Royal Center couple prepare for South Africa mission | news

Serving God isn’t easy. Rachel and Mason Hayden know that from experience.

One month into their marriage, they were on a Navajo reservation in Arizona sharing a bunk bed in a house with no water, no air conditioning, only a small space heater for cold nights and the world’s busiest railroad track rumbling in the background.

That was in February. The experience didn’t determine them. They are now fundraising for a six-month mission to South Africa.

The Haydens will host a rummage sale this Saturday at the Royal Center United Methodist Church, 210 S. Chicago St., to help raise part of the $30,000 needed for their mission.

“We’ve spent the last three months collecting items from family and friends and probably have enough stuff to open a thrift store,” Rachel Hayden said.

Among the items: beds, washers and dryers, clothing, household appliances, a fish tank. Oh, and a 1971 Mustang.

yes A 1971 Mustang.

Her father, Steve Miller, the pastor at Pleasant Hill Church in Kewanna, loves cars. His dream was to one day have a car to take to car shows. Miller worked on the Mustang for over a decade.

But part of serving God is sacrifice.

“(The Mustang) has been his baby,” Rachel said. “Just a couple of weeks ago, he came to us and said he wanted to sell it and give us the funds for our mission.”

The sale will run from 9 am until 6 pm All funds raised go to the Haydens’ mission. Rachel Henry, of Modern Real Estate, has pledged to sponsor the event by doing a dollar-for-dollar match up to $5,000.

Rachel Hayden knew her heart was pulled toward missions after she was baptized when she was 13. In high school, she traveled to Central America. When she and Mason, her future husband, graduated from Pioneer, they moved to Florida. Rachel worked as a dental assistant while Mason took classes.

“Working a nine-to-five when I was 18 or 19 — first of all I realized this was not for me,” she said. “And I still had a call for missions on my heart.”

An opportunity opened for Rachel to serve in a Wisconsin food pantry during the pandemic. She spent three months on the mission, and when she returned to Florida, Mason proposed.

The 21-year-old couple are working on an internship at The Ark Christian Ministries church camp in Converse until they leave for Cape Town, South Africa, on Sept. 13.

“We will be in a preschool ministry, a prison ministry, a sports ministry and working in a church,” Mason said.

“Our primary focus while we are there is the preschools that they run,” said Rachel. “They are in what is called squatter camps. The preschools aren’t like what they are here, where they are based around education. Their main goal is to get the kids out of these poor conditions during the day — somewhere clean where they can be fed, clothed.”

Mason said that the housing in the camps is made from tin with dirt floors. Children can’t crawl around and spend much of their early years on their mother’s back. The preschools allow the children some time away from those conditions, which allows them to practice crawling, walking and other skills.

Rachel said that going on missions has helped her develop faith in a number of ways as well as helped her understand what being a Christian truly means.

“Growing up, I had a really small idea of ​​what being a Christian and what the Christian walk was supposed to look like,” she said. “Going on missions has thrown all of that out the window and changed my outlook on life in a lot of ways.”

Growing up, she thought faith was as simple as going to church on Sundays and being a good person.

“But when I was in Florida and working a full-time job, I was really struggling in a lot of ways,” she said. “I was going to church and trying to be a good person, but it wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I was at a crossroads. Is this Christian thing real or is it just a façade? And then I had the opportunity to go to Wisconsin. I didn’t think much of American missions, but a mission can happen anywhere. You don’t have to go overseas. You can go across the street.”

At the Wisconsin food pantry, Rachel found deep comfort serving others. She hopes to find a location where she can permanently serve and see her effort grow in the community.

For Mason, answering the call was a bit more difficult. A four-sport athlete at Pioneer, he had visions of the American Dream upon graduating high school: a home and financial stability. It was a challenge to give that risk-free life to God and trust Him to provide for them.

“He’s showed up constantly just over the last three months,” Mason said. “You’ve got to give God big things and he will do things for you. I had to give up that financial outlook in order to take leaps in my faith.”

Rachel said the sacrifice isn’t easy. It’s tempting to reach back toward those things they have given up because they are human, she said.

But then there are moments like an Arizona snowfall and taking a group of Navajo children to a public park, children from troubled backgrounds that get to sweep those problems away for just a bit and start a snowball fight. Moments when the Haydens get to see children truly be children and explode with energy and laughter.

“Seeing them outside the house gave me a lot of hope for what these kids could be,” Mason said.

It’s those moments of hope when they know the sacrifice is worth it.

The Haydens are currently accepting donations for their mission to South Africa. Online donations can be given at by clicking “causes” under the “get involved” tab and scrolling down to Mason and Rachel Hayden, South Africa interns.

Checks may be made out to “One Plus God” with “Mason and Rachel” in the memo line and mailed to One Plus God, 389 E. Church St., Marion, OH 43302.

Comments are closed.