FBC Winfield Acteen Activators find Chicago open to missionscomment (0)
September 13, 2001
By Bruce Sims
The members of Uptown Baptist Church, located in downtown Chicago, may have thought the accents of the Acteen Activators from Winfield were a bit unusual. But when the group pitched in and began cooking, cleaning and serving the more than 600 people who came to the church-sponsored soup kitchen each day the Alabama team was readily accepted.
“Our group came away from this experience with an appreciation for the blessings that we enjoy,” said Cindy Sager. Along with fellow leader Nancy Moss, Sager escorted the group of eight Activators from First Baptist Church, Winfield, to Lombard, Ill., as well as downtown Chicago, during their recent missions trip.
“This was mine and Nancy’s 11th time to go on such a trip,” said Sager. “We’ve also attended three National Acteen Conventions and one youth missions trip where the boys from our church were included. I think we enjoy those trips as much as the Acteens. When we were growing up we went on choir tours, but they were nothing like these Activator trips.”
While in Lombard, located approximately 45 minutes from Chicago, the Acteens held two backyard Bible clubs, painted the basement of the Crossroads Community Church and assisted the pastor’s wife as she cleaned out the garage of a rental house they had recently moved into.
“Crossroads Community Church is a missions church that is being sponsored by Melrose Park Baptist Church,” said Moss. “It was during a Bible club that one of our girls became very close to one of the young boys that attended. On the club’s last day she had the opportunity to lead him to Christ.”
Sager said one of the women from the church in Lombard had worked for a number of years with a woman who had retired in Winfield. “That woman is now a member of our congregation at First Baptist, Winfield,” said Sager. “So we felt like we had a connection with their community.”
Although the Acteens had taught backyard Bible clubs and painted various things, the soup kitchen in downtown Chicago was an entirely new experience.
“When my mom first mentioned Chicago for an Activator trip, I said ‘yes’ without any hesitation,” said team member Shelly Sager, a sophomore at Samford University and daughter of Cindy Sager.
“I had never been to Chicago, and to be honest that was my motive,” Sager said. “Once we got there I knew it was going to be totally different from what I had imagined, as there would be plenty of work and not as much free time. I wasn’t too excited about that, but God stepped in and began to work in me.”
She explained that being able to see the basement project finished gave the entire group a feeling of accomplishment.
“As for the soup kitchen, I’m sure that the other girls would agree when I say that it was a truly amazing experience,” said Shelly Sager.
“Serving over 600 homeless, elderly or poor people gave us a real appreciation for the blessings we enjoy,” Shelly Sager said. “If I could say in one word what God taught me during the week it would be patience, and I know my mom is grateful for that. When things got frustrating, when we were tired or ill, and there were times I just wanted to cry. ... God gave me the patience to go with the flow, keep my mouth shut and have a positive attitude. Each of the other girls were truly amazing and each of them taught me something different.”
Though the Acteens from Alabama named three different places on their application, Chicago’s needs matched their own for short-term volunteers.
“We’re already looking forward to next year,” said Sager. “As for where we’ll go, we have no idea, as once an application is sent in, the assignments are made in January and based on the needs that are submitted by various pastors and missionaries.
“We have a couple from our church who are serving as two-year missionaries from the North American Mission Board in New York City,” Sager said. “I think the girls would enjoy helping them.”
In order to make the trip to Chicago, each girl made a partial payment for her plane ticket and the girls held a fundraiser at the church to complete the ticket purchase.
“Our church budgets for this trip each year,” said Sager. “We feel we are very fortunate to have their support for this type of ministry as our meals, supplies and lodging were taken care of by our home church.”
While at Crossroads, the group were the guests of Pastor Scott and Vicky Nichols, who arranged for several members of their congregation to feed the Acteens.