MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Hundreds of volunteers from 79 churches across the United States gathered in Montgomery to participate in Send Relief’s first Serve Tour stop of 2023. More than 800 people served March 10-11.
In partnership with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, River Region Associations and local Montgomery churches, volunteers linked arms to bless nurses and first responders, beautify schools, host neighborhood block parties and assist local families with projects in and around their homes.
“This is a picture of Southern Baptist cooperation,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Serve Tour volunteers journeyed from twelve different states, some traveling from as far as Alaska to meet needs and share the hope of the gospel in the Montgomery area.
“The thing that always sticks out at every Serve Tour stop is that Send Relief is not here to do something that’s not already been done,” explained Josh Benton, Send Relief’s vice president of North American ministry. “We’re here to join local churches, we’re here to learn from them.”
Blessing a Local Montgomery Family
Miss Anna lives only a short distance from Flatline Church at Chisholm, a local church plant in Montgomery led by pastor Dewayne Rembert. When the church was first started in 2019, Miss Anna and her family hadn’t been to church in more than a decade.
Over the last four years, Rembert and his team have been building a relationship with Miss Anna. Now, she’s accepted Christ and is ready to be baptized.
When Rembert heard about the opportunity to bless families in the community through the Serve Tour, he immediately thought of Miss Anna and her family. Her home was in bad shape, with a door that didn’t lock, a faulty window and several other maintenance issues, and he knew this was the perfect opportunity to bless this family.
Serve Tour volunteers from Alabama and Georgia arrived at the home on Friday morning and immediately got to work. For two days, volunteers renovated Miss Anna’s bathroom, repaired her kitchen floors and installed a new door and windows to make her home a safer place to live.
By the end of the first day, Miss Anna couldn’t believe the amount of work that had been done at no cost to her or her family.
“When our volunteers were finished repairing her home,” Rembert said, “she called me on the phone and said, screaming, ‘Pastor! Pastor! I can lock my doors tonight!’”
Through this single Serve Tour project, volunteers were able to share a gospel witness with Miss Anna’s family and led two women to Christ on the first day of ministry.
Providing Free Dental Care to Montgomery Residents
Strong Tower Church, pastored by Terrence Jones, is situated right in the middle of one of Montgomery’s most underserved neighborhoods. In this community, residents face extreme levels of poverty and lack access to basic human necessities, including healthcare.
Since the church was planted eleven years ago, its mission has been to be a safe place for community members to have their physical needs met while hearing about the good news of Jesus Christ. Strong Tower serves local residents by opening its gym to neighborhood kids, providing free literacy classes and hosting a free annual dental clinic.
Pastor Jones explained that nearby families can wait for up to six months just to get an appointment at the local dental clinic, and even then, many dental emergencies go unchecked due to the rising costs of dental procedures.
That’s why Strong Tower partners with Send Relief to host a dental clinic once a year to provide free exams, x-rays, cleanings and extractions for the people in their community. This year, the dental clinic coincided with Serve Tour Montgomery.
“It’s a way for us to give back to the community, no strings attached, and to show the community we are here and available if they need us,” said Jones.
Tameka Moment serves as the ministry coordinator at Strong Tower, and she looks forward to this dental clinic every year as a chance to give back to the community and share the hope of the gospel.
“It’s amazing the number of free ministry tools at our disposal through the SBC,” shared Moment. “In one weekend, we see anywhere between 80 and 100 people come to the clinic.”
Dental professionals from Montgomery’s Maxwell Airforce Base staff the mobile dental clinic every year, and this year was no exception.
When asked why they provide their time and services for free every year, dental assistant Kelli Keller said, “It’s great to be able to come out here and help other people. It gives us a chance to give back to the community.”
Showing Christ’s Love to Nurses and First Responders
Heritage Baptist Church is one of 79 churches that participated in Serve Tour Montgomery, hosting and volunteering in several compassion ministry projects throughout the weekend.
Teeman Knight, pastor of Heritage Baptist, decided to use Serve Tour as an opportunity to bless nurses and first responders through two different events. On Friday night, the church planned a “Nurses Night Out,” welcoming more than 200 nurses and their guests for a catered meal and to honor them.
“Mainly, it was a way for our church to show them how much we appreciate their service to our community, especially through the pandemic and since then,” said Knight.
On Saturday, Heritage Baptist hosted a carnival for local first responders and their families. Together with Serve Tour volunteers, the church was able to bless nearly 100 families with a day of fun. Several families said they had no church home.
“When you have folks who say they don’t have a church home,” explained Knight, “it tells us that we are connecting with people who really need Jesus and need to hear the gospel. This opportunity to show them that God loves them and there is a church family that cares about them is such a blessing.”
Year-round, Heritage partners with public schools, first responders and hospitals that are all within a one-mile radius of their building in ongoing and frequent ministry to their community.
“Heritage is a really mission-minded church,” Knight said. “We are here to lead people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and to love God and show that love to the world.”
Serve Tour Montgomery was the first stop in Send Relief’s 2023 international Serve Tour, which includes seven other stops in cities like Chicago, Bangkok and Philadelphia. If your church is interested in serving in an upcoming Serve Tour location, visit Send Relief’s website.