Living Matthew 25 with ABHMS mission opportunities at the ABCUSA Biennial
|Volunteers build an outdoor worship facility at Las Cruces Retreat Center, Cayey, Puerto Rico.
American Baptist faithful put into action Matthew 25’s instruction to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the sick with a variety of American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS)-sponsored volunteer mission opportunities before, during and after the American Baptist Churches USA 2011 Biennial in Puerto Rico in June.
“The opportunity to do mission while at the Biennial was the result of a cooperative effort among Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico, the volunteers who came to serve and ABHMS,” says the Rev. Marilyn P. Turner, executive director of Missional Life and Leadership at ABHMS. “I can’t think of a more tangible way to be the caring hearts, serving hands, going feet and prophetic voice of Christ.”
Twenty-eight individuals from Kansas, California, Indiana and New York worked with locals for two days to build an outdoor worship facility―including stadium-style seating―at Las Cruces Retreat Center, Cayey. When the facility was completed, the group held the first worship service there, dedicating the area for ministry.
“It was good to see the fruits of our labor and to meet wonderful people who serve God locally in the community and who serve with American Baptist churches nationally,” says Craig Zahnd, an adult leader from Prairie Baptist Church, Prairie Village, Kan. “This experience has changed our group for the better. There is nothing more life-changing than a mission trip.”
Volunteers participated in a community outreach service of the faith-based nonprofit organization Corporacion Milagros del Amor (CorMA), or “Miracles of Love Corp.,” Caguas, by distributing clothing to and feeding homeless individuals from the community. While individuals cleaned debris at CorMA’s Safe Haven home, others assembled 100 personal-hygiene kits to be distributed at CorMA’s future community clinics.
An ABHMS neighborhood action program and community-based initiative of First Baptist Church of Caguas, CorMA serves individuals faced with homelessness, addiction or mental illness, regardless of age, gender, race, color, nationality, disability or political or religious affiliation.
“I have never been to Puerto Rico before, let alone serve there. This was a fantastic way to just take the plunge and experience a new place,” says 22-year-old Jordan Wong of New Life Christian Fellowship, Castro Valley, Calif. “I was able to work on my Spanish, meet others from the American Baptist family and learn about all the great work they do at CorMA.”
Approximately 300 back-to-school kits were assembled by more than 80 volunteers and distributed after Sunday morning worship at Iglesia Bautista Betesda. One hundred-nineteen community children received kits; the remaining kits will be used in community outreach ministry.
Twenty-nine volunteers painted classrooms and a fence and cleaned and polished the sanctuary at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Santurce, San Juan.
“It was a joy to work with the more than 180 volunteers who participated in the mission-related opportunities before, during and after the Biennial. These volunteers exemplify the ideal of being a people of prayer, purpose and passion,” says Victoria Goff, ABHMS national coordinator, Volunteer Ministries. “It was an honor to help coordinate the opportunities and to provide American Baptists with the unique opportunity to serve others and to participate in the Biennial.”
For information about upcoming ABHMS mission opportunities―including “Here Until the Work is Done V” ecumenical work week July 31-Aug. 6, 2011, in New Orleans―contact Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org or
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