ATLANTA (BP)–The Stone Mountain area just east of Atlanta received some sprucing up — and a healthy dose of the good news — as Woman’s Missionary Union volunteers from 10 states descended on the area.
Nearly 160 individuals drove up to 10 hours to weed and plant flower beds in Stone Mountain Village as part of a city beautification project, conduct prayerwalks and block parties, serve in ministry centers, perform light construction, and visit shut-ins. Twenty projects were completed during the April 27-29 weekend, said Linda Hokit, director of Stone Mountain Ministries.
The Atlanta MissionsFEST, which pairs adults with ministry needs in selected locations, was the second such event sponsored by Volunteer Connection of the Southern Baptist auxiliary. Last year Charleston, S.C., was the first location to benefit from the WMU ministry. Little Rock, Ark., and Philadelphia, Pa., will host similar events in June and October of this year.
Among this spring’s Stone Mountain ministries:
— At Indian Creek Baptist Church, volunteers helped Joe and Margaret Coon in the church’s ministry center. They updated a database, sorted clothes, worked with children who attend the Indian Creek Christian School and conducted a block party.
— Over at the Memorial Drive Center, volunteers ministered alongside Reggie Robbins to organize a clothing closet, make visits in the community and conduct a prayerwalk outside a crack house. They also completed yard work and spruced up a prayer garden.
— At Stewart Center, volunteers helped Alice White paint a home in the neighborhood and provided other ministry services. “One volunteer wrote in her evaluation that she really received a picture of what the life of an inner-city missionary is all about,” Holkit said.
— At Clarkston Baptist Church, volunteers from South Carolina helped Pat Maddox, director of Friends of Refugees, organize the beginnings of a thrift shop during the day and tutored children from Bosnia in the afternoon.
Throughout the weekend the volunteers could easily be seen as they ministered in their bright red, yellow and blue Volunteer Connection T-shirts. They shared the gospel as residents stopped to ask them where they were from and what they were doing.
In addition to the ministry projects, the volunteers also participated in two worship rallies. At the rally, Barbara Curnutt, Georgia WMU executive director-treasurer, summed up the reason for Baptist men and women to be on mission.
“There is a definite relationship between joy and servanthood,” she said. “If indeed Jesus performed the role of a servant and if indeed he modeled an attitude toward life that was self-giving, we should do likewise. Jesus said, ‘Look at me, watch what I do.’
“We need to remember that a person who best honors God is a person who is prepared to stoop and serve. We are called to a life of obedience and fellowship with the suffering servant.
“We have been called to be servants, not celebrities.”
There were plenty of servants in town for the weekend. As she weeded a flowerbed in downtown Stone Mountain Village, Mary Billingsley of Pauline Baptist Church in Morven, Ga., expressed why she gave her weekend to mission service.
“I’m here because of what the Lord has done in my life. He’s brought me through a battle with leukemia and has given me extra time on earth to see the birth of my first grandchild. He gives me strength to continue each day, and I want to share that with anyone who asks why I am here.”
As Billingsley pulled weeds from the dry soil, Ted and Martha Marcum from Spring Valley (Ohio) Baptist Church prayerwalked in the distance as they interceded for residents of the community.
“We are here because this is where we felt God wanted us to be — out of the church building and into the world, doing missions. We are a very small church and we feel like this experience will motivate others in our congregation to go on future mission trips,” said Ted Marcum.
After sharing a tract with a mother and child sitting in the shade of a large oak tree, Barbara Cass of College Road Baptist Church in Ocala, Fla., took a break from her prayerwalk to explain her reason for being away from the comforts of home for the weekend.
“We just got tired of talking about missions and wanted to branch out and actually do something,” Cass said.
Fellow church member Rosemary Slater quickly agreed.
“I’ve learned that this brings you a lot closer to God and it’s a great way to see him working in the lives of others. If one person comes to Christ, the eight-hour drive will have been worth it.”
Over at the Stone Mountain Cooperative Ministries, a team from Eubank (Ky.) Baptist Church performed general maintenance on the aging building.
Veronica Tackette balanced herself on a 10-foot ladder as she gently eased caulking into ceiling cracks; Curtis Ingram, on his first mission trip outside Kentucky, repaired plumbing in the bathroom and kitchen; and Jewell Habermehl was busy in the food pantry, helping to fill a box of canned goods for a family of four.
As the first day of the event slowly drew to a close, members of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., shifted gears from organizing a clothes closet at Clarkston Baptist Church to begin tutoring children from Bosnia.
As the children filed out of the church van and into the classroom, Colleen Mauney took a break to reflect on why she crossed the state line for missions.
“This is a great way to get yourself out of the pew. Not everyone can go to a foreign mission field for a week or two, but most everyone can give a weekend to serve God.”
As she helped pull tables together for the tutoring session, Janet Ledford echoed Mauney’s thoughts.
“We were talking the other day and asked ourselves why is it that the youth are the only ones who get to go on mission trips. We decided it was time for us adults to hit the road, too.
“Once you find where God is at work and you plug into that, you get a craving for missions. And once you get missions in your blood you don’t want to do anything else.”
For more information on the June and October MissionsFEST projects, call Volunteer Connection at (205) 991-4097 or visit www.wmu.com/ministry/volunteer/missionsfest.html
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ORGANIZING A CLOTHES CLOSET.