if they hadn’t had access to the Zone.”

In addition to John and Donna, Cross Commission employs a full-time staff of five to work with local youth at the zone. This both enables the local missionaries to return to their home church, Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, for brief periods, as well as provides familiar, consistent adults for the children that use the Zona Extrema to build relationships with.

“Our staff are working on the front lines, planting seeds of the gospel through the relationships they develop at the Zone. We also hold a youth church, and a Bible study for those that are interested in delving deeper into their walk with God.”

The couple is currently in Hillsboro, preparing to host one of the ministry’s larger fundraising benefits. The annual Cross Commission dinner will begin at 6 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, located at 1400 Seymour Avenue. Attendees will be treated to a lasagna dinner while they hear about the work Cross Commissions is doing in Guatemala. While the dinner is free, the evening will include a silent auction, raffle drawings and door prizes, as well as the chance to purchase some handmade Guatemalan gifts. A select number of take out dinners, including a 7 x 10 pan of unbaked lasagna, family size salad and 8 x 8 pan of brownies or blondies are also available for purchase, and can be picked up the night of the event. Locked and Loaded Ltd, Outdoor and Sporting Goods Company, is offering a chance to win a $500 gift card in support of the mission’s work. A limited number of tickets are being sold for $10 apiece with all proceeds benefiting Cross Commission.

Reynolds went on to explain that the funds raised during the annual benefit dinner are used for general overhead including helping to pay the salaries of their staff members. In addition to the Cross Commission employees that work in the youth center, the ministry employs a full time nurse and part time doctor who travel to local villages that lack access to health care. 

“Cross Commission goes out into remote villages and tries to aid the people that live in them,” Reynolds said. “Most of the people living in these remote areas only have an open campfire in their homes and don’t have water readily available to them the way we do. Our mission teams go in and install wood-burning stoves and water infiltration systems to help improve the quality of health in these areas. It’s a practical way for us to share our faith and mission to spread the love of God to areas that have been neglected by the outside world.”

While individual missions teams raise funds for the stoves and water infiltration systems, Cross Commission will gratefully accept donations towards those projects. However, their biggest needs remain ways to fund the general overhead costs of the mission, primarily the youth center.  

 Donations to help the local missionaries continue their work abroad may be made online at www.crosscommsion.org, or Cross Commission, P.O. Box 1, Hillsboro Il, 62049. 

Those that are interested in a take-home lasagna dinner, or purchasing a ticket for the Locked and Loaded drawing; may contact  John and Donna Reynolds at 217-413-9418, or message them on Facebook. 

More information about the benefit dinner on Saturday, Nov. 13, may be found at the Share the Vision page on Facebook.

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