RICHMOND, Va. -- The temperature topped 100 degrees as the mission trailer of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia pulled into the parking lot of Effort Baptist Church in Palmyra, Va., on June 9. Filled with 350 boxes packed by 28 churches and organizations, the cargo was ready for shipment to its final destination: the Lott Carey Mission School in Monrovia, Liberia.
In this West African nation, the boxes filled with school supplies will enable children to start school this fall with the materials needed to receive the best education possible.
“The mission box project was an answer to prayer,” says Rob Fox, field coordinator for CBFVA. Emile Sam-Peale, executive director of the Liberia Baptist Convention and superintendent at LCMS, visited Fox in 2009 and they talked about how Virginia CBF churches could help the school. While there was no immediate answer, both coveted to pray about it.
“Giving every child a chance at obtaining an education prepares them for a life of service to mankind and God,” says Sam-Peale. Female students comprise 48 percent of the school’s 1,400 enrollment.
After prayer, CBFVA leaders who shared a passion for Liberia gathered and the “mission box” project was launched. A Richmond-based box company donated the boxes and staff developed the process of collecting the school supplies.
“We put out the invitation and filled boxes began to arrive to our office by the dozens,” says Fox.
As the supply of empty boxes was depleted, the box company would donate more. The CBFVA office became so packed with boxes, there were days when the staff had difficulty maneuvering around them to get to their desks.
“The story of the mission box is a story of prayer and partnership between individuals, churches and the students of Lott Carey Mission School in Liberia,” says Fox. “CBFVA simply found a source of God-given passion and opened a doorway.”
Effort Baptist Church partnered with CBF of Virginia to share a shipping crate to send the boxes to Liberia; and in addition to the filled boxes, churches and individuals donated $2,000 to offset the cost of shipping.
This coming year CBFVA will partner with Greg and Sue Smith, co-founders of LUCHA Ministries, to collect backpacks filled with reading books and school supplies for Latino children in Virginia. This project is called “Mission Books,” and the books will extend the love of Christ and offer new immigrants to the United States a tangible welcome into the Baptist family -- or famila.
“We believe that when you offer a child a book, you give a gift,” Fox says.