Baptists on Mission help ‘prepare the way’by Chad Austin, BSCNC Communications
Long term rebuilding and disaster recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina will take two to three years or more, but N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission (NCBM), will be there for the long haul to serve, minister and offer hope in Jesus’ name.
“Life won’t be back to normal for many people for a long time,” Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM, said in his report to messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Greensboro. Brunson’s report also touched on several of the 17 different ministries of NCBM, which is auxiliary of the Baptist state convention.
While Brunson said no one predicted the devastation that Hurricane Matthew would bring when it hit North Carolina in early October, he said NCBM volunteers were on hand in the immediate aftermath of the storm providing hot meals, clean water, chaplains, showers, laundry services and childcare. Brunson said at one point following the storm, volunteers at six mobile kitchens served meals in six different locations throughout the region.
Following the initial response, chainsaw, mud-out and tear-out teams began the process of helping people put their lives back together. That work is ongoing, Brunson said.
“There’s no better way to get to know someone and minister to them than to go into their home and help them with mud-out and tear-out and help them rebuild their homes and their lives,” Brunson said.
Prior to Annual Meeting, Robert Simons, president of NCBM, said more than 60 individuals had responded to the gospel through the disaster relief efforts.\
On the opening night of Annual Meeting, Mike Sprayberry, director of North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, spoke to messengers and expressed appreciation to the many N.C. Baptist volunteers who have served during the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts.
“I can’t really overestimate how much we value your partnership,” Sprayberry said. “We could not do our job successfully without the North Carolina Baptist men and women.”
Brunson also thanked the Hurricane Matthew volunteers, as well as all N.C. Baptists for praying for, giving to and going with Baptists on Mission, whose goal is to help churches involve their members in missions.
Brunson noted that each year numerous medical professionals volunteer their time and expertise on board NCBM’s two medical/dental buses and the new health screening bus. The patients served by these ministries not only receive care for their physical needs, they also receive spiritual care, resulting in many decisions for Christ, Brunson said.
Brunson’s report also highlighted NCBM’s numerous international mission’s partnerships. Through these partnerships, NCBM sends teams of people to places like Armenia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Romania, South Africa and Ukraine each year, Brunson said.
Andie Faircloth, an NCBM volunteer who recently returned from her first international missions trip to Honduras, shared her experience with messengers. During the trip, the team helped a missionary family build a house and held a weeklong Vacation Bible School for children. The team was comprised of 15 individuals of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, but God brought them together for a common purpose.
“There is simply no good explanation of how we came together except that it was God’s divine will,” Faircloth said. “He used us to prepare the way for His work in Honduras.”
“Prepare the way” is the theme for the 2016 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), which supports the 17 different ministers of Baptists on Mission. The theme was derived from Luke 10:1 in which Jesus sends out 70 individuals in pairs to minister and serve in the places He was about to go.
Citing the example of Peter and John healing the lame man outside the temple gate in Acts 3, Brunson said preparing the way for Jesus is marked by four characteristics: seeing people around you; being sensitive to the Holy Spirit; ministering with the gifts and abilities you have; and speaking and acting in humility and love.
“Do we really see hurting people, and do we really love them?” Brunson asked. “Are we sensitive to the Holy Spirit?
“In short, are we willing to prepare the way for Jesus?”