We invited American Baptists from across the country to share their Ministry Stories with the American Baptist family through the Ministry Story Opportunity, coming out of the Transformed by the Spirit initiative. These stories were highlighted at the Biennial Mission Summit in June 2015, and we will again be lifting them up in a series this fall – ABC Ministry Stories. View the full list of Ministry Story Opportunity Submissions or watch our ABC website and facebook page! To submit a ministry story from your local church, email it to AmericanBaptist@gmail.com. We hope you will share your ministry experiments/experiences with our ABCUSA family.
New Horizon Baptist Church, Manchester, CT
Transformed by the Spirit – Ministry Story Opportunity
New Horizon Baptist Church expresses our appreciation to the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (formerly National Ministries) for the vision of the “Missional Church Learning Experience.” This was introduced to us by Reverend Glynis LaBarre. She took the initiative to train and prepare us for greater involvement in missionary work beginning in our communities.
The tendency of some small congregations is to remain within the four walls of the church, due to feelings of helplessness and in some cases, lack of financial resources. First, we were encouraged to pray and seek God’s guidance. Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us to remember the Lord, for it is He who gives us power (or ideas). After an enlightening and impressive learning experience from Rev. LaBarre, as a group, we were highly motivated. We convened a meeting and did some “brainstorming”. Then we targeted an area in Hartford, Connecticut, walked the streets, interviewed individuals and recorded their findings and then chose a project. In making this choice, we considered project guidelines like: manageability, affordability, capability to expand, staffing requirements and the impact it will make on the lives of all who are involved.
We focused on the children, and then chose one of the greatest areas of need. Then we entitled the project “Back to School Community Day.” As a group we did more brainstorming and assigned individuals to supervise and work in different areas.
The group chose a date, one that was suitable, not only for the staff, but the community. Then the venue, a place that was accommodating and reasonably priced. Then we considered the agenda for the events. We decided to have tables and stalls for children up to adults. There were book tables with magazines, Bibles and other reading materials were also available for distribution.
- Children’s corner: pictures, books, puzzles and craft supplies.
- Personal hygiene tables: soap, tooth brushes and lotion, etcetera.
- Clothing area: new and used clothes, outfits for children and adults, bags, pocketbooks and shoes.
- Food tables: a menu which included a nourishing hot meal, vegetable and fruit salad, finger foods and dessert.
- Book bag tables: these bags contained school supplies as well as Gospel tracts in each bag.
There were physicians who gave power point presentations and workshops; musical entertainment including vocalists; Heath Care workers who measured blood pressure, and community workers who gave information about scholarships. Prayer and counseling was also available. It is important to note that the event was opened with prayer, singing, Scripture reading and words of exhortation from the Lord. In addition to the way we were being used as the hands and feet of Jesus, we utilized this opportunity to share the love of God with those present by the way of the spoken word.
The process of designing and implementing this project has not only been a blessing to the community, but to New Horizon as well. It has heightened our awareness of always being alert to the constant changing needs in the community, with the intention of seeking to address whatever we can.
This event has enabled us to be involved in more networking. Other groups and businesses in the community have been informed of our intentions and have been encouraged to participate. This fosters the development of a healthy relationship with non-Christians in the community. One sister church is very impressed, and is seeking to partner with us as we prepare to address future needs in the community.
Again, we express our gratitude to God and to American Baptist Home Mission Societies and Glynis LaBarre who were the visionaries helping to enlighten, train and motivate us. We are excited about this ministry story and we anticipate the continuation of this journey. But we are encouraging others not only to pray for American Baptist’s National Ministries’ witness, but to support them. For those who have not yet embarked on this missional journey, now is the time to do so, so that each one can experience and share a ministry story.
Above all, God will be pleased due to the fact that we would be fulfilling His mandate when He admonishes us in Matthew 25:35-40; that we should feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, clothe the naked and receive our reward.