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20 churches join to renew missions vision & vigor

ONEONTA, Ala. (BP)–A revival-like focus on missions by 20 churches in north-central Alabama encompassed 100 missions activities during the first weekend in March.

Ernie Carroll, director of missions for the Friendship Baptist Association, said the result was a renewed enthusiasm for the impact missions can have on a lost world.

“To me, it was a revival in the true sense of the word,” he said.

More than 7,000 people attended various events related to the association’s missions revival, with approximately $14,000 collected in love offerings. Included among the revival activities were brunches and lunches for different groups in the churches such as Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action, youth groups, men’s and women’s ministries and others.

A total of 20 missionaries from the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board spoke at events held at the churches. In addition, Carroll said representatives from the Alabama’s State Board of Missions also shared the work they do.

“I think it gave great exposure to what Southern Baptists are doing around the world,” said Eric Gargus, minister to students at First Baptist Church, Oneonta.

Jenette Statham, a member of Blountsville Baptist Church, said the missionaries helped church members have a clearer understanding of the scope of Baptist missions outreach.

“A lot of people didn’t know about the Cooperative Program and how it works,” said Statham, who helped coordinate activities for the weekend as part of her duties as director of Woman’s Missionary Union for Friendship Association, as well as for her church. “The missionaries talked about how the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings helped them with resources they would not have otherwise.

“It really opened their eyes to a lot of things,” she said.

Gargus said a youth event Saturday night attended by students and their parents highlighted the importance of reaching Muslims through the words of Pat Dunn, a retired Southern Baptist missionary to Yemen.

“The way she conveyed her love for the Muslim people gave those present a real heart for reaching Muslims and a desire to pray for them,” Gargus said. “Her message was very powerful.”

Gargus said G.C. Harbuck, a director of missions from Virginia, shared how members of churches in his association distribute water at highway rest areas each Memorial Day and Labor Day. Harbuck told the congregation that the initiative is so popular that the association usually has to turn away volunteers. Gargus said hearing that left him and members of his church encouraged about finding creative ways to reach people.

Carroll said the March 2-3 weekend “really gave Baptists in our association an opportunity to say to the community that this is what we’re about and the role Baptists play in missions.”

Also encouraging to Carroll was that five people made professions of faith during the weekend. “The fact that there were five people saved during a missions revival was significant,” he said.

Carroll said another outcome of the revival weekend is that it has renewed interest in a ministry center that will distribute food and clothing to needy individuals in the area. He said the center will play a vital role in their missions efforts. “It will give us an opportunity to witness to people who visit the center,” he said.

“We felt God was leading us to do this,” Statham said of the missions emphasis, the first Friendship Association had conducted in seven years when, previously, it usually had been held every five years.

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  • Greg Heyman