This article was written by Clint Ritchie, Assistant Team Leader of the Missions Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Hundreds of Arkansas Baptists used part of their Saturday on April 9 to serve their communities during the annual One Day: Serve Local initiative. A wide range of ministries were performed, including block parties, community and school improvement projects, door-to-door evangelism, and prayer walking. Being the weekend before Easter also opened the door for multiple egg hunts, along with most ministries involving an invitation to Easter services.
The ministry projects met personal and community needs, and churches were encouraged to focus on having Gospel conversations. Through the faithful giving of Arkansas Baptists to the Cooperative Program and the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering, the ABSC Missions Team was able to provide one of three evangelism resources to registered churches: King’s Witness Bracelets, Three Circles phone stickers, or Evangecubes. Churches are still sending in reports, and others are serving the following weekend, but a total of 99 professions of faith have been reported!
A medical and dental clinic was held at First Baptist Church in Cherokee Village that resulted in 45 patients being seen, with each one having a one-on-one conversation about their spiritual condition before seeing the doctor.
Second Baptist Church in Russellville held a No Sale Yard Sale that saw approximately 350 guests, who each heard the Gospel before entering the church’s fellowship hall that was filled with needed items.
Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway hosted five ministry sites. Steve Lasiter, Children’s and Missions Pastor, commented, “We are in the process of planting a Hispanic church. Our door-to-door team came away with three dozen solid contacts on Hispanics that are seeking a church [in which] to worship. Pray for these families as they are experiencing trials, heartache, and pain. Pray also for Pastor Norberto as he follows up with these families. He’s on fire for winning souls and for him to be a part of One Day: Serve Local, it was a blessing and an encouragement as he reaches our Hispanic community for Christ.”
Galan Hughes, Local Missions and Mobilization Pastor, noted that First Baptist Church in Benton used the day “to establish rapport in the community like God’s instructions to Jeremiah to seek the welfare of the city” (Jer 29:7). This included projects such as building wooden patio benches/tables, painting a teachers’ lounge, and outside yard work at a local elementary school for which we are serving as a “foster church.” Another big project was the assembly of care packages (paper towels, plates, cups, forks, spoons, snacks, encouragement notes, gift cards) that will go to The CALL and be used by foster families. They also hosted a food drive benefiting child advocacy centers in central Arkansas and local food pantries that are committing to help those advocacy centers. The goal was to collect over 30,000 pounds of food at five grocery stores.
Faith Baptist Church in DeWitt led the charge to “Saturate DeWitt” in collaboration with 13 other churches, including First Baptist in DeWitt. The goal was to connect with 2300 homes in the area with the gospel in the form of a “JESUS” DVD, a gospel tract, a Bible and a flyer inviting families to join one of the 14 churches for Easter services. They plan to go back to the homes in the area over the next month to answer any questions they have and share the gospel personally with them.
Pastor Doug Wills of First Baptist Church in Norphlet encouraged his church to find opportunities to serve personally using $22. One couple took quarters to the local carwash and paid for cars to be washed. One lady they invited to church showed up the following morning for service. One family planned to make an enchilada supper for a neighboring family and use that to invite them to Easter services.
This is just a small sample of the Serve Local effectiveness. Since many of the ministries included an Easter service invitation, further impact may be seen in the upcoming week. As the churches follow up with the newly discovered contacts, it is possible that Serve Local will have an effect upon churches, and individuals, over the next several weeks. Ultimately, the impact is eternal!