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Seminarians hear call to action for Mississippi River Ministry

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–A people left behind in America’s heartland moved to the front of the prayers and hearts of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students as a Feb. 17 chapel speaker described the Mississippi River Ministry supported by Southern Baptists in a Feb. 17 chapel.
Tommy Goode, director of mobilization and missions education for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and an alumnus of the Kansas City, Mo., seminary recounted the history of the Mississippi River Ministry, a cooperative effort of seven state conventions encompassing 142 counties along the Mississippi River, and how they can be a part of it. He shared stories of lives changed for eternity through the efforts of volunteer groups who have given of their time to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people living in a region that has the highest infant mortality rate in the United States.
During the afternoon following Goode’s chapel appearance, a group of Royal Ambassadors from Trinity North Baptist Church in Kansas City, presented him with a check for $31 in funds the seven boys collected for the Mississippi River Ministry.
The RA group, led by Midwestern Seminary students Tim and Stephanie Castillo of Bloomfield, N.M., has been meeting for less than a month at the new church start. When the Castillos learned Goode was coming to Kansas City, they arranged for the seven RAs to hand him the check themselves.
Gathering at the seminary after school, the group met with Goode and listened as he explained how the money they collected could be used. “Six years ago, we helped some boys and girls your age by providing them with notebooks and paper and school supplies and even some nice clothes for school so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. They are now in high school and the encouragement we have given them over the years is paying off as they are staying in school and earning good grades.”
In his chapel message, Goode said, “Mississippi River Ministry is about little churches doing great big things. It is about a networking of the resources of volunteers and local churches, putting them together to restore hope — one house, one life, one neighborhood at a time.” He spoke of areas where people have given up because of the violence; crime, drugs and gambling that are a part of their daily life, areas where many churches have abandoned the people and their needs.
“If we would hear the call of Christ, I can’t settle for boys and girls growing up, generation after generation, passing on a cycle of poverty,” Goode said. “The church needs to go back and it is. That’s the good news.”
Strapping a nail pouch and hammer around his waist, Goode said the tools of ministry are more than books. “Our theme is `Building Bridges of Hope and Change,'” he said. “Last summer we had teenagers all along towns of the Mississippi River painting houses, building porches and shingling roofs. After we’ve used a hammer or taught a literacy class or led a medical clinic or given food or clothes, we tell them about Jesus Christ and his love. Through the ministry of caring and service, God is opening doors and transforming lives. Mississippi River Ministry has demonstrated that when we go to the poor, they will respond.”
Goode added, “If you really want to be a missionary, come on down to Arkansas and take one of those little country churches or go to Memphis or Little Rock or St. Louis. Be a missionary. Reach those communities. Reach those lost people. We’ll recruit you for a day, a weekend, a week, or I’d love to have you for the rest of your life.”
The Mississippi River Ministry will have its Third Regional Convocation April 3-4 at First Baptist Church, West Memphis, Ark.

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  • John Gaskin