Alabamians Witnessing Across Borderscomment (0)
September 18, 2003
By Johnie Sentell
Members of churches around Mobile share the love of God beyond our nation’s borders through the International Seaman’s Center, which is sponsored by Mobile Association.
One recent evening at the center members of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church and Sage Avenue Baptist Church brought refreshments and served as volunteer hosts. They welcomed six crew members of a Russian ship that had just docked to take on a shipment of frozen chickens.
The crew included a woman who had taken her husband’s steward position after he died. Her two teenage daughters remain at home.
After crew members enjoyed practicing basketball shots in the center’s gym, Jerry Betts, a member at Sage Avenue, led the devotional time. He told the visitors how to make a profession of faith in Christ, and he prayed for the crew as well as their family members. At least one visitor carried a Russian Bible back to the ship. That night the center stocked Bibles in 40 languages!
For Emmanuel’s pastor, Billy Burtt, it was his third time to volunteer at the center. Three adults, three youth and four children came that night from Emmanuel.
Brother Burtt said, “The center tries to really stress the whole family aspect with these men away from their homes for a year or two years. That is why we try to use youth and children.”
Later the hosts provided transportation to a large discount store so the crew could do some shopping.
“They were like kids in a candy store,” Bro. Burtt said. “It warms my heart just to be in touch with people from other parts of the world and to be able to help them. This is international missions without leaving the country.
“It is easy to be afraid of people you don’t know,” he said. “But when you get to meet them face to face they are very courteous and gracious.”
Another volunteer that evening was Gene Davis, a Friendship Church member who helps at the center two evenings each week.
“I really get a blessing.” he said.
Brother Davis noted Friendship is strong in missions work. “We have started a church in Guatemala, and we also work with an orphanage there, Casa Aleluya,” he said.
When called for details, Friendship pastor Teddie Turrentine said, “We have built two houses in Guatemala that we use as our mission station. One sleeps 40 people, and the other is for a caretaker and supplies,” he said.
“We give away clothes and food and build houses for poor people. At some point of building the house we do our witnessing on-site. We also do physical labor at a local seminary and at the church.”
Started in May, the church has about 25 members now.
“People in the community wanted to be able to go to church nearby,” Bro. Turrentine said. “We hired a pastor who was teaching at the seminary.
“We are their sole support right now,” he noted. “But they are taking offerings also.”
In 1998, Bro. Turrentine felt Friendship’s members needed to be exposed to international missions.
“I knew a person who was going to Guatemala, and I went with him that December. We took a group of 30 the next April and have been going ever since,” he said. “We had no vision of owning land or building a house or anything. God just dropped it in our lap.”
Brother Turrentine said more than 100 Friendship members have made at least one trip. “But it has not diminished our support of Southern Baptist work. Our Baptist missionaries are my heroes.”
Six members of Dalraida Baptist Church, Montgomery, went to Guatemala with Friendship’s team this summer. Dalraida reserved a date next summer to use the facility.
“We already have five weeks booked to use our facility next summer,” Bro. Turrentine said. “I missed a plane back in June and had to take another plane the next day. A guy that sat next to me said his church had asked him to find a place in Guatemala to do missions work. It just went from there. It is neat to see how God has worked. Our desire is to make certain He gets the glory for it all!”