CONNECT brings 230 students to Heber Springs for missions, ministry

The Missions Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention partnered with the churches of the Little Red River Association on April 14-16 to bring 226 students from 20 different Arkansas Baptist churches together for CONNECT 2023. CONNECT is a student missions weekend designed to mobilize and equip students to make disciples as they serve others and share the Gospel.  

Heber Springs Baptist Church served as the host site for the weekend. Participants slept on the floor in Sunday school rooms and in the gym area. The church also provided space for meals, worship and evangelism training.  Disaster Relief teams from Ozark, Monticello and Mt. Zion provided the shower trailers and the meals on Saturday morning and Saturday night.  

Pastor Rondal Richardson, the entire staff and many of the members of Heber Springs Baptist served during the weekend to help make the event a success.

“CONNECT was a great opportunity for our church to be a part of getting youth to be missionaries for the Lord and learn how to minister to others. Our community and our church benefitted from it not only physically but mainly spiritually,” Richardson said. “I would encourage pastors to host one of these events if possible. It was great working with Travis and all the participants.” 

Nine churches from the Little Red River Association provided ministry projects for the weekend. Students served all day Saturday packing food for the hungry, doing yard work for the elderly and others in need, building a deck, witnessing door to door, building playground equipment, prayer walking, painting, canvassing, deep cleaning a day care facility and much more. In all, close to 40 projects were compiled for the day. More importantly, the Gospel was shared more than 100 times as students were trained and challenged to share with as many people as possible that day. For many, this was their first time to ever share the Gospel. At least one salvation was reported for the weekend with several students committing their lives to full-time missions and/or ministry.  

Kent Dixon serves as the associational missionary for Little Red River. He was instrumental in leading the churches of the association to get involved. Dixon said the weekend was worth all of the effort and he encourages other associational missionaries to consider hosting a CONNECT event in their association.

“It was great to see over 200 teenagers from all over the state come and partner with the churches in our association. As the youth worked alongside members of our churches, the people of Cleburne County (four different communities) saw the ‘hands and feet’ of Jesus at work,” Dixon said. “CONNECT Weekend is an incredible opportunity for churches and associations to work together to accomplish Kingdom impact for the glory of God! To God be the glory, great things He hath done.” 

You are invited to join us for the fall CONNECT which will take place at First Baptist Church of Hope on Oct. 13-15. Registration will be open in August.  If you would like to another opportunity to involve your students in missions and ministry, be sure to check out our student missions camp called Engage. Go to for more information.   

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