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Church members grow peas & corn for Baptist children’s ministry

SIDON, Miss. (BP)–The oft-heard phrase, “Children, eat your vegetables,” will soon have a special meaning to residents of Baptist Children’s Village campuses around Mississippi, thanks to the efforts of the state convention’s Agricultural Missions Fellowship.

That’s because AMF is beginning what its members hope will be an annual campaign to put fresh, Mississippi-grown vegetables on BCV tables for the benefit of the children who live under the care of the state’s Baptists.

The first-year project came alive July 27 for members of Phillipston Baptist Church near Sidon, Miss., who started harvesting a half-acre of peas at 6 a.m. and then returned to the church’s fellowship hall for a day of shelling and blanching before the peas were transported to the BCV campus in Jackson.

Perry Irvin, Phillipston Baptist’s pastor, said church members were thrilled to volunteer on a hot summer day because they felt it was an opportunity to give back a little of what God has given them in abundance.

“The Lord has blessed this community so much. We’re just trying to be what we’re supposed to be — a conduit for the Lord’s blessings. We’re out here today for the glory of God and to help the children at BCV,” Irvin said.

Since May, when the first seeds were planted, Phillipston members Teddy Sims and his brother Jackie tended the half-acre pea patch on land owned by fellow church member Willie O’Bryant.

“I like doing God’s work, and I want to help feed those kids,” Teddy Sims said. The Sims brothers also plant and tend another garden each year for the free use of community residents.

Prior to Phillipston’s pea-picking day, AMF coordinated the harvesting of 3,700 ears of corn for BCV from land owned by David Conway, a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenwood, Miss., where the corn was processed and stored before shipment to BCV.

AMF’s president, Frank Prewitt, a member of First Baptist Church in Belzoni, said the fellowship plans to expand the BCV project to other crops in the future.

“We’re going to continue to do this each year for the children. We’re going to plant winter crops this year — some grains — and then we’ll start early next year on getting the land and supplies to plant vegetables again,” Prewitt said.

BCV Executive Director Ronnie Robinson said the project is already making a difference, and he looks forward to AMF’s help in the future.

“Donations from AMF volunteers have dramatically impacted our $7,000 per week food budget this summer. Donations of corn on the cob have already been enjoyed by BCV kids, and the anticipated gift of peas means more vegetables we will not have to purchase this month,” Robinson said.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention’s men’s ministry department and Woman’s Missionary Union will be coordinating the project on a statewide level, Prewitt said.

Meanwhile in south Tennessee, the William Carey Baptist Association has harvested about 7,000 pounds of Idaho potatoes from a one-acre plot for the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and for a home for battered women and another home for men and women with developmental disabilities. The association, which has involved about 75 Baptists in the project, also hopes for a similar harvest of sweet potatoes in September from another one-acre plot.

The association’s director of missions, Don Pierson, said he got the idea for the project from a report in the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine about a church in that state which has grown potatoes for a children’s home.
Connie Davis contributed to this article. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo titles: MORE ON THE WAY, JUST RIGHT and PEA BY PEA.

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  • William H. Perkins Jr.