This week, I’m pleased to share this space with our Builder’s for Christ and Haiti Mission Teams. Throughout the month of July, we’ve been on mission for Jesus nationally and internationally. These groups will be sharing a full report on Wednesday evening, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Here are the highlights of their trips by Linda Smith, James Craig and Daniel Sheets.
Builders For Christ by Linda Smith
“Greater Harvest, Bigger Barn” was the theme for the project this year at First Southern Baptist Church of Pratt, KS, a SW Kansas farming area. We helped construct a new 15,000 sq ft sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen and choir rehearsal/classroom. FSBC has about 450 in attendance each Sunday, at two services. In a welcome from the Pastor, he stated that “Pratt has become the talk of our town and surrounding communities. People recognize what is happening among us is a ‘work of God,’ and the coming of Builders for Christ…is also seen as a continuation of God’s presence to our midst. .. the fact than an extraordinarily large number of people are coming to help us, many people immediately think of an old fashioned ‘barn raising.’.” Even other denominations want to have a part as witnessed when Sandy Monson was on a plane with a Methodist lady from Pratt, who went home and had ladies from her church provide us with desserts.
This is the 25th year FBCTLH has participated with Builders; and we sent 23 people, with two “newbies.” Our people hung sheetrock, installed exterior siding, did electrical work, framed walls, and provided food for the workers. Approximately 150 people from other churches came from 9 churches, including children and youth who ministered in the community.
Builders share what they are doing in Kansas “as they go” to restaurants, Walmart, gas stations, on walks, as we travel to and from our destination. Wearing our FBCTLH shirts opens doors for these conversations. Richard Tudor shared, “When we walked up to the registration desk at the Best Western in Pratt, a young and desk clerk greeted us with a smile. As she took our names, she asked “What brings you to Pratt?” We responded that we were building the church across the street from the hotel. Kaylah the clerk said: “Oh, that’s my church; thanks for coming.” It helps become more than just a hotel guest and have a chance to share Christ’s love with a new sister in Christ.
Bonnie Snyder shared, “For me, the BFC experience is a picture of the Body of Christ working together–no matter what gifts or talents each of us brings. I’m certainly not a skilled construction worker but I was able to contribute my time and effort putting in insulation, and assisting a Sheetrock crew. . . .It was great to work with others from groups all over the country—all there with one purpose–to assist ‘Building a Bigger Barn’ for the people of Pratt and the surrounding areas. Anyone who is willing (young or old–but we need more who are young!) can be used to bring glory to God through this wonderful organization. We especially want to thank Richard Tudor for his leadership for all these years.
Haiti Mission Trip Report by James Craig and Daniel Sheets
On July 18-25, a team of nineteen, including eleven first-timers, from FBCTLH went to Haiti. This was the sixth year our church has sent a team. Each year we have worked in and around Gressier, Haiti, with a local mission called The Joy House (www.haitijoyhouse.org). Throughout the week, approximately 500 children attended VBS. Thirty teenage boys participated in an Upward-style basketball camp. Eight young men attended mentoring and discipleship training classes. We taught ESL (English as a Second Language) to more than 100 Haitians. More than a dozen Haitiansaccepted Christ as their personal savior.
Our first full day at the Joy House started with Sunday morning service. There really is nothing quite like worshipping The Lord with other Brothers and Sisters from a different culture. There were some songs to which we (Americans) knew the melodies, so we were able to sing along with their Kreyòl lyrics. Other songs, we relied on interpreters to translate.
At the church, our task was spreading dirt, gravel and rock to pour a cement foundation. We worked several days alongside members of Pastor Paul’s church and finished by Friday. After we finished spreading the foundation, Pastor Paul told us a parable of the heavy banana tree. When a banana tree begins to buckle under its own weight, it must be supported with posts. He told us each year he begins to feel the heavy burden and each year we have returned to be his support posts. Some members of our church sponsor children through the Joy House school, the Christian Institute of Roland Marthé (CIRM). These sponsors met with their kid(s) and showered them with school supplies.The Gospel and the Power of Our Lord reaches across geographical boundaries, people groups, socioeconomics, education, stage of life, etc… Truly, He is for all people!
Another great feature of doing the Lord’s Work with Brothers and Sisters from a different language and culture is that there are natural conversational filters in place to “weed” out topics that don’t matter. No one there cares how the upcoming college football season will play out, who won the latest and greatest reality game show, and who’s on the cover of such-and-such magazine. Without all of these typical conversation pieces, what’s left? The Gospel. The cultural divide helped us focus and hone in on the work that God had set before us. Through our efforts and conversations through a translator, we were able to show His Love through our deeds and our words. Not being able to talk about any and every thing helped us talk about the one and only thing that ultimately does matter: The Gospel.
Loving the Haitians through hard work was an incredible experience. Thankfully, God built our team to be a multi-talented group. We all brought something different to the table, much like the Body of Christ. Holding a baby on your hip for 4 hours is hard work! Having patience with over 140 children during VBS is hard work! Sharing Christ and praying with people in villages is hard work! And finally, pushing wheelbarrow-loads of gravel and rock up a hill to fill in a 5,000+ square foot church foundation is hard work! Christ reaches beyond languages and nationalities. He reaches beyond American-made worship songs and sermons. He reaches beyond sports, tv shows and media. There is no Greek nor Gentile. We are all His children. We give glory to God for all the work that was accomplished.
Hard work for the sake of the Gospel really isn’t hard, is it?