Arkansas Baptists used to partner together every other year for a one-day mission experience as part of the Mississippi River Ministry. This biannual event was specifically designed to reach the lost in communities along the Mississippi River. Over time, after much prayer and discussion, the decision was made to make changes to the event in an effort to involve more churches and increase participation in the One Day missions experience. So in 2008, what would ultimately become the final Mississippi River Ministry event took place in Warren with around 400 participants.
Two years later, under the leadership of Robby Tingle, former Missions Team Leader, and Breck Freeman, former community missions strategist, the first ever Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip was launched in Pine Bluff in October of 2010. Participation exceeded expectations as over 1200 mission volunteers partnered together for a day of missions and ministry in the Pine Bluff area which resulted in over 63 professions of faith.
Due to the overwhelming response of Arkansas Baptists that first year, the decision was made to make the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip an annual event with the goal of helping ABSC churches become more missional in their thinking and planning in an effort to impact lostness across the state. Since 2010, more than 20,000 participants have served through Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trips resulting in over 700 salvation decisions.
An event with the scope of a One Day Missions Trip doesn’t just happen without a lot of planning and preparation. Sam Roberts, Assistant Team Leader for the ABSC Missions Team, is responsible for leading the team that makes this experience happen each year. He appreciates all of the work that has been done over the years to establish such a well-organized leadership structure. Roberts says that there is no way One Day happens without a large team of volunteers and months of meetings to train and to plan.
Roberts says that preparation for the event actually begins more than a year in advance with the state leadership team in place and the association site locked in before the current year’s event even takes place. The selected association enters into a contract and covenant with the state convention. This serves as a formal agreement detailing requirements and expectations for both groups. In addition, the association makes an initial $3000 investment to help cover expenses and allow them to have some “skin in the game.” The remaining costs associated with the event are covered by the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering (64%) and the registration fees (36%).
A small leadership team is formed from within the association made up of the Associational Missionary and a few key leaders. This team participates in the final week of preparation for the current One Day experience to gain insight into what they will need to know to prepare for next year. Training takes place January through November as the leadership team is eventually expanded to include coordinators (usually 13-15 different ministry coordinators) and ministry site leaders (can include as many as 200 different site leaders). Ministry coordinators and site leaders keep in contact with their team members and are available throughout the year to help with logistics and to answer any questions that may arise.
Tracy Archibald has been a part of One Day since the beginning when he led his church to participate in Pine Bluff in 2010. He became the block party coordinator the next year in Mena and DeQueen, participating in the morning kickoff and helping to organize the block party sites. In 2013 he was trained as a state leadership coordinator, serving alongside Breck Freeman ultimately helping with the overall organization and logistics for the yearly events. As the coordinator, Archibald is responsible for working in conjunction with Missions Team members to contact association leaders, select the different ministries, make visits to all possible sites, lead trainings, and make preparations for all of the different ministries. This includes ordering Bibles, tracts, food and other necessary items.
When asked why he has continued to serve in this position for so many years, Archibald says “Seeing one more person get saved and added to the Kingdom makes it all worth it.” He says for some Arkansas Baptists, it is their first mission opportunity. He says many of them have gone back home and done missions in their own communities after attending a One Day event. Some have even gone on national and international trips. Archibald’s own association, Greene County, became an Acts 1:8 association and hosts a local One Day event each spring. Archibald says he has also seen an impact on the local church as many participating churches have experienced both spiritual and numerical growth. People have been added to the congregation as a result of the ministries provided as part of One Day.
Like everything else this year, the 2020 One Day Missions Event has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Plans were in the works for the annual event to be held in Russellville in 2020. Typically, 2000 or more people gather in one location each year and ministry team sizes can exceed 30-50. It didn’t take long to realize that that changes would need to be made to if One Day was to happen this year. Roberts said they had to rethink and readjust. Even though things would have to change, Roberts stressed emphatically that, “Cancelling the event was not an option!”
The idea for One Day: Serve Local was birthed with a desire to keep as many of the aspects of a traditional One Day experience as possible. The goal is to encourage churches to serve their own communities but have everyone serving on the same day. In this way Arkansas Baptists will be partnering together even though they are far apart.
In less than a month the Missions and Communication teams have worked together to create a variety of resources designed to assist churches with planning their One Day: Serve Local event. There are 14 printed pieces as well as several videos to assist churches in developing a mission/ministry plan and providing training for evangelism, prayer walking and more. These resources can be found at www.absc.org/oneday. Roberts is quick to point out that these resources can be used by any church at any time to help them prepare for community outreach.
For One Day: Serve Local, churches are encouraged to make plans to serve their community on Saturday October 3. Each church is also encouraged to offer training for all of their participants. Training can even be offered the day of the event
The actual schedule will look different for each church. Depending on the scheduled starting time, the church will gather together to watch the pre-recorded welcome video where they will be given instructions, sing together and participate in a commissioning for all of the One Day: Serve Local missionaries. A closing celebration will also be available online that evening at 6:00. This video will include a thank you and a highlight video from the ministries that day.
Participants are encouraged to share stories, pictures and videos during their One Day: Serve Local projects with the hashtag #onedayark. This hashtag will also allow participants to see what others are posting throughout the day as well.
Roberts says that all of this is being done in an effort to connect Arkansas Baptists and create synergy and excitement as we partner together even though circumstances require physical separation. He makes a point to emphasize the importance of coming together to serve and to share. He reminds us that serving people opens the doors for Gospel conversations which is key if we want to reach lost people. Roberts says it’s not enough to just serve and do good things.” “It’s the Gospel that distinguishes us from other groups that do good things.” “It’s all about meeting needs and sharing Jesus, you can’t separate the two.”