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GT, GO projects aim to win Guatemalacomment (0)

January 4, 2007

By Grace Thornton

Calling all breadmakers, hairdressers, nurses and Vacation Bible School (VBS) teachers. This partnership’s for you.

So says Barbara Owen, mission project specialist in the office of global partnerships and volunteers in missions for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

"The list of needs is long, and it’s such a variety that no matter what your gifts and talents are, we can find something for you to do," she said.

Though she’s seen the work firsthand in Guatemala, Owen spends her days back in Montgomery aiding office director Reggie Quimby in coordinating church trips to the nation, the site of one of Alabama Baptists’ international missions partnerships for 2006–2008.

And it’s a growing job — the number of state Baptist churches getting involved is increasing all the time, according to Quimby.

"It’s a wonderful thing because going and seeing the need strengthens a church’s missions giving, missions education and the number of people who want to go and keep going," he said. "It becomes a real personalization of missions."

As a result, the three-year partnership with Guatemala is developing team leaders in churches who are working through the state office to take teams regularly on their own. In these cases, the global partnerships office simply helps the teams prepare, facilitates their planning and provides resources for the trips, according to Owen.

Two separate but complementary strategies — GT (from .gt, the Internet country code for Guatemala) and Operation GO (Gospel Outreach) — offer opportunities for missions teams and individuals to choose a project that fits their interests.

Operation GO, for instance, is strictly a soul-winning and church-planting strategy (see story, page 10).

Volunteer teams work with International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries in Guatemala — such as Thomasville’s Allen and Laurelle Stoudenmire — going door to door in a community, sharing the gospel, leaving materials and setting up Bible studies for those they visit. All of this will help local Baptists with follow-up and discipleship.

The hope is that the new groups of believers will eventually become a new church.

This work, because it’s an IMB project, is funded in part by Alabama Baptists’ generosity in giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, so it’s a natural step for state Baptists to participate in the going as well as the giving, Quimby said.

"A church team can request one of these projects, or an individual can get in touch with us and we can put them with a team that is already going," he said.

Quimby said he also promotes Operation GO trips for churches that are new to missions or want a trip that’s logistically easy, as the IMB missionaries take care of all the planning and arrangements for the work in Guatemala. Seventeen Alabama Baptist teams are already signed up for Operation GO projects in 2007.

"If a church has never been on an international mission project, then the Gospel Outreach project would be a great beginning missions experience," Quimby said.

Where GO is singular in its purpose, a GT project could encompass relatively anything.

"This is where we can build strategic relationships with Guatemala Baptist churches," Quimby said, noting that state Baptist teams can partner with specific churches to do anything from medical missions to VBS to prayer walking to construction.

They truly even had a request for hairdressers, Owen said. "God can use whatever gifts you have to offer there."

State Baptists who link up with Guatemala Baptist churches during a GO project may even see another need and decide to go back to that same church on a GT project, Quimby said.

GT projects will also include work at the Guatemala Baptist seminary and the national Baptist convention’s Camp Eden..

In 2006, state Baptists laid the groundwork for projects of this nature in Guatemala. A team of youth from Camellia Baptist Church, Prattville, in Autauga Baptist Association, for example, did outreach through VBS in Guatemala City, and a team from First Baptist Church, Montgomery, in Montgomery Baptist Association did medical and dental work, evangelism and construction in Mazatenango, a community near the nation’s Pacific coast.

"We are trying to help churches in Alabama be on mission, and the list of options is long," Quimby said. "Even though the partnership is growing, there are still a surprising number of churches in the state who are not involved in missions. We want to encourage them to get involved soon."

For information on participating in Guatemala missions, call Quimby at 1-800-264-1225, Ext. 239, for a free booklet or visit www.alsbom.org for a list of projects.

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