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Pastor embraces WMU’s FamilyFest as well-planned outreach

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Pastor David Bartlett of Hill View Baptist Church in Greenwood, Miss., knows it is not the size of a church’s congregation or budget that makes an impact for Christ.

Bartlett and 11 of the church’s 100 members were among the 123 volunteers who traveled to San Diego and Tijuana to participate in FamilyFEST, a missions trip designed by Woman’s Missionary Union for families.

“Hill View is a regional church in a rural area. It’s not the size of our congregation or budget, but the size of our God that enables us to make an impact for the Kingdom of God,” Bartlett said. “I have tried to instill in our people the importance and desire to be globally minded when it comes to our mission.”

The 12 Mississippians led Vacation Bible School in two impoverished neighborhoods of Tijuana during the June 26–July 1 FamilyFest. “We had at least 120 children in our schools each day,” Bartlett recounted. “Some of us were appointed to tell stories, others were responsible for games and crafts. We had others lead the singing.

“I was thankful for my son, Andrew, who plays the guitar; he helped with many of the songs,” the pastor added.

“After VBS, some of our team painted houses, others helped the medical team, and some filled water jugs and passed out food,” Bartlett said.

The trip to San Diego and Tijuana was Bartlett’s third with WMU. He and other Hill View members also volunteered during FamilyFEST in San Antonio, Texas, in 2003 and in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2004. Bartlett began Hill View as a church plant in 1997, with the 18 original members meeting in his home. The church now has 100 members and worships in their first building on 10 acres of land.

“I believe that when you get people out of their natural environment and free from the distractions of the everyday grind, they get a glimpse of how the body of Christ is to work together in ministering and sharing the Good News,” Bartlett said. “On these missions trips you learn that whether you are a doctor, preacher, farmer, etc., everyone can and should be on mission for God.

“It is my hope that when church members have that ‘now I get it’ experience on a missions trip, that will translate into more efficient and passionate teamwork on the [local church’s] ‘Jerusalem’ missions field,” he explained.

A strong reason Bartlett continues to partner with WMU for missions is the time and energy it allows him to focus on serving, not coordinating. “In 2001 and 2002 the planning and preliminary work for our church’s missions trip was done by me. This was very stressful. It required that I go ahead to the sites and kind of scout things out and determine the needs. After I talked with the people in the area, I had to plan the work to be done. It also required that I secure the lodging and make arrangements for the food and travel.

“FamilyFEST was a blessing,” the pastor continued. “All that investigating and planning is done for us and we know that there is a legitimate need wherever we go with them.”

Bartlett also chooses FamilyFEST because it provides an opportunity for families to serve together. “God has called us as parents to teach and train our children so they can be on mission in this world,” he noted. “There is no better way to foster that attitude about their life missions than to do missions as a family.”

Through FamilyFEST, Bartlett has been able to serve with his wife and sons. “Our family has definitely learned the importance of selfless serving. I can remember my youngest son saying on our first tour of the Alamar area in Tijuana, ‘Dad is never picking the missions trip location again.’ By the end of the week, there were tears in the eyes of my family as they said to me, ‘Dad, we have to go back.’”

Hill View’s emphasis on missions is evident in their year-round focus on fundraising for their trip. “Every missions trip we have gone on has not cost the church anything. Although much support comes from our congregation for these trips, they are not budgeted,” Bartlett said.

“Throughout the year, all the proceeds from our Wednesday night suppers go toward the expenses of the missions trips. We also have different types of fundraisers to pay for the missions trips. Each year we generally take about 25 people, but this year we had fewer. But each year we have been able to pay everyone’s way completely. Each trip has been worth every penny and hour of preparation,” he said.

“I have no doubt we will participate again in FamilyFEST,” Bartlett said. “Kristi Carr [WMU’s FamilyFEST coordinator] and her staff have our respect and trust. We know the needs are legitimate and the preliminary work has been done in all the areas we go.”
For more information about WMU and FamilyFEST opportunities, visit www.wmu.com/ministry or call (205) 991-8100.

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  • Kendra Buckles