Mission opportunities in Arizona: Live Love Ministries

By Johanna Willett | Dec 15, 2022

Every school year, Live Love Ministries distributes school supplies to kids in multiple communities. This year, Eric Gibbs estimates the ministry gave school supplies to about 800 children.

When Church on Randall Place in Pine contacted Pastor Eric Gibbs about serving with his ministry on the Tohono O’odham Nation, the church was eager for mission work of any kind.

It was spring of 2021, and COVID-19 made the church’s usual work in Ecuador unfeasible, John Lake, pastor of Church on Randall Place, said.

“COVID locked us out of a lot of mission opportunities, so we were looking for something to get our church involved in,” Lake said.

Gibbs, a North American Mission Board Mission Service Corps missionary, leads Live Love Ministries. The mission organization based out of Casa Grande serves primarily the Tohono O’odham Nation, along with the Gila River Indian Community. The ministry also supports a school in Malawi, Africa.

The Live Love Ministries team — Eric and Brittany Gibbs (from left), Julia Curtis, and Kayla and Jordan Barton — works with volunteers on projects throughout the year, including VBS, Christmas in the Villages and more.

“Our vision is that everywhere that God gives us access to … there would be a consistent Gospel presence,” Gibbs said. “In some villages, we have started a church, and in other villages we have ongoing Bible studies or in others we are just getting to the point where they are inviting us to do a Bible study.”

Eric and Brittany Gibbs serve as support-raising, full-time missionaries, along with Julia Curtis, and Jordan and Kayla Barton, who moved to Arizona from Kentucky in July after God used several years of short-term mission trips to call them full-time to Live Love Ministries.

The Gibbses started this ministry in 2010, reaching out to the second largest reservation in Arizona, spread out across more than 2.8 million acres, according to the Tohono O’odham Nation’s website.

Church on Randall Place volunteers help remove dead palm fronds from Live Love Ministries’ new ministry center.

The ministry now works in about 10 villages, meeting physical needs, listening and building trust, Gibbs said.

In the summer months, that looks like putting on VBS, taking teens to camp in Prescott and giving out backpacks and school supplies to 800 children. In December, the ministry puts on Christmas in the Villages, providing gifts for 700 to 1,000 children around the reservation.

They serve in other ways throughout the year, and Gibbs is also pastor of two churches — Cockleburr Ethne Church and All Nations Church of Casa Grande.

“We host mission teams at different times throughout the year,” Gibbs said. “If a team from Arizona wants to come on a long weekend, [there are projects] all the way from construction to VBS to Bible studies.”

Pastor John Lake of Church on Randall Place (left) helps prep the ceiling with volunteers from the church, Chase Denton and his son, Crew.

Church on Randall Place helped Live Love Ministries renovate the sanctuary of a disbanded Casa Grande church — now the ministry’s new home base. Lake and about a dozen volunteers spent a few days redoing floors and ceilings, taming overgrown palm trees and making countless trips to Home Depot.

“This was way outside our comfort zone,” Lake said, adding that their mission work usually focuses on evangelism and leader training. “But COVID forced us out of our wheelhouse, and we can be uncomfortable and do something that we don’t normally do.”

It was worth it to go on mission together, Lake said. He saw the project connect church members to each other and to Christ.

“It draws our church together and helps us see the need to reach out,” he said. “And when you have been the recipient of blessings, how can you not help someone else?”

The support from other churches enables Live Love Ministries to continue bringing Jesus to communities across the reservation.

“When you get outside your own culture, you get to serve in unique ways and see firsthand the heart of Jesus in serving and ministering to others,” Gibbs said. “And it’s right here in your own state.”

Next Steps

  • Pray for the missionaries at work through Live Love Ministries: Eric and Brittany Gibbs, Julia Curtis, and Kayla and Jordan Barton. Pray for continued opportunities to provide a Gospel presence in the communities where they serve.
  • Partner through service. To help pull off Christmas in the Villages, for example, churches can help sponsor children’s gifts or bring teams for present-wrapping parties. Contact Live Love Ministries for more information about how your church can partner in ministry through short-term trips.
  • Learn more about how you and your church can partner with Live Love Ministries at liveloveministries.org.

Johanna Willett, a freelance writer living in Tucson, is a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson.

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