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Texas couple to spread word about volunteer missions opportunities

HOUSTON (BP)–She calls him the “brains” behind the operation. Her specialty is to make sure everyone is happy. Together, they are the new movers and shakers behind the “High Impact” and “High Touch” strategy for volunteer missions in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Joe and Janice Brooks, from Nassau Bay Baptist Church near Houston, began work with the SBTC in January. The Brookses were assigned by the North American Mission Board as Mission Service Corps volunteer missionaries after having worked as consultants and coordinators for the Galveston Baptist Association and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

MSC volunteer missionaries are appointed by NAMB to work with state conventions, associations and churches.

The couple anticipates helping churches develop special ministries and providing recruiting and training opportunities for interested persons. They have set a goal to enlist 40 new MSC volunteers in 2001, and to contact all of Texas’ associational directors of missions and each SBTC church at least twice this year.

If the numbers sound daunting, they are. But Janice Brooks, who spent 20 years working in the insurance industry, is used to crunching numbers. Her husband Joe learned to handle challenges during a 21-year career in the U.S. Army. He retired in 1982 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and then spent 12 years managing engineers and managers at Lockheed.

Both the Brookses have been involved in church work since the 1960s. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, they were involved in outreach projects through their church. Several families there purchased a 37-foot cabin cruiser and used it to deliver clothing and gospel tracts to a nearby island.

Joe said the experience awakened him to missionaries and mission work. Janice said their time in Japan only strengthened the call to missions she first experienced as a 15-year-old in Oneonta, Ala. The daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor, she said the call was strong but she also feared “being sent to the farthest corner of Africa, and that didn’t appeal to me.”

Traveling with her husband to various assignments, Janice has studied at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland (extension), Samford University and Liberty University. Joe holds the M.B.A. from the Golden Gate University, the master of military arts and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, an M.S. from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a B.S. in mathematics from Jacksonville State University.

Commissioned as Mission Service Corps volunteer missionaries in 1995, Janice Brooks said MSC is “a well-kept secret” she and her husband want to expose to all SBTC churches.

“It is exciting to me that there is a place for everybody to serve,” said Brooks, “an avenue for everybody. They just need to be told about it. Part of education is claiming people who want to be on mission to discover a place they can serve effectively.”

“High Impact” is the term the Brookses use to describe the need for volunteers to serve in places where there is not enough financial support for ministry otherwise. This strategy ties in to the SBTC goal of church planting.

“High Touch” is a term denoting the care the Brookses will offer to the volunteers who serve. “While they are serving, and not requesting remuneration, they need to be recognized and valued and to know that the service they provide is critical,” Janice Brooks said.

In addition, in acknowledgment of the importance of SBTC’s mission, Brooks said “High Touch” could also be applied to an emphasis on personal evangelism.

“The convention [SBTC] is geared toward evangelism and church planting,” she said. “We thought it would be a good idea to make sure every job description includes something to do with personal evangelism. Every volunteer needs to be doing something that touches, so we want to make that a part of it.”

Robby Partain, associate for mission and church planting for SBTC, said the Brookses have an important role in the state convention and will lead SBTC volunteer missions toward the “High Impact” and “High Touch” aims.

“Janice and Joe are going to be busy folks,” Partain said, “but it is their desire to lay a great foundation for SBTC volunteer missions. I’m glad to have them on the team.”

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  • Joni B. Hannigan