HOT SPRINGS, ARK-What would make more than 1600 people from 116 different churches get up early on the first Saturday in October and drive as much as 3-4 hours in some cases to converge on one city and spend the day serving others? The answer can be found in Acts 1:8, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (HCSB)
Acts1:8 One Day Mission Trip is an annual opportunity for Arkansas Baptists to be witnesses in their Jerusalem and Judea as they build wheelchair ramps, do yard work, serve hot dogs and sno cones to children at block parties, serve at medical/dental clinics, and host yard sales where everything is free. The goal of every interaction being to gain the opportunity to share the Gospel at 136 sites in and around the city of Hot Springs.
John McCallum, Pastor at First Baptist Church in Hot Springs said, “Nothing thrills the heart of a pastor like seeing 1,600 Arkansas Baptists spread a blanket of God’s love all across the city we love and serve. Gospel seeds were planted, many will find fertile soil, and we expect the harvest in due time. We have done a lot of mission work in our city over the years, but we’ve never had more than a hundred volunteers on any given day in any given project. This gave us that opportunity, and we are grateful to God and Arkansas Baptists. Makes us love our city even more.”
An event like this takes prayer, planning and preparation. Clint Ritchie, Community Missions Strategist on the Missions Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, shared the planning process. It started in summer 2021 with an invitation to Central Baptist Association and their leaders being invited into the leadership process. A meeting was then held with Hot Springs pastors in January, then monthly meetings with leadership started in February. An interest banquet was held in late April that was open to anyone interested in learning more.
A leadership team of local pastors, then a group of local coordinators who were the contact for each area of ministry was formed including a state coordinator for each area of ministry. The local pastor is the key to a church’s participation- or a key lay person if the church is pastorless.
It is a year-long process of planning with each month’s leadership meeting building toward October. The state coordinators come in the two days before and start packing “Site Boxes” which contain everything needed for ministry at each site. It is a team effort from the Missions Team to the State Coordinators that makes One Day happen. About 60% of the funding for One Day comes from the Dixie Jackson state Missions Offering, and the other 40% comes from registration fees.
Over 600 addresses/families/households registered at sites and indicated they were not actively involved in a church, which translates to possibly more than 2,000 prospects were discovered and churches in Hot Springs will follow up with these.
Seven members of Union Grove Baptist Church in Clarksville participated in ministry to senior adults at a local nursing home. When asked what impacted her the most, participant Christy Collins said, “We ministered to the senior adults who were already Christians and are the missionaries to the other residents that are their friends and neighbors. These men and women have lived amazing lives and are now living in an assisted living community, but God is not done using them for His Kingdom. They really need encouragement from other believers to continue the work they are doing.”
Collins also said, “God opened our eyes and our hearts, and we are already talking about ways we can minister to those in the assisted living facilities and nursing homes in our area. Our church has been involved with the Acts 1:8 experience for several years, and we have learned to show up expecting God to surprise us. It’s just amazing to experience being a part of His work.”
Ritchie summarized, “One Day is a powerful reminder of the value of cooperation and what God does when His people come together. From Jonesboro to Texarkana, Clarksville to Monticello, and everywhere in between, God’s people traveled to Hot Springs to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We have record of 103 people giving their lives to Jesus and many others have requested to be contacted by a local church. Churches saw guests on Sunday as a result of the ministry of One Day. The willingness of faithful Arkansas Baptists to pray, give, and serve continues to make a difference!”