FBC Winfield students minister in unique ways in Gulf Shores comment (0)
February 2, 2012
By Darla Brantley
Can God use pancakes, dogs and movies to draw people to Himself?
Ask the students of First Baptist Church, Winfield.
They employed all three to minister to snowbirds in the Gulf Shores area Jan. 13–16.
The 16 students — who were accompanied by five adults from the Marion Baptist Association church — worked with Nate Diehl, Baldwin Baptist Association’s associate director of missions for resort and campus ministries who heads up Gulf Area Resort Ministries with wife Alicia.
Diehl organized several events at two locations for the missions team. Winter residents of Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores and Anchors Aweigh R.V. Resort in Foley were treated to pancake breakfasts, dog shows and viewings of the movie “Courageous.”
The students also held worship services, which included a student-led praise band and dramatic skits.
“Honestly I believe that He uses those things just as much (as), if not more than, music, a service or an invitation,” praise band member and Winfield City High School senior Eleshia Butler said of the pancakes, dogs and movie.
“I think that people are more likely to ask questions they have about Christ in a casual environment, with people who simply come to hang out with them, instead of in a sanctuary.
And the more likely they are to ask these questions, the more likely they are to accept Christ.”
While their efforts were not met with immediate spiritual results, the students believe they saw the beginning of something life-changing.
“Several people in Gulf Shores asked me about our youth group,” Butler said. “They seemed to be totally shocked by our ability to get along and work together so well. I believe that they truly saw the love of Christ through us, and although I did not see any solid results, I thoroughly believe that seeds were planted by our actions.”
The church’s high school and college students take a missions trip every few years, and if there’s one thing participating in trips has taught Winfield City High senior Cole Richards, then it’s patience.
“I have learned over the years of going on trips like these that God can work in any way that He chooses,” Richards said. “Whether it is the next second or the next year, God will provide. What we don’t realize right away is that God’s got this.”
Jeff Brantley, minister of students and education at First, Winfield, hopes this trip gave the students a broader view of missions.
“I hope our students have learned that ministry and missions is to everybody: rich, poor, young, old and in between,” he said, adding that missions involves just being with people and sharing common interests.
This was the first time the team members used interests like pets to reach out. Brantley said the dog shows were a great way to interact with people and tell them about the ongoing ministries at the parks.
Diehl appreciates the team’s efforts and noted how helpful short-term missions teams are to ministry in the Gulf area.
“Having missions teams like [First, Winfield, allows] us a great opportunity to put many hands into service loving on people in the resort community and sharing Jesus with them in many different ways,” he said.