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FROM THE STATES: Braves to help tell story of Georgia Baptists; Tennessee DR helping in wildfire aftermath

Atlanta Braves to help spread the word about Georgia Baptist ministries

By Roger Alford/The Christian Index

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves will be helping to bring attention to the work Georgia Baptists are doing to provide medical and dentalcare to the working poor, to rescue victims of human trafficking, to get refugees from war-torn countries into homes and jobs in the Peach State and more.

Braves announcers will give Georgia Baptists plugs for the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation and Mission Georgia in radio and online game broadcasts throughout the 2022 season.

“People don’t realize all that Georgia Baptists do,” said Larry Wynn, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, which provides financial support to medical and dental clinics across the state. “We’ve never really ventured outside Baptist circles to tell that story. Most people have no clue about the Health Care Ministry Foundation or Mission Georgia, and a lot of Baptists in the pew don’t know, either.”

The Health Care Ministry Foundation, created some two decades ago when Georgia Baptists sold their statewide network of hospitals and other medical facilities, provides the funding that helps keep medical and dental clinics in operation across the state, including two mobile clinics that travel into even the smallest communities to provide needed care.

Mission Georgia is a humanitarian arm of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, engaging in a variety of ministries that are impacting lives every day. Along with its work with human trafficking victims and refugees, Mission Georgia is engaged in getting orphaned children out of foster care and into forever families, providing prenatal care and counseling expectant mothers to deliver healthy babies, helping children learn to read through a much-heralded literacy program, allowing those who have fallen behind not only to catch up but to excel in the classroom.

“What we want to do is just to tell the story, to let people know – Christians and non-Christians – that we are about meeting the needs of people,” Wynn said. “In Matthew 25, Jesus challenged us to care for those in need, and we’re doing that.”

The Georgia Baptist Convention is by far the largest religious group in the state with some 1.4 million members in 3,600 churches that partner together to spread the Gospel.

Wynn said Georgia Baptists don’t seek plaudits for what they’re doing in the state, but they do want to let people know about their ministries in case they want to get involved with the work.

Wynn said he hopes what people learn from the Braves announcers will be eye-opening.

“My hope is that people on the outside, who know little about what Georgia Baptists do, will say, ‘Oh, these people are involved in the daily care of people,’” Wynn said. “Really, the everyday work of Georgia Baptists is lost on most people.”

Tennessee DR volunteers help neighbors search for memories after wildfires

By Lonnie Wilkey/Baptist and Reflector

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have begun helping residents whose homes were burned during wildfires which swept through portions of Sevier County on March 3 and lasted through early April when the fires were finally contained.

The fires were primarily in two locations according to local news media — Hatcher Mountain in Wears Valley and Dupont/Milestone Gap in Seymour. WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported that 2,498 acres were burned in Wears Valley and 219 structures affected while fires burned 959 acres in Seymour affecting one structure in Sevier County and one structure in Blount County.

There were no deaths in the fires, according to the station. The number of structures originally was reported to be near 300 but county officials said some structures were erroneously counted more than once, WBIR reported.

A team from Knox County Baptist Association gathered April 7 at the home of Carl and Martha Cupp in Shagbark in a community of mountain cabins in Sevier County. Their home was among 37 or so in their community that were destroyed or severely damaged, they said.

The KCBA team was joined by a youth group on spring break from First Baptist Church, Sevierville.

Using shovels and buckets, the team members sorted through the debris and brought buckets filled with dirt and other items for other volunteers to sift through.

Martha Cupp was hopeful they could find some of her mother’s jewelry which, for her, were more of sentimental than monetary value.

Roughly one week after the fire, the Cupps were still overwhelmed and shocked to see their “dream home” destroyed, she said. Yet, she acknowledged they were “blessed” because there was no loss of life and that people like the Tennessee Baptist volunteers have shown so much love and support through their actions.

Craig Wells, student pastor at First Baptist, noted that some of his youth were affected by the Sevier County fires in 2016 and they just wanted to help. “This is a good ministry opportunity for us,” he said.

Randy Treece, a DR volunteer from Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Knoxville, sifted through bucket after bucket hoping to find a treasured memory for the couple. “I just hope that finding something will help them find peace and deal with their loss,” he said.

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