Choctaw Association has record-setting year for missionscomment (1)
December 15, 2011
By June Mathews
When Dennis Kennedy, pastor of Lusk Baptist Church, Gilbertown, traveled to Trinidad in January, he had no way of knowing his annual missions trip to the tiny island nation would kick off a record-setting year for Choctaw Baptist Association.
With projects ranging from local to international, groups and individuals in the small southwest Alabama association spent the year working to reach others for Christ in a big way.
“I just believe the Lord moved on our people, impressing upon them that the time is short and the need to get the word out is important,” Director of Missions Franklin McLelland said. “The Holy Spirit has done the work of getting our people involved.”
As to specifics regarding the association’s banner year for missions, McLelland reported
• Kennedy ministered alongside members of Mohess Road Baptist Church in southern Trinidad. Lusk Baptist is involved in building a second Baptist church there and recently helped create a para-church organization through which donations for supporting missions on the island are channeled.
• In February, Billy Harris, pastor of Isney Baptist Church, traveled to Haiti to lead a school for teaching and encouraging pastors. He also held preaching and evangelistic services in tent cities and used multicolored soccer balls as tools for sharing the plan of salvation with youth. He saw 120 professions of faith.
• In April, tornadoes damaged more than 100 Choctaw County homes and destroyed more than 20 others. Hundreds of people volunteered to assist with cleanup and repairs. With the help of a building team from Bethel Baptist Church, Canton, N.C., several Choctaw Association churches joined forces to replace the home of a retired couple and their disabled daughter. More than $30,000 was donated for materials.
Volunteers from the association also traveled to other areas of the state to assist with tornado relief. Several area pastors, including Chris Giles of Cullomburg Baptist Church; Brad Bakane of Gilbertown Baptist Church; and Don Whigham of First Baptist Church, Silas, worked in Phil Campbell and Hackleburg during May and June to clear storm debris and deliver powdered drink packets to displaced people.
• In May, Johnny Prichard, a member of New Life Fellowship, Gilbertown, traveled to Ardmore, Okla., to help erect a building for Ardmore Indian Baptist Church.
• Scott Harrell, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Butler, and his wife, Susan, made their sixth missions trip to Uganda in mid-May.
• In mid-June, 20 members of First, Silas, traveled to Fortaleza, Brazil, to conduct a four-day Bible school. The pastor lead worship services in two prisons and saw 30 people saved, including the warden and several prison clerks. The team also visited slums, handing out Bibles, baby items and health care kits.
• In late June, Jimmy and Martha Thompson, members of First Baptist Church, Butler, joined the Bethel Baptist Builders from Bethel Baptist Association on a missions trip to Betsy Layne, Ky. The group constructed a pulpit and a choir and baptistry area, performed electrical work and framed the inside walls and second story of a building now serving as a sanctuary for Calvary Southern Baptist Church.
• Cierra Giles, Miss University of Mobile 2011 and a member of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Silas, traveled to Gulu, Uganda, with a group of fellow students to teach kindergarten classes in late June and early July. Giles characterized her experience in Uganda as “life-changing” and hopes to return there in the future.
• In mid-July, Angie Taylor and Jerry Bonner, members of Toxey Baptist Church, joined a team from Bethel Baptist Church, Citronelle, in Mobile Baptist Association on a missions trip to Antigua, Guatemala. The team helped a local pastor to purchase land and build a small church with adjoining bathrooms. Team members also built 10 tiny houses, conducted Vacation Bible School (VBS) and handed out toys, candy, food and clothing.
• During July, Michael Rowell, pastor of Morgan Chapel Baptist Church, Toxey, along with wife Amanda and other church members, traveled to Los Parcelos and San Bonita, Nicaragua. The team built and planted a new church, dug a freshwater well, distributed food and shared the gospel at a city garbage dump, where people were scavenging for food. Nearly 100 people received Christ. An additional 150 professed their faith during five nights of crusades and three days of VBS.
• At the end of July, Billy May, a member of Chappell Hill Baptist Church, Gilbertown, joined a team from Liberty Park Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, in Birmingham Baptist Association on a missions trip to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Composed of doctors and construction workers, the team joined Roger and Vicki Grossman, Southern Baptist representatives to the area for 25 years, in building a medical clinic — the only clinic serving 2.1 million people. The team saw approximately 25 people make professions of faith.
• Laymen from First, Butler, joined people from several churches in Butler to assist with repairs to the home of a disabled woman in the community. Over a period of months, the construction team installed a new roof, siding, an upstairs outside exit with porch and steps and a new back porch and side porch with steps and rails; leveled the kitchen floor; remodeled the kitchen; painted rooms; and hung new latticework around the porch.
Close to home, Choctaw Association operates two food banks, collects aluminum tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile, coordinates an annual school supply roundup, conducts an aluminum can recycling program to benefit Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries and serves as a drop-off location for Operation Christmas Child.
The association’s Men on Mission group builds wheelchair ramps free of charge and the Woman’s Missionary Union supplies school uniforms for needy children.
Choctaw Association recently adopted guidelines to make it more financially feasible for member churches to send their members out all over the world.
“We had some surplus money in our reserve fund that we’re making available for travel assistance whenever possible,” McLelland said. “We’re encouraging our churches to let members who wish to be on mission know about this support. All we ask is that they give us follow-up reports on where they’ve been and what God is doing there.
“I hope this is the beginning of what will be a growing thing,” he continued.
“God is using ordinary people here in our county to do Kingdom work and I’m excited about it.”