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Annual missions ed event in Lamar Association a hitcomment (0)

April 14, 2011

By Darla Brantley

Basketball might have been the topic of many discussions in March, but for a group of kindergarteners through sixth-graders, the topic was missions.

On March 26, Lamar Baptist Association sponsored Missions Madness V at Kennedy Baptist Church near Fayette.

The annual event, which started in 2007, rotates among the association’s churches and has been a hit among children and adults with between 80 and 150 attending. This year, there were 142 participants from eight churches registered for the five-hour event.

Missions Madness is the brainchild of Janet Estis, who served for a time with Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) as part of the children’s support team and patterned her event after the Children’s Missions Explosion sponsored by Alabama WMU. She saw that smaller churches did not always attend the large-scale affair and designed a scaled-down event to make teaching children about missionaries and the work they do around the world more accessible for churches in her home association.

“My passion for missions began as a kid, and I wanted to expose children to missions and give them a chance to meet real live missionaries like the ones they learn about at church,” explained Estis, now a member of Mineral Springs Baptist Church, Reform, in Pickens Baptist Association.

Missions Madness features representatives from the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, volunteer missionaries and missions workers with state organizations such as Alabama Raceway Ministries and the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. Estis said she tries to find missionaries who have some kind of ties to Lamar Association.

Children attending this year’s event met with Gil and Marguerite Butler, who serve as missions mobilizers for Marion and Winston Baptist associations with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

With 85 international missions trips under their belts, the Butlers taught the children about ways they can be missionaries and help missionaries on the field.

Leah Hawthorne, who, along with her mother, Carol, has worked with Alabama Baptist disaster relief, told them, “You don’t necessarily have to be a career missionary. Just occasionally spend a week of your life doing missions.”

Hawthorne, a pharmacist, and her mother, a pharmacy technician, used their skills to help with medical needs on a short-term trip to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Estis described her unique method of missions work. “I can still fulfill my calling to missions by being involved in missions education, missions projects or volunteer missions trips without being a career missionary,” she said.

Missions Madness participants were able to spend time with a couple who serve as Southern Baptist representatives. The couple described the cultural traditions of their new home and how the children could pray for the people of the area, many of whom have never heard the good news.

They desired to teach the children that being a missionary has little to do with age, explaining that they do not have to wait until they grow up to do missions work.

The children participated in a Skype session with two other families who serve as Baptist representatives. The representatives were able to answer many questions about how they share the gospel, what kinds of food they eat and how they educate their children.

The participants also filled a jar with several kinds of raw beans and were given a recipe for bean soup. Each kind of bean represented a specific way they could pray for all missionaries.

In addition, the children tasted foods from several countries including Russia, Liberia, the Philippines, Mexico and China.

While the event was fun, it was also important, said Lamar Association Director of Missions Scott Stokes.
“We must teach our kids (about missions) now, and we cannot start too young,” he said.

For more information about conducting a similar event, call Estis at 205-431-6758 or Stokes at 205-695-9625.

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