In 2011, some missionary friends who were serving in Tanzania, Africa contacted Cheryl about bringing a team to serve for a week doing Vacation Bible School for a group of missionary kids while their parents were at their annual field conference. They were able to do that, as well as spend a week in the village where their friends were serving. The ladies contacted the missionaries' supporting churches and rallied the troops to help make this trip happen. The way it all came together and the needs that were identified by spending time with missionaries working in a difficult field, served to form the basis for what eventually became the ministry of ConnecTree. They were able to listen to the missionaries, hear their needs, encourage and pray with them and give them fresh perspective on How powerful their ministry was. It helped Dawn and Cheryl see the particular needs that long term missionaries have in the areas of emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual support, as well as deeper engagement with their home churches and supporters.
After much prayer and seeking of godly counsel, ConnecTree was incoporated in 2012 as a registered 501(c)(3) religious non-profit for the purpose of pursing this vision.
How it all Began...
ConnecTree was founded in 2012 by Cheryl Markowitz and Dawn Hamrick as a missionary advocacy organization, a vision born out of a call in 1996 that both ladies had while serving the Lord in different ministry fields, independently of one another. This was before the days of email.... Cheryl visited Dawn in Mexico during her time there, and they shared that they both had this crazy idea to start a missions organization together, to take short term teams to work with long term missionaries, to disciple people onto the mission field, and to help missionaries thrive in their various fields. Over the course of the next two decades, they both served in various ministries in their home churches and gained experience in planning missions trips, leading teams, discipleship, bible study, advocating for missionaries and directing people to different organizations that serve by sharing the Gospel around the world.
Example - Missionaries from AIM International in Tanzania, Africa asked us to bring a team to do a Vacation Bible School program for their Tanzania missionary's Field Conference for a week. We were also invited to visit the village that one of the missionaries worked in.
We connected their supporting churches to find team members, funds to supply the VBS, and purchase items needed by the missionary in their village and for their family. We put together the team, trained them, and raised support.
While in the village we participated in outreach to the community, brought balls and toys to the children in the school and spent time encouraging and counseling the missionaries, giving them a fresh perspective of how valuable and powerful their ministry was to the people there.
One of the things mission workers, foreign and domestic, often lack is a connectedness with their support network at home. ConnecTree will help take that network to the next level by connecting supporting individuals and churches to each other in an effort to better care for and partner in the ministry of their shared workers on the field.
What we do...
We start with the mission worker and ask them what their needs are. We then identify who comprises their support network and we help connect them to one another to do the following:
Mobilization of short term teams and resources
Participation in activities the mission workers are involved in on the field
Coordinated care for mission workers - support from home, care packages, finances for projects, prayer, fellowship, etc.