The language of love in action communicates around the globe, an 11-member Texas Baptist team recently discovered as they shared the hope of Christ in two Senegalese villages.
In a trip facilitated by Texas Baptists’ Office of African-American Ministries, the team served in villages in South Senegal alongside Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board Missionary Bertha Vaughns, who formerly led the Texas Southern University Baptist Student Ministry.
The group conducted two medical clinics in villages that had never before had easy access to any medical care. The team served more than 200 people, providing donated medicine as they could and shared the gospel with the use of French audio players.
Avis Reynolds, a member of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Texas City, said the doctor leading the clinic treated a variety of issues, including aches, pains and rashes. In one case, he had to give a patient a cortisone shot.
“She got up and started praising (God) she could walk without pain,” Reynolds said. “It was just an amazing experience.”
At a school in one of the villages where the Texans served, the team noticed the institution lacked any shade where students could rest or play out of the sun. Touched by the need, the group gave enough money to provide roughly 100 shade trees and a green space on the campus.
The Texans also built relationships with students at the school, visiting with the ones who are learning English. Trip participants distributed more than 200 flying discs with Scripture to the students.
Despite the condition of the 1,000-year-old village—little electricity or modern transportation and housing in thatched roof huts—students remained upbeat and determined, Reynolds said. They worked hard to learn English, understanding how important it is to improving their living conditions. Young people dreamed of being teachers and even a correspondent for a major news network.
In response to the teams’ efforts, students at the school created an environmental club to learn about cultivating and caring for the green space. The young people who are learning English asked their new American friends to be their pen pals and conversation partners via letters and Internet video conferencing.
“It was just awesome to see God work,” said Charlie Singleton, director of Texas Baptists’ Office of African-American Ministries.
Singleton said the trip is part of an effort to get more African-American congregations involved in international mission work. He hopes every African-American Texas Baptist church will have a Hope 1:8 vision, based on Acts 1:8’s directive to share the hope of Christ locally, statewide and around the globe.
As a result of the Senegal trip, several participants have volunteered to return to serve in the area again. Singleton believes seeing God’s work globally encourages people to get involved in it.
“We’re really trying to get more African-American churches involved in missions,” he said. “Some are already involved, but we’re trying to expose more to missions.”