By Jennifer Harris
Word&Way News Writer
Sixteen volunteers, ranging in age from 11 to 55, from Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Columbia, partnered together to join the All Church Challenge 2008 in Helena, Ark., last month.
The All Church Challenge was a “missions blitz” with the Together for Hope Arkansas Delta Initiative and Ben and Leonora Newell, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionaries in Helena.
“It was a pleasure to partner with a sister church in our association to be on God’s mission in the Helena-West Helena community,” said Brian Ford, pastor of Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church and mission trip participant. “God is doing transformational work [there].”
The two Columbia churches helped in that work by assisting with swim camp, Vacation Bible School, blessings ministry, landscaping, bus ministry and preschool ministry, among others.
Angela Jones, mission team chair at Cornerstone, said prayer was key for the week. At one point, a water main burst, causing the team’s “home for the week” to be without water. The main was fixed within 36 hours, much quicker than the plumber estimated. “Knowing that we were praying for these things and that our church family at home was praying was a great comfort,” she said.
The team also experienced being an answer to prayer. “We took some extra preschool-sized T-shirts that we ended up not using,” Jones said. “So I offered to leave them with the pastor’s wife there and she said, ‘Oh, bless you. We have VBS next week and plan to do T-shirts, but didn’t have what we needed. I told the ladies that if you don’t have faith that God will provide, then you miss the blessing.’”
The blitz drew more than 250 volunteers from 21 churches, from as far away as Texas and Virginia, for the two-week event.
“Working and worshiping shoulder-to-shoulder with sisters and brothers in Christ from the Helena-West Helena community as well as others from Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina constantly reminded me of the breadth and depth of the Body of Christ,” Ford said.
Jones agreed. “Although missions trips are about serving people in other areas throught the world, it is also a change for our group to see and get excited about what we could be doing locally, at home — partnering with other churches, reaching out to the community,” she said. “I loved partnering with another local church for this trip; it makes me excited about the possibilities of future partnering.”
Ford said his church is also looking toward the future. “Upon our return, the question we asked ourselves is ‘What did we learn about God, community, ministry and ourselves…that we can use to help better understand what God is up to and what God wants us to be doing in our own community?’”