BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BP)–Evergreen Baptist Church members in Brooklyn, N.Y., are raising money for a motorcycle.
It’s not that they want to join the bus tour of Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch, who is visiting Southern Baptist churches across the nation. Instead, Evergreen members have been on a tour of their own, to Guyana, on the northern edge of South America, where they worked this summer in a church their pastor, Arnaldo Campbell, started 40 years ago. Guyana is where the motorcycle will be used.
“We’re fulfilling the Great Commission,” Campbell said. “My wife is a nurse. She gave AIDS and HIV clinics. I preached. We also did Vacation Bible School.”
The needs are many in Guyana, Campbell said, but Evergreen’s focus since their mission trip is to complete the parsonage and get transportation for the pastor.
“This is what it’s all about,” Campbell said he told his congregation upon the group’s return. “We’re about the Great Commission and it takes money to work the program. Without money we cannot do it.”
That’s why he’s led Evergreen for the last 31 years to give 11 percent of undesignated tithes and offerings to the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan for national and international missions and ministries.
“The theological education I received I did not pay for,” Campbell said. “It was the [Cooperative Program that] gave me my education. I feel greatly indebted because of that.”
Discipleship Training on Sunday afternoons, prayer on Wednesdays and youth fellowship on Fridays are some of the ways Evergreen tries to provide the instruction its members need to grow in the Lord, the pastor said.
The 150 people who attend Sunday morning worship at Evergreen have roots in about 10 nations. Many are bilingual English and Spanish speakers.
“I’m optimistic about the future of this congregation,” Campbell said. “We have a nice group of people. They love the Lord. I think our better years are ahead of us, not behind us.”
The church has a group of young adults who “are really motivated,” Campbell said.
“They’re reaching out, sharing their faith. I would say they’re highly motivated, and that’s an encouragement to me,” he said. “We try to challenge them and provide them with the tools they need to grow in their relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. We encourage them to go to [training] conferences, and on their own they’re getting into the Bible and reading other books that also are inspiring them.”
Those young adults are motivated to spend time with the Lord when they’re alone, Campbell said.
“It’s what they’re doing on their own that is making the difference,” Campbell said. “They’re hungering and thirsting for God. They’re not depending just on my preaching, but are getting into the Word and studying.”
Evergreen has baptized four people this year.
“We’re not reaching as many lost people as we should,” Campbell said. “What happens Sunday morning is a reflection of what we do during the week, and we haven’t been reaching out like we should.”
The community is changing from predominantly African-American to Hispanic, Campbell said. Evergreen was the first black Southern Baptist church in New York state.
“That’s no excuse, of course,” Campbell said. “We’re supposed to impact the community where we’re at. I’m praying for the day the majority of our members are coming from this community.”
Prayer is singularly important to Campbell. He learned about the power of pray from Bertha Smith, a missionary in China for 42 years.
“I had the privilege of sharing a home with her for six months in Guyana,” Campbell said. “It’s from her I learned the secret of prayer and the spirit-filled life, how to really walk in the spirit.
“I believe very strongly in the power of prayer,” Campbell added. “Prayer is the engine that drives the church. If it’s not undergirded with prayer, whatever you do is futile.”