Waco church follows hunger
offering with hands-on ministry
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___WACO--Hunger brought Calvary Baptist Church of Waco to northern Mexico. Friendships formed there may bring them back.
___Twenty-nine Waco residents, most of them from Calvary Baptist Church, spent a week working with Iglesia Bautista San Pablo in Nava, Coahuila, this summer.
___"We may go back next year. I believe we formed some lasting relationships with the
people there," said Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.
|LESLIE SMITH from Calvary Baptist Church of Waco, director of the South Waco Elementary School Community Clinic, manages to coax a child in Nava, Coahuila, Mexico, to submit to a throat examination. Smith was part of a 29-member team from the Waco church that planted gospel seeds through medical clinic and Vacation Bible School ministries in Mexico this summer. The medical team saw 240 patients on one day alone. (Photo by Nathan Porter)
___"We did not want to just blow into town, scatter good seed and then blow out again. We wanted to connect with the people. We believed the relationships were important."
___Several months ago, the missions committee at Calvary Baptist decided the church should devote its annual summer missions trip to service at a location where the Texas Baptist World Hunger Offering was making a difference.
___For the past four years, Texas Baptists have dedicated the offering for world hunger to specific development projects. The Texas Baptist World Hunger Offering goal for 2000 is $1 million, with funds divided 20 percent each to Texas, Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship hunger projects, and 18 percent to Baptist World Alliance projects.
___In addition to specific project requests, $200,000 is earmarked for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for agricultural and economic development ministries, and $20,000 is dedicated to emergency responses.
___The missions committee at Calvary Baptist decided to contact Jack Calk, director of missions in Del Rio-Uvalde Baptist Association, to explore needs in the Piedras Negras area of Coahuila, Mexico.
___The ministry center at Piedras Negras, which receives funding through the World Hunger Offering, did not need a mission team at the time the Waco volunteers would be available, Calk said. But he directed them to nearby Nava, where residents needed medical attention and the local Baptist church needed help in a Vacation Bible School.
___Calvary Baptist organized a 12-member health care team from Waco and put together a 17-member team of volunteers to lead a three-day VBS at Iglesia Bautista San Pablo in Nava.
___Leslie Smith, a family nurse practitioner and director of the South Waco Elementary School Clinic, was part of the health care team.
___"We saw a few really complicated things that required referrals and tons of acute episodic illnesses like sore throats and ear infections. In particular, we saw a lot of mothers who were worried about their children," Smith said.
___From a room next to the church, the health care professionals saw 60 to 70 patients. The next day, they went into the neighborhood and set up practice in a small home.
___"We worked six-and-a-half to seven hours without a break and saw more than 240 patients," Smith said. "There were lines and lines of people."
___The team distributed more than 300 hygiene and health care kits assembled by members of Calvary Baptist.
___Smith recalled the pastor at San Pablo telling the group, "Because of you, we have made contact with these people in their need, and now we can tell them about Jesus."
___It was the first mission trip some of the volunteers had made, Pennington-Russell said, and it made a significant impression on them. "They had never had their gifts called out in quite that way," she said.
___"The deepest impact was on the youth," she added. "They are mostly kids from upper-middle-class households. It was their first exposure to a culture where the next meal is not a given. It made an impression on them and caused them to ask what comprises a Christian response to that kind of need."
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