Long-time East Texas residents, Wayne and Glenda Riley have dedicated just under a decade’s worth of faithful summer volunteer service to Mission Centers of Houston. “I’ve been partnering with the Mission Centers off and on since the late ’60s,” Glenda related during a recent conversation, “after Mildred McWhorter (the founder) came to church and spoke — and then I brought Wayne on board as well once we got married 30 years ago.” When the motivated couple originally committed to their current positions as Mission Service Corps Volunteers through the North American Mission Board in the early 2000s, they anticipated relocating to a place of need in another part of the country such as New Mexico, Colorado or even Alaska. Thankfully for Mission Centers of Houston, God had other plans in mind. After a chance encounter with current executive director, Ginger Smith, during their initial time of discernment and plan-making, the Rileys stopped by the Gano Center to drop off bags, food and other donations for some of the weekly distribution programs. They took some time to look around and become reacquainted with the ministry, and then as they were pulling out of the gates, Wayne turned to Glenda and remarked, “This feels like home,” to which Glenda responded, “Well… I guess we’ll have to pray about this!”
Now, for the past 8 years, the Rileys have given up a slower-paced routine and the familiar comforts of their home life in order to settle in with Mission Centers from the end of May until the beginning of August. In response to what they both view as a clear calling from God, the couple faithfully fills the very unique and vital role of house parents for a team of primarily college-aged summer missionary interns who arrive from all over the country and commit to living and serving on-site for 9 weeks of ministry, leadership training, community-building, discipleship and volunteer oversight. As house parents, the Rileys’ responsibilities include various “handiman” tasks, a position that former-pipe fitter and skilled laborer Wayne is more than qualified to fill, meal coordination, relational support, Bible study leadership, and the like. “We try to be a friend, a parent and a caregiver,” shared the committed couple. “A lot of our friends think we’re crazy (laughs); they say we could stay at home and go on trips and have fun with them — but we always say, not during the summer! This is where we’re supposed to be and as long as He gives us strength and energy, this is where we’ll be.” When the summer is over, the Rileys resume their other yearly, service-oriented commitments, including weekly church secretarial work, Bible study lessons and jail ministry for Glenda as well as food pantry hours and RA leadership for Wayne.
Described as “some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met” by our director, who even added that she would love to duplicate them for the remaining 10 months out of the year if physically feasible, Wayne and Glenda Riley are about to commence upon their 9th summer experience with Mission Centers of Houston.
To support the countless hours of love and support that goes into our summer programs, we invite you to make a one-time donation here: https://mch.wufoo.com/forms/onetime-donation-to-mch/ .