Church mission trips boost church planters
DECATUR, Ga. (BP) -- Shelby DuBos sat around a circle with two other teenagers and a group of elementary-age girls. After teaching various cheerleading moves, the teens then spoke of the most important reason they were there: to share their faith.
"The Bible tells us that when we believe in [Jesus] it's now our job to tell others about Him," DuBos, of Cedar Crest Baptist Church in West Monroe, La., told the girls in Decatur, Ga. "That's kind of a hard task, isn't it? It takes a lot of strength to tell people you don't know -- or even people you do know -- what you believe in."
DuBos should know. For the past two summers she has traveled with her Louisiana church to the Atlanta area to tell people about Jesus and help the city's church planters.
"The first day we got in there, we started with the story of creation," said DuBos, a high school senior who is sensing God's call to international missions. "Most of them didn't know the story of creation ... and now they can tell the story of Jesus and creation. It showed me that you don't need to do foreign missions to go to a place where Jesus isn't known."
DeBos and the Cedar Crest team spent the week partnering with Atlanta-area church plant Connect Church to put on a sports clinic and share the Gospel with Decatur kids. On Friday night volunteers invited the kids and their families to a block party and camp celebration with food, games, scrimmages and live music.
Tez Andrews (@tezandrews), the Southern Baptist church planter who started Connect Church last year, returned to minister in the Atlanta area after attending seminary in Texas. Sports were such an effective outreach tool in the community that he started his ministry with a basketball league, which eventually gave birth to the church.
With no sending church to sponsor his ministry, Andrews has depended on connections made through Send North America: Atlanta. He connected with Cedar Crest through a Catch the Vision tour in Atlanta last summer.
"When you are out on your own, you partner with NAMB and you have partner churches like Cedar Crest come in -- they really become surrogate mother churches," Andrews said. "So much so that when we're going through difficulties, I've called Cedar Crest's mission pastor and reached out for help."
Southern Baptist volunteers have enhanced the ministries of church plants throughout North America this summer. For many church plants in places with few Christians, mission teams from established churches provide much-needed help for outreach projects.
Kevin Cabe (@KevinCabe), a church planting missionary and associate pastor with Cornerstone Church at Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted 130 church volunteers during a CityUprising outreach event in June. With the help of the volunteers, the church put on summer celebration events, did various park and community cleanup work and shared the Gospel in the community.
"Their help was tremendous to us, and because of them, we were able to connect with [more than] 1,000 people and introduce them to Cornerstone Church," Cabe said.
Volunteers from Buck Creek Baptist Church in Calhoun, Ky., took a June trip to Cleveland to help church planter Jeff Bodziony (@ForwardCLE) and Forward Church. Buck Creek has participated in several ministry projects with Cleveland planters during the past three summers, including cleanup and building projects, putting on a sports camp and outreach to the city's homeless.
"Our church has a heart for service," said Thomas Webb, Buck Creek's pastor. "We have a group out right now helping with disaster relief out west, helping with the fires and things of that nature. That is the makeup of our people. The more they serve there, the more they come back and want to serve here."
Atlanta, New York City and Cleveland are three of the North American Mission Board's 32 Send North America strategy focusing on mobilizing Southern Baptists to engage all regions of North America with the Gospel through evangelism and church planting, particularly in 32 of the largest and most influential cities in the U.S. and Canada.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. To find out how your church can get involved in mission trips to one of the 32 Send North America cities, visit namb.net/mobilize-me]. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).