FARMINGTON — First Baptist Church, Farmington, may not sit on a hill, but its light shines through its "You are the Light" family ministry.
For a week each summer, members of all ages blitz the city with construction, painting and cleanup efforts. Clad in bright yellow t-shirts, nearly 120 members served 75-80 area families June 7-11. Some wielded paintbrushes. Others cleaned gutters and trimmed brush, and some handled power-washers. All of it was done at no cost to those they served.
"It brings our church together to serve the Lord," Minister of Education Chuck Henson explained.
They usually take on one or two light construction projects as well. This year, the ministry assisted a young man in his late 30s who had recently been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. He also had lost his job and his wife had left him. The team helped with some repairs on his mobile home. "You just want to show people you care about them," Henson added.
Service is nothing new to the Farmington church. For years it has sent youth and adults out on mission, and it has birthed new churches. But Henson wanted more connection to the Farmington community.
"When I came on staff, I felt like we needed to reach the community…to let them know we care about them and want to share Christ with them," he said.
Five years ago, Henson read about a local mission project First Baptist Church, Festus, had done and visited the church to learn more about it. The Farmington church launched its "You are the Light" ministry the following summer, serving 50 families. The church adopted the name to reflect Jesus' command to believers in Matthew 5 to let their light shine.
The ministry begins early in the year, with the captains of 11 committees meeting in February. Henson contacts area service agencies, including the senior citizens' center, fire and police departments and the city council, and does radio and television interviews to solicit service projects.
They determine the projects they will do and solicit volunteers for each committee, with assignments to fit anyone's age or capabilities. For example, many help on the servant-leader team to care for project workers, providing water, snacks and supplies.
Even the children have service opportunities. Those aged 6 and up work alongside their parents, while the childcare committee organizes a project at the church for children under 6.
The ministry also includes an outreach team that targets a section of town. This year, the team distributed light bulbs, gospel tracts and a church brochure to families in all the city's apartment complexes and to everyone the volunteers assisted. The team shared the plan of salvation and asked for prayer requests.
And ministry doesn't end when the blitz does. Calling a week after the event ended, one woman explained she had fallen. The fall resulted in less mobility and she couldn't get out of her house. Three First Baptist men built a ramp for her.
The yearly effort also birthed an ongoing maintenance ministry by a handful of volunteers who assist older members.
People in the community now recognize the ministry and look forward to it. Some individuals outside the church even contribute to the fund that supports the service.
Connecting people to the Lord, though, is the ministry's first goal. "It's good for First Baptist, for Farmington, for the people we help. But it's good especially because we share the Word of the Lord," Henson said. "It's not about us. It's about sharing."