News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Va., Ariz., Ala. evangelism/missions news; ‘They keep the school running.’


Today’s From the States features items from: Proclaimer (Virginia); Portraits (Arizona); The Alabama Baptist

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Va. church helps turn around
school’s reading program

By Travis Ingle

FANCY GAP, Va. (Proclaimer) — Since everything rises and falls on leadership, it’s no wonder that Sky View Missionary Baptist Church lives up to its mission-focused name. Led by a pastor who has a servant’s heart and a desire to serve the Fancy Gap community, Sky View is making a difference with the love and power of the Gospel.

Pastor Wendell Horton had been praying over the idea of adopting the local elementary school, so when church member Judy Williams approached him with a desire to serve the community through the church, he knew it was time to take action.

With the church’s support, Judy was ready to make a difference in the lives of the students at Fancy Gap Elementary School. But when she first reached out to the school, Sky View was only given a few things to do — some yard work and taking care of a memorial garden. Eventually, they were allowed to come into the office to help make copies for teachers. As the volunteers served in the school, they looked for needs and prayed for opportunities to further serve the students and staff. It wasn’t long before they were able to begin providing food to go home with students in need. Then they were able to provide a clothes closet and school supplies from the church family at Sky View. Strong relationships aren’t made overnight, and it’s taken eight years to build the relationship to the point that the school now asks the church for help.

With the school’s reading program struggling, Judy went to work organizing the Volunteer Readers Program. Church members spend time each day with students, assisting them with reading and allowing students to read to them. This program has had such a positive impact on the students’ reading levels, that the Carroll County School Board recognized the Sky View Missionary Baptist Volunteer Readers Program with a certificate of appreciation for their work and positive impact on the students at Fancy Gap Elementary School.

Before this school year began, Judy had volunteers ready to help the teachers decorate their classrooms and prepare for the first day of school. Sky View volunteers are on the front lines, greeting students in the car line, helping cover morning bus duties, making copies and volunteering in the reading program.

One of the reasons these volunteers make such an impact is the joy they have in serving. Over the course of eight years with approximately 20 volunteers each week, Judy and the folks from Sky View have a genuine joy in being a part of the school.

“Fancy Gap Elementary is very blessed to have them for the children’s benefit, and it is heartwarming to see the effect on students,” says Dr. Jeanne Edwards, the school’s principal.

In fact, the school secretary, Tinsell Fink, says she doesn’t know what they would do if it weren’t for the volunteers from Sky View. “They keep the school running.”
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This article appeared in The Proclaimer (sbcv.org/proclaimer), newsjournal of the SBC of Virginia. Travis Ingle is southwest regional missionary for the SBC of Virginia.

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Arizona Baptists train
VBS leaders in Mexico

By Irene A. Harkleroad

CIUDAD MORELOS, Mexico (Portraits) — In just one day, Arizona Southern Baptist Hispanic ministries leaders impacted churches throughout the Mexicali Valley in Mexico by presenting an upbeat, noisy, exciting VBS clinic.

Josue Castro, Arizona Southern Baptists’ Hispanic ministries facilitator, led his team of 11 from three Arizona Hispanic churches to Iglesia Bautista Fe y Esperanza in the small town of Ciudad Morelos, Mexico.

This was the second of three VBS clinics led by the team; other clinics were held in Phoenix and Yuma. Earlier in the year, more than half of the team attended a national LifeWay VBS Institute in Fort Worth, Texas.

The team arrived in Ciudad Morelos on April 13 with brightly-colored decorations, training materials and a contagious excitement.

The next day, 67 eager Mexicali Valley church leaders and their children gathered to experience the energetic music, learn to make fun crafts, taste theme-related snacks and enjoy Bible-based lessons that would change the lives of children in nine churches and have a significant impact on the leaders themselves.

“For instance, one church that held VBS after the training got an excellent result,” says Castro. “They taught 192 children, and 35 of them accepted Christ as their Savior.”

Castro recognizes the value of sending veteran VBS leaders on a mission to pass on their skills to developing leaders.

“Everyone trained in this clinic planned to be a leader and teacher of VBS in their church,” he says. “We consider that it is very important to learn and give tools to reach others, and VBS is an excellent activity and tool for evangelism.”

VBS lives up to the word activity. The 2018 theme for VBS was “GAME ON: Gearing Up for Life’s Big Game,” based on 2 Peter 1:3.

At the clinic in Mexico, the platform of the sanctuary was filled with bold-colored cutouts of footballs, soccer balls, tennis racquets and megaphones. Backdrops of flags, goal posts, silhouettes of players and even a massive runner’s track covered the walls.

Trainees, including youth and children, enthusiastically practiced lyrics and animated motions for all the songs. Leaders prepared exhilarating physical activities.

Craft tables were covered with paper plates, glue, markers and foam sports stickers. Nimble fingers fashioned samples for the future VBS workers to use at their churches.

In one day, students had become educators, fortified with all the tools they needed for each age group for five full days of VBS.

Why go all the way to the Mexicali Valley?

“The leaders there showed us the need and the interest they had in VBS,” says Castro. “If more churches in the area are interested again, we will gladly consider equipping others with a future VBS clinic.”

The legacy of these Arizona Southern Baptist Hispanic ministries leaders will be measured in salvation testimonies of children and adults in the Mexicali Valley.
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This article appeared in Portraits, newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention (http://www.azsbc.org/). Irene A. Harkleroad is a freelance writer in Carefree, Ariz.

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Ala. association helps start
county’s first charity health clinic

By Grace Thornton

PELL CITY, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) — Chris Crain says he got to see associational life from the perspective of a pastor for 23 years. And he loved it.

But now that he is serving as associational mission strategist for St. Clair Baptist Association, he’s enjoying seeing Baptist work from a 30,000-foot view too. He’s seen the associational disaster relief team do amazing work. He’s seen churches come together to build wheelchair ramps for people who have needed it. He’s seen missions teams make a tremendous impact.

‘First of its kind’

And most recently he’s been excited about the fact that St. Clair County got its first and only charity health clinic, and St. Clair Baptists were able to help get things rolling.

“When I first started here as a DOM, it was hard not having anywhere to refer people,” Crain said. “We are very proud that we have gotten to be one of the founding partners to help establish a free medical clinic in Pell City, the first of its kind.”

Before the clinic opened in July, the rapidly growing county had nowhere for uninsured people to get medical care. Their only option was to go to the emergency room or drive to another county.

“We’re just one piece of the puzzle,” Crain said. “It’s been a real community effort.”

The effort began when Dr. Cristy Daffron, program director for the nursing program at Jefferson State Community College in Pell City, began talking with Easter Seals and the nursing department at Samford University in Birmingham about ways they could meet needs together.

“We have about 12,000 people in our county who are totally uninsured,” Daffron said.

Coming together

They began to pull in other partners like St. Clair Association and worked to renovate some building space offered by the City of Pell City. Area churches, including First Baptist, Eden, Westside Baptist and Cropwell Baptist, pulled together to work on the facility. Numerous churches from a variety of denominations have come together to help staff the clinic with volunteers all the way from doctors to greeters.

“We’re just partners together in working on the building and staffing it with doctors and other medical volunteers,” Crain said. “It’s a dream — patients are being seen, lives are being changed and the gospel is being shared.”

Daffron said St. Clair Association and its churches have been “absolutely amazing.”

“There’s really not been a need that we have stated that Chris hasn’t immediately worked to resolve for us,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful partnership.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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