Today, we want to introduce a new series of Charity Spotlights that will be releasing on Thursdays during Advent. This week we interviewed Jodie Lamon, Executive Director of Smokie Mountain Resort Ministries.
FaithSocial Team: Tell us about your charity and the heart behind your mission.
Our vision is to creatively share Christ with others, minister to their needs and hopes, and grow the Church through mission involvement. Through the addition of our International Ministry, God has deepened our commitment to missions and broadened our understanding of the possibilities before us. Where we fit in the Kingdom of God has expanded as we have touched lives and as the Holy Spirit has changed lives. These people go all over the world now knowing God’s love. We are much more excited about how we touch the world.
FaithSocial Team: What is the legacy you want your charity to leave?
Our legacy we want to leave is that all would know that they are loved by God!
FaithSocial Team: When was the first time you heard about the charity and what made you want to be part of it?
When I was 15 years old I heard about Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries doing puppet shows at an outlet mall in Pigeon Forge, TN. Our team had worked hard on the show and wanted to share God’s love through entertaining with songs, skits, and puppets. As a college student I had the opportunity to spend a summer serving. As an adult I served as a house parent and then after the tragedy if the 2016 wildfires. Through all of these experiences I saw how many people needed to know that God loves them and has a plan for their life!
FaithSocial Team: Who is someone that has been really impacted by your charity?
So many people have corresponded with us about impacts made on their lives. Recently, we received an email from a former summer missionary who learn to share his love for sharing Jesus with others and is still doing so and showing his family how to spread God’s love too. Another email described a young man’s experience attending campground church services ev1 John 4:11-12 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another here while on vacation. He spoke about the clarity and joy those services brought. International students are keeping in touch with us and ask questions like “why are you so nice to us?” and I am able to respond, “Because God loves us so much that he sent his son to be a sacrifice for us. If He loves me that much, I want to show others that love through my actions to everyone.”
FaithSocial Team: What’s the biggest challenge that your organization faces on a day-to-day basis?
One of our biggest challenges is that we have is a small staff and can only do so much. We have volunteers during certain projects, which is great, but there is always room for more volunteers!
FaithSocial Team: What motivates you to continue working with [kids, cancer research, etc.?
1 John 4:11-12 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I truly believe that I am called to show others the love of God through my words, actions, and deeds. I realized how much God loves me and the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Through mission trips/projects I found God’s calling for who I was to be…a lover of people. Whenever I see people who have little to no self-worth, because of a lack of love, my heart breaks for them and I often ask, “What can I do to help?” How could they know this love that I’ve been shown and given from God? I continue to overcome my own insecurities and always try to tell and show others the great love of God. There are many stories to come and many people to be loved… since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
FaithSocial Team: How has your charity had to pivot since COVID-19?
2020 has become the year of people over programs. We do a lot of great programing during a normal year, but this year we’ve taking a closer look at the needs of the people God has brought across our paths. We’ve also changed our budget to reflect this too. During the shutdown, we were taking families to the food bank and well as preparing meal to help care for their needs. Some have needed help with transportation and medical care. We’ve had to pivot to outdoor and zoom Bible studies, worship services done differently, including figuring out Facebook live and other means of sharing services.
FaithSocial Team: What does success look like in your organization in the short and long term?
Success is easy and difficult to gage. Numbers are an easy way gage success…how many people attend programed events and if was an increase over past programs, but a real success is lives being changed! Life change happens in large and small ways…being part of someone accepting Christ as their personal savoir is huge but walking alongside of someone as they are learning who Jesus is or how to walk with Christ daily, encouraging someone in the faith and watching the fruit of the spirit grow in their life.When you can see someone showing patience or love to someone different than themselves, when you see someone experiencing peace even when their world is turned upside down, when you know someone is praying for and using self-control to overcome additions, those are the successes that are hard to measure, but you celebrate!
FaithSocial Team: What is something your charity does that most people don’t know about?
Most people aren’t sure what we do because they only see one small part of the ministry. We have church services in campground and in theme parks. We provide kids day camps during the summer in campgrounds, but we also do kids crafts and outreach in theme parks.We serve as chaplains to international students and to employees in theme parks, we lead community bible studies, we grow the church through training missional volunteers, we become friends with those in need of the love of God!
FaithSocial Team: What are ways people can get involved with your charity?
We love volunteers! We need seasonal on-sight volunteers to serve during the summer, October, and during the winter (Christmas-February), but we also need homemade Christmas cards to share with 180 international students. You can partner with us financially by sponsoring: 1) Christmas bags for international students $10/each total of $1,800 needed. 2) Doughnuts and Devotionals for winter season $60/week for 14 weeks, or for summer season $40/week for 10 weeks. 3) International student meals for 100 $200/week for 10 weeks. 4) Sand art crosses for theme park ministry $400 for 400 necklaces/supplies. Or 5) Sponsor a summer missionary for $100/week for 10 weeks during the summer.You can also partner with us to pray for upcoming events like winter ministry, open relationships with winter staff so the will know the love of God, pray for the college aged students who want to serve on mission this summer as well as youth mission teams preparing to serve next summer.
To learn more about Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries please visit smrm.org; or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/smokymountainresortministries andon Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/smrmgatlinburg/