NEW ORLEANS (BP)–By the end of their nine-day trip in June and July, members of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s mission team to Wales joked about sharing a “cuppa” tea. Yet ministry often happens that way, members of the team quickly learned.
The Wales mission team partnered with Bethel Chapel, a Baptist church in Pembroke Dock, Wales, ministering to the church and to the community through school assemblies, an after-school program, new mothers’ classes, marriage enrichment seminars, youth rallies and worship services. The 10-member team was made up of six seminary students, team leaders and NOBTS faculty members Jerry and Bayne Pounds and their two children.
The team conducted school assemblies at a different school each day. And each day after the assembly, team members were invited to the teachers’ lounge for a “cuppa.” Teachers offered team members tea and by the end of the week, “two sugars and milk” was the rote answer. The mission team not only shared with children about God’s love, but ministered to the teachers and administrators as well.
But that wasn’t the only time team members ministered over a cup of tea. Team member Penny Glaesman led two new mothers’ classes. “What a delight it was to be able to share a cup of tea with these ladies while telling about the wonderful opportunity and responsibility of being a ‘mum,'” Glaesman said. She quickly added, “Not only did we share a cup of tea, but for the first time, some of these lovely women had the opportunity to hear the gospel message of salvation.”
Team members Tom Tyer and Michael Whitlow joke about their host family, members of Bethel Chapel, who seemed to offer them tea at every turn.
“I drank more tea in those few days than I have in my whole life,” Tyer said. Whitlow added that before the trip he didn’t even like hot tea, but he acquired a taste for it while in Wales. Both men came to value the relationships built while sharing tea with their hosts. “Ray and Maggie were so loving and accepting,” Tyer said. “It was a blessing to experience their deep love for Christ and to know that we have such committed brothers and sisters in Christ in Wales.”
Another memory for the missions team members will be their unity, with God doing more than bringing together a team whose strengths and weaknesses complimented each other.
“I have had the opportunity to work with several teams, on many ministries,” Glaesman said, “but I can say that I have never worked with a team that had one mission, one ministry, one purpose and one faith as this team.”
“The thing that I will remember most is how God put together a team that complimented each other very well when it came to our strong and weak points,” team member Melissa Peden, a December 1999 master of arts in Christian education graduate and employee of the seminary, said. “I was amazed to see how God used each of us and our talents for all the different ministries we did while there.”