OIAM successful in community outreach

by BSCNC Communications
Thursday, May 3, 2012 | 3 yrs old

After just a couple hours working, Vicky Coerper couldn’t believe the team’s progress. Before the day’s end the wheelchair ramp would be finished, giving her mom a new sense of freedom.

“I am very thankful. This will help keep my mom, and her caretaker, safe,” Coerper said. Coerper’s mom, who has dementia and cannot care for herself, came to live with her and her husband about three years ago in their North Raleigh home. Coerper said adding the wheelchair ramp to their home will help her mom be able to get outside on days when the weather is nice, instead of being stuck inside all the time.

Coerper’s mom has a wheelchair but it is difficult to navigate in and out of the house, and even inside the house.

Coerper’s family is just one of many across the state that benefited from “Rampin Up!” on April 28. “Rampin Up!” was an effort among North Carolina Baptists to build wheelchair ramps for aging adults, as ramps consistently rank among the highest needs of the aging-adult population.

In one day, nearly 3,000 volunteers from North Carolina Baptist churches built 327 wheelchair ramps.

North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) partnered with NC Baptist Men to coordinate the initiative as part of the larger statewide Operation Inasmuch. Operation Inasmuch is an event that encourages churches to choose one day and minister to those in need in their communities through hands-on, practical efforts.

After May 5, when more volunteers will participate in community outreach, the total number of participants for this year's Operation Inasmuch will include more than 170 North Carolina Baptist churches, representing about 50 counties.

NCBAM Director Sandy Gregory called April 28 an “independence day” for aging adults in North Carolina.

“People of all ages can find themselves confined to a wheelchair. But as we age, the number of people unable to leave their homes because of a lack of mobility increases. They are trapped until someone builds a wheelchair ramp for them,” Gregory said in a statement released by NCBAM.

NCBAM reported that six people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior through “Rampin Up!”

A ramp costs usually costs $700 and takes about eight hours to build. Some churches built more than one ramp on April 28, and Eastern Baptist Association in Sampson County built more than 20 ramps.

Members from Bay Leaf Baptist Church, known as the Bay Leaf Builders, built two ramps April 28, including Coerper’s. The group includes mostly retired adults.

“Just about every week we build a ramp. We are able to share our faith with the homeowners and pray with them,” said Reece Dillard.  

Dillard said Bay Leaf Builders began in 2008 because people saw the need for such a ministry and wanted to serve others.

In addition to “Rampin Up!” North Carolina Baptist churches participated in a variety of outreach efforts through Operation Inasmuch. Members of First Baptist Church in Cary volunteered with Dorcas Ministries, an organization that began in 1968 and is dedicated to helping meet physical needs and to sharing the gospel.

Dorcas Ministries serves the community through a thrift store, food pantry, crisis ministry and adult education scholarships. In the past five years Dorcas Ministries has helped more than 42,000 people and provided more than $2.2 million in financial and food assistance.

“This is more of a calling than a job,” said Howard Manning, Dorcas Ministries executive director. “It’s a practical way to put God’s commands into action.”

When Manning retired from GlaxoSmithKline he did not plan to enter the workforce again, but serving at Dorcas has provided unique opportunities. “It’s a way to exercise your true beliefs everyday. It’s Matthew 25, ” he said.

First Baptist Cary member Andrew Major has volunteered at Dorcas and is also involved with Touching Lives for Christ, First Baptist’s annual community outreach.

“One of our visions is to do local missions in North Carolina, and to do missions in the United States and internationally. Touching Lives with Christ and Operation Inasmuch help us get families involved with missions projects,” Major said.

In Scotland Neck, Dawson Baptist Church also found a creative way to serve the community. Their “Relief at the Pump” outreach took place at the Shell gas station on Main Street, where youth and adults spent the morning pumping gas and cleaning windshields.

That morning the station discounted gas 25 cents, with the church making up the difference. “It was busy all morning long. There was already a line when we got there,” said youth pastor Will Matthews. 

Matthews said the idea for the outreach came after church members saw a television news report about poverty in the Scotland Neck area. “It got us to talking about what we can do to reach out,” he said.

Operation Inasmuch allowed the church to help meet a need and to share the gospel.

“Just about everyone asked why we were doing it, which gave us a really good opportunity to share Christ.”